MY ITCHY DOG
Betty is my toy Poodle x show cocker Cockapoo.
I collected Betty from the breeder when she was nine weeks old. From the start it appeared to me that Betty would scratch quite a lot, particularly around her face. I mentioned this to the vet at her first health check but after a thorough examination by the vet I was told that there were no parasites present and that she was fine.
As the months passed, Betty’s scratching became very gradually more frequent and persistent. Although I was still not overly concerned by it by I did mention it each time I was at the vets for something however they always seemed reluctant to address the problem.
Eventually I started to do my own research and this is when I started to learn about dogs with allergies, I hadn’t even realised they existed in dogs! After lots of reading on the internet I learned that there are a number of types of allergies the main ones being:
Atopy – An allergic reaction to inhalant allergens, such as house dust mites, mould spores and pollen etc
Contact Dermatitis - When the skin comes in to contact with Grass, household cleaners, carpets etc
Food allergy - Big offenders being, grains, soy, wheat but can also be any kind of meat but particularly beef and poultry.
Understanding that there are over five hundred things dogs can be allergic to it suddenly became clear why vets are so reluctant to tackle the problem!
The first thing I tried to give Betty some relief from her itching were shampoos, and topical sprays and lots of them! Unfortunately, none of these proved effective. I then tried her on a number of different Antihistamines as these are often effective for dogs, especially those with seasonal allergies. Despite varying the brand and using the maximum dosage none of them had any effect what so ever.
Next on the list of things to try was diet (although less than 10 % of dogs have food allergy) I tried many different brands and flavours of hypoallergenic foods including RAW and withdrew all treats but still no success. I also tried a number of supplements all claiming to stop itching but sadly without any improvement.
Finally accepting I needed professional help I went back to the vets – this time purely about her itching.
As most itching is caused by parasites Betty was given an intensive course of flea treatment which would have also treated any mange related problems. Once again no improvement was seen.
Finally the vet suggested intradermal allergy testing. This is where they shave the fur and inject a number of well known allergens in to the skin and look for reactions around the injection site. I had not really wanted to put Betty through this but by this time her itching had increased significantly and I felt I needed some answers after the frustration of trying so many different approaches without success.
On the day of the testing Betty was dropped off at the vets first thing in the morning, she was sedated, the tests done and then an evening appointment was arranged to discuss the results.
After what was seemed a very long day it was time to pick Betty up. The vet explained that the first injection she was given was histamine which should (and did) cause a severe reaction however the second injection was pure saline which should have caused no reaction at all but in Betty it did! Because of this the Vet could only presume that she was allergic to the needle and therefore could not be sure if all the other allergens she tested positive for were true readings or just a reaction to the needle itself.
Betty is very young to develop allergies and the vet believes that her allergies are not yet fully developed and has suggested further allergy testing in the future. In the meantime Betty has been prescribed Atopica which works by suppressing the immune system. Normally this drug is initially given on a daily basis until the itching is under control then tapered down to the minimum dose however my vet believes it is kinder to work up to the maximum dose so Betty is currently taking one tablet every three days.
Thanks to Colin for sharing his story.
Food allergies and food intolerance :
Dog skin allergies : http://www.dogskinallergies.org/
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