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)
Sorry Stetson…not your most glamorous shot…
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
Before Stetson’s Dog Skin Allergy Symptoms
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?
If you know me on a personal level then you’ll know that I love to research products, services, including something like Pet Insurance before purchasing. Most people would not even consider not having health insurance for themselves or their family. My mother being one of those people has instilled in me the importance of health insurance and how you can never be over prepared for your next accident. Health insurance is very important for me because I love to play sports like hockey, tennis, golf and love the active lifestyle. This is very healthy as far as being well conditioned, but it also wears on your joints and there’s always a possibility of injury even more so as you get older.
Why Pet Insurance?
Now that I’ve discussed health insurance for people why not Pet Insurance for your dog, cat, or other favorite pet. Many pets are just as active and susceptible to injuries as humans. Pets will also succumb to certain health issues as they become older. And if any of you have visited the veterinarian recently you’ll know that vet bills are almost if not just as expensive as your regular doctor.
I guess your probably wondering why are we talking about Pet Insurance today. Well, Stetson has had a skin irritation for a while now. He’s been treated three times over the past year and his rash/skin allergy comes and goes. We decided to visit a different vet to see if we could nip this little allergy in the bud. While we received good news, medication and information on how to control Stetson’s allergy our 30 minute visit to the vet cost us nearly $200…and that was for something I’d consider very minor. Just think if we had a major incident…surgery for elbow or hip dysplasia, broken bones, torn ligaments…the list can go on and on.
So now we’re researching Pet Insurance. And what better place to start then a post to the blog. We’d like to hear what you think about pet insurance. Do you have Pet Insurance? Who’s your provider? Why did you choose them? Let us know in the comments section below.
Have you had to deal with Dog Skin Allergies? This is my first dog that I know of with dog allergies. I’m sure our past dogs may have had minor allergies that went unnoticed. However, Stetson’s dog skin allergies are very irritating for him and definitely require the attention of a vet.
Stetson and Linus are so different in many ways. People often say they look like brother’s, but if you look closely or are accustomed to distinguishing the differences in two breeds you’ll know they do not have the same momma or papa.
Stetson is a pure-bred Black Labrador Retriever bred for the Guide Dog program and career changed just over a year ago. Linus is from the shelter and is presumed to be an Australian Shepherd mixed with possibly a Chow, maybe some Lab, possibly some Husky…we really don’t know. He may be a good candidate for one of those breed identification tests.
There are many other differences, but today I wanted to talk about the difference in their health and visits to the vet.
Linus The Aussie Mix
When we first picked up Linus from the shelter he was very sickly and tired. He was covered in fleas, anemic, had a stomach infection, worms, and basically didn’t want to move his first couple days home. We cleaned him up, got him meds from the vet, and ever since he has been a very healthy dog.
Stetson the Labrador Retriever
Stetson came from a sterile environment and was perfectly healthy when we picked him up. He did require the regular vaccinations (Linus went through the same series of vaccinations), but that’s where similarities ended. Stetson has had at least four trips to the vet for ear infections, four trips to the vet for his dog skin problems, and two trips to the vet for injuring his foot. While I don’t consider this a lot of visits it’s a steep contrast compared to Linus’s yearly checkups.
Dog Skin Allergies
That brings us to our visit with the veterinarian the other day for Stetson’s latest run in with his dog skin allergy. As I mentioned earlier Stetson has already been to the vet several times for this dog skin condition. In response we changed his food to Natural Balance Duck and Potato Allergy Formula. We thought that helped, but later this summer realized Stetson’s skin was red and irritated again…thus our latest visit to the vet.
Here’s what we were told about Dog Skin Allergies and Stetson’s condition.
- No ear infections which commonly occurs from allergies – good news!
