For the first 12 years of her life she was as normal as most dogs. That is to say she spent her days in search of the doggy basics: food, walk, play time and loving. Not to mention the never ending hunt for the single best place to pee or poop.
Then about a year ago Annie began to develop dog allergies. At first we thought she had fleas. We diligently applied Frontline, gave her flea baths and combed and brushed her but this did not relieve her itching for long. Over time she developed red and scaling sores on her belly and especially on the butt near her tail.
Her licking and scratching went on every day and, worse, into the night. It was not uncommon to be awakened by the sound of her licking. She, and I, needed relief.
We visited the vet and she informed us that dog allergies occur in over 40% of the dogs that seeks vet treatment for itching and scratching. She explained that these allergies are caused by any number of food or airborne allergens.
The first issue was to get her licking and scratching under control.
To do this involved a three step approach. The first step was a medicated bath that helped sooth the skin. Step two was to start Annie on a course of antibiotics to kill the sores that had formed on her body. Finally, to control the scratching, a 10 day steroid dose was prescribed. In terms of side effects the main issue was the steroids that caused her to drink a ton more water than normal and to be hungry all of the time. Fortunately she did not start to exhibit personality changes brought on by mood swings caused by the steroids.
Within 3 days Annie was feeling much better. She was better but the cause of her dog allergies was not yet understood.
Was it in her food? Was it in our home? Was she allergic to our cat?
The search for answers is a long process much like getting to the bottom of a human allergy problem. There are many approaches to take but we chose to focus on the food related possibilities. The first step was to eliminate all the store bought food from her diet. But wait, this can have unforeseen side effects. You see as bad as dog food is, given the fact that it contains simply unknown parts of unknown animals, there has been enough testing to know that from a nutritional standpoint it does provide the right blend of nutrients to keep our normally healthy dogs healthy. So by feeding a diet of homemade food we effectively removed the potential allergen but compromised her health. An alternative solution was to move to a vegetarian based dog food and get the animal impurities out of her system.
The follow up step was to do lots of research, as even the best vet in town does not have the time to dedicate to understanding the issue as much as the dogs owner. The internet contains a huge database of information on dog allergies as written by drug companies, veterinarians, pet owners, and complied into many useful sites.
Don’t let your best friend suffer. Start by getting some help for your dog today and then do your homework. Making your dog feel better will make you feel better.