P.B., Ashton, Md
Tags: dog MD allergies Ashton
Jan 13, 2013
I am writing about our dog Patch, a 6-year-old cockapoo who weighs around 20 pounds.
Just over five years ago, she was tested for allergies that have resulted in an injection every 21 days. She is allergic to a number of things: certain weeds, trees, dust mites, molds and insects. The allergy serum is Liquid Gold by Varl. Patch gnawed and licked her paws excessively and scratched herself often.
I want to confirm what the veterinarian has assured me: The long-term use of the injections will not pose a health risk to my dog. Some friends have suggested that I could just give her Benadryl instead, but I wonder about its long-term effects as well.
I also have a question about episodes of vomiting that occur in the early morning (4 to 7 a.m.) and always as a yellowish (acidic?) bile. It happens two or three times a week, and Patch lets my husband or me know when it's coming. I can hear her stomach gurgling at these times and have noticed that if I give her something to eat (usually a treat since it's too early for her first meal) and massage her belly, the urge to throw up will sometimes pass.
I wonder if this is a sign of something serious, or if it is a matter of just keeping food in her belly. She eats Chef Michael's dry food mixed with Chef Michael's canned or chopped-up turkey or chicken twice a day. She is a somewhat picky eater. Earlier in her life I tried a number of organic or specialized dog foods, but she would not eat.
As far as her treats go, she receives a variety ranging from Milk-Bone MarO Snacks, Milk-Bone Mini's Flavor Snacks, Grand Champ Beef and Liver Snacks, PureBites Freeze Dried Beef Liver and PureBites Freeze Dried Chicken. After reading in the news about questions raised concerning the chicken jerky treats made with poultry from China, we stopped giving them to her.
I would appreciate any insight or suggestions you may have.
P.B., Ashton, Md Jan 14, 2013
Why are so many dogs (and children) suffering from multiple allergies that reflect a serious immune system dysfunction?
There are many factors to consider, from genetic/breed susceptibility to environmental, especially in-home chemicals, cleaners, detergents, synthetic fragrances and dust mites, from various food ingredients to exposure to pollen. Repeated vaccinations and anti-flea and -tick drugs must also be considered.
Which of the above possible contributing factors can you control? Many, indeed. Become a detective. Your home could be a toxic chemical environment.
Let your dog sleep on hot-water-only laundered cotton sheets. Give her three shampoos, spaced three to four weeks apart, with Selsun Blue medicated shampoo. Stop all treats, and have your veterinarian start your dog on a home-prepared elimination diet -- along with probiotics -- to help determine which food ingredients may be problematic for your dog. In addition, her kidney, pancreatic and liver functions need to be evaluated.
J.A.W., Annandale, Va
Tags: cat Annandale VA allergies
May 06, 2012
My two female cats, Angel and Melon, have been constantly licking and biting themselves for a number of years, creating bald areas and sores on their legs (and on Melon's stomach).
They have had blood allergy tests that indicated they are allergic to ragweed, goldenrod, birch and mulberry trees, June grass, penicillium mold, fleas and black ants. Since they are strictly indoor cats, their contact with any of these is extremely low. In foods, they tested at high levels for milk, pork, potato, wheat and barley.
Over the years, their vets have prescribed various medications (amitriptyline, Xanax) that had no effect. A combination of prednisolone and Clavamox has worked in the short term, reducing the amount of licking and healing sores, but when they're finished, they revert back to licking.
I vary their foods among Natural Balance duck and green pea, Wellness Core turkey and chicken, Evo turkey and chicken and California Natural chicken and rice. Because they are allergic to potato, I will eliminate the Core from their diet.
I would appreciate any suggestions on how to treat Angel and Melon. My male cat (Melon's brother) does not have this problem.
J.A.W., Annandale, Va May 07, 2012
I realize you have spent much time and money trying to find a cure for your two cats. When allergies like these are diagnosed, it is surprising how many allergens in a cat's environment and diet may be identified. There could be one particular trigger that impaired their normal immune system function, opening the door to allergic reactions to an increasing number of substances.
