Stetson was career changed 2 months after he started his formal guide dog training for being a bit of a softy (I’m not really sure what that means). We were happy to adopt Stetson, but shortly after bringing him back home he started to have some dog skin problems. At the time our veterinarian told us that it was dog skin allergies and he wasn’t sure exactly what was causing them. Stetson was given some Prednisone (steroids) and that seemed to clear up his skin for a little while.
Year after year Stetson has had these same skin allergies. The good news is depending on the season the allergies seem to go from better to worse to better again. We’ve tried our share of allergy remedies and some have proven very effective while others have not.
After another expensive visit to the vet we decided to push forward with a full on dog skin allergy assault by combining all the different remedies recommended by our vet and religiously following them for the course of at least 3 months.
What Are Stetson’s Dog Allergy Symptoms?
As I mentioned earlier the severity of Stetson’s dog skin allergies varies depending on the season, but pretty much year round you’ll find Stetson chewing on his paws. During certain parts of the year Stetson will also get little scabs on his chest and belly. We’ll also sometimes notice flakey dry skin on his back and across most of the rest of his body.
As you can see in the picture below Stetson’s back paw is red (maybe more pinkish) and irritated (it sometimes looks a little bit scabby too)
A recap of Stetson’s allergy symptoms:
- Chews on his paws and his paws are sometimes scabby.
- Scabs on his belly and chest area.
- On Stetson’s back and other parts of his body flakey and dried out skin.
- Also, I’ve heard that Stetson’s ear infections may also be a result of his doggy allergies.
Our veterinarian said that some people like to keep an itch calendar/chart to track how itchy their dog is on any given day. The point is to show if certain seasons or types of weather are causing your dog’s allergies.
This last weeks vet bill was the final strike! (plus we don’t like seeing Stetson itching all the time). Here’s a list of remedies we plan on trying all at once to finally alleviate Stetson of his dog skin problems.
Stetson’s 10 Remedies For Treating Dog Skin Problems
Okay, so we won’t be implementing all 10 of these remedies all at once because the first 2 are medications we’ve already tried and had success with Stetson and his dreadful allergy problems. However, my issue with the first 2 remedies are the side effects (especially long term) on your dog.
#1 Steroids (Prednisone)
The first time we noticed Stetson was having skin allergy problems the vet prescribed Prednisone which is a steroid. I know what you’re thinking…steroids!? Did he starting lifting weights, get humongous, does he get angry easily? Nope! And he’s not trying out for doggy olympics either (he’d probably get banned for using steroids).
The steroids worked great and cleared up his scabby, flakey skin. However, one side effect was Stetson was drinking lots of water and peeing a lot. He actually stayed with my brother for a few nights while I was on vacation and had an accident in the house 🙁 The vet told us that extended use could lead to liver and kidney damage. Our vet also said that because the steroid suppresses the immune system Stetson would be more susceptible to getting sick. Overall this was not a long term solution.
A couple years ago we tried Atopica with Stetson. This prescription medication also worked and after about a month Stetson had a nice shiny coat again! However there were some definite drawbacks to using Atopica.
- Cost – it cost close to $300 a month to use Atopica. The price comes down a little as you adjust the dosage, but I think I estimated it would cost me nearly $200 a month to keep Stetson on Atopica. I have recently seen that they carry Atopica at Costco, but I haven’t looked at the pricing.
- Side Effects – I’m not too sure what all the side effects are with Atopica, but Stetson was Nauseas for a couple hours every day he took the meds. He would vomit about every other time I gave him the capsule. Our vet said if we try it again to freeze the pills to help with the nausea.
- Suppressed Immune System – Atopica like the steroids suppresses the immune system which makes Stetson more susceptible to illness.
- Long term side effects – Our vet again warned us against possible liver and kidney problems down the line. Although he did say this medication is much more mild then the steroids.
Atopica really seems to help with dog skin problems, but the side effect plus cost really made me re-think our long term solution for Stetson’s allergies.
We therefore asked the vet for some other remedies that might help Stetson and his skin allergies. The rest of this list consists of the things we plan on doing for the next 3 months to help alleviate Stetson’s allergies.
#3 Weekly bathing
I had always heard that you shouldn’t bathe your dog more than once a month because it can be bad for your dog’s skin. Apparently dog’s don’t produce natural oils like humans. However, my vet recommended weekly bathing and assured me that it would be okay for Stetson’s skin as long as I used a good dog shampoo (never use a human shampoo).
#4 Baby wipe feet
Every time we go out on a walk Stetson’s paws get exposed to all different kinds of possible allergens in the environment. Stetson’s paws are one of his big problems. When his allergies are flaring he chews on his paws regularly. In fact, he licks them so much that not only does the fur fall off, but when he stayed with a friend they thought he had a potty accident on the bed (he was actually just licking his paws and made a nice round wet mark on their comforter).
We bought some baby wipes from Costco and plan on wiping down his paws every time he comes in the house. This is probably good dog hygiene too.
#5 Flea meds
One of the possible skin allergy culprits are fleas! In the past we’ve used topical solutions like Advantage II (affiliate link) and Frontline Plus (affiliate link). However, we only used it seasonly. Our vet recommended that we apply flea meds to Stetson religiously once a month to keep the fleas away. My mom’s cat has severe flea allergies so this could solve our problems.
#6 Grain free food
Our vet said we could try switching dog foods and to try a novel grain free food. We’ve been thinking about changing dogs foods for a while so there’s no better time then now to make the switch.
We’re looking to change our dogs over to Canidae Grain Free Pure Sky (affiliate link). Have you guys tried a good grain free food that helps with dog skin allergies? If so, let me know what you’re feeding your pups in the comment section below.
#7 Fish oil
Derby our second guide dog puppy in training was having some skin problems. I’m not sure if it was allergies or just dry skin. The GDA vet gave us a bottle full of fish oil capsules to help his skin issues. However, our current vet had never offered this as a solution to Stetson’s allergies. I asked our vet if this would help and he said that it could and told me to try giving Stetson one fish oil capsule a day. Fish oil is probably something I (the human) should be taking as well for my own general health.
Fish oil is another item you can buy from Costco in bulk…maybe Stetson and I will share a bottle 🙂
One of our friends who is a vet tech recommended trying Benadryl for Stetson’s allergies. Our vet also recommended 75 mg of Benadryl twice a day. He said the side effects are Stetson might be a little more lethargic than normal, but it could help. He said that it helps about 1 out of 4 dogs with their allergies so if it works to consider myself lucky.
#9 Clean House
Our vet said to also try and keep the house as clean as possible. This makes it less likely that Stetson will pick up an allergen inside the house. Even an air filter could help his allergies. I’m not the tidiest of people so I’m going to schedule daily cleanup to try and help Stetson and his allergies.
#10 Vinegar And Water
This is a home remedy that my Aunt told me to try that she said successfully worked with her Great Pyrenees and Italian Greyhounds. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and fresh water into a plastic spray bottle. Spray on your dog daily to help with your dogs itching.
I’m not too sure where she got this information from because she’s not in the veterinarian field so it’s probably something she either heard from her vet or from a friend/family member. So please tread with caution if you try this solution. I will probably give it a try as a last resort.
Check with your vet before trying any of these dog skin allergy remedies. I got the majority of this information after a lengthy discussion with my vet to see what I could do to help alleviate Stetson of his dog skin problems.
Dog skin problems have been the bane of Stetson’s existence since he came home from Guide Dog College. I’m hoping these remedies will make him feel a little less itchy. If not, our next option is allergy testing.
How about you? Do you have an itchy dog with skin problems? Do you have any good home remedies or advice that works for you and your dog?