A few friends have contacted me about my allergies and what I have been doing to help them, and since spring is here, and we're all a little itchy, I thought I would share the details on my blog. This might be really boring if you don't have allergies. (Or even if you do!) Beware, the info might be a little graphic!
When my people got me at the age of 5, I had only had a couple of breakouts before, which involved getting scabby, infected spots on my chest and by my crotch area. It happened once or twice more before we moved away from New England, and I just went on antibiotics and an anti-histamine and it cleared up. A year later, we moved to Indiana. I immediately had problems. I got the infected spots, and "hot spots" where I chewed or scratched myself. I scratched my ears and mouth until they bled. I licked my paws until they were infected and then chewed on them because they were so itchy. My people got used to coming home and finding blood spots everywhere. And I was clearly miserable.
So for a while, the routine was anti-histamines, antibiotics, and if it was bad enough, prednizone, the steroid stuff. My old vet tested me for mange and parasites. She also put me on Duck-and-Potato special food. That didn't help. My people put me on 6 different diets - all different proteins, salmon, lamb, chicken, etc. Nothing improved. (They didn't and won't try the BARF diet, if you are wondering.) I got special medicated shampoo. Some months were better than others, but the spring time was the worst. They put shirts on me to stop scratching, and my e-collar so I couldn't chew on my paws. And they put booties and socks over my paws. If my people were home, they always made sure I stayed in the same room as them, because I would sneak away and chew and scratch.
My vet ended up moving away, so I got a new vet, Dr. Koch. (I was very lucky - he was my surgeon for my ACL surgery, and he just became my full-time vet after that. He's GREAT!) He said I am the worst allergy case he's ever seen. Yikes!
Dr. Koch got me tested to see what I was allergic to in the environment, since none of the food diets had pinpointed an allergy. He took a blood sample and sent it to this place called Greer Labs. A few weeks later, they sent back a list of my allergies. I was off the charts. I am allergic to grass. I am allergic to trees. I am "extremely" allergic to everything outside except ragweed. I am also "very" allergic to cats, and to people. So, the labs mixed up a concoction for me, and I get allergy shots. We have to constantly experiment with the timing of the shots and the dosage, but they help - A LOT! My dad just gives me the shot while I am eating breakfast.
If we get off-schedule or dosage with the shots, I still break out, but I have been seeing the vet much less. He said he is really pleased with my progress! But there are a bunch of other things that my people have to do in addition to the shots.
Vegetarian food. I eat Nature's Choice vegetarian dog kibble. The vet said it certainly can't hurt my allergies, and he and my dad are vegetarian, and he said it's healthy stuff. I'm not supposed to have any "people" food, and my snacks are baby carrots. They also freeze my kibble overnight before they feed it to me - apparently there are little mites that live in dog food, and I also happen to be allergic to those.
Baths. I am supposed to have a bath every three days, in cool water to help my inflamed skin, and with special medicated "Malaseb" shampoo. Here's the worst part: they have to leave the shampoo on my skin for ten long, miserable, wet minutes before they rinse it off.
Spray. After the bath, they chase me around and attempt to towel-dry me, while I rub my face on the carpet. Then, they are supposed to spray me all over, but especially on my paws, with this awful fir-tree-smelling spray stuff, Chlorhexiderm, or something like that. This is usually a challenging process, because I am an excellent escape artist, and I do not enjoy being sprayed. What usually happens is that one human will scratch my paw, which feels so good I almost go into a trance, and the other human sprays me while I am distracted.
Fish Oil. Every morning, I get a fish oil caplet. I got these from the vet. They are also good for my joints. Since I have started taking them (in addition to my glucosamine/chondroitin), I have started sitting more often like a normal dog, with my legs bent and under me, rather than off to the side! (I had that knee surgery two years ago and have a little arfritis.)
Children's Benadryl. a.k.a. "num-nums" During those times (spring) that I am especially itchy, I get a Children's Benadryl tab twice or three times a day. They make me a little sleepy, but they are quite tasty - grape flavored!
Bedding. I have two pillows that I sleep on. They are just square 25" x 25" pillows, and my mom has made several cases for them. After every bath, she changes the pillowcase to a fresh one, and complains about all of my laundry. My dad is also supposed to vacuum a lot.
So that is what helped me, and I hope that something from my list can help my itchy friends. I still have problems, but my vet and people are taking good care of me. Please feel free to email me if you want more specific info - lennylatshaw at gmail. Good luck!