I couldn't find any ongoing conversation about the latest Podcast about allergies/itching so I'm starting one.  I finally got a chance to listen and I thought it was very interesting and informative.  It's an issue that so many of us can relate to.   I'm glad Adina touched on bathing routines.  It was one of those issues you hear so much different advice but you know it depends on the dog's coat and lifestyle, but still when there is itching involved you think "I'm I bathing too often or not enough? Do I really need special shampoo or go milder?"  I was thinking once a month was enough but glad to hear more often isn't a problem.  I went through so many shampoos/conditioners before I found the least offensive to Picco's skin. 

I recently changed Picco's food because his eyes and ears got red and flaky and I think caused by a chicken based food which I had switched to a couple months prior.  He was on lamb based before that and would regurgatate sometimes but never saw a rash or anything similar.  I've been rotating between rabbit & duck limited ingredients and now his stool are always good & firm (and big!) and no more regurgitating.  So it wasn't just the chicken but I think the lamb was effecting him somewhat before.  I am challenging him with other proteins just reluctant with chicken or lamb which is okay since there is so many to choose from.  So according to Dr. Barbet, there may be an environmental issue going on too since there is still some scrathing & paw licking going on.  I don't know if it's bad enough to give meds but will talk with my vet about it.  

Thanks Adina - that was a great podcast!

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  • So, first thing to keep in mind is that 1 out of 10 cases of allergy itching & symptoms is caused by food. 90% of the time, it's environmental allergies, or Atopy. In some cases, it can be both. 
    Dogs who have symptoms 4 or more months of the year should be seen by a dermatology specialist. Period. You cannot use the immunosuppressant drugs more than 4 months of the year without major, serious side effects. And, Atopy gets worse as the dog gets older, and your percentage of success with immunotherapy goes down, so you always want to see a specialist sooner rather than later.
    This was all covered in the podcast.
    Regarding bathing(also covered), the advice from most veterinary dermatologists is that frequent bathing helps during the times of years when the dog is having symptoms. Jack's dermatologist recommended weekly baths. You also need a shampoo designed for allergic dogs. Douxo makes the best ones. (Also specialist recommended) An alternative would be a shampoo that contains Praxomine. You should never use a hot dryer on an Atopic dog, and you should never use leave-in conditioners or other grooming products. 
    "Challenging" a dog with diet does not mean trying out other proteins. It's the opposite. First, you do a food trial with one single protein that the dog has not eaten before on a regular basis, and that must be the only animal protein the dog gets for 8-12 weeks. Then if the symptoms seem to have improved, you still don't know if that's because you eliminated chicken (or whatever other protein you suspect) or if it's because an environmental allergen like ragweed pollen has left the area since you started the trial. So, you challenge the immune system by reintroducing chicken and see if that causes the symptoms to start again. Each suspect protein needs to be reintroduced one at a time. 

    I was very glad to have my standard advice on these things validated by the specialist in the podcast, lol. I now feel more confident than ever with this advice: 

    For temporary relief of inhalant allergies, here are some things that you can do:

    Give Omega 3 fatty acid supplements. You want the Omega 3 fatty acids DHA & EPA, which are only found in fish. You can also give GLA in the form of evening primrose oil supplements. In both cases, use human softgel supplements. 

    If you feed dry dog food, check the Omega 6:3 ratio. You want a ratio of 5:1 or less, the lower the better, and the Omega 3 content should come from fish.

    Give antihistamines. Different antihistamines are more effective for different dogs. Typically, you want second generation antihistamines that do not cause drowsiness, like Claritin, Zyrtec, Atarax, etc. rather than Benadryl.

    Use OTC anti-itch sprays on the affected areas. These are available at most pet supply stores.

    Wipe the dog down every time he comes in from outside, paying particular attention to the feet. Brush the dog daily.

    Keep the indoor areas where the dog spends the most time as clean and dust free as possible. Wash bedding weekly, wash food & water bowls daily. Vacuum as often as possible.

    Keep dry foods in air-tight storage containers and don't buy more than you can use in a month unless you can freeze it. Discard the bags the food came in and use ziplock freezer bags. 

    If the feet are affected, you can soak them in tepid water with epsom salts. Be sure to dry thoroughly afterwards.

    Bathe the dog often, weekly if possible, with a shampoo formulated for allergic dogs. (I like Douxo Calm). Do NOT use leave-in conditioners or other grooming products. Use a cool dryer setting or air-dry. 