Contact allergies to various floor cleaners, scented products from cat litter and wool in materials such as upholstery and blankets -- these are all worth addressing. An air ionizer may help.
I would also advise getting your cats used to a few drops of fish oil in their food, increasing the amount to about 1 teaspoon daily -- this is a supplement with almost miraculous benefits for many cats with skin problems. With older cats, a blood test for thyroid disease is advisable since hyperthyroidism can be associated with skin hypersensitivity and excessive licking. Giving them clean cotton sheets to lie on may also give some relief.
Tags: dog diet allergies food
Mar 11, 2012
What can I do for my male cocker spaniel who has seborrhea? The scaly and smelly skin problem has him itching a lot. Is this an allergy, perhaps caused by diet or something else?
He's nearly 10 years old and quite difficult -- he doesn't like being picked up when we take him to the groomer to get bathed. His ears are also smelly.
Do you have any advice? I've taken him to several vets, and they don't have any answers.
Mar 12, 2012
This problem is quite common in cocker spaniels. Many respond well to a bath in Selsun Blue shampoo once a week for three weeks; then move to a soothing shampoo like Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo or an oatmeal-based formula once a month. New Hemp dog shampoos are excellent as well.
Your dog should have a vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Add 2 teaspoons to your dog's food twice daily, plus half a daily multivitamin and multi mineral capsule. Also, give your dog probiotics at about half of the human daily intake.
Transition your dog onto a quality dog food like Wellness Dog Food, Evo, PetGuard or Evanger's. Avoid beef, dairy products and corn or soy ingredients.
Clean your dog's ears with one part cider vinegar and four parts warm water every few days. Tie up his ears with a ribbon so they can air out. When dry, put three or four drops of olive oil into the ear canal and massage gently. His thyroid gland function may also need to be evaluated by your veterinarian -- low function is often associated with chronic skin conditions.
R.R., Manassas, Va
Tags: cat Manassas VA diet allergies food
Feb 12, 2012
My cat suffers from a very itchy face. The vet thinks she may be allergic to her food. At one point, it was suggested that I try to feed her an elimination diet and then continue her on a home-cooked diet. I was given some material from a workshop the vet attended; however, it was not specific enough for me to feel confident I was giving my cat all she needed.
For example, cats need taurine in their diet, but I wasn't able to find information on how much taurine to add. I also had no idea where to purchase taurine. Can you please provide me with a recipe for an elimination diet as well as a home-cooked treatment diet?
R.R., Manassas, Va Feb 13, 2012
I am happy to hear that your cat's veterinarian attended a workshop on the issue of pet food-related health problems. Allergies to certain food ingredients are now widely recognized health issues, thanks to more veterinarians making the right diagnosis rather than prescribing drugs like corticosteroids, antibiotics and tranquilizers to afflicted pets. Part of this increase is due to the prevalence of genetically engineered food ingredients in pet foods. For details on this important issue, check my website.
The elimination diet is easier to do with dogs than cats because dogs are less finicky. An elimination diet attempts to define which ingredients cause problems. Beef, dairy products, corn and fish are especially problematic for cats, as are soy- and cereal-based ingredients.
It is best not to add synthetic taurine or other essential nutrients to your cat's food. Instead, use minimally processed ingredients that you purchase or prepare yourself. For details on some supplements I include in my home-prepared dog and cat food recipes, check my website and visit www.feline-nutrition.org.
When you transition your cat to my diet, be sure to change the animal protein (beef, chicken) from what your cat has been eating.
E.H., Virginia Beach, Va
Dec 18, 2011
We adopted a 1-year-old male Siamese-mix cat from the SPCA six months ago. My vet diagnosed him with asthma. She put him on prednisone and prescribed Flovent to be administered with a mask to his face. Between his being a traumatized cat who runs from everything and the expense, this is not an option.
