I was talking to a veterinarian the other day about something we spend much of our day treating. Itchy skin and ear problems in dogs can take up from 20 to 40% of our day.
The worst part is that if we don’t get to the root or cause of the skin and ear issues, the itching, bacterial and yeast infections, hotspots, and sore ears will continue to bother our patients. Many pet owners don’t realize that allergies can cause skin and ear problems.
If the causes of the allergies are identified, then the medical problems caused by allergies can often be controlled or cured.
We know that fleas will cause a dog to itch the butt and tail head area. When fleas cause itching, they are often present (or small dark flea poop that turns red with moisture because it is ingested blood). Fleas are easily treated with topical (Advantage and Trifexis) and oral flea control (Comfortis). Dogs that are sensitive to fleas need to always be on a good flea control program! As with antibiotics some flea control products seem to work better in some pets and in some areas. Some clients report the presence of fleas even after recent applications of Frontline products. It seems reasonable to assume that nature will find a way around most chemicals we throw at them! So if one product doesn’t work on your pet, try something else! (I have found that dogs fed a raw diet or home cooked diet often repel fleas or aren’t as sensitive to fleas as dry food eaters.)
Hay fever or atopy affected dogs will lick and itch their paws and have red skin on the inside of their ears. Sneezing and runny itchy eyes often accompany itchy ears and paws when the dog is allergic to pollens and molds in the environment. Hay fever or atopy in dogs can be treated with antihistamines (check out the dosages in my free download, 11 Practical Home Remedies). More oils and a hypoallergenic diet can also help make the skin healthier and less itchy. Many dogs can be affected by more than one allergy!
Dermatologists now recommend twice weekly shampooing with oatmeal, conditioning shampoos, or prescription shampoos to remove the allergens, yeast, or bacteria that can irritate or infect your dog! More frequent bathing may help irritated, itchy, skin along with antihistamines, or medication prescribed by your vet. Antibiotics, Ketoconazole, Cyclosporine, or Prednisone may also be needed to help with symptoms. Cyclosporine has come down in price and can be really reduce ear and skin problems in affected dogs.
Skin tests or blood tests can be helpful to identify the pollens or grasses that cause the most problems. Allergy injections may reduce problems by coaxing the immune system to not react to the pollens and molds. Respit offers regional allergens orally without blood or skin testing. Your vet can order allergens specifically made for your area and you give them to your dog orally or by injection. (http://vetrespit.com/pet-parents). Both treatments can take months to show improvement and some animals may not improve at all. However if they do, our pets need less medication and are happier!
Better ingredients, hypoallergenic diets, raw food, more oils, homemade food, and avoiding treats and chews can help dogs that suffer from food allergy. Those dogs with food allergies will itch their sides and their butt area and often will have chronic goopy waxy ear infections. (Often in only one ear. Hay fever sufferers often have very red inflamed ears without the goopy ears ). These suffering dogs will often improve with a limited ingredient diet with salmon or duck with potato. Treats and chews are often the culprit behind chronic ear infections and diarrhea. If your dog is really sensitive and needs special food, try a better treat like baby carrots or pieces of turkey or chicken hot dogs. If you want to try an elimination diet, you can try a hypoallergenic commercial food.
Why would a raw diet or home cooked diet help a dog repel fleas or infections? I think that an important layer of skin oil,present when the right oils are fed, helps repel fleas and prevent yeast and bacterial infections. This skin barrier has been protecting animals for millions of years. If the skin does not have the right kind, or not enough oils, the “barrier” becomes a home for bacteria and yeast. That’s why frequent bathing may help!
In “Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet” and “Dog Dish Diet” I teach dog owners about food allergies and why diet is so important. In “Feed Your Pet”, I teach allergic dog owners to home-make an elimination diet. Slow cooking chicken, eggs, turkey, beef, or fish with veggies, rice, or potatoes may help solve allergy mysteries! Homemade pet food can be the best treatment for dogs plagued with ear and skin issues. Avoiding common allergens in commercial food and treats, more oils, and home cooked pet food can help with many chronic medical problems in both dogs and cats. If you haven’t already, check out the “Dog Dish Diet” and “Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet”. It is easy to see if a better commercial diet or home cooked diet will help with your pet’s skin, ears, or bowels. Home cooked meals may also help with bladder crystals and stones and to control seizures. Veterinarians are not taught how to help owners feed the right things. I had to learn this by studying and applying what I learned.