Dog Allergies and Itchy Meek

26 Jan 2007Steve Schwarz

As I mentioned previously, Meeker is quite the itchy pup. He started itching and chewing all over his body at about 18 months, I've heard that is a common age when allergies start to show up. Since neither Mr. Peabody or Milo had any allergies this has become a learning experience for us. So here an update on the itchy Meek saga.

At our first visit to the dermatologist she wanted to rule out skin mites, so we put Meeker on Revolution (a topical insecticide also used for ticks and fleas) every other week for three weeks (I wasn’t too crazy about that but for now I’m following Western medicine protocols). That had no effect.

The dermatologist then switched him to a duck and potato diet - no treats, rawhides, etc. The idea being that some dogs are allergic to common sources of protein and/or grains so by removing those from his diet we could see if his diet is the cause. Apparently it takes quite a while for the body to recover from the reaction to the allergen. When switching foods I was told you generally see some improvement in 4-6 weeks. Unfortunately, after 6 weeks there hadn’t been any sign of improvement.

Of course another cause for itching is stress. You’ll see that in some dogs at the start line or even during a run. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Meeker, he doesn’t itch more (or less) around the house at my departure or arrival at any other predictable times. He doesn’t itch when playing or in classes - but he has pretty strong “drive” (fill in your definition of drive here) so, in classic BC fashion, play is “work” and nothing can get in the way of work; not even physical discomfort.

So earlier this week I took Meeker back to the doggie dermatologist for a pin prick skin test to try to identify any environmental allergens. They lightly sedated him and shaved a section on his side and injected tiny amounts of 75 common allergens and 2 control histamines and rated his skin reaction on a scale of 0 to 4 where 4 is highest reaction. Here are his results.

Insects:

  • 3 - D. farinae (dust mite)
  • 2 - T. putrecentiae (storage mite)
Grasses, Weeds, Trees:
  • 2 - Timothy
  • 4 - Red Clover
  • 2 - Cocklebur
  • 2 - Dandelion
  • 2 - Pigweed
  • 2 - Russian Thistle
  • 2 - Cedar
  • 2 - Poplar
  • 2 - Bipolaris
Molds:
  • Bipolaris sorokiniana
  • Rhizopus mix 50PNU

So he is allergic to a fair number of things. I’m counting my blessings that he isn’t allergic to pine since my yard is surrounded by pine trees and I just couldn’t bring myself to do a “Mr. T” and cut them all down.

I just bought a new Dyson DC17 Animal vacuum cleaner so I’m hoping it will allow me to keep down the dust and dog hair better than my old vacuum. Maybe it will help him a little on the dust mite front. I might consider a HEPA air filter for his dog room too…

The dermatologist wants to keep him on the duck and potato diet for at least two more weeks and see if it is just taking him a while to respond or it is a combination of allergens that is effecting him and the food is pushing him over the edge. She recommends starting an injection program where he is given small doses of a mix of the allergens so his body develops and immunity to their effects.

I’m still on the fence about doing the injections as there are other methods for boosting the body’s responses to allergens. I’ve just started reading Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats and have heard of allergic dogs doing really well on raw or BARF diets. Nancy has called to set up an appointment with our holistic vet Dr. Share Siwek to get her input.

So for now I’ve put Meeker back on his anti-histamines and am feeding him his duck and potato kibble. It is terrible seeing the little guy scratch and chew himself so much.

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