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Hi Everyone,

 

I was looking to get some feedback/advice/stories from others who have border collies with allergies. I adopted a border collie mix, Joey, 3 years ago and he is my best friend. He has what I would describe as severe allergies. We live in Virginia. He eats a pre-packaged Raw diet of Bravo Beef Patties (recommendation from my aunt). We completed allergy testing and began immunotherapy in June of 2014, no results thus far. He is on 4MG of Medrol/daily (methylprednisolone) and 20MG of Zyrtec/daily. I am currently weaning him off of the steroids, he has been on 2MG Medrol/daily since Monday. I can already tell he is scratching again.

 

The steroids are awful. He has become compulsive at licking the carpet, seems to have anxiety, heavy panting, and eating anything he can get his mouth on (food, random things outside, etc). He has been on the steroids since June 2014. What prompted my decision to take him off of the streoids once and for all is that 2 weeks ago he had to have surgery to remove a bone he got outside that I could not pry from his mouth. While completing surgery the vet found a (human) hairball inside of his stomach the size of my fist; I believe this is from licking the carpet (we are all long haired people, I vacum 1x a week - bumped it up to daily now). I have also begun to muzzle him for our walks so he is unable to eat foreign objects, feces, etc.

 

I am just at a loss right now. I have tried multiple topicals to assist with his itching. I just don't know what is worse - eating foreign objects or scratching himself raw.

 

I have heard there is a sulfur shampoo? acupuncture? change diet?

 

 

Thanks,

Amy & Joey

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Are you using a veterinary dermatologist or a regular vet? Was the allergy testing performed using skin testing or a blood test? Skin testing is the gold standard.

 

I'm rather surprised that no one addressed the diet with you. Typically, an elimination diet is a component of the treatment/testing. Also, there are several invasive plants that are commonly found in yards/woods/open spaces that can cause contact dermatitis (a poison-ivy like rash): members of the wandering jew family, spreading dayflower, and dove weed--you can find pictures online. Ornamental wandering jew has purple leaves, but there is also a green leaved variety that grows in the wild. Another possibility is an allergy to the staph bacteria on your dog's own skin.

 

If you are not working with a board certified veterinary dermatologist, you need to be.

 

I worked with a dermatologist for years with my pitbull who used to have terrible allergies. My dog broke all the rules including the allergies not improving over the years rule. As bad as she was, we never had to use systemic steroids or cyclosporine. Have you tried different antihistimines? The best one is a matter of trial and error

 

Frequent baths are very important because the pollen and such can be absorbed thru the skin. Using water only is fine. And you can put the fire out for 24 hours by making a slurry of Aveeno (colloidal oatmeal) in water, dumping it on the dog, and lightly rubbing it into the coat. Don't towel dry as you want the stuff to contact the skin.

 

Be careful of things like fabric softener and detergent. I only use the non allergenic in this house.

 

Feed out of metal, not plastic. Dogs can become allergic to plastic and it leaches into their food

 

Staph and yeast infections can make a dog itchy as hell. Does your dog have either?

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Acupuncture- no good evidence it works for allergies, no plausible reason why or how it would work. I've had it myself by a highly-recommended acupuncturist for the recommended treatment time and there was absolutely no effect. Useful as a chocolate kettle, but at least you could eat a chocolate kettle.

 

Definitely try a change of diet. Beef allergies are very common- probably the most common allergy. You could try him on a novel protein diet (so something that has only protein sources that he has never ever had before) and wait for 12 weeks. When you change diets, it takes a while for the allergy to the previous foods to stop- so you won't see changes happen in the first week or anything. If he's allergic to something in the food or something that's still in the environment then all of the drugs in the world won't make a difference.

 

I agree totally with switching up detergent, and maybe not using fabric softener. It made a big difference to my dog. That, a complete change of diet, and she stopped itching after having scratched and scratched for years.

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Check into or ask your vet about a medication called Atopica or cyclosporine. It is an immune system modulator. The same drug that is given to organ transplant patients to keep them from rejecting the organ. I have a 7 year old English Pointer who was bitten and envenomated by a rattlesnake several years ago. His allergies started shortly after that. Horrible- hair loss, bloody sores, thickened, crusty, sore ear pinna. He was miserable and nothing that we tried helped. Tried elimination diets, raw foods, nothing helped. I didn't want him to be on steroids long term because of all of the horrible side effects. I researched and learned that most allergies are environmental (and he does worsen at different times of the year)and then found the Atopica. He is a different dog!!! His hair has grown back, his ears are normal and you can touch them again without him hollering in pain, he doesn't itch and bleed, he has gained weight. It is spendy- I pay about $100/month for his medicine- but has been so worth it!!!

