Attack Allergies!

It can be an endless struggle to fight against an invisible enemy-allergies but by taking the steps to to identify what is causing the allergies this will help your dog (see previous post- Allergies-Get to the Root of the Problem ).  I’ve been there-my dog HATES the vet, literally pulling back to hide under the car when it’s time to go in. So instead of bringing her to the vet to identify what is causing the allergies, I tried many different things from over 10 different types of food to hundreds of dollars worth of allergy treatments including shampoos, wipe pads, sprays, and medicines. Eventually, it only got worse and she was to the point where her skin around her eyes was bleeding from scratching so much. Not only was she in pain, she was lethargic, grumpy, and growly (who could blame her?). After identifying the causes, I was faced with medicines and different things I can do to help her.

What did my normal vet recommend? She recommended Benadryl. Does that work for some? Yes! I would talk to your vet about dosage.  However, this seemed to do little to help her allergies. The vet then recommended switching to another allergy medicine like zyrtec. This also didn’t work for us. Some vets recommend steroid shots or pills, but my vet never recommended them. However, my vet is not an allergist or any kind of specialist so I decided to take her elsewhere. I am very happy with my vet for all the things she does, but they don’t recommend many medicines or therapies outside of the “norm”.

Here’s what worked for us:

  • Baths-It was recommended to bathe her at least once every 2 weeks. Do I always do that? No, but I do notice when I don’t, her itching increases. If your dog doesn’t like baths, use treats and food (special ones like yummy hot dogs or steak).
  • If your dog has pollen or grass allergies-wipe her/him down when you come inside the house with a wet towel or wipe. Wiping the paws and anything else that touched the grass is best-this will help eliminate pollen from spreading in your house.
  • Supplements. I ended up going to a specialist who does conventional and holistic medicine and the supplements definitely helped. I will refrain from mentioned exactly what the supplements are because each dog is different and needs to see a vet for recommendations. However, I will tell you she does get a vitamin powder with her meals, calming pills, and different supplements to keep her immune system strong.
  • Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil-Nutiva has an excellent price for a large amount on amazon. This is great to give with food to help itchy skin and should be added a little bit at a time to get your dog use to it.

nutiva-coconut-oil-29-2

  •  Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo and Pads. This has been SUPER great for when she is getting very itchy or has the start of a skin yeast infection or red bumps on her belly (start of bacterial infection). I use the pads to wipe her belly. The vet will make you buy a more expensive wash if you go see them, but it has many of the same ingredients.

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  • Witch Hazel-alcohol free. This is GREAT for cleaning your dog’s ears. I can’t rave enough about it. My dog HATED ear cleanings to the point she would try to bite me. This product is great-doesn’t sting and applied easily with a cotton ball. She had reoccurring ear infections and this stopped them dead in their tracks.  Sometimes it’s hard to find without alcohol (no stinging)-I use Thayer’s unscented witch hazel with aloe vera formula.

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Do I think everything will work for your dog? Maybe, maybe not. However, I am throwing this out there in case anyone was looking for help like I was at one time in my life. Dealing with a dog’s allergies can be aggravating, depressing, and tiring (think how your dog feels). I definitely can tell you the witch hazel is *my favorite product*, although the supplements definitely help. She still itches, no medicine is a miracle, but all of this has helped drastically.

Allergies-Get to the Root of the Problem!

Scratching, scratching, scratching. I heard this in the morning, afternoon, even waking me up sometimes at bed. At one point in her life Oreo scratched her eyes so much she lost the hair around them, replaced by bloody scabs. So what do you do when your dog has allergies? How do you know it’s allergies?

Your dog may have allergies if they are constantly

  • scratching at their face, belly, body
  • licking their paws
  • have hot spots
  • get repeated yeast infections
  • get repeated bacterial infections
  • have upset stomach, diarrhea, and throwing up
  • get ear infections
A time where Oreo itched the hair from around her eyes off.

A time where Oreo itched the hair from around her eyes off.

What you can do-First find out the CAUSE (otherwise you will buy endless products searching in the dark for a solution, yet you don’t know the problem):

  • If your dog is throwing up, has upset stomach, or diarrhea, try an allergy food trial. Your dog could be allergic to certain ingredients in their dog food and the trial will be helpful to eliminate them. Food allergies can also lead to yeast, bacterial infections and itchiness.
  • Get a food allergy blood test-they are a bit expensive, but I found out Oreo is allergic to 7 different foods. The test also gave me a list of foods and treats which are safe so I didn’t have to hunt around. You may end up spending more money on treating allergies and food trails than the test.
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t have fleas. If so, get rid of them! Many dogs are highly allergic to fleas (like my dog). If they get one bite, they break out with bacterial infections.
  • Get your dog tested for indoor & outdoor allergies. There is a blood test, but also a skin test (which I have heard is more accurate). This will tell you what your dog is allergic to (examples of things tested are cotton, tree & grass pollen, dust, mold, and feathers).
  • Keep a calendar of symptoms-find out if it’s only at certain times-maybe you are a cleaning product at a certain time during the year, or maybe it’s seasonal allergies.

Trust me-you want to find out what the problem is-exactly-otherwise you will spend tons of money on treatments, vet visits, and different foods. It’s worth the time and investment to find out what the allergy is.

Coming up next time…my favorite allergy products (ones that work for Oreo).

Commendable Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil has made a splash lately. People love using it in their foods, to cook and for the many health benefits. Coconut oil is also very beneficial for dogs. However…it must be VIRGIN COCONUT OIL (or unrefined). Refined coconut oil loses all of the benefits and the nice smell too!

