Doodlebug the allergy dog

It turns out that our Doodlebug is an allergy dog. They surface from time to time — the allergy dogs. Not the ones that are allergic to a few things — maybe Oak pollen and chicken and wheat and cashews. The ones that are allergic to everything on God’s green earth. There is some kind of mysterious misalignment in their bodies that creates allergic reactions to everything around them, and they go through life itchy, irritable, unsettled, and often in pain.

Doodlebug is one of these dogs. We brought him home as a foster in early January, and he was (almost) dying of heartworm. He wasn’t showing any allergy symptoms — but then again, he was so sick that he was just in survival mode. A few weeks later — a few weeks into his heartworm treatment — the itchies hit. That they corresponded with the start of Cedar season in Austin made us assume they were just your average seasonal allergies, and we managed as well as we could with t-shirts and over-the-counter antihistamines. When these didn’t seem to be doing the trick, we went in to the vet’s office for a steroid injection. It helped. For three weeks. And then the itchies came back, worse than ever before. Dude was listless, pouty, and distractable. We dressed him in his Poison t-shirt to keep him from ripping his chest to shreds from all the scratching, and bowed our heads, feeling guilty for not being able to help him find relief.

We have always gone to traditional vets for Chick, with great success. But lately we’ve been meeting more and more people who use a combination of Western medicine and alternative / holistic treatments for their animals – including chiropracty, healing massage, and acupuncture. When we started talking to our dog-people friends about the Dude’s allergies, we got a couple of references to a progressive, holistic treatment called Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT), and we thought: why not give it a go?

We took the Doodlebug for a consult — which was lovely — and ended up with an alarmingly long list of his allergies — most of the seasonal irritants, lots of environmental things like dust and feathers, and nearly all foods. Yikes!

So we did what we had to do, and moved quickly — we switched his food, started a regimen of wiping down his fur and paws after going outside, and made a treatment plan. AAT allows the treatment of up to two allergens per day, and the treatments are permanent — the substances treated never have to be treated again. But, the treatments are not cheap. We resolved to work through the major seasonal ones first, and then see where we stood. Working through two per week, we’ve made it through eight of the seasonals (trees, grass, weeds, flowers, and various types of pollens) so far. Our goal is to get through the major environmental and seasonal allergens and enough foods to get him onto a balanced and sustainable diet — and the road ahead is long.

After the first few treatments, we weren’t seeing any changes. After each treatment, we’d have the same itchy, miserable Bug that we had started out with. But we stuck with it. And just over the past week, we’ve seen some relief — the itching is still happening, but more rarely and more gently than before. The purple Poison t-shirt has come off, and we don’t have to put an e-collar on him anymore to keep him from scratching his ears until they bleed. He seems to sleep less fitfully, and pays attention better when we’re training. He’s more engaged and happier.

And what a relief.

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30 responses

  1. I’m so happy to hear that Doodlebug, who is precious by the way, has found some relief. We also use a combo of Western and Eastern medicine which also includes acupuncture. Our Pittie also has allergies and we had to introduce much less grain (dried dog food) and more homecooked foods like ground Turkey, and yogurt, cottage cheese, sardines, and a few others. Our holistic vet also recommended wiping down Piper’s paws with some tea to wipe off the pollen and help a bit with the itchies. Unfortunately, our little girl is also allergic to flea bites. One darn flea bite sends her in a world of scratching…so sad and frustrating.

    Doodlebug is so fortunate that you were open to trying both Western & Eastern meds. I will keep my fingers crossed that the allergies continue to get better! :)

  2. Awww poor dude! Clients of mine have been dealing with this lately too. I am going to pass this info on to them. I have dealt with allergies with Luna some too, thankfully she has grown out of most of them, and this year her neck seems to be itching her more than usual. I am hoping it is mostly her blowing her coat but we shall see. Either way Allergies are never fun and are often frustrating for all around. I am glad you are beginning to see a change in your boy, I hope it continues. I know you feed good foods so I won’t bother mentioning that. Good luck!
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

  3. Oh, the pit bull type dogs and their allergies – poor Doodle. I’m sure you’ve already heard this, but have you tried Apple Cidar Vinegar (the organic kind with the “mother” in it)? It can be used all sorts of ways (put some on their food, mixed wtih water to clear ears, or in a bottle to spray down/wipe paws). We’ve had a lot of success with it and have recommended to many, who’s also reaped the benefits :)

  4. Good Morning;
    My Baby, is so allergic to Cotton, corn, oats, trees grass, carrots, and on and on…I had a Horrible time , and she gets the shots. The only thing she can eat is Lamb, from the market or California Natural, Grain Free. $75.00 a 15 lb bag…so I know she can eat Lamb, so I purchased enough lamb for a month, and give it on the side.

  5. I purchase a lot for her from PawHealer.com all natural, no more needles for alergys ! No Chemicals for Heart worm, no rat poison for my Girl.

  6. So glad Mr. Dude is getting some allergy relief. Our pittie is an allergy mess too, and our holistic vet has made all the difference in the word for him! Hope your itchies stay away!

