Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pooches: On Allergies & Miss M "Scissorhands"

This is Miss M. These are her gigantic paws:
Miss M has a bad habit of chewing her own nails. I'll often wake up to the "crunch, crunch" of what I assume is a nylabone, but later find out is her fingernail. Her chewing sharpens her nails into little points. I like to call her 'Miss M Scissorhands'.
Though I wish her Scissorhands were used more effectively, like when Johnny Depp was giving everyone in the neighborhood new haircuts. Instead, they're the inflicting pain kind of Scissorhands. She scratches her face so much, that she starts to bleed. Sometimes we make her wear a cone so she'll stop scratching, but we realize, she can't wear a cone all the time. (She refuses to be photographed in her cone, but Mr. B was able to capture this photo with his Pet Eye Camera):
One of our readers actually brought up the point, that so many bully breeds have allergies and itchy skin, and she wanted some advice on helping her own pooch. I had forgotten how the first couple of years Miss M had terrible welts on her stomach. and I was always trying to figure out how to fix it. We tried an elaborate elimination diet, thinking she might be allergic to something, but in the end, it just kind of went away over time. Though she apparently still has an itchy chin.
Does anyone have good advice on dealing with allergies and/or itchy skin? And while we're at it, does anyone else have a "scissorhands" pooch and have any advice on breaking them from the habit?

P.S. We'll be keeping everyone updated about the special pooches saved in memory of Shy. We have a "Two Pitties in the City" facebook page where it's easier for us to give real-time info. You can 'like" or check the page for faster updates.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm impressed she can chew her own nails! Benadryl is about the only thing that really works for Flash when she has allergies, but I hate drugging her all the time. Since we've changed foods in the past year, I'm curious to see if her allergies are any better this spring/summer. I haven't really noticed much scratching yet.

HoundDogMom said...

Or bloodhound Tabby did the nail chewing thing. She did a terrible job at it, always had splinter nails. I know with her we found that her allergies were due to a low thyroid. Placed her on thyroid meds and she was like a new dog. Sniffs, The HoundDogs

Annie said...

Wow! Our little furbaby Chiquita is a terrier version of Miss M it sounds like! She gets very bad allergies and has very itchy skin.

For the allergies we typically give her one 25 mg Benadryll pill once a day (twice if it is really bad). If it gets to that point in spring/summer when the Benadryll can't cut it for her anymore, go to your doctor who can give her a Cortizone pill. Those always do the trick on the really itchy days.

Also, for the itchy skin we do two things. Every two weeks we give her a bath with an anti-itch soap or an oatmeal soap to help soothe the skin. You have to bath pretty frequently obviously but the soap really helps their skin feel good. Before we used an oatmeal soap which worked fine but I must admit, her itches have been less with the anti-itch soap. (We are currently using Top Paw Anti-Itch soap from Petsmart.) Also, we give her a fish oil pill mixed in with breakfast in the mornings to help the itch. So far everything seems to be working fine, allergy season is starting in our neck of the woods and she has hardly been itching.

Hopefully this helped!

Anonymous said...

Oh don't get me started on allergies. Emma has incredibly severe allergies. I finally gave in and ran an allergy test on her because I just didn't know what to do anymore. She turned out positively allergic to 90 of 115 tested allergens. My vet said she'd never seen anything like that and the testing company even ran it twice because they thought it was an error on their part. She's allergic to poultry, fungus, grass, mold, dust, cotton, trees, among a zillion other things.

At her worst she will tear her stomach to blood and create these huge gaping wounds that don't heal because she constantly scratches them. She chews her feet and scratches her face, which both blow up and get all red. She loses almost all her fur, and she gets even more lethargic than she normally is.

Anonymous said...

To combat this and to help give her a somewhat normal life, she gets zero poultry (I don't even have it in the house anymore in case she gets into it). She gets 6 fish oil pills a day. She eats raw food. During the wintertime this was enough to keep her OK. The first week on March when the temperature sneaked over 35 degrees for the first time, she was already scratching. And it's worse than when I first got her at the end of the summer last year. So we went back to the vet and she's on special prescription antihistamines that she'll have to be on March-November. Even with the meds she'll scratch sometimes so I have to keep a jacket on her. She also has to wear the jacket anytime she's near grass, as if it even touches her underside, she gets a huge red rash.

Anonymous said...

I think that's it.
(comment was too long, need to break it up)

I'm considering going through with something called a NAET treatment which is a homeopathic way to treat allergies. It supposedly "cures" allergies. It's a tad expensive and I'm not sure how much I buy into it, so I haven't done it yet. Though if she gets any worse I think I'll have to at least give it a try.

Anonymous said...

oh man, i can't help you, but i wish i could. however, i did recently learn about inflatable collars that you can use instead of the e-collar. it allows them to eat, drink, sleep, etc, but still keeps them from being able to chew on stitches, etc. i wonder if this kind of device would be big enough to keep her from scratching her face.
we are lucky to have mild allergies . . . we have no wheat or corn in our dog diets, and everybody does just fine!

Kate said...

What food do you guys use? A lot of dogs are allergic to the grains in dog food so a grain-free food might help Ms. M out with her itchiness. My first dog used to have grass allergies and the vet recommended Benadryl so maybe that would help? She used to chew her nails too (and she got bumps on her belly sometimes) so it seems similar to Ms. M. Once we got her on the benadryl it really seemed to go away.

