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Are you dealing with dog skin problems? Our poor Stetson is…:(
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 love our soft boy 🙂
We were happy to adopt Stetson, but shortly after bringing him back home, he started to have some 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)
Dog Allergy Symptoms
A recap of Stetson’s allergy symptoms:
- Chews on his paws and his paws are sometimes scabby. He would lick and lick and lick his paws so much that it sometimes looked like he had a potty accident on the bed because of the large water stain (it was just a lick stain).
- 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 schedule/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 week’s 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.
UPDATE: Looking back trying all at once was probably not the best idea. Have you ever heard of an A/B test, Colby?
10 Remedies For Treating Dog Skin Problems
Disclaimer: Guys, I am not your veterinarian these are remedies we’ve either tried or plan on trying with Stetson and are listed here for entertainment purposes only. If you have any medical questions please consult your veterinarian.
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 is 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 start lifting weights, get humongous, does he get angry easily?
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 of 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 Nauseous for a couple of 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 nausea.
- Suppressed Immune System – Atopica like 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 milder than 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, dogs 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).
Another idea we had is to use a more mild puppy shampoo for Stetson so we tried using Burt’s Bees Puppy Shampoo.
I can’t say whether using puppy shampoo helped or hurt based on personal observation.
#4 Baby wipe feet
Every time we go out on a walk Stetson’s paws gets 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.
UPDATE: We found wipes made for puppies called Earth Rated Dog Wipes that we are going to try with the dogs. However, I’m sure regular baby wipes work just as well at a lower price.
#5 Flea meds
One of the possible skin allergy culprits are fleas!
UPDATE: Frontline stopped working for a little while. I talked to the vet and he said fleas can sometimes become immune to one of the topical products. We moved to Advantage II and all was peachy. Now we’re back using Frontline Plus which works great and covers us for both fleas and ticks.
However, we only used it seasonally.
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 try a novel grain-free food.
We’ve been thinking about changing dogs’ foods for a while so there’s no better time than now to make the switch.
We’re looking to change our dogs over to Wellness Core Grain Free.
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. Consult your vet before administering over-the-counter drugs.
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 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 dog’s 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?
UPDATE: Good news guys and gals! Way back we were told that the dog skin problems we were encountering were either Stetson’s diet or environment.
We bounced Stetson’s food around quite a bit trying several novel proteins, dehydrated, and grain-free dog foods including:
While we thought we saw some improvements the biggest changes came when we moved from our condo in Irvine to our house in Orange.
Our best guess is Stetson’s sensitive skin was probably not agreeing with pesticides or whatever our association was using on our community lawn and landscape.
Today Stetson’s skin allergies are totally under control.
No more dog skin problems and no need for the latest remedies…phew…
UPDATE: We were recently sent a new product that we’re hoping will help with doggy allergies. Native Pet sent us Native Pet Allergy Chews. We’re going to test them out and report back to you.
Top Picks For Our Puppies
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Beef Collagen Sticks - All of our pups love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Collagen Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
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We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.