The best type of coconut oil for dogs and people alike is organic virgin coconut oil in a glass container rather than plastic. I use coconut oil with Oreo to help her allergies. When it’s around 70 degrees or higher, the coconut oil becomes a liquid. Otherwise, it is solid and easy to scoop out a teaspoon full onto her meal. You don’t even have to refrigerate it-just leave it next to your other medicine or dog food and add a small scoop. If your dog has not had coconut oil before, start with a small amount and build up to a teaspoon or so. If you start with large amounts too soon your dog with have digestive issues. Coconut oil has not been tested in a laboratory on dogs, but many people can’t stop talking about how it has changed their dogs’ life.

I have personally seen an itchy, flaky skinned dog with brittle lifeless fur, go to a dog who is more energetic with a nice shiny hydrated coat. Proponents of coconut oil have said it has helped with problems similar to Oreos’ problems and much more. They have said it’s helped with cuts, wounds. flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and ear problems. Coconut oil has been used to help heal cuts and sooth bee stings.

If you happen to have a smelly dog, many fans claim their dogs smell better when they eat coconut oil with meals. Applying it is easy…just put some on a cut, bump, or lump. If your dog has mouth sores feel free to put it on a tooth-brush or eye dropper (same thing for the ears). You can also apply it to cracked feet to help them ease their way to perfect paws! It’s worth a try before using antibiotics.

Don’t be worried that your dog won’t like it…they most likely will! My dog LOVES it… and she has a history of being very choosy. If you’re worried buy a small amount and if your dog doesn’t like it-use it for cooking!

Coconut oil can help treat or supplement many treatments for humans too:

  • head lice
  • help with losing weight
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • chronic fatigue
  • thyroid conditions

Cooking with coconut oil is encouraged, however, coconut oil eaten in large amounts has not been researched. So don’t eat it like ice cream!

Allergies and How to Stop Infections

It’s been 2 years that Oreo has been dealing with her allergies. As mentioned in the previous post, food allergies were partly to blame. She is also allergic to pollen, and her allergies flare up the worst after it rains. Oreo+wet grass = bacterial infections

If you have a dog or cat with allergies, you know how frustrating it can be. I have tried so many different supplements, allergy pills, and other items. I will tell you what works for US. It doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else, but if you are struggling with allergies perhaps it will help. I know the pain and agony of bringing the dog to the vet continually to get antibiotics which seem to help for a few weeks, then you are back at the vet again.

Some things I have tried:

  • allergy pills claiming to help (online, in pet stores)
  • cover ups  (t-shirts) to stop flare ups outside
  • wiping her feet/belly when coming in
  • herbal supplements (Calendula, tinctures, etc)
  • wipes
  • itching spray
  • tea bags on towel then warm compress on eyes
  • Benadryl, zyrtec, etc (as prescribed by the vet)
  • bathing her at least once a week

Unfortunately, as some of you already know, my conventional vet failed me when it came to allergies. She just kept recommending different types of antihistamines which didn’t work and didn’t even suggest a food allergy test. This is when I went to Smith Ridge where they combine conventional with complementary therapy (totally recommend looking at all choices). Some of the things they recommended work, some I figured out on my own or other dog owners have helped me. This doesn’t mean it will work for you, but I hope it helps.

Some things that have HELPED:

  • wiping her paws,legs, belly with a towel after a walk when it is wet outside-helps get the pollen off
  • walking her so much she is too tired to itch! (may seem funny but when she is tired she is less likely to itch and bite at herself)
  • clean her ears at least once a week with WITCH HAZEL (no alcohol) I recommend Thayers. This has worked MIRACLES for us! I put some on a cotton ball and wipe the inside of her ears. I don’t even have to use harsh ear wash that irritates her or put drops in her ears (which she HATES).
  • supplement that has really helped: http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/Seven-Forests-Quercenol-Dog-Herbal/105004.aspx it’s quercenol-it helps the immune system, liver, and allergies. It is especially helpful with itchy skin, ears, and paws due to allergies. You can read more about it at the link above. I got it from the vet when she told me about it, but you can order it online too.
  • Keeping stress down. When her stress builds up her immune system is weak, therefore, allowing allergies to bother her more. Keeping stress down is easier said than done (as all of us reactive dog moms/dads know).
  • Got her food allergy test done. If your dog has seasonal allergies I really think you should still get a food allergy test because you NEVER know!
  • Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil-This is the similar to giving your dog fish oil pills, but Oreo is allergic to those. I add about 1/2 a teaspoon to her food every day. Here is an article about the health benefits of coconut oil for your dog. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/the-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/ Make sure you get ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN coconut oil.
  • Douxo Chlorhexidine 3% PS Pads-these are pads that help stop infections. Instead of going to the vet every single time Oreo gets bumps or a rash, I simply wipe the area a few times over a couple of days and usually it is all better! It also has great reviews on amazon (5 stars). This was recommended by a woman in my training class. Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LO0MGU/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00
  • Bathing her-once a week or once every 2 weeks. I neglected this recently since she doesn’t love baths, but gave her one this morning since she is getting super itchy. I definitely notice a difference in the severity of her itching if I don’t give her a bath for a few weeks.
  • Last but not least natural hydrocortisone from the yam plant. If you have never heard of this ask your vet if your dog is on hydrocortisone-the natural kind has less side effects. It is also mentioned in the article below.

http://www.myholisticpetvet.com/2012/02/09/treating-itching-and-scratching-a-ticklish-subject/

All of these seem like a lot, but they become part of the routine and I didn’t add them all at once. If your dog is super itchy make sure it’s checked by a vet (many things can cause itching, not just allergies). Helping your pup with allergies can be very frustrating. If it is frustrating for you, think about how bad it must be for your pup. I thought NOTHING would work, until I found the right combination and so far it’s been smooth sailing (okay not smooth, but so far so good-knock on computer!)