Riley's allergy saga continues

We had to take Riley to the vet because she has been having an itchy bum for a few weeks and started scooting a bit over the last few days.  Before the scooting started she would abruptly sit down and then look at her bum every once in a while, sometimes a few times in a row.  It was weird but she wasn't scooting so we thought maybe she just had a minor itch or something.  She's also been licking her paws a lot lately but that's nothing new for her - it comes and goes.

The vet says her anal glands were a bit full and that combined with the paw licking they think it's a food allergy.  To me it doesn't sound at all like a food allergy... she doesn't vomit up her food, her stools are normal (if a little bit soft, but they are formed), she isn't losing weight or anything (in fact she's a few pounds over).  The itchy bum did start shortly after we started her current bag of food and her poops have not been very hard so I'm guessing that's probably the reason for the full anal glands.

Just to be cautious we're going to switch her off her current food (Fromm Surf and Turf) to a 5 lb bag we have of Pork&Peas formula to see if there's an immediate change in her stools.  The two formulas have different proteins so it's worth a try.  We had noticed in the past that she doesn't do super well with heavily fish-based foods so maybe we just need to stay away from those.

My husband is convinced that the vet is on the right track because they are a vet and we are not... but it just doesn't seem right to me.  I looked up food allergies in dogs and the only symptom Riley seems to have is the paw itching which is more likely to be due to environmental allergies.  


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  • When Adina switched to this last format I quit receiving notifications from any groups I used to be a member of unless I went to the specific group and requested to follow the discussions. Sigh!   I just found this discussion and was humanly interested. I can no longer eat most citrus. I get fever blisters. I can  handle the fruit with my hands but not get it near my mouth. Helps  with my dogs licking their paws too. :-)

    • Ok so you can prepare the fruit and I will eat it, haha.  :)

      • And I'll be drooling over your shoulder the whole time.  I adore oranges and once in a while I will put chapstick on my lips and have a Mandarin orange which seems to have less acidity.  Lemonade and grapefruit are on my forever never list, so I would love to fix you a grapefruit half just for the smell!

  • Do you think frequent paw washing (a few times a week) with an oatmeal shampoo might help keep the symptoms at bay even if it's a food allergy?  I mean we're not 100% sure it's food at this point so I guess it couldn't hurt?

    • Keeping the the paws clean and dry is very helpful in managing the symptoms, regardless of what kind of allergy it is. That's one of the tips in my frequently posted "keeping them comfortable" article, lol. Rather than oatmeal shampoo, I'd use something like Douxo or something that contains praxomine along with the oatmeal. Chlorhexidine helps a lot, too. The main thing is to keep them bone dry. Moisture will exacerbate the itching.

      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. 


      Some Basic Facts About Allergies in Dogs
      Dogs, just like people, can and do have allergies to many different things. Since my guy Jackdoodle has a very severe allergic condition called atopi…
      • We already have oatmeal shampoo so that's why I was thinking that (at least for this week).  We're under lockdown here and the Douxo on Amazon is longer shipping than usual, can't get it for a few weeks.  

        Thanks for the reminder.  I'm sure you've told me all these things a million times.  I wasn't sure if the same advice applied to food allergies, makes sense though.  

        • Well, the symptoms are the same, mainly itching, so the same things relieve them, regardless of what causes them. Obviously, if a dog has no allergies to say, storage mites, then things like how you store their dry food won't matter much. But it's also important to remember that the vast majority of individuals with allergies are allergic to multiple things; rarely would anyone, dog or human, be allergy to single thing, whether that's a food or an inhalant allergen. So might as well cover our bases. 

  • Okay, so symptoms of food allergies are the same as symptoms of environmental/seasonal/inhalant allergies. Itching and paw licking. Food allergies don't typically cause GI symptoms (vomiting, stool issues, weight loss, etc). The symptoms of allergies will never tell you whether they are caused by food, mold, dust, pollen, whatever. Paw licking just means an allergy, not a food allergy as opposed to a pollen allergy or vice versa. It simply means that the immune system is producing a histamine response to an allergen; there are a lot of histamine receptors in dogs' paws. 
    In order to determine if this is an allergy to her food, you need to switch to a single protein LID formula that does not contain the same protein as the old food, and preferably a protein she's never had before. (You also must eliminate any grains she's eaten on a regular basis in the past.So if her puppy food had rice in it, the new food must not.)  You must also make sure that she doesn't get any other animal protein but the one in the new food in any form, (treats, etc) and that has to continue for 8-12 weeks.  I love Fromm, but it is not your best choice for attempting a food elimination trial, because they don't make LID formulas. 

    • This is probably the hardest thing for most people to understand.  Because food goes through the GI tract, it seems like a no brainer that a food allergy would result in GI symptoms. Even in people...there aren't that many GI manifestations of food allergies.  There are intolerances that have GI consequences and even Celiac disease is not an "allergy" but an autoimmune response and sometimes functional gut disorders and IBD that are also not allergies.  

      • Allergies are so weird.  I have a protein contact allergy to certain fruits/veggies but only on my hands and usually only if the skin is already irritated... I can eat them but I can't touch them so I wear gloves to prepare food.  I'll take it over a food allergy any day though!  

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