And ditto loveandaleash about the inflatable collar. We got one for Nemo when he had surgery and it seemed a lot easier on him than the standard plastic e-collar (if Ms. M doesn't like it).

Jennie said...

My American Bulldog mix had terrible allergies when he first arrived and it took us six months of clear them up. It turns out he also had a bacterial infection that resulted from the welts. We managed to get the infection cleared up and the allergies under control, and now if he shows signs of an outbreak he gets one Zyrtec every 12 hours (usually I just do it for one day and it clears up). That, plus a low allergen diet, has kept them under control for the past four months.

Maggie said...

Emmett has terrible seasonal allergies. His skin becomes discolored and splotchy, and he itches constantly. I give him medicated baths and wipe him down whenever he comes back inside - I'm afraid the pollen will get trapped in his fur and make it worse. On the worst of the bad days, I'll give him Benadryl. It's not ideal, of course, but it's far better than steroids! His feet get it the worst, though. I keep a cortisone spray on hand and douse his feet a couple times a day. Good luck to Miss M. Being an itchy puppy can't be any fun at all.

DNCWWO said...

What is Miss M actually allergic to to, food or something in the environment?
My lab has environmental allergies, and gets one Zyrtec with each meal.
My pittie, on the other hand, is allergic to chicken, so we avoid food with chicken in ANY form (we feed Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream formula), and all treats with chicken in them. He needs no medication.

Kari in Alaska said...

have you looked at the cleaning supplies you use? If she is resting her head on the floor or a pillow that is cleaned with something that has a lot of perfumes or chemicals it could be causing the itch.


Unknown said...

Zeus does not chew his nails (thank goodness!) but he does have allergies and a super sensitive stomach. He gets one Zyrtec every morning with his food- all year long. That seems to help the itching. We also weaned him from the prescription diet to PurinaOne Sensitive Systems food (#1 ingredient is salmon!)- for dogs with sensitive stomachs/skin. It has worked very, very well for Zeus. We always get compliments on his coat and his belly is much better. It's perfect for us - I can buy it almost everywhere and it's really helped him out. The only negative is that it stinks. Our kitchen smells like fish when he's eating, and his breath smells like fish when he's done, but it's worth it. I'll take a temporary fish smell over diarrhea and throw-up anyday.

Daisy Dog said...

Daisy has allergies to. She is now on maintenace allergy shots I give her about every 4-6 weeks. But she still gets hot spots and chews and licks her feet. I have found dosing with Zyrtec 1x a day and using witch hazel on the hot spots seems to help a bit. Since her allergy tests didn't show any food realted items I have not tried to adjust her diet. She is a picky eater anyway. She might be chewing the nails becuase her feet are itchy? Try some witch hazel its cooling.

Sarah said...

We changed up Maggie's food to deal with her allergies and it's helped tons (she's on Solid Gold now). She does still get the itchies from time to time and when I see her going at it, I know it's time for a bath. Frequent baths, for her, seem to be a good way to keep whatever it is she's allergic to at bay.

No advice on the Miss M Scissorhands conundrum. Maybe train her to trim hedges?

Heather said...

Ben is a nail chewer as well. In fact, this is the first year that we actually had to trim his nails - other than the occasional times that he chews his nails into pieces and we need to cut the dagger pieces off... Since he had a mast cell tumor removed last year, he gets 50 mg Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) twice a day - so it kills two birds with one stone (underlying allergies and prophylactic use for his mast cell tumor). If Benadryl makes her too sedated, Hydroxizine is another anti-inflammatory with less sedative effects (and there are many more out there to try). Have you tried hills z/d? Its the low-allergen prescription diet food - they also make low allergen treats as well. Different shampoos can help also to decrease skin inflammation and general "itchiness" - some contain Diphenhydramine, some contain other anti-inflammatories - we use Histacalm shampoo on Ben and it makes him super soft and much less itchy. Like others have mentioned, Omega-3 capsules work great for skin. They do sell a specific dog one, but I'd just use whatever is cheapest for humans (generally cheaper than the dog version) and either give it as a pill or break it open over food. Also, like Kate mentioned - the Purina One sensitive stomach diet contains salmon as the main protein ingredient, which would also provide the Omega-3 fatty acids as well :)

We definitely feel your pain on the itchy pit bull issues!

Trissi_V said...

Apollo has allergies...we had to change his food (Taste of the Wild, I think...) and that seemed to help a lot, but I still catch him scratching out of habit sometimes.

Our girl, Laci, is the nail biter and if anyone has ANY idea on how to stop that please let me know...because it drives me crazy. She's so loud with it, she wakes me up at night.

Road Dog Tales said...

Wish we had a great answer for you but mainly what we've done is add fish oil to our diets and sometimes Chinese herbs from our vet.

Love that you guys share that bone. Don't think you'd catch anybody here sharing a treat :)

The Road Dogs

EGG said...

My pup is allergic to of all things grass so I give him human benadryl his belly and inner thighs would be all red and lumpy and itchy but after a coupkle days of giving it to him all is right with the world again of course he has to take it everyday but he dont care it just means extra treats. And as for the nails yeah he will sometimes chew on his foot and work his way to the nail and sometime he will even grab his girlfirends foot and chew on her foot/nails (until he gets a little to into it than she no likey no more) i just chalk it up to a foot fetish i figure if people can have them maybe dogs do to

houndstooth said...

We've used Benedryl to help some of our allergic dogs during really bad times. