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sterlingmaloryarcher 08-18-2014 10:12 AM

Possible environmental or food allergies?
I think my dog is allergic to something, either environmental or food-related. I'd like to figure out which so I can either remove the allergen if it's food related or help him deal with it if it's environmental.

His symptoms are that he's really itchy and has some dark spots on his stomach. The itchiness has gotten a lot better since switching him from Hills Science Diet for large breed puppies (what the vet was feeding him) to Blue Wilderness Puppy; his poops went from runny to firm and he's put on some weight. His treats are chicken-based and grain-free, and the cat food (which he occasionally is able to sample before I can grab him) is also grain-free.

But even with going grain-free, he's still itchy, although it has reduced a lot since switching his food, and he has some dark spots on his stomach (I assume from itching/biting in that area since he does that a lot). I gave him a topical flea medication last week and he had his dose of Sentinel a few days ago, so I don't think it's bugs and I haven't noticed any fleas on him. However, he sneezes a lot when he comes out of his crate in the morning, so I think it could be possibly environmental. One of my dogs had a chicken allergy and she had similar symptoms (super itchy, dark spots on stomach) but she had a very thin coat and didn't put on any weight.

I'm really hoping it's not a chicken allergy, which is why I'm trying to determine any environmental allergies first. Is there any way I can figure out if he's allergic to something in my apartment before going on an elimination diet? I can empathize with him since I'm allergic to my apartment too but I can take medication for it and I don't know what are the medication options for dog allergies. Thanks!

Mary Beth 08-18-2014 09:17 PM

Since his symptoms are the same as your other dog who was allergic to chicken, I think that would be the easiest one to test first. Then if that doesn't work, I suggest you talk to your vet about any other possible causes.

Jax08 08-18-2014 09:34 PM

I think the only way to determine environmental is by allergy testing. If it's environmental it could be anything from your detergent to your dead skin cells!

Food is fairly easy by doing a raw, home cooked, or limited ingredient kibble.

Move his crate to an area without carpeting that is cleaned with only water and vinegar. See if he still sneezes.

Nigel 08-18-2014 10:00 PM

Check with your vet about allergy testing and you may want to ask giving Benadryl too, it can help in some cases. We did allergy testing on our now 4yr old female GSD and by going off the test results for both food and environmental causes, we were able to noticeably reduce her itching, watery eyes, etc..

Magwart 08-18-2014 11:39 PM

If it's food, you need to have him on a limited-ingredient elimination diet for 8-10 weeks, I'm told -- no treats or cheating with little bits that aren't on the diet, or the clock restarts. I've been working through this with one of mine. We're almost done with a second LID trial.

The vet said food allergy dogs classically present with "stop sign butts"--bright red hineys, from the inflammation and irritation.

sterlingmaloryarcher 08-19-2014 08:41 AM

Thanks everyone for the responses and advice. I'll start him out by testing the chicken allergy first. He started having runny poops again this morning and late last night, so the Wilderness food may not be agreeing with him as much as I thought.

I can't find any LBP chicken-free, grain-free food, so I'm looking at the adult food options now. It's not my first choice but it would be better than him itching and scratching all the time. I've heard the best things about Orijen foods, especially Regional Red, but that is nightmarishly expensive. I did find a Blue Basics food that is chicken and grain free, but that didn't get a great score on Dog Food Advisor, so I'd rather look for other options first. There's a natural/healthy pet food store near me, so I will go in there today and see what chicken-free, grain-free options they have. Calcium levels seem to be the biggest issue with looking for food for puppies, so if I can't find anything that is good-quality and reasonably priced, I may end up having to feed raw and get high-quality kibble as a backup. It's not my first option but I already have dead rats in my freezer for my snake so stocking some extra meat for my dog won't be the end of the world.

At this rate, my dog, cat, and snake are all eating better-quality (and more expensive) food than me. Oh well, it's better than having sick animals or dealing with health issues later in life.

wyoung2153 08-19-2014 09:46 AM

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I would suggest asking the vet for an allergy test. There are tests for both, I opted to do just the food allergies because that I have more control over than his environment. Look into Canine Caviar or Fromm if you are having a hard time finding foods. They are good quality and since switching Titan to the Canine Caviar he has virtually no itching. We fed fromm too and his itchiness lessened but turns out he's allergic to a common ingredient in Fromm.

Hope you can figure it out.. its' no fun having itchy puppies.

Nigel 08-19-2014 10:02 AM

Orijen is great, but be aware it can be too rich for some dogs. If you are looking at petco, they have NV Instinct LID with several options that might work for you, still spendy though.

sterlingmaloryarcher 08-30-2014 09:44 AM

As an update for everyone, I switched to a raw diet about a week and a half ago, and his itchiness has gone down dramatically (although not entirely gone) and the little spots on his belly area are slowly fading away. He's still on raw chicken, so I think he may just have a chicken intolerance in general. But his symptoms have been significantly reduced on raw. And it is much, much cheaper than feeding Orijen or other expensive kibble.

There might possibly be some environmental allergies, since he seems to itch more after going outside, but if the allergies don't reduce in a couple more weeks with a switch in protein, I'll ask the vet for allergy tests to find any other possible causes.

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