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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long post alert! Ignore this if you so choose to as this post is really just for me to vent and try to get my anxiety out. I feel like I'm acting like my poor pooch is at heaven's gate, and it's just allergies!! :)

Tank, our 7-1/2 yr old 100lb beast of a German Shepherd, has always been a tad itchy here and there but nothing I would've considered horrible in any way. If he was itching "too much", I could say his name or tap him and he'd stop. It didn't distract him from anything he was doing, so I honestly thought nothing of it.

This year - different story. I've seen a few posts on a few forums, and honestly have heard a few human friends/family/coworkers that said allergies are extremely high right now this year. I apparently don't have them because I haven't been bothered, but I believe Tank has. We had quite a dry spell in August and then it rained like a monsoon for a few weeks, so I believe that all allergens went haywire and I'm hoping it's just an odd year.

Starting a few weeks ago, the scratching/biting/licking has gotten worse. To the point where we cannot stop him without physically holding a body part (leg, snoot). He jumps in our bed every morning and rubs his face all over as he always does, but then he'll turn around, go to the foot of the bed and just proceed to go at it. If we're hanging out on the couch at night and he's chilling there with us, it feels like we're having an earthquake because he's going at it so badly. Even a few times when he's outside, he'll stop walking and itch which is completely out of character for him. His toes are also starting to get that pink tinge from licking so much.

He eats Wellness Core Ocean (due to a potential chicken allergy from when he was a pup per vet's suggestion). We also add Welactin Omega-3 Supplement Oil back from when he was a pup too because it seemed to help his dry lips. Only potential problem there is we free feed him - we put what he should be eating a day according to the package in the bowl, mix in the appropriate amount of oils but it's hit or miss whether he eats the whole bowl or not (his weight has been fine so we haven't been told to do anything different). I've questioned whether he's getting all the Omega's he needs. Once the itching got a bit worse a few weeks ago, I bought Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites and started giving him one a day for a week. Then upped it to two a day (he should be getting 3 a day for his weight but it said to increase slowly). However, if it was going to help, it didn't by the time his allergies got to what I'll call the breaking point. Also at one point bought Zesty Paws Itch Soother Dog Shampoo with Oatmeal & Aloe Vera but don't think that helped - only used it once a month or so, maybe not often enough?

This past weekend, he itched a few raw spots - one on his toe on the inside of his back foot by his nail, and one of what I'm going to call his shin. I decided it was time to do more. I took him to the vet for the allergies plus what I thought might be a UTI (he was drinking and peeing less - darker urine than normal, almost acting like he didn't want to pee when we brought him outside, and once in the garage I thought I saw dribble on the concrete). The vet did a urine culture which came back negative, did a prostate exam (poor guy) since he got neutered last year for an enlarged prostate which seemed fine, and then looked at his feet, legs, face, ears, etc for the allergies. The vet didn't believe he had yeast or bacteria yet on his paws or in the wounds, so his first line of defensive was Prednisone and an antibiotic - one: to prevent any bacteria just in case and two: to ward off an UTI in case it was JUST starting and there wasn't enough bacteria to show up yet. Vet also suggested wiping his paws off with a damp cloth when we come in from outside.

With other posts I've seen, it seems to be the typical drama of what I'm going through or worse (so again, I feel bad for even venting). Either the animal has dealt with it it's whole life, or it just comes on with age but same struggle. Vets seem to treat it in different ways and I get so confused and frustrated and honestly downright scared that this is only going to get worse. I feel like my vet took the approach that this season is particularly bad, let's "break the cycle" using prednisone and hope that it gets him through until the allergens die down (prednisone is only for 12 days total). I believe the cycle he refers to is that he gets allergens on his paws, scratches his body/chews his feet and the allergen spreads to other areas of the body, which causes more itching and it's a never ending cycle. My first major anxiety was putting him on the prednisone at all, but this needed to stop at least for now and he's doing well 3 days in (itching stopped 90+% within hours and surprisingly no side effects that I can tell). My next major anxiety is that as he weans, the itching will come back and when he's completely done, he'll be full bore to the extent he was before.