 

Also, as Blackdawgs said, make sure that you treat for yeast and/or secondary infection. I still bathe with a medicated shampoo once a month to make sure that he does not get a recurrence of yeast.

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Which Bravo! formula(a) are you using? If you're using any of the ones with (unnecessary) vegetable additive, I'd stop them now.

 

I agree that trying an elimination diet might be a good idea. If you've used all of the Bravo! protein sources, try going to another company to get meats he hasn't been exposed to. Or do your own.

 

I've heard of some dogs who are so sensitive to grains that they react even to meats from animals that have been grain fed, so it could be useful to try exclusively grass fed meats as part of the elimination diet.

 

Simba and I politely disagree on the usefulness of alternative modalities. I wouldn't be adverse to considering homeopathy or acupuncture for a dog with allergies this severe.

 

I'm really sorry you're going through this. It can be a real nightmare. Best wishes figuring out how to help Joey.

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Definitely suspect a food allergy and work on an elimination diet. Just remember, your dog can be reacting to ANY ingredient that has protein in it, not just the meat ingredients. You may have to go with homemade food for a while to limit the ingredients enough, so you should google "high histamine foods" and make sure you don't feed any of those foods until you are well along in the elimination diet. They can cause issues even if your dog isn't actually allergic to them.

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Are you using a veterinary dermatologist or a regular vet? Was the allergy testing performed using skin testing or a blood test? Skin testing is the gold standard.

 

I'm rather surprised that no one addressed the diet with you. Typically, an elimination diet is a component of the treatment/testing. Also, there are several invasive plants that are commonly found in yards/woods/open spaces that can cause contact dermatitis (a poison-ivy like rash): members of the wandering jew family, spreading dayflower, and dove weed--you can find pictures online. Ornamental wandering jew has purple leaves, but there is also a green leaved variety that grows in the wild. Another possibility is an allergy to the staph bacteria on your dog's own skin.

 

If you are not working with a board certified veterinary dermatologist, you need to be.

 

I worked with a dermatologist for years with my pitbull who used to have terrible allergies. My dog broke all the rules including the allergies not improving over the years rule. As bad as she was, we never had to use systemic steroids or cyclosporine. Have you tried different antihistimines? The best one is a matter of trial and error

 

Frequent baths are very important because the pollen and such can be absorbed thru the skin. Using water only is fine. And you can put the fire out for 24 hours by making a slurry of Aveeno (colloidal oatmeal) in water, dumping it on the dog, and lightly rubbing it into the coat. Don't towel dry as you want the stuff to contact the skin.

 

Be careful of things like fabric softener and detergent. I only use the non allergenic in this house.

 

Feed out of metal, not plastic. Dogs can become allergic to plastic and it leaches into their food

 

Staph and yeast infections can make a dog itchy as hell. Does your dog have either?

 

Thank you so much for your response!

 

I am using a board certified veterinary dermatologist. We did the skin testing, he is allergic to 39/71 items (multiple weeds, grasses, molds, and trees - not to mention "dust" and "dust mites" - indoors..AH). The dermatologist I was working with ended up moving to the west coast, and I have only met with another vet at the practice 1x. She did not seem to read my dog's file prior to meeting with me or seem very interested in answering my questions, so I am making another appointment and requesting a different dermatologist. The dermatologist that moved had told me he was extremely certain it was not a food allergy - he is my first dog so I guess I did not feel I should question an experts judgment. I will definitely be requesting an elimination diet at the next appoinment.

 

He is an indoor dog unless we are walking, running, or at agility lessons. I have noticed that he avoids walking in grasses, if there is dirt or a wooden side to a building he will try to walk on that for example. If he is allergic to the staph on his own skin - how would that be addressed? I have been using generic Zyrtec, I did not consider that a different OTC antihistamine could make a difference. I will certainly try that! Thank you!

