I was trying not to write a book, but here it goes.....
If my memory is correct, this is what happened....
I significantly increased her salmon oil in March 2009, found a derm vet in May 2009. By then, her allergy symptoms have gotten better so I would say the salmon oil was kicking in.
Derm vet started her on allergy shots and anti-fungal shampoo in May 2009. As far as I know, the allergy shots contain tiny amounts of allergens my GSD in allergic to, introduced over time, the concentration of allergens in the shots increases over time, so her body just learn not to react to these allergens anymore. I forgot the exact schedule, but it was something like twice a week, then once a week, then once every two weeks, after the first 18 months or so, we dropped it down to once a month.
Our GSD has a minor flare-up in her paws in October 2009, we called the derm vet and they recommended 50% vinegar/50% water spray twice a day, the spray took care of the flare-up in 3 or 4 days. My GSD had not had a flare-up since then.
Our GSD saw her derm vet in May 2009, Dec. 2009, Dec. 2010, then July 2012. Our derm vet had talked about discontinuing her allergy shots in Dec. 2010, but our GSD was doing so well that I asked her to just keep everything the way it was. Well, July 2012 came around, my GSD was still symptom-free, so we went to the derm vet again and asked for her opinion. She encouraged us to try discontinuing the allergy shots so my GSD's last allergy shot was in October 2012 (we spaced the last few shots from 4 weeks to 5 weeks to 6 weeks). In fact, our derm vet said our GSD was doing so well that she was releasing our GSD from her care, I think she really said that just to make me feel better about discontinuing the shots, 'cuz I am a worry wart
As of now, my GSD is not on allergy shots, she has not had any steroid (in any form) since early 2009. She was never on antihistamines. Her last pill of Atopica was in October 2010 (I kept her on it once/month from end of 2009 to Oct 2010, I think mainly for my peace of mind
I think her high dose of fish oil is doing the trick for her. I actually give my GSD a lot more EPA (in her salmon oil) than what my derm vet had recommended.
I know the derm vet says not all dogs can discontinue allergy shots, some are on it for life. So we are pretty lucky.
I also have to say though, I followed the derm vet's instructions to a T and more. When my GSD was actively suffering from symptoms, I hosed her paws off and wiped her whole body down with a damp cloth after each walk (usually morning and night), washed her bedding in hot water every 1-2 days, bathed her 2-3 times a week.
Nowadays, I just hose her paws off twice a day (she has gotten used to it, she runs to our water hose or kitchen where I fill a basin with water after her walks). I bathe her once/month. That's pretty much it.