- Red irritated skin and scabs are a result of allergies and bacteria setting in as a result of allergic reaction
- Could be mites – Derby had Demodex also known as mange not long ago which was very nasty. After looking under the microscope the vet said she didn’t see any mites, but they could still be causing the allergies
- It’s probably not from his food since we have him on Natural Balance Duck and Potato Allergy Formula
- The most likely culprit is fleas. We’re not diligent about giving Stetson flea medication only applying his Frontline plus during the hot months.
- She said it could be, but most likely wasn’t ring worms. She checked under a black light and didn’t see ring worms.
She concluded that the skin allergies were most likely caused by fleas and recommended we keep Stetson on a strict flea prevention schedule. She started us out with a flea and mite medication just in case the mites were causing Stetson’s allergies.
We went home with a topical medication called ProMeris and antibiotics called Cephalexin to clear up Stetson’s skins. She Stetson should be clear of his allergies within a couple weeks and if not we have to head back to the vet.
Eeeeekkk…and the vet bill was almost $200…lucky for us a couple months ago we won a $200 gift certificate to our vet at the Orange County Super Pet Adoption at the Irvine Animal Care Center, but it really got us to thinking is it time to go Pet Insurance for Stetson and Linus?
Are you dealing with dog skin allergies? If so, how do you treat it? I’ve also actually heard that my aunt treats her dogs with simply a mixture of vinegar and water. I’ll have to check in with her and find out how that works and report back.
Welcome back to another edition of the Puppy In Training Blog Carnival. This is our eight edition and I thought I’d do something slightly different with the formatting. We have five submissions this month and I’m going to feature my favorite submitted article first as the editor’s choice. In the future as we have more submissions I’ll also do my best to categorize each article.
Anyhow, lets get started with the Editor’s Choice Award:
- The Organic Family Circle blog put together a very helpful article on pet allergies and how these allergies can be treated organically. In the article: Healing Your Pet’s Allergies as well as Your Own Can Often Be Done Organically! Try Using Organic Feeds and Supplements it mentions many possible causes and solutions to your pets allergies. Stetson, my Labrador Retriever has had a skin allergy and it seems to have cleared up after changing his diet to hypo-allergenic feed just as it’s mentioned in the article. If you’re having issues with allegies and your dog you might want to take a peak at this article.
Blog Carnival Featured Articles
- Dog Training Step By Step really gives you step by step rules on how to be the alpha dog in your house. How to become your dog’s Alpha dog gives 9 tips several of which I’ve heard from my trainers on how to become the alpha dog. The article reminds me a lot of the Cesar Millan DVD’s I watched not too long ago and it talks about how the dog is a descendant of wolves and how understanding the behavior of wolves will help you understand your dog. Check out the article to see the 9 steps towards becoming the alpha dog.
- I never thought about getting an impression of my dog or puppy’s paw, but that’s exactly what Baby Footprint Graphic Blog talks about in Creative Paw Prints and Impressions – Ideas For Creating That Lasting Memory of Your Pet. I totally agree that after your dog passes you can never have enough pictures, videos, and other memento to remind you of your dog. Heck, I still wish I had more pictures of my dogs as puppy’s! There are some great ideas on how to get that “oh-so-valuable” paw impression, so when you have a chance check out this article.
- Training Fido teaches how to keep your dog from jumping on people when you have visitors at the front door. How to teach Fido not to jump on people gives some great pointers on things you can do to keep your dog calm when you have visitors at the door. This is definitely a problem I run into with my three dogs. We’ve worked on it on and off, but as I’ve mentioned time and time again on this blog you need to be consistent with your training and expect good behavior from your dogs everytime.
- What would a Blog Carnival be without a funny photo? Take a look at this image of Dick Cheney’s dog at the Cute Dog and Puppy Pictures Blog. Sorry, the title of the article kind of gives it away: Instead, It Turns Out Dick Cheney’s Dog Was Darth Vader!
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Puppy In Training Blog Carnival. If you’re interested in submitting an article then please go to the contact form or leave me a comment in the comment section below.