Dog Allergy Stories. Gator the Lab Mix.

Gator - lab mix with dog allergies
Gator resting

Gator is a 13 year old Lab mix. When he was 6 months old, Gator was abandoned along a rural road in South Georgia.  When his owner Catherine rescued him, she noticed that he had severe skin problems.  She assumed that these skin issues were caused by fleas and ticks or that Gator suffered from mange, all common skin problem suffered by abandoned animals. 

After Gator was treated for his ticks and fleas, he was then checked and cleared for mange.  Yet, his skin problems continued. Gator had oozing rashes on his stomach, under his legs, in his groin area and on his muzzle.  He also developed frequent ear infections.  Catherine found that Gator would scratch at his skin until it became raw and bloody. 

Catherine and her family continued to look for other causes for Gator’s skin problems. They began to realize that he was likely suffering from allergies.  Catherine started trying different foods, but found that it had no affect on Gator. They also tried to limit the amount of time Gator spent outside and were careful to wipe him down when he came back indoors. Yet, none of these solutions helped with Gator’s skin condition.     

After about sixteen months of trial and error, Catherine was starting to narrow down the cause of Gator’s allergic reactions.  Catherine discovered that Gator’s allergies were very seasonal, and she believed they were caused by molds and pollen since his allergies are always worse in the Spring and Summer months.  Working with Gator’s vet, they found that the best treatment for Gator’s allergies was through a combination of medication and bathing

To treat Gator’s allergies on a daily basis, Catherine gives Gator a 2.5mg dose of Prednisone (steroid medication), a Claritin tablet and 250mg of milk thistle.  The milk thistle is given to protect Gator from potential liver damage problems which can be caused by continual dosages of Prednisone.  Gator is also given weekly baths.  If Gator is having a strong allergy flare up, Catherine will increase his Prednisone dose up to 10mg daily and his baths are increased to every three days.

Gator has allergies
Gator in his yard

Catherine and her family have found that regardless of where they live, Gator continues to have skin problems.  Their family has lived in Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland and Florida and has seen no change in Gator’s allergy problems. 

When asked what advice she would offer to other dog owners, Catherine suggests that owners never assume that their dog is allergic to just one thing.  If the dog has allergies, they are usually allergic to several different elements.  She also suggests that if dog owners decide to use Prednisone, they should go with the lowest dosage available and look into giving them milk thistle to prevent against liver damage.  Owners should be open to trying new medications and therapies and never give up.  It’s important to try everything they can to keep their pup as comfortable as possible. 

Catherine has certainly been keeping Gator comfortable. He is thirteen years old and going strong thanks to her efforts to keep his allergies under control.

Dog Allergy Treatments. Oatmeal Baths.

Many dog owners use regular oatmeal baths to soothe their dog’s itchy skin. In fact, several hypoallergenic shampoos include oatmeal as an ingredient to prevent irritation.  Oats contain polysaccharides, which leave a protective film on skin, preventing dryness and itching. 

I personally have not tried oatmeal baths for Elsie.   I’m pretty pleased with the allergy shampoo we’re using for her (Duoxo Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo).  If I was still in search of a good solution, I’d definately try these all-natural oatmeal methods.

After doing some research, I’ve found two popular methods that many owners use to bathe their dogs in oatmeal.

Oatmeal Soak Method

  1. Blend one cup of plain, uncooked oatmeal in a blender or food processor until it is a fine powder.  You can use instant or regular oatmeal. This will ensure that the oatmeal dissolves quickly in water.
  2. It’s recommended that you place a non-slip bathtub mat down before starting the bath.  Oatmeal can be slippery and you want your dog to be as safe and comfortable as possible during bathing.
  3. Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water until it is at a level that reaches your dog’s chest when standing up.
  4. Stir oatmeal into the water until it dissolves into water.
  5. Place your dog into the bathtub. 
  6. Using a cup or your hands, scoop up the oatmeal water and pour over your dog’s back, head (avoid their eyes) and stomach. 
  7. Continue to pour the oatmeal water over your dog for 10-15 minutes.  You’ll probably find that they’ll be more comfortable if you talk to them and pet them during the process – as a 15 minute soak can seem like a lifetime to a nervous dog.
  8. Remove your dog from the bath without rinsing and dry their skin with a towel.  The oatmeal solution will leave a protective layer on their skin and help to eliminate itchiness.


Oatmeal Rub Method
An alternative to the oatmeal soak method is a technique by which you rub oatmeal on your dog’s skin. 

  1. Combine 1/2 cup of plain, uncooked oatmeal with 1/2 cup of water. You can use instant or regular oatmeal.  Stir until the mixture becomes gooey.
  2. Use cheesecloth, an old stocking or sock and put the oatmeal mixture into the cloth.  Tie ends together tightly with a string or rubber band.
  3. Place your dog into your bathtub.  You can either fill the tub with water, or just use a bowl or cup to pour water over your dog to rinse their skin.
  4. Rinse your dog’s skin and fur with warm water. 
  5. Rub the oatmeal-filled cloth over their wet skin using circular motions.  Do this all over your dog’s body – particularly in areas that are most itchy. Continue to do this for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Rinse your dog lightly with warm water and dry their skin with a towel.  Don’t worry about thoroughly rinsing their skin, as the oatmeal will act as a protective layer and help eliminate itchiness.

Have you tried using oatmeal baths for your dog?  Did you use one of the methods mentioned above or did you try another technique?  Was it a positive experience or was it not worth the effort?  Please share your experiences.


Dog Allergy Treatments. Frequent Baths.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from allergies, you should start it on a schedule of frequent bathing.  Baths not only soothes your dog’s irritated skin, but more importantly, they remove the pollen and dirt particles that are causing the irritation.

It’s important to use the right kind of shampoo for allergic dogs.  Many inexpensive dog shampoos can dry skin and accelerate itchiness.  Before you start a regular bathing schedule, consult with your veterinarian on what type of shampoo or ingredients to use.  

Hypoallergenic Shampoo
Allergic dogs are often sensitive to the dyes and deodorants added to traditional dog shampoos.  There are many hypoallergenic dog shampoos on the market now.  Most include natural ingredients like olive oil, coconut, oatmeal, aloe vera, eucalyptus, and other essential oils. 

Chlorhexidine Shampoo
There are several medicated dog shampoos designed for allergic pets.  Some of these products contain Chlorhexidine, which is a chemical antiseptic used for topical treatment of bacteria and skin infections. 

Our dog Elsie’s veterinary dermatologist recommended Duoxo Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo.  The specialized ingredients in this shampoo not only help to fight bacteria, but also keep Elsie’s skin and fur from drying out.  We found that regular store-bought and even hypoallergenic dog shampoos would still dry her skin and add to her itchiness.  We’ve been using the Duoxo shampoo regularly for two years and it’s worked very well.