Need help for a dog with allergies: part 3 (help us crack the case!)

As I attempt to investigate what’s going on with our Mowgli (male lab/border collie mix, approx. 5 years old), I could use your help. While in the midst of struggling with dog allergies, the comments left on my blog have been invaluable.

Background: after owning Mowgli for 4 years (we adopted him from a shelter) and him being on the exact same food that whole time, in September of this year he developed an ear infection and was incredibly itchy. Both us and the vet couldn’t see any evidence of fleas on him (or any of our pets). He’s been on an allergy pill (that’s meant to be short-term) off and on since September. Every time we try to take him off the pills he gets terribly worse.

Update:

We’ve cut Mowgli’s allergy pills (with the dreaded prednisone in them) down from 3 pills every other day to 2 pills every other day. Sad news is that I’ve noticed him become more itchy 😦 It’s not terrible but he’s not as cured as I thought he was a couple weeks ago.

Weather wise, it’s been well below freezing for a bit now. He’s just as itchy. Thinking we can rule out seasonal allergies?

The vet agreed to put Mowgli on an antibiotic to help rule out a bacterial infection causing his itchiness. When we put our other dog Mya on antibiotics for her bacterial infection, we noticed an improvement very quickly (she wasn’t scratching or licking like she was prior). With Mowgli, he’s over half way through his antibiotic treatment and he hasn’t been any better recently.

We’ve switched his dog food twice now. I know that it can take 3 months (time we don’t have) to see a difference in dog food but I’ve talked to others who when their dog had a true food allergy, they noticed a difference within a week or two (many withing a couple of days!) Each dog food trail for Mowgli has been 6-8weeks. His dog food that he’s been on for years had chicken in it. I’ve read that most dogs develop an allergy to the meat in their foods rather than grains. So we went to a non-chicken dog food (salmon). Then most recently, we switched to a dog food that has very minimal ingredients and has no chicken or fish in it (lamb and sweet potato). And this is where we are at. Once this dog food runs out, our plan has been to switch to a no-grain dog food.

I know it’s early to draw conclusions, but I’m beginning to be not be so convinced that he has a food allergy. I wouldn’t put money on it being seasonal allergies given that he’s still experiencing symptoms in January. And now after a trial of antibiotics, I’m not thinking that it’s a bacterial infection either. I’m at a loss.

Potential light bulb moment (but still in the dark):

People have frequently asked me if there’s anything that changed in Mowgli’s diet or environment prior to him developing symptoms of serious allergies. I couldn’t come up with one thing. Until the other day… July 31st, 2014: our dogs were sprayed by a skunk for the first time. They both got hit in the face but Mowgli seemed to suffer the most afterwards. He was violently rubbing his face against the grass and foaming. We went on facebook and google and did the Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda and Dish Soap recipe and bathed them in it. It worked fabulously. But now I’m wondering…

Could what we bathed the dogs in caused an allergic reaction in Mowgli? If so, shouldn’t he have become itchy right away? It wasn’t until September (a month later) that we noticed Mowgli becoming itchy. Also, he’s had baths since the skunk peroxide bath and remains itchy. So maybe it wasn’t the skunk remedy mixture.

Prior to Mowgli developing an ear infection and scratching/biting/licking tendencies, he developed terrible (unnatural for even a dog) bad breath. It was difficult to be in the same room as him for the month of August. The bad breath went away on its own after the ear infection and allergy symptoms began in full swing. Hmm.

My big question: could Mowgli being sprayed badly by a skunk have caused some medical condition that we now see as symptoms of allergies? I can’t find much information on this online, except that I’ve read stories of dogs DYING a few days after being sprayed by a skunk. I guess some dogs can develop anemia from skunk spray? Who knew. Could the “what was different for Mowgli prior to developing symptoms” be that he was sprayed in the eyes/nose/mouth by a skunk?

July 31st: sprayed by a skunk (for the first time) and it was a bad spray to the face. Bathed him in peroxide, baking soda, dish soap.

August: Mowgli develops terrible bad breath.

Early September: took the dogs to Pet Smart for grooming (he had a bath). Had Mowgli’s teeth brushed – this only helped the bad breath smell for a couple of days and then it was back.

Mid to late September: start noticing Mowgli becoming itchy. Bad breath is better but he seems to scratch a lot. Derek comes homes one day and Mowgli was bleeding from one of his ears due to scratching. Come to find out he has a bad ear infection in that ear. Start him on antibiotics and allergy meds.

And you know the rest of the story.

Was it the skunk incident or the grooming (bath/nails/teeth brushing) @ Petsmart that was the start of this? Was the bad breath after being sprayed by a skunk unrelated or was that the first symptom of his allergy problems?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much.

6 thoughts on “Need help for a dog with allergies: part 3 (help us crack the case!)”

  1. thanks! ya, it’s time to give him a bath with some new shampoo. that’s a good idea to see about a vet prescribed shampoo. it’s strange that his symptoms came out shortly after his grooming @ Petsmart. it could have been brewing that whole time and there’s nothing to his grooming visit @ Petsmart but who knows. 1) sprayed by skunk 2) develops horrible breath 3) goes to Petsmart for grooming 4) is diagnosed with an ear infection + allergies shortly there after.

    I think seasonal allergies and a bacterial infection can be ruled out. that still leaves environmental allergies (things that can be present year round like dust/mold), topical allergies (laundry detergent, things used when he was bathed) and its still possible that it could be food allergies. Sigh.

    Thanks for your comment!!

  2. Did the vet do blood tests for anemia? There have been rare cases reported after being skunked…heinz body anemia… http://plumcreekveterinaryservices.com/blog/b_28980_skunk_spray.html I also checked via scholar.google.com and it seems pretty valid. You stated directly in the face – that’s important I think. Itchiness is a sign of anemia (among other things).

    A blood test isn’t all that expensive as far as some tests ordered by a vet…do mention the being sprayed directly in the face…

    My dogs have been sprayed multiple times over the years – I do use dawns dish detergent and baking soda, but not hydrogen peroxide because they stopped using it on open cuts, so I didn’t want to use it on the dogs because they were hit in the face at close range. The two ingredients removed the smell 98% the first wash and the 2nd wash completely.

  3. Ugh, so sorry! Chloe is still struggling with itching as well and has stinky breath. One thing I’ve found that helps is if we bathe her and then do a lotion treatment. Our vet suggested diluting 1 part Aveeno lotion in 4 parts warm water and rubbing it through her coat and skin. That seems to relieve the itching for a couple days, but isn’t a complete fix. Right there with you and trying to figure this out! (Having her chew on a knuckle bone helps with the breath as well).

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