He usually coughs only once or twice per day. Is there anything else we can try? We are retired and on a fixed income. I was told that prednisone could lead to diabetes, hence the prescribing of Flovent.
E.H., Virginia Beach, Va Dec 19, 2011
Asthmatic conditions in cats call for some detective work, provided a viral and/or bacterial infection of the respiratory system has been ruled out. First, every effort should be made to identify environmental sources of allergy-inducing materials. You must also rule out fur balls, which often cause cats to cough and gag when fur is swallowed after grooming and for which most cats need no treatment.
Prescribing prednisone may alleviate symptoms but, as you state, can have harmful consequences with long-term use. Putting a mask on cats is for emergencies only and takes expert handling.
Feline veterinary specialists now associate many cases of asthma with a food allergy. Corn, soy, beef and fish can be asthma triggers.
Try your cat on my home-prepared diet (on my website) or put him on one of the better brands of cat food, like Wellness, Evo or Castor & Pollux Organix. Get rid of all artificially scented products in your cat's environment -- from cat litter to laundry detergent and room fresheners. Many cats are allergic to the volatile chemical fragrances.
F.M, Hendersonville, NC
Tags: dog Hendersonville NC diet allergies food
Dec 12, 2011
We have a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier who is scratching and rubbing his backside. We have been to three vets and have had his glands cleaned. They provided a spray (CortiSpray), and I use 1 percent hydrocortisone on his raw spots.
We have not seen improvement. We feed him dry food and salmon, chicken, beef and sweet potato. But he is still biting and scratching, creating hot spots. Could this be from allergies?
He developed a snapping condition and is taking phenobarbital (16.2 mg) twice daily. We would like your opinion on these issues..
F.M, Hendersonville, NC Dec 13, 2011
Chronically inflamed anal glands, like some chronic ear conditions and "hot spot" itchy skin, can have an underlying food allergy issue. Some dogs respond well after a few weeks on a hypoallergenic lamb and rice diet coupled with anti-inflammatory fish oil supplements, such as Nordic Naturals (available in pet stores). Other dogs need to be put on an "elimination diet," which should begin with a couple of basic ingredients and should be monitored closely by a veterinarian.
Your dog may have one or more other underlying medical problems such as hypothyroid disease, which is often associated with skin and behavioral problems. I would advise some additional tests and, of course, avoid using any anti-flea and tick preparations and giving any vaccinations to your dog.
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).
C.T., Red Hook, NY
Tags: dog NY allergies Red Hook
Jul 04, 2011
I have a 9-year-old golden retriever who developed allergies last fall. The diagnosis from the vet was startling to me, as I did not realize that this could occur so late in her life.
Her belly turned blackish in color, and the vet said this was due to inflammation. We started treatment with antihistamines. After a week, she didn't appear better, so I took her back and a round of steroids was then prescribed, which seemed to help. I then kept her on antihistamines until we had a hard frost. With spring approaching, the vet recommended starting up the antihistamines well before we thaw in upstate New York. I am assuming the vet would want her to remain on them until the next winter and frost. I am not crazy about keeping her on meds for such a prolonged period. Do you have any suggestions/recommendations?
Her diet consists of a mix of Iams lamb/rice and Nutro Max lamb/rice. In addition, I mix in a scrambled egg and cheese (in the morning). Her evening meal gets a homemade mix of chicken, mixed vegetables and some type of grain (barley, rice, oats).
C.T., Red Hook, NY Jul 04, 2011
Seasonal allergies in dogs are an all too common affliction, generally developing in older dogs, who develop a hypersensitivity to certain allergens after repeated seasonal exposures. Leaf mold and grass pollen in the fall are common culprits. Early flowering grasses and other plants in the spring can also be triggers and "crossing over" can occur when hypersensitivity to one allergen leads to a greater sensitivity to other allergens.