    As much as I hate doing it, keeping windows closed really helps with pollen allergies. Run the A/C in warm weather especially, the allergy symptoms are exacerbated by humidity. Use a furnace filter with a high allergen rating and change it monthly. 

    Hope this helps. 

     

    • Thanks for the summary Karen!

      About Omega 3's... I take these Omega 3's for myself, Riley would probably gobble one up too.  I've been giving her EPO (she just eats it, silly garbage can dog) but should I switch to giving her one of these instead (or just do both?).  I have a huge bottle of EPO capsules already.

      https://www.costco.ca/webber-naturals-triple-strength-omega-3-900-m...

      Just the EPO seems to have made a difference to her itching.  She does lick her paws a little but nowhere near obsessive like she was a while back.  I've also been keeping her paw pad hair trimmed much shorter and cleaning her paws more regularly. 

      Just those small changes seem to have helped a lot, hopefully her allergies stay mild.  I know Luna's got progressively worse every year though.  Fingers crossed.

      • Okay, so there are different kinds of Omega 3 fatty acids, and they come from different sources. The only Omega 3 fatty acids that help with canine Atopic Dermatitis are EPA and DHA, both found only in fish. Some human Omega 3 supplements contain other fatty acids from plant sources, like ALA from flax seed. That's useless for dogs. 
        EPO provides the richest source of GLA, which is a form of Omega 6 fatty acid which, unlike most Omega 6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation, is an anti-inflammatory. It really helps with Atopy, especially when used in combination with antihistamines, as each enhances the effects of the other. 
        Fish oil gave JD diarrhea, so we used only EPO. He also ate a fish based diet with a very low Omega 6:3 ratio, so extra Omega 3 fatty acids weren't needed. 
        I would not switch from EPO to an Omega 3 supplement. If you wanted to add a little fish oil to Riley's diet, that might not be a bad idea. 

        • I guess I'm just confused by giving a regular fish oil supplements vs the one I use (which is concentrated fish oil as far as I can tell).  Too much for a dog since it's concentrated?

          I think I'll just stay the course for now with the EPO since things are under control.  If she flares up again I'll get her a bottle of regular fish oil and try it out.

           

          Thanks again!

          • According to the derm specialist on the podcast, fish oil only helps Atopy in large amounts. Large amounts gave JD diarrhea, so his dermatologist suggested the EPO capsules instead, and those worked well for him, along with a fish based diet with a high Omega 3 content. 
            You're probably fine just sticking with the EPO. 

  • I'm glad you started this discussion. I really enjoyed this episode of the podcast. The thing that I found fascinating was when she was talking about the allergy study dogs who got better after they were relocated to a farm and exposed to microbiome. 

    It made me think of Ava, who I suspect lived pretty much exclusively in a kennel situation until she came to me. I don't live on a farm, but she did have the opportunity to roll around in the dirt and play at the park and experience more of the environment after I got her. She responded amazingly to immunotherapy. I think even the vets were suprised at the reduction of symptoms. Especially since she was older when we started it. But it makes me wonder if that exposure to "stuff" also contributed to the imrovement I saw. It was pretty dramatic. She went from a dog who kept me awake all night chewing on her feet to a dog who didn't really itch at all. 

    It makes me worry a little about the humans of the future who don't seem to go outside. It's healthy to go outside and roll around in the hay and eat a little dirt. 

    • Yep. 
      And stop using "anti-bacterial" soaps. That's also a problem. 

      • I often wonder if DH's many environmental allergies are partly due to his mom's fastidiousness when it comes to cleaning.  She is definitely a "clean freak" and sanitizes everything.  

        I, on the other hand, don't get much bothered when my baby chews a bit on one of Riley's toys or eats a cheerio off the floor... might as well train that immune system!  

        Luna, who had pretty bad ragweed allergies, was raised on a hobby farm with horses and (I think) a few cows.  She definitely played in the dirt and the muck as a young pup and when she was home with us.  There's only so much you can do though if the genetic predisposition is there.

        • Yes, genetics pretty much trump everything else. (And pardon me for using a dirty word in this post. ;)

           

        • I have an aunt - the oldest child, who was never allowed to get down and play in the dirt. She's the unhealthiest of all the siblings. And who knows, maybe it's genetics or just the luck of the draw, but I think it's important to let the immune system figure out what to do. And if when we live in an anti-microbial bubble it doesn't. 

          My sister in law says she draws the line at the boys eating off the floor of the restaurant. At home and grandma's house it's okay. (family germs?) I don't think it hurts Riley or the baby to share toys.

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