My Boxer has Dog Allergies – Elsie’s Story

Elsie as a Puppy – trying to stay awake.

Elsie is a four year old Boxer dog and the inspiration for Allergy Dog Central and by book, “My Dog Has Allergies?!“. Before she came into my life I had no idea that dogs could have allergies.

We acquired Elsie through a local family, who could easily be considered to be backyard breeders. I thought I did my research by calling her parents’ veterinarian to ask about the parents’ health, but that call uncovered nothing. After living through Elsie’s health problems, I find it hard to believe that one or both of them did not have allergies as well.

Elsie with her ear-protecting bandage

Elsie started to exhibit allergy symptoms when she was a puppy. It started with her rubbing her chin and graduated to violent scratching, foot chewing, vomiting, diarrhea, skin infections, ear infections, hair loss, and on and on.

By the time she was two years old, my family was spending over $2,000 a year on allergy treatments and vet visits. For over a year, we had her on Atopica, which if taken frequently, can be expensive. Although I hear that others have had good experiences with this medication, for Elsie it helped with the itching, but did not stop the infections.

Elsie in her favorite spot.

We were spending money like crazy yet her health was continuing to deteriorate. Faced with the possibility of not being able to afford our dog, I took to the Internet and tried to figure out how we could “fix” our sick dog.

After much trial and error and the help of a great Veterinary Dermatologist, Elsie is finally living a normal dog life. We had Elsie tested for allergies and we now give her regular allergy shots. These allergy shots have worked wonders and are considerably less expensive than the medication we had her, not to mention the frequent antibiotics and vet visits.

In addition to the allergy shots, I also switched Elsie to a limited ingredient dog food. I chose Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Venison formula. Since we found that she was allergic to feathers (among many other things), I thought it would be best to move her from her original Duck and Potato formula. The dog food change worked wonders for her digestive system as well.

Along with Elsie’s allergy shots and new food, we’ve also found good results from regular baths and ear cleaning sessions.  We bathe Elsie every two weeks using Duoxo Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo.  This shampoo was recommended by our pet dermatologist.   It never dries out her skin and leaves her coat glossy and smooth.   I was amazed at how well it works.  We also have a weekly ear cleaning session using Epi-Otic ear cleaning solution.  This keeps her ears dirt free and smelling good, which prevents excess scratching.

Kathy & Elsie

I’ve learned that no two dogs are the same. The treatments that have worked wonders for Elsie may not work for another dog exhibiting the same symptoms.  And, there are varying degrees of allergies.  Some dogs can easily be treated with a Benadryl or a medicated shampoo bath.  Others, like Elsie, have much more severe cases that require more aggressive treatment.

Although there is no magic solution or cure for dog allergies, there are ways to keep them under control.

Does your dog have allergies too? If so, we’d love to hear your story. Please email us at to share your dog allergy story.

Kathy & Elsie