Dog Allergy Stories. Clayton, the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Clayton the American Pit Bull relaxing.
Clayton relaxing

Clayton, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was six weeks old when his owner Cassandra brought him home.  Cassandra, a Veterinary Technician, first  suspected that Clayton had allergies when he was four months old and developed Alopecia (a condition which causes hair loss) on his outer thighs.  Cassandra thought that Clayton had Demodex (parasitic mites that can cause hair loss in dogs), but his skin scrapes came out negative.

Shortly after the Alopecia started, Clayton began constantly scratching and chewing at his skin.  This frequent scratching caused the hair on his ears to fall out and the skin under his arms to bleed.  He chewed on his feet and gnawed at his tail from tip to rear. Cassandra placed Clayton on an antihistamine for a month, but found it provided no relief.

Cassandra then asked to be referred to a veterinary dermatologist.  Being in the veterinary field, Cassandra knew how difficult allergies could be for dogs and their owners and she wanted to get Clayton on the right treatment as soon as possible.

Clayton, wearing a t-shirt and socks to prevent chewing and scratching.
Clayton, wearing a t-shirt and socks to prevent chewing and scratching.

The veterinary dermatologist started Clayton on steroids, but the steroids did not end Clayton’s discomfort. For a while, Cassandra also had Clayton on Atopica, a drug designed for dog allergies, but it was also not effective in treating his condition. When the steroids and Atopica did not help, they started Clayton on a food elimination program to try to identify which foods he may be allergic to. They eventually found that Clayton was allergic to chicken, turkey, duck, beef, rabbit and fish. After trying different brands of food, Cassandra eventually found that Nutro’s limited ingredient Venison Meal and Brown Rice food worked. Clayton stopped scratching his ears and chewing on his tail.

Cassandra also made another important food allergy discovery. Many foods and medications contain gelatin, especially many medicine capsules. Gelatin is made from cow parts. Since Clayton and many other dogs are allergic to beef, they can have allergic reactions when they digest gelatin. Cassandra is careful now to avoid gelatins. If a medication is provided in a gelatin capsule, she first opens the capsule and sprinkles the powder on Clayton’s food. She also requests tablet forms of medication when available.

Clayton the pit bull showing hair loss on his ears.
Clayton showing hair loss on his ears.

In addition to food allergies, Clayton also has environmental allergies. Clayton had a skin test when he was seven months old. They found he was allergic to 70 of the 75 allergens, the top three being human dander, wool, and cat dander. He is now on weekly desensitization injections (allergy shots). To eliminate allergens in the home, Cassandra regularly shaves and bathes her cats. She also vacuums each day. Because her dogs sleep in her bed, Cassandra uses a special allergen detergent to wash her bedding.

In addition to his desensitization injections, Clayton receives weekly baths with a chlorhexidine shampoo. He also takes daily Zyrtec and Alaway eye drops. Although Cassandra has Clayton on small amounts of Prednisone, she is hoping to get him off of this steroid treatment soon. Cassandra also purchased a Lycra body suit from K9 Top Coat, which some dog owners use to protect their dog’s skin by reducing irritation.

Clayton the dog in a lycra body suit
Clayton in his new Lycra body suit.

Cassandra’s advice to other dog owners is to not give up. Eventually things will get better for you and your dog, but you will have to be willing to work for it. Think of it from your dog’s perspective, they are itching like crazy and can’t tell you what is making them itch. They need your help to make life more comfortable. Cassandra also recommends that if you find that your dog needs to be on a limited diet, don’t feel bad about not being able to feed them scraps or everyday treats. She suggests using your limited diet kibble as a treat. Your dog won’t know the difference and they’ll just be excited that you are giving them something to eat. Her final word of advice is to join a warehouse membership at a store like Costco or Sam’s Club. Benadryl, Zyrtec and other human medications used to treat dog allergies can be purchased much cheaper at these stores.

After months of trial and error, for the first time since he was a puppy, Clayton is starting to grow some hair on his ears. And, the skin on Clayton’s face and feet is no longer red and swollen. It is likely that Cassandra will always have to treat Clayton’s allergies, but through her efforts, she is giving him a much more comfortable quality of life.

21 thoughts on “Dog Allergy Stories. Clayton, the American Pit Bull Terrier.

  1. Clayton’s doing well! We have found the perfect balance of medications, as well as a diet (Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach) that he is not allergic to and he’s been doing amazingly. I got Atopica compounded into vegetarian capsules, and he’s on a daily anti fungal drug because he’s severely allergic to yeast but is very prone to skin yeast infections (vicious circle!). I continue to keep his feline friend shaved (they are best buddies, and I couldn’t bear to part them) and purchased a Eureka AirSpeed Pet which has been amazing at picking up dander, dirt, and hair. He recently had a digestive issue (unrelated to his skin) and I purchased the canned version of the food he’s on, which it turns out he’s allergic to. So he’s lost a lot of his fur again, but I broke down and spent the money on Hill’s z/d canned to add to his dry. Right now er are very happy with where Clayton is and he is finally very comfortable!

  2. Just another update! Clayton was still getting frequent “flare ups” and I was so upset at having to watch him be miserable. To get an idea of the cost, I asked my vet to make some homemade diet recipes so I could see if it would fit into my budget. Imagine my surprise when one of the recipes called for canned tuna and potato! I knew I could afford that!! The supplements are a bit pricey ($45/month) but its SO worth it. Combined with the new diet, and a anti-yeast product called Nzymes, he’s doing AMAZING! It’s completely changed him! He even got into the cat food once and only chewed his knee once! He doesn’t get the intense flare ups he used to! He still has trouble digesting his food (I find whole chunks of potato in his stool) but maybe down the road when I have more money (currently dealing with a health issue with my other dog) I’ll address his digestion. But for now, tuna and potato, Nzymes, probiotics, and canned pumpkin for digestion are apparently the key! He’s a much happier dog, and despite it taking me about 15-20 minutes to prepare each meal, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome!

  3. Hi Cassie – that’s great to hear! I’ve heard that others have had good results with homemade meals. I’ll bet Clayton loves the meals too! That’s interesting that you mention canned pumpkin. I’ve recently heard that it’s great for digestion. Thanks for the update.

  4. My pit bull is having a very hard time with her allergies too. I am currently looking into getting her one of the lycra bodysuits to stop her from scratching. I never thought to put socks on her back feet to keep her from tearing her skin up. She’s allergic to 3 types of grass, 6 types of weeds, 5 types of trees, 4 fungi, cat hair, pork, sweet and white potato and house flies. She is so miserable. I have cried because I didn’t know what to do for her. I got her in to the vet and have her on the shots that are supposed to help her get a little more resistant to her allergens. Let me tell you, that has been AWFUL for her. She is so allergic that it just makes it worse. We went just yesterday to the vet and she has to stop the injections until the sores and skin infection goes away. So we are back to taking steroids and anti biotics. I’ve gone to a place called Nature’s Oasis and gotten some allergy drops for dogs that seem to work but only last less than an hour so I have to give them to her often. She’s also on ProPlan Sensitive Skin and Stomach (she loves it thank God). She’s not completely limited on treats either because of a company called Zuke’s that’s based out of Durango, CO. They make a lot of treats that have no potato, corn or pork in them. I don’t know anyone else who has a dog with as many allergies as my Pearl. I am glad I came across this page.

  5. Caisse, i can so relate to you and clayton! My two year old pitbull is allergic to dust mites, humidity, mold and has very bad yeast infections (just like clayton)..And possibly allergic to chicken and beef also. We are injecting her every other day its been 4 months and no resuts yet, im getting pretty sad and dont know what to do anymore!.. Would you have any suggestions of what kind of food she would eat?… Or any other suggestions?

    Thanks and i am so happyyy clayton is doing sooo much better 🙂

  6. My pit Rosco 3 years old has been itchy since day one. He was treated for mange as a pup, is on a grain free diet, receives weekly steroid shot for one year but nothing seems help. U name I have tried it. He get 2x a week baths and is on prednisone for itchy ness. I want Rosco to heaL but can’t find a solution. The vet recommends a special diet of about $90.00 biweekly. Love my dog but there has to be another cheaper solution to find out food allergy if indeed this is what it s. he is allergic to grass, mites, pollen etc. Anyone have any suggestions

  7. Did his hairloss on his thighs look like circles the size of a pencil eraser? I have a bull terrier that I rescued and she came home with the spots but we can’t figure out what it is.

  8. We have a pit/lab mix. Her name
    Is Molly and we rescued her in Nov 2012. We were not told about all her allergies- I think
    She is allergic to most food. Her food and medication is very expensive and my husband is mentioning having to give her up because we can hardly afford it. How do we give up our sweet dog? I’m afraid nobody will take her because she is special needs and I’m at a loss. Her food is $90 a month and we have already spent $900 on meds and vet visits. I feel terrible for her but I don’t see how we can continue- something has to give. Has anyone found anything to work?

  9. I rescued my English Cocker Spaniel 6 years ago. Molly has food allergies, seasonal allergies, environmental allergies and yeast. I’ve taken her to 2 veterinarian dermatologists, 3 regular vets and a holistic vet. I tried allergy shots but she reacted to the solution by developing leather thick black skin at the injection site, the needle wouldn’t go in any more, that was horrible! Lost count of how many foods I tried but finally found that she can tolerate lamb and is doing well with Stella and Chewy’s raw lamb patties for her meals and their freeze dried lamb patties for her treats. No grain in the food at all so her yeast is kept under control. The only other treats are a blueberry or small piece of apple, she even reacts to bananas! She takes antihistamines twice a day and thyroid meds and I add 1teaspoon of coconut oil to her food every day plus digestive enzymes and probiotics. I do know that she also reacts to gelatin capsules so her meds are in pill form. She gets bathed twice a week with various shampoos depending on the season. She’s a challenge but I love her and keep trying. Hope some of this helps other pet owners!

  10. My little 8lb shizoo has constant ear infections and licking her paws. I have tried really expensive dog foods with no results for her. I put her on surf n turf Fromm which was highly recommended they have never had a recall now she has anal problems and I’m taking her to the vets every three weeks to have her ears cleaned n her anal gland expressed.
    My vet put her on a special diet Hills Prescription Diet d/d and I just gave a a couple kibbles and it gave her diarrhea and she was scooting across the carpet
    Now I’m just so upset n I feel really bad for my furbaby. I just don’t know what to feed her. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I can give you my email address please feel free to email me.
    Thank you!!! Right now I’m feeding her chicken n rice.

  11. Just a thought to everyone I have a dog with severe
    Outdoor allergies. I put him on fish oil for canines
    And shampoo him only tea tree shampoo. The
    Fish oil builds up his immune system and he now
    No longer needs his allergy shot.

  12. My pit/boxer mix has severe fall allergies too. Every year for the past three, we have had him on a low-dose steroid, starting when the kids go back to school, and ending once the snow starts. He gets horrible yeast infections with the allergies if not on the steroids as a standing rule-of-thumb around the end of August. This year is no different, however his skin itching and flank alopecia has improved with a daily 1000 mg of fish oil, although, I think it does make him have more stools than is usual, but it sure helps his skin from sloughing, itching and with the hair loss. I also use the Chlorhexidine shampoo, but not every time now that he is taking fish oil. I use oatmeal shampoo in between times. What I would like though is some eye drops for the eye allergies that still flare despite the prednisone. Any recommendations? His eyes are still flared a bit around the outside, they itch, and have some drainage. I have him on Rachel Ray’s Just Six dry food. Just six basic ingredients, since he is, it seems, sensitive to corn and wheat foods. Not sure what to give in place of milk ones yet, but I’m open to suggestions. I tried Nutro, but he hated it, and the cost wasn’t worth the waste. He would walk away from it. He is doing okay with the meds on board, but I have to fight my vet to get them. Even though I know exactly what he needs, I still have to take him in and pay for them to write out his script. It just gets frustrating with a lot more hassle than it needs to be.

    • Check out my comment you won’t be disappointed. I am trying to get the information to all pet owners. I know from experience how difficult it is on a daily basis to live with this condition. Karin

  13. Try Apoquel it works miracles, it’s brand new
    On the market. For years, I have tried everything. foods, shampoos, vitamins and sprays ect. I mean EVERYTHING! This is the only product that works for my four old Goldendoodle. He is finally relieved from constant itching and scratching. I am the happiest pet owner, our burden is finally in the past.

  14. My pit mix has has severe all season allergies since he was 2 or 3 years old and he is now 8. It has taken me a very long time to find something that works for him!! I couldn’t be more excited and I want to share with everyone because I know first had how frustrating it can be not to find relief for your pet. Will is his name and he has hair loss, knaws at his feet, and his chest is(was) beat red and sometimes so bad it would bleed! he also scratches under his armpits. I have done everything from injections and medications (10mg of prednisone was what I WAS giving him before I found this spray)with very minimal improvements. I just found this topical spray (which I have tried other topical sprays in the past)called Genesis!!! All I can say is WOW… what a major difference.. The very first application was AMAZING!!! I would definitely recommend this spray. It is a prescription so if your vet does not have it, order it online and they will send your information to your vet to get approval. I had it within a week or so. If your at your wits end, I would try this topical spray! Good Luck..

  15. I have a tuna half year old pitbull boy ( blue nose and Colby… He’s the best !!!)…who has always had allergies. He was born with Demadex, and we got over that, but as soon as he got his 6 month vaccinations and the drugs they give them for getting nuetered, it stirred up a bunch of immunity problems that made him more susceptible to allergies. That’s when we figured out he’s also very sensitive to flea medication and drugs. the Demadex he was born with compromised his gut flora and his liver, so his immune system was always struggling and unable to sufficiently deal with pollens, grasses, and other allergy inducing hell holes.
    After a year of dealing with his allergies I finally went to a nutritionalist who was amazing. It was cheaper than my normal vet, and she let me know every single thing he was allergic to, (even though I had been doing process of elimination trials with his food, I still had a long way to go from knowing everything he was allergic to; from food to the environment). She also does kinesiology.
    Anyway, for those of you that are using steroids and such, I just want to say doesn’t hurt to go to someone like nutritionist if its not getting better. It completely changed my babe’s skin and health within a month and a half and he still going steady. I learned we needed to get the flora in his gut healthy, and then addressed his liver, and helped support and strengthen that. If those two things are compromised they are going to be even more susceptible to allergens. I feed him really good grain free food, and do give him supplements still ( from standard process) to help support his liver and skin, which really keeps him in the clear. When I stop the supplements during allergy season he’s a goner.
    Anyway hope his helps, good luck y’all! Hope all these dogs feel better

  16. Hi just wondering what test did you get at the vet? I have the same problems with my 2 pitbulls but the vets in Australia aren’t very helpful

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