Scratching/Itching - White GSD - Watson - Detailed Info - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 04-24-2014, 09:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Scratching/Itching - White GSD - Watson - Detailed Info

Background Info:
Watson is a pure white GSD who is a tad over 1 year old. Her scratching/itching problems began sometime this past winter and have continued to worsen since. The itching/scratching has escalated to the point where there is visible hair loss on both, her front and back legs. Below is a list of what we have tried, what has been recommended, and some tests we have done to prove and disprove some theories.

I have also listed her symptoms and various other medications that she’s ingested. The only time the itching/scratched stopped was after the steroid shot. The next day the itching/scratching was completely gone. This lasted for ~3 days and then slowly increased back to ‘normal’.

Symptoms:
  • Itching/scratching underbelly
  • Chewing on both, front and back legs
  • Obsessive itching/scratching on hind quarters and back
  • Zero paw licking
  • Zero eye redness or visible irritation
  • No visible gum discoloration or abnormalities
  • Normal stool
  • Normal eating and drinking habits
  • Normal activity level
  • Muscular, strong, and agile - no signs of depression or lethargy


What we have tried:
  • Diet
  • Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage (chicken based)[/INDENT]
  • May → Nov
  • Blue Buffalo - Large Breed Puppy (chicken based)
  • Nov → Feb
  • Acana Ranchlands (red meat based)
  • Feb → 18 Apr
  • Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach (salmon based)
  • Just started her on this.
  • She should be fully converted over by this weekend (26 Apr)
  • Purchased humidifier (Jan)
  • Increased humidity from low 30s to low 50s in sleeping area
  • Changing detergent (Dec)
  • Switched to Free and Gentle Tide
  • Washed bedding, couch cushions, even the carpet was cleaned with it
  • Vet visit (11 March)
  • Received steroid shot
  • Depo-Medrol 20mg/ml Injectable (per ml)
  • Anti Histamine
  • Chlorpheniramine 4mg Tablet
  • Dog-sat her half sister (same Sire)
  • Both dogs were in the same environment for 9 full days
  • There was zero increase in itching/scratching of the half sister
  • Spoke with Breeder
  • Mother has no history of allergies
  • Siblings have no reports of similar itching/scratching
  • Geographically ~300 miles from birthplace (Philadelphia → Virginia)
  • Recommended the new food
  • Pro Plan

Other Info:
  • First Shield Trio (flea and tick)
  • 16 Apr
  • Tri-Heart Plus (heartworm)
  • Comfortis (prescribed by vet during March visit)
  • 1 Apr

Food Ingredient Comparison:
This is a link to a food comparison I put together.
I haven’t completed cross referencing the Pro Plan
We haven’t even fully switched to it anyways.


Detailed Info:
In March, during the vet visit it was suggested that we start her on a Hydro-Protein (hydrolyzed protein) diet. The way this was explained to us was that this would eliminate any natural animal based protein and start on a ‘clean slate’. The vet suggests to most people that if this works to continue this diet forever. However, if we want to slowly introduce ingredients we could do so at 8-10 weeks.

As you might imagine; this did not sit well with us. Aside from the cost, we were not to keen on feeding (what we thought *please correct if wrong) was a more refined food. If anything we would switch to a completely raw diet and introduce food. After suggesting a raw diet to the vet the vet responded with a myriad of negative side effects. This included the typical salmonella zombie apocalypse scenarios.

We left the vet feeling discouraged.

Since then the itching/scratching has increased. She is now starting to show visible signs of hair loss in her pit areas and front legs. We are in the process of switching her food over to what her breeder uses.


After doing an extensive amount of reading we have considered the following as our next steps:
  • NutriScan
  • Full blood test panel (vet said this can cost upwards of 500+)
  • Raw Diet

Questions:
  • At what point can we rule out food allergies if ever?
  • Is it common for one pup of the litter to be highly allergic while the others are not?
  • Has anyone successfully used a NutriScan, made the proper switches, and witnessed results?
  • If it takes 6-8 weeks for food allergens to be removed from the body should you see signs of improvements before then?
  • Is there any topical solutions we can apply, to least, help her comfort level while we do these tests?
  • If we are able to find a solution will the hair return?

Any theories, suggestions, or tests anyone could offer would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance. Have a great weekend,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Stryfe; 04-24-2014 at 10:02 PM. Reason: Formatting
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default More Formatting Changes

My apologies for the formatting. It only allowed me to edit it once. Here is a substantially better formatted version.

Formatted Version.

Detailed Food Breakdown

Thanks again.
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I am having similar issues with my male GSD. It started when the heat was turned on in the house, no signs of any thing prior. At first I thought fleas or allergic reaction to flea bite. It was at the base of his tail where his fur is the thickest. Vet confirmed no fleas but dry skin due to the weather/heat, etc. It went away and I noticed him doing the flea biting on his back. I looked and he did some damage, you could see the irritation from the biting at it in several areas, which has caused some fur loss. I wasn't to sure in what order to go in to get the area healed, so I first tried coconut oil directly applied and on food, didn't help. Next I went to miconazole and got old shirts to cover it when he couldn't be supervised, that worked a little bit but not enough. Next I went to Neosporin and that worked to heal it pretty quickly. I also used an anti itch cream because once he got to it I was starting all over I gave him a bath using oatmeal/tea leaf shampoo and that seemed to relieve some if the dry skin. For the last 3 days I have been brushing him lightly and using a high force dryer to blow out the dry skin, the dryer does not get hot and he likes it. He is going to the vet on Saturday. He has been on a diet and I feel that he might have lost to much weight to fast so now I'm freaking out about that and I don't even know for sure. He will have a full blood panel and I have a doggie dermatologist on stand by. He is on a salmon/sweet Potato grain free diet. Treats are also grain free. He has no ear problems and every now and then he scratches other areas of his body but not enough to cause concern. I'm hoping it's just a matter of keeping the dry skin under control, because if he didn't have that he wouldn't be itching. I'm also considering getting him shaved if necessary starting next winter. I don't want to do that if I don't have to. I'm sure they are going to shave quite a bit on Saturday so his skin can air out. I was going to do it myself but I didn't want to knick any of the irritated skin.
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Last edited by llombardo; 04-24-2014 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I fed one of mine the hydrolyzed diet for about 6 months while I figured out what he was allergic to. I did not view it as a lifetime commitment! This was over 10 years ago but I seem to recall he did improve slowly. In his case he was rawfed before the allergies and, as luck would have it, we discovered (through an elimination diet) his allergy was to chicken and to beef. So he got put on a fish based kibble, end of problem.