 

I was never told that water baths would help. Thank you for the tip about Aveeno - do you wash it off after or leave it on?

 

I use non allergenic detergent, no dryer sheets at all. I try to avoid scented sprays or things like febreeze in the house.

 

How about glass/ceramic bowels?

 

I have NEVER heard the regular vet or dermatologist speak about staph infections. I know he does not have any yeast. I will be speaking to them about this.

 

You have been extremely helpful and I am very greatful. This is such great information.

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Acupuncture- no good evidence it works for allergies, no plausible reason why or how it would work. I've had it myself by a highly-recommended acupuncturist for the recommended treatment time and there was absolutely no effect. Useful as a chocolate kettle, but at least you could eat a chocolate kettle.

 

Definitely try a change of diet. Beef allergies are very common- probably the most common allergy. You could try him on a novel protein diet (so something that has only protein sources that he has never ever had before) and wait for 12 weeks. When you change diets, it takes a while for the allergy to the previous foods to stop- so you won't see changes happen in the first week or anything. If he's allergic to something in the food or something that's still in the environment then all of the drugs in the world won't make a difference.

 

I agree totally with switching up detergent, and maybe not using fabric softener. It made a big difference to my dog. That, a complete change of diet, and she stopped itching after having scratched and scratched for years.

 

 

I will be asking the dermatologist for help with an elimination diet. When I first got Joey I was feeding him a chicken based kibble diet. I changed to raw and to beef thinking that he could possibly have a chicken allergy. After that we began the seeing a vet dermatologist, who was confident that his issues were a result of environmental allergies. I had also read previously that chicken was the most common source of allergies. The fact that it could be a "individual" protein is very overwhelming- however it also tells me that I need to at least TRY addressing diet ASAP.

 

I do not use fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc. I use All non allergenic detergent. It does not help that the test show he is allergic to Cotton.

 

Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it!

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Check into or ask your vet about a medication called Atopica or cyclosporine. It is an immune system modulator. The same drug that is given to organ transplant patients to keep them from rejecting the organ. I have a 7 year old English Pointer who was bitten and envenomated by a rattlesnake several years ago. His allergies started shortly after that. Horrible- hair loss, bloody sores, thickened, crusty, sore ear pinna. He was miserable and nothing that we tried helped. Tried elimination diets, raw foods, nothing helped. I didn't want him to be on steroids long term because of all of the horrible side effects. I researched and learned that most allergies are environmental (and he does worsen at different times of the year)and then found the Atopica. He is a different dog!!! His hair has grown back, his ears are normal and you can touch them again without him hollering in pain, he doesn't itch and bleed, he has gained weight. It is spendy- I pay about $100/month for his medicine- but has been so worth it!!!

 

Also, as Blackdawgs said, make sure that you treat for yeast and/or secondary infection. I still bathe with a medicated shampoo once a month to make sure that he does not get a recurrence of yeast.

 

Oh wow - that sounds like a miracle drug. What side effects does your dog experience? I have gotten to the point where I do not care about cost, I will try anything to just make him ok!!!! I am glad you have a success story!

 

What medicated shampoo do you use? I was given a lidocaine shampoo by the vet dermatologist and it seems to work for an hour or so - then back to the itching. Before my original vet dermatologist moved he told me about a sulfuric shampoo that is used weekly. I was going to speak to a new vet when I go back about the shampoos. Do you also frequently do water baths?

Thanks!

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Which Bravo! formula(a) are you using? If you're using any of the ones with (unnecessary) vegetable additive, I'd stop them now.

 

I agree that trying an elimination diet might be a good idea. If you've used all of the Bravo! protein sources, try going to another company to get meats he hasn't been exposed to. Or do your own.

 

I've heard of some dogs who are so sensitive to grains that they react even to meats from animals that have been grain fed, so it could be useful to try exclusively grass fed meats as part of the elimination diet.

 

Simba and I politely disagree on the usefulness of alternative modalities. I wouldn't be adverse to considering homeopathy or acupuncture for a dog with allergies this severe.

 

I'm really sorry you're going through this. It can be a real nightmare. Best wishes figuring out how to help Joey.

 

I am feeding Bravo Blends and Bravo Balance - the ingredients read as though there are real vegetables in them. I was speaking to a homeopathic vet tech recently who informed me that Bravo has been having "issues" as far as quality goes. I was contemplating a switch anyway. I think elimination will be my next step.