  7. Poor Doodle! I am soo glad to hear you have found some relief for the lil peanut.

    Our Lola is also an allergy dog, she was diagnosed as a pup. After much over the counter treatments (plus, cortisone, steroids, cones & tshirts) we threw our hands up and went to Cornell Veterinary Hospital in NY. We learned she is literally allergic to EVERYthing. Dust mites (indoor & outdoor), grass, mold, pollen, dander… just about everything she comes in contact with on a daily basis. So onto weekly injections we went. She seemed to do better for a bit but was never fully healed… and now has actually developed a food allergy on top of it all. Home cooked meals are now our daily thing (which she loves) but our hearts hurt that we can’t give her the relief that she so deserves. I will definitely be looking into AAT, thank you soo much for the info.

  8. It’s funny how dog’s contract seasonal allergies like we do. My poor pup gets them plus she’s allergic to a variety of other things. It’s pretty funny because they’re stereotyped as being a tough breed, but they’re just so gentle and adorable. The joy of having a pitbull, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  9. Elka, knock wood, hasn’t displayed any allergies, for which I am thankful! My fiance, on the other hand…..at least they aren’t really to food. Just everything in the world that flowers or smells, it seems.

  10. So sorry to hear about the Dood’s allergies. Our bulldog Emma has food allergies, as well as a mild allergy to grass and bug bites. We discovered her allergies to corn/wheat/soy after giving her some free & cheap doggeh food when she was a pup, so now she gets delicious, expensive food with no fillers. We also wipe her feet with a baby wipe (free and clear) when she comes in from outside. There’s not much we can do about the bug bites, other than cortisone cream — oh, and one time she broke out in hives when we have her a bully stick! I have serious seasonal allergies, and I’m also allergic to dogs, cats and anything else with fur — I’m getting allergy shots to build up my tolerance, but it’s just no fun. I empathize with both Emma and the Dood. :(

  11. Allergies suck, for people and dogs. Glad to hear he is doing much better! Have you made a decision as to what food you will be chainging him to?

    From the day our girl Sasha was diagnosed with OSA, my husband Carlos, started doing more research on dog food -he had already done tone of research from the 2006 food recall, and has continued to read here and there- to see what would be best for Sasha. We have switched her to Orijen. While it is a very expensive food, we are doing everything we can to feed this to her. We are trying to figure out how we could manage to give this to our boy Argus, becaues he has been suffering from struvite stones and also seems to have allergies. To what, we don’t know, but he is ALWAYS licking his arms after he eats (anything).

    My apologies for the long post! Again, I’m glad the Dude is doing much better!

    ~ L.

    • Dude is on a raw diet now, including the four foods he’s not allergic to. We’re hoping to treat him for a few other food allergies so we can diversify his diet and make at least one brand of kibble ok for him — though the more we learn about the health benefits of feeding raw, the more we’re thinking about buying a big freezer for our garage and switching both of our boys to raw for good!

      We’ll be posting about the Dude’s crazy new diet soon :)

  12. We are so lucky that we don’t have big allergy issues with Heidi. Every time we take her somewhere we get asked if she has allergies because she’s a white dog (we also get asked if she’s deaf all the time too). Sorry that the Dude has been such an itchy guy, but I’m glad you’re figuring it out!

  13. Wow- that’s no fun at all! It’s a good thing he has a home who is willing to go above and beyond for him. I know a dog who is allergic to everything including his own dander- he is a pretty miserable guy. I’m glad you’re seeing some improvement in your Dude. I wipe Skye down with an aloe baby wipe after she’s been in the woods to keep her rashes away, but even that doesn’t always work.

  14. Poor Dude :( My dog Cali is one of those allergy dogs . .she is allergic to the world (& dust bunnies!) I hope the treatment finds him some relief – I wish I would have heard about something like that 13 years ago!

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  17. Awww yay! Doodlebug will be less itchy now. Now that I think about, I wonder if my dog has allergies. Lately he has been chewing at his paws a lot, more often than usual. I’m always afraid that he’ll start bleeding from it.

    Anyways… I love your blog!!!

  18. How can I find a place that does AAT for pets? I live in GA, and the 1 place listed on the website in the blog does not treat pets.

    • Unfortunately, vet practices that offer AAT are v rare… If it is not on the list, it prob doesn’t exist yet. But call around to holistic vet practices and see what you find out!

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  20. For the most part, antihistamines are safe. Having said that, antihistamines can have side effects which, if the antihistamine is not properly administered, can be serious. The truth is, all medications have side effects. Some are mild, as in the case of an aspirin, unless you have stomach ulcers or aspirin sensitivity and others are more serious such as the side effects from chemotherapy, but for the most part, antihistamine side effects are fairly mild. The newest antihistamines are probably about the safest medications that there are. But there are differences between the various antihistamines and their side effects..

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  21. Allergy shots contain a small amount of the substance which you are allergic to. If you are allergic to pollen, a small amount of pollen would be added to the shot. The amount is small enough so that it does not cause you to suffering from allergy symptoms, but enough so that you body gets used to fighting the allergen. Therefore, the next time your body comes in contact with that substance, it will be familiar with fighting it off and you will most likely not suffer from allergies…

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