By the time I went the Z/D route, we were at mucousy stools, constant ear infections, hot spots etc.

To the other questions, it has been enough years most of the answers have fallen out of my head.

When another one developed a flea allergy and pyoderma from it and the regular expensive veterinary antihistamine did not work I used benedryl at the dog dose (which is every 8 hours...much higher than human dose) and gave her oatmeal baths. Fleas gone, issue gone.
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Stryfe View Post
My apologies for the formatting. It only allowed me to edit it once. Here is a substantially better formatted version.

Formatted Version.

Detailed Food Breakdown

Thanks again.
I'm seeing sweet potato as a common ingredient in the first three foods and that ingredient is also in the food I used. I was just asking someone a couple days ago if the dog could bd allergic to sweet potato?
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
I fed one of mine the hydrolyzed diet for about 6 months while I figured out what he was allergic to. I did not view it as a lifetime commitment! This was over 10 years ago but I seem to recall he did improve slowly. In his case he was rawfed before the allergies and, as luck would have it, we discovered (through an elimination diet) his allergy was to chicken and to beef. So he got put on a fish based kibble, end of problem.

By the time I went the Z/D route, we were at mucousy stools, constant ear infections, hot spots etc.

To the other questions, it has been enough years most of the answers have fallen out of my head.

When another one developed a flea allergy and pyoderma from it and the regular expensive veterinary antihistamine did not work I used benedryl at the dog dose (which is every 8 hours...much higher than human dose) and gave her oatmeal baths. Fleas gone, issue gone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by llombardo View Post
I'm seeing sweet potato as a common ingredient in the first three foods and that ingredient is also in the food I used. I was just asking someone a couple days ago if the dog could bd allergic to sweet potato?
I never noticed that. Thank you very much for pointing this out. Excel was only looking for 'exact' matches. I also found some others that I missed because the names were slightly different.

My hope is that this Pro Plan will help.
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
I fed one of mine the hydrolyzed diet for about 6 months while I figured out what he was allergic to. I did not view it as a lifetime commitment! This was over 10 years ago but I seem to recall he did improve slowly. In his case he was rawfed before the allergies and, as luck would have it, we discovered (through an elimination diet) his allergy was to chicken and to beef. So he got put on a fish based kibble, end of problem.

By the time I went the Z/D route, we were at mucousy stools, constant ear infections, hot spots etc.

To the other questions, it has been enough years most of the answers have fallen out of my head.

When another one developed a flea allergy and pyoderma from it and the regular expensive veterinary antihistamine did not work I used benedryl at the dog dose (which is every 8 hours...much higher than human dose) and gave her oatmeal baths. Fleas gone, issue gone.
Thanks a lot for this info. They vet did in fact mention it could be a major reaction to a flee bite. I believe one of the prescribed drugs they gave her was to combat that if it were the case.

In any case, I did also removed 2 ticks from her during the summer months. The time line didn't correlate with the scratching so I didn't put to much thought into it.

Could a tick bite result in this sort of prolonged aggravation?
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Old 04-25-2014, 12:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Our 15 month old Rudy just developed some atopy and itching since the tree pollen started here in northern Illinois. Bare spots on his muzzle and itchy watery eyes and itchy legs. Not severe, thankfully. I just ordered some stuff from Drs. Foster and Smith for the itchiness, and some antihistamines. If they work, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I am giving Benadryl (1 mg per pound as recommended) and applying 1% hydrocortisone cream to the atopic spots. Looks better today (day 4). I also am stopping his food with grain in it to see if that helps. Since he previously had hot spots, I already gave flaxseed supplements. Kind of the same as I did when the kids had hayfever.
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Old 04-25-2014, 05:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Don't know on the ticks.
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Old 04-25-2014, 10:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Apoquel, if your vet can get it, will stop the itching which gives you time to get to the heart of the matter.
Traveler ended up having a staph infection but you would see big dandruff flakes and greasy fur and nonstop itching. I didn't see that in your very through descriptions. We did the Hemopet food sensitivity test and it was amazing how many foods he reacted to.

Yes, they can be sensitive to sweet potato. Traveler is.

I was amazed with the results since I didn't know dogs could react to rice, for one, and his reading for turkey was just about off the charts. We are limited to beef and lamb and vegies. Almost every starch came back with "avoid". Wow.

I can only comment on brown dog ticks since that's our experience here. I've been bitten plenty of times and when they first bite, it itches for a couple of hours then goes away. Days and even weeks later, they start itching again! The bites take a looooong time to heal. If someone would have told me a bite that didn't bother me for weeks all of the sudden starts itching again, I would have thought they just were bitten again and didn't notice. However, I have plenty of experience I'm sorry to say and that is exactly how it is.
Lynn & Traveler
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