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 Symptom #2. Ear Infections.

Does your dog have frequent ear infections?  Do they continuously flap or scratch at their ears?  Do their ears have an odor? It is often assumed that ear infections are a sign of ear mites. However, in many cases, chronic ear infections are a sign that a dog allergies.

Ear infections were a regular part of Elsie’s life. In the beginning, whenever she had a bath, went swimming, or had any interaction with water, she’d end up with a nasty ear infection. As months went on, her ear infections would flair up for little reason at all.  The weather would change, we’d go out of town for a weekend – any small change in routine would trigger an infection.

In attempts to ease her discomfort, she’d claw at her ears and rub her head on the floor. Her head flapping and ear scratching resulted in cuts and scratches that would open and introduce new infections. It was a pretty ugly scene.

Elsie is now on allergy shots, and thankfully doesn’t have the same ear issues.  However, we still find that regular ear cleaning is an absolute must as part of her grooming routine.  To prevent infections, we clean her ears each week with a solution called Epi-Otic®. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe a similar non-irritating cleansing solution.

To clean your dog’s ears, simply squirt the solution in their ear canal, gently rub the ears and then wipe off any excess liquid.  It takes less than five minutes and can make a big difference in your dog’s comfort. If your dog is like most, it will automatically shake its head – so you may want to do this in your bathtub or outdoors to prevent your walls being covered with the cleanser.

If your dog has frequent ear infections, talk to your veterinarian. This is likely a sign of allergies or some other problem with their immune system.