First, avoid vaccinations, anti-flea/tick treatments and other drugs that may aggravate your dog's condition. A soothing oatmeal-, chamomile- or baby-shampoo every couple of weeks to remove allergens from her fur may help along with cotton towels to lie on (washed weekly). Food supplements such as Brewer's yeast, flaxseed oil and local honey or bee pollen help many dogs with skin problems. I would not start her on antihistamines until the first indications of skin reactivity are evident since these preventive measures may suffice.
J.M., Fairfield, CT
Tags: cat Fairfield CT allergies
May 15, 2011
I'm writing for help with my cat's 10-month-long skin condition of two 50-cent-size sores that never heal. She does not go outside and has been eating Wellness Salmon dry and Wellness Turkey moist food. I'm now gradually introducing Natural Balance Duck & Green Pea.
She has had Clavamox and prednisone, and now receives clemastine ointment and Neosporin daily. The dermatologist says it's probably a flea allergy, but there haven't been fleas for months. She wears a Victorian collar and a shirt, but one scratch opens the sores again despite all the protection (which isn't foolproof).
Would omega-3 help her skin? Is there an allergy test for her?
I have nine animals in a split-level house. The dogs are not with the five cats. The cats have four rooms downstairs (vinyl flooring). All the other cats are fine. I put Advantage on them to prevent fleas, although I don't like using it. The vet said that I should use it in case the affected cat has a flea allergy and one bite will cause her distress.
J.M., Fairfield, CT May 15, 2011
Because a conventional approach to dealing with your cat's skin disease has not proven effective and because your cat has been to a veterinary dermatologist (who presumably ruled out any specific fungal or bacterial infection), an unconventional approach is called for.
This means a more holistic, environmental perspective that considers co-factors other than fleabites as contributors to your cat's malady. Several readers with cats showing symptoms like your poor cat improved their pets' lives by avoiding scented cat litter or tissues, cleaners, detergents, room fresheners and other household products. Others found success transitioning their cats onto grain-free or single-protein raw cat foods, or by giving their cats supplements such as fish oil and brewer's yeast. I advise against treating all cats with the Advantage flea-killer drug because that is a shot in the dark, and, without fumigating your home (cats out!), is too risky and costly.
G.P.T., Poughkeepsie, NY
Tags: dog Poughkeepsie NY allergies vaccinations
May 08, 2011
I own a small beagle. In keeping with his health shots, I brought him to the vet for his distemper shot last April. I have had him for three years, and he is now 6 years old.
When we arrived home from the vet, he was fine for a short time. He then became excitable, running through rooms, jumping on furniture, and rubbing his face and head on the cushions. I called the vet, and he told me to bring him in for a shot to counteract the obvious allergic reaction. They gave him dexamethasone and Benadryl. He quieted immediately and remained calm that way until the next evening. His behavior became irritable again, running around and only resting for a few minutes at a time. His tongue got quite red; he panted and drank a lot of water.
I am concerned that he may have gotten a bad batch of serum. Is that possible? This is the first shot of that type since I first took him in.
G.P.T., Poughkeepsie, NY May 08, 2011
Please follow up with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog's adverse reaction to this new type of distemper vaccine was reported to the manufacturers and to the FDA's Bureau of Veterinary Medicine.
If your dog had received a distemper vaccination between one and three years ago, this shot was probably not called for. I am deeply concerned about the cavalier attitude toward vaccinations because I receive many letters like yours. Acute anaphylactic/hypersensitive reactions, as with your dog, may or may not mean seizures, allergies, cancer and other health problems later in life.
Some grocery stores have flu-shot drugs for customers, just as the big-box pet stores have constant vaccination promotions for cats and dogs. Repeated, unwarranted and potentially hazardous vaccinations primarily benefit the manufacturers and distributors. In principle, I am not opposed to vaccinations, having seen as a child the devastating consequences of a distemper outbreak in dogs and more recently epidemics of parvovirus, especially in young dogs here in the United States. I have also faced rabies and foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks while working in India. Vaccinations play an important role in preventive medicine, but should not be relied upon as the only solution.