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Discussion Starter #1
Last Spring I had my then-2 yr old neutered male St. Bernard to the vet for a rather nasty fungal ear infection and when the vet noticed that he was scratching a little and licking at his paws a little, he surmised he had allergies and placed him on Apoquel. There were never any wounds, hot spots and/or missing hair but the vet said the allergies were contributing to the development of the fungal ear infections and the Apoquel would stop them.

I was able to stop the Apoquel over the winter once the grass died but we were back to the Apoquel (and another fungal ear infection) in April when the grass started taking off again.

The scratching has been reduced and he doesn't lick at his feet as much on the Apoquel but I've noticed that he's getting the fungal ear infections more & more frequently lately. He's had 2 more since the one in April! Although he's not had any (known) side-effects to this point, I've never been all that comfortable with him being on the Apoquel because of the ugly things I've heard about the drug. Also, I'm spending $200/mo. on this med!! I tried transitioning him to Benadryl but the itching returned...although, looking at the antihistamine dosing list someone posted, it looks like I had been under-dosing him as I was only giving him (140lbs/ approx. 64 kg) 75mg twice daily & @ the 2-4mg/kg that is recommended he was under the minimum dose of 125mg twice a day.

Are fungal ear infections an indication for starting Apoquel? I love my vet and usually agree with him 100% but it bothers me that he went straight to Apoquel without trying anything else "safer". I would really feel more comfortable getting my dog off of Apoquel, not only for his health but the health of my wallet! I'm going to try transitioning to Benadryl again using the higher dosage but is there a different OTC antihistamine that works better than Benadryl? Can I reduce his exposure/dose of Apoquel by supplementing with Benadryl? Is there something special, beyond general ear care, that I should be doing to help prevent these fungal infections?
 

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You may have 2 types of allergies going on, food and environmental.

My own dog is on apoquel for his environmental allergies and like your dog I am able to take him off of the medicine in the winter. I've tried benedryl and even at the correct dose he'll still scratch himself raw, and I've used Tameril-P but I hate it as it makes him very lethargic and I know prednisone is very hard on the internal system. I'll stick with the Apoquel. Apoquel does not help with any of my dog's food sensitivities, and maybe that's what's going on with your dog.

What are you feeding him?
 

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Apoquel isn't fixing the problem, it's masking it. That's why the problems continue to return. If it's an allergy from environmental causes, a natural antihistamine would work. I have a couple with environmental allergies, and I put them on spirulina. I get it from http://springtimeinc.com
Paw licking and itching stopped. I would certainly give that a try over apoquel.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Rain,

I've had Herbie on a multitude of different foods without any real changes in his scratching & ear issues. Currently, he's on Victor Beef Meal & Rice but I'm thinking of trying to take him low-carb & see if that helps with the ear thing. His current food is like 40% carbs. I'm thinking of trying Victor's Ultra Pro because it is only 16% carbs.

NaturalFedDogs,

Thanks for the link. I'll have to look into that. I am absolutely scared to death of having him on Apoquel long-term. It's already been too long as far as I'm concerned.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I realized last night that there seems to be a pattern to Herbie's symptoms. During the day, he is completely comfortable on Zyrtec. It's only at night that he has these periods of head shaking and scratching at his left ear...and it usually doesn't start until around midnight or 1am.

The other possible connection that has dawned on me is that the ONLY room in my house that has carpeting is the BEDROOM....and that's the room that Herbie's scratching and head shaking occurs in.

Do you think that he's allergic to the carpet or possibly that the carpet is trapping the allergens that bother him?

I'm going to move a cot into the living room (no carpet) for a few nights and see if the nocturnal shaking and scratching resolve if he's kept out of the bedroom at night. Crossing my fingers that I've discovered the factor that is making his allergies too much for just the Zyrtec to handle & I will be able to get him off...and keep him off...the Apoquel.
 

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I realized last night that there seems to be a pattern to Herbie's symptoms. During the day, he is completely comfortable on Zyrtec. It's only at night that he has these periods of head shaking and scratching at his left ear...and it usually doesn't start until around midnight or 1am.

The other possible connection that has dawned on me is that the ONLY room in my house that has carpeting is the BEDROOM....and that's the room that Herbie's scratching and head shaking occurs in.

Do you think that he's allergic to the carpet or possibly that the carpet is trapping the allergens that bother him?

I'm going to move a cot into the living room (no carpet) for a few nights and see if the nocturnal shaking and scratching resolve if he's kept out of the bedroom at night. Crossing my fingers that I've discovered the factor that is making his allergies too much for just the Zyrtec to handle & I will be able to get him off...and keep him off...the Apoquel.
Carpet traps allergens such as dust mites, etc. It's impossible to keep carpet clean enough to prevent it. You may be on to something. Keep us posted.
 
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