I've looked into more supplements (his food seems to have probiotics and flax already), more products to use (wipes, shampoos, sprays - words like chlorhexidine and ketoconazole), came across Apoquel and Cytopoint (obviously I know those are through the vet), and I'm just so overwhelmed. I also don't want to put too many things into the mix on top of what the vet is already having us do. I love our veterinary office and I really do trust them as they've never steered us wrong in MY eyes. But reading how much other things have helped other people's dogs makes me want to drop a billion dollars to help my poor pooch out. Right now, I'm trying to hold back and I'm going to buy hypoallergenic baby wipes at the store to start wiping his paws/belly/face with to see if that helps at all.

Outside of whoever made it this far listening to my rant (thank you by the way - helps to get things off my chest regardless of if I get feedback or not), I guess my few questions would be:
1) What are the chances he has another potential food allergy if he isn't vomiting or having diarrhea? I'm sure that's not 100% a definitive measure but I always worry.
2) I'm assuming like people, allergies can be worse or better depending on the year? Could there be a chance that it won't get that bad again assuming the season is calmer than this seemingly horrible year?
3) Are we doomed and this is only going to get worse? I'm confident if his condition gets worse again after the prednisone, my vet will do more. I have a problem with not being able to predict the future and I really don't enjoy it... :)

Would appreciate anyone's feedback or experiences/dramas to give me some hope. I realize there are a million worse things out there than allergies and I honestly dread being in that situation because if my anxiety is this bad over something as seemingly simple as allergies, I might have a mental breakdown in the future.
 

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I'm having the same issues with my boy Zuko...poor boy's rubbed the fur off his feet with the itching this year.

You can ask your vet about giving your pup Benadryl (just the antihistamine version...not any version with other ingredients). I give Zuko 50mg twice a day along with zesty paws' hemp elements plus aller-immune treats. Apoquel and cytopoint are good as well.

I also had the vet do allergy testing on him at his wellness exam last week. Those results will be back within the next couple weeks.

Allergies for our pups aren't fun. Good luck figuring everything out
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm having the same issues with my boy Zuko...poor boy's rubbed the fur off his feet with the itching this year.

You can ask your vet about giving your pup Benadryl (just the antihistamine version...not any version with other ingredients). I give Zuko 50mg twice a day along with zesty paws' hemp elements plus aller-immune treats. Apoquel and cytopoint are good as well.

I also had the vet do allergy testing on him at his wellness exam last week. Those results will be back within the next couple weeks.

Allergies for our pups aren't fun. Good luck figuring everything out
I have the Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Treats but I don't think I was giving him enough (3 a day for his size and I was introducing them slow). I'm thinking about putting those back in at full force to see if it helps when the steroids wear off.
 

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Talk to your vet about Cytopoint. It is an injection given about every 6-8 weeks... sometimes it lasts longer. It is not inexpensive but it does not cause some of the side effects of Apoquel. It works differently than Prednisone which is not a drug that can be given long term to dogs.

Good luck.
 

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Have you considered doing a change in diet? Dogs can develop allergies/sensitivities to a food they have been eating for a long period of time. Perhaps try a limited ingredient diet with no chicken or fish and a different carbohydrate source than what he has been eating for a period of 8 - 12 weeks (he gets nothing but the new food) and see if it helps. During that time, remember to cut out any supplements that you have been giving.
Have travelled the allergy journey with one of my dogs, did the whole 'nine yards', weekly baths with medicated shampoo, (which helped for a day or two) feeding trials on limited ingredient diets, did the Cytopoint injections that worked well for him - turned out the source of the problem was the fish oil supplement (that the vet suggested I continue with during the whole saga) I had started giving him before this all started because his skin was dry. Once I cut out the fish oil supplement and got him on a food that contained no fish - he was soon well on his way to recovery.
 