 

Thanks, I just feel so bad for him. He grew up locked in cage, he finally has a good home and now he has to deal with allergies. He just can't get a break.

 

Thanks! I will be reading more about this additive today.

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Definitely suspect a food allergy and work on an elimination diet. Just remember, your dog can be reacting to ANY ingredient that has protein in it, not just the meat ingredients. You may have to go with homemade food for a while to limit the ingredients enough, so you should google "high histamine foods" and make sure you don't feed any of those foods until you are well along in the elimination diet. They can cause issues even if your dog isn't actually allergic to them.

 

I will be speaking with the vet dermatologist for help with an elimination diet. Thank you for the google tip!

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The staph infections look like little pimples and/or red spots and/or crusts. Sometimes just a little hairless area because the lesion already healed. The lesions can be hard to see on a long haired dog, particularily check on the lower belly , groin, and armpits. My dog's staph infections start on her thighs and then spread. If your dog is scratching a lot and breaking the skin, he could have a secondary infection. Supposidly, you can desensitize against staph using "allergy shots". I never pursued it.

 

Yes, just leave the Aveeno on the dog. It will dry and flake off after about a day. It also makes the coat soft and shiney. The generic stuff is much cheaper than the brand name. For my 45lb shorthaired dog, I used 1/2 an envelop in a large bowl of cool water and dumped it over the dog making sure the liquid covered everything but the dog's head.

 

Allergies work on the threshold principle. The animal won't start showing symptoms until the allergens reach a certain threshold. Likewise, if you lower exposure, by a little here and a little there (by feeding out of metal, frequent bathing, avoidance, etc, etc), it can all add up to make the dog less symptomatic

 

Yes, my vet gave me a list of all the OTC antihistimines and the doses and said to test them all...I used plain old diphenhydramine (Benedryl) Finding the best antihistimine is a matter of trial an error...and there is also something called hydroxyzine which is by prescription.

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I am feeding Bravo Blends and Bravo Balance - the ingredients read as though there are real vegetables in them.

 

I know there are many different approaches to feeding raw, but of the Bravo! formulas, these are the 2 I wouldn't buy.

 

Dogs have no dietary need for vegetables. A properly balanced raw prey model diet gives them everything they need without adding a bunch of supplements. The only thing I generally add to my prey model diet is salmon oil.

 

The Bravo! Balance is especially questionable to me. Why the added vitamins and minerals? Most of the vitamins consumed in the US are synthetic, meaning that they're not synthesized properly by the body. And many, many of them are manufactured in China.

 

Speaking of the threshold principle of allergies, a homeopathic vet told me that allergies often only manifest when there's some other kind of insult to the body that has compromised it to the point that it allows the allergies to emerge. I honestly don't know enough about this to comment on it, but I thought it was interesting.

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I'm in VA also and my girl has allergies as well. They seem to be seasonal as they start in the fall and last through winter. The vet prescribed Atarax/hydroxyzine to take as needed and it helps her greatly. To be safe I switched her to grain free/limited ingredient diet.

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My pup was on predisone and the side effects weren't too great. He gained a ton of weight and was still hungry all the time, which prednisone is notorious for. I got him at 18.6 lbs and he ballooned up to 26! Now he's at his ideal, about 22. I tried Benadryl with him, but it did nothing. He's on Temaril-P now and doing a lot better. There haven't been any side effects for him. It's a mixture of prednisolone and an antihistamine, and not as bad as predisone alone (although this sounds like what you're pretty much doing?). As soon as he's off the Temaril, it's itch city again.

 

I would also say the elimination diet would be worth a shot, even though he's allergic to so many other things. Homemade food has been doing wonders for Kieran. I've found that limiting his exposure to certain foods has helped control his scratching a lot better. The vet is going to have us try an antihistamine trial. She too mentioned things like Atopica and injections; the downside is those are a lot more expensive and don't always work. We've tried different shampoos and bathing regularly, but honestly that hasn't done anything. Fish oil has helped, but isn't the cure-all that some people I know claim it to be. I feel you on the allergies; sometimes I'm envious of people whose dogs have symptoms they can easily control. In the end, I love Kieran and it's just another thing we've gotten used to and have to work through.

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