P.M., Long Beach, NJ
Tags: dog NJ allergies Long Beach
Oct 23, 2011
My 9-year-old border collie had a beautiful coat and skin until two years ago. He started scratching and biting himself raw, and his hair fell out every summer into fall. I had a feeling it was due to an allergy, maybe to something in the backyard.
I have taken him to two vets, and neither was certain what was causing this condition. He was on steroids, antibiotics and special shampoos. His skin would clear up for awhile but get bad again soon after finishing the medications.
Needless to say, it was very expensive, so I decided to switch dog foods and try other remedies, such as probiotics. The dog food now is Nutro Natural Choice, grain-free natural lamb and potato formula.
His skin and coat have only gotten worse. His skin produces a lot of oil, so the hair closest to the skin is very greasy. The skin turned black after the wet spots dried out.
His ears also bother him periodically -- itchy and smelly. We put ear cleaner drops in both ears, and this seems to help temporarily. We are at our wits' end and are considering euthanizing him because he seems miserable and smells horrible. Our grandkids can't even pet him anymore. Thank you for any advice you may have.
P.M., Long Beach, NJ Oct 22, 2011
I sympathize with you and your poor dog. This is a not uncommon and distressing condition called canine atopy, affecting dogs who become allergic or hypersensitive to insect bites, pollens, ingredients in their diet and so forth. Dogs often develop multiple hypersensitivities. Much detective work is called for, and various treatment regimens have to be tried after ruling out mange, the parasitic skin-mite disease that is the bane of dogdom.
Also rule out flea-bite hypersensitivity. Bathe the dog in Selsun Blue (human) medicated shampoo and cover areas where he lies down with cotton sheets. (Use a fragrance-free laundry soap.) A week later, bathe the dog with a soothing oatmeal or chamomile shampoo.
Do not have the dog vaccinated until he recovers. Do not use any anti-flea or anti-tick drugs on his skin, and have him checked for underlying hypothyroid and possible Cushing's disease complications.
Talk with your veterinarian about starting your dog on a so-called elimination diet to help identify which ingredients in his diet (home-prepared) are OK. He may benefit from antihistamines and such dietary supplements as fish oil, selenium and zinc. Some dogs with seasonal allergies benefit from a daily teaspoon of local honey or bee pollen in their food; others benefit from having their skin periodically soaked in aloe vera gel (available in health stores).