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I see you already saw my topic on my dog's allergies. I don't know for sure but I'd say this is a particularly bad year for allergies, at least the ragweed (major allergen for me) seems to absolutely everywhere this year. I personally hadn't noticed anything like this for the last 12 years at least. My dog was only 1YO last summer, but I didn't notice any itching at all and didn't notice anything myself. I also don't remember seeing it around all over like this year. So there's that FWIW.

I agree, I feel they might get it on their paws and spread it to areas when they scratch. I actually dip his paws one by one in a yogurt type container with warm water and swish it around. I don't use shampoo or soap for this. I've added a dab of conditioner at times. He puts up a bit of an initial fuss but seems to not really mind the warm water and swishing. My dog was getting all up in the weeds before we knew he was allergic, and sometimes the ragweed is pretty tall, so I cover his body with a tank top to prevent direct accidental contact on his sides, back and chest (maybe a t-shirt would be better now that it's not as hot). I wash his feet when we get in from a walk so he's not spreading any more pollen around.

As for colostrum, I feel it's helping, probably along with washing his paws and covering his body a bit. It can't hurt.

I don't know anything about medications, but really hope this gets nipped and something works for your dog and yourself. Your vent has been heard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all for the replies today. It's definitely been putting my mind at ease. I know I'm not alone and I know there are potential solutions.

kazitwo - I have definitely considered Cytopoint and I hope that's the next step if I can't nip this in the bud in the meantime.

CachetheBC - Interesting you talk about a fish oil supplement - he's been on one since he was a puppy. I think he's due for a food change honestly anyways. He's been on Wellness Core Ocean since he was one or one and a half as 1) he was eating a chicken flavor, had ear infection issues and vet said to change protein and 2) vet thought he was underweight and wanted to go high fat/high protein. The vet doesn't want him on that type of food anymore as he gets older. Since he got neutered, he's gained a few so I wouldn't mind getting him off that either. That would be the perfect time to change up the protein and carb. Hard part is going to be no treats!! He's so spoiled lol

Schnauza - yes, I definitely saw that adorable tank you had on your pup!! :) Our entire perimeter of our property and pond is LINED with ragweed and goldenrod. It always has been, but it all bloomed so fast this year. It was extremely dry for pretty much an entire month, then it rained for practically a week straight and BOOM! Grass has never been greener and weeds have never been taller. We own a lot of land so it's not the easiest to even fathom getting rid of. I'm buying hypoallergenic wipes this weekend because it might be more than paws for me - I try my best to avoid it but he's a perimeter pooper and gets himself right up in that ragweed even if I try to coax him away. He's stubborn :( So I might have to do a complete wipe down and brush out too! The Zesty Paws supplement I bought has bovine colostrum in it which intrigued me - even more so after reading your post.
 

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I try my best to avoid it but he's a perimeter pooper and gets himself right up in that ragweed even if I try to coax him away. He's stubborn :(
My dog too! Perimeter pooper. And there seems to be more critters in the weeds where we end up on our walks so gets his whole face in there if I'm not careful 😳 Not to mention he's only 19lbs.

Can you try a t-shirt maybe? Or is that a no-go for an unleashed dog?[/QUOTE]
 

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I adopted a 5 1/2 year old feral dog about 7 years ago, her name is Jaya. I got her in the fall, and she was fine, even all through winter...then spring hit and she started to scratch...at first it wasn't bad...but by late summer it really picked up...and by then, I thought maybe she had a food allergy and started to try various dog foods. .

I tried no wheat types, I tried various things like rice, and potato, switched various meats...lamb, beef, chicken, salmon...etc. Her mild scratch got worse, it was constant and aggressive.
She was digging gouges into her ribs, chest, and face...and constantly scratching.

I used creams to help with that, and the vet said we could try steroids, but if we did that, we might not be able to figure if it's a food allergy, as the steroid would stop the itching. I had just switched her to a different dog food and wanted to give it a week to see that would help...then figured we could do the shot. It was late fall by then. She was still scratching after a week, and I set an appointment to get the steroid shot.

Then it snowed...a deep snow. Jaya was out there rolling in it, walking in it, and about 2 days later, the redness on her skin went down, she quit licking, and was done scratching a day later. i canceled the shot and Jaya was fine all winter.

Then spring came again, and the scratching started. : (

So...the good news was, it wasn't a food allergy, but a pretty aggressive warm weather allergy.
So, from then on, every spring, summer, fall...Jaya got steroid shots...anywhere from 2 to 4 a summer...and last year...she only needed 1 shot. The vet thinks our early super hot spring killed off whatever pollens were bothering Jaya.

Prior to the shots, I tried things like allergy tabs of various types, medicated baths, colostrum...which none worked...and the worse thing I tried with her was Prednisone - Jaya's personality really changed on that horrible stuff. She had been becoming less feral with me...but on that drug, she became SUPER feral like again and also just wouldn't seem to calm down...it was like she was nervous and moving around all the time. I yanked her off that as soon as I could.

The steroid shots...drawbacks... they made her pee a lot in the first few days after the shot and sometimes she couldn't make it to the door in time. Also, the vet told me the shots are hard on the system...and would take a little bit of time off the end of her life.

However...they worked wonders in stopping the horrible torture she was going through with the itching. She was no longer gouging bloody holes in herself....I wasn't hearing her making thumping noises as she tried to scratch herself all night.

And come first snowfall, she didn't need anymore shots until the snow melted and it warmed up.

I think it was a good trade off...her having a comfortable life but...maybe losing a month or so towards the end of it. I still have her...and this will be her last winter. She's like 12 to 13 years old now...not bad for a big dog.

Also...as far as the shots...I could bring the syringe home and give her the shot myself. Again, she's feral and trips to the vet are much more hard for her than for a normal dog who's use to humans.

The shots don't cost that much either...and I'm on a tight, tight budget, so I'm glad they were so affordable and I could give them, and they work so fast and so well.

Best of luck with your dog.

Stormy
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Schnauza - don't know about a t-shirt with an unleashed dog but I know when we put a t-shirt on him in the house as a joke, he tore it off lol

Stormy - thank you for your experience. I'm probably wrong but I have it in my head that a good allergy would cause digestive issues, or things from the inside out like hair loss not associated with itching. I don't know - that's my logic but I'm not a vet obviously. And the timing with the heat/rain/blooming of absolutely everything makes me think it's environmental. We are obviously just starting this journey and hope to make it to winter and see if it goes away. I think that will be a big indicator as well. Tank is doing surprisingly well on prednisone, but it's not something I'd want to continue if there are better options. If it's the only thing that works than like you said, his comfort is my top priority. I'm assuming the shots weren't prednisone? But we're still a steroid of some sort?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So something weird happened today.. last of the antibiotics was yesterday morning. He is on his last wean of prednisone where he is doing every other day (2x a day Mon night thru Thurs morning, 1x a day Fri, Sat, Sun, now 1x every other day this morning, Thurs and Sat morning). We free feed and he usually eats the same amount every day - we gage by how much we put in minus how much is left. Yesterday he ate the entire bowl - probably 2x or more what he normally eats. We fill his bowl 3/4 of the way full with fresh water every morning and there's always some left by the end of the day (1/4 to 1/2 left). He got out of his crate this morning (5:30am or so) and drank like he hadn't drank for a week. He emptied the bowl, then I filled it and he drank for another 10-15 seconds (big GSD laps). When I came home at lunch (12:15pm), he peed pretty much clear pee for like 30 seconds. Same when my bf got home at 4pm. Then we let him out to do trash with us and play at 6:30pm and he did it again. His water bowl is now still pretty much full (I'd say no more empty than a normal day at this point) and he hasn't eaten until now which again, is normal. Could he have felt crappy on the antibiotics without really showing it and now that they're out of his system he feels better? Could the antibiotics have suppressed the increased thirst from the prednisone and now that the antibiotics are out the prednisone side effects are in full swing? He is still pooping and playing like normal, just the strange extra water/pee today. Could it take 12 hours for all that water to get out of his system? If he drank normally today, I'm hoping it's over. Otherwise I'm setting an alarm for the middle of the night because I don't want him holding it for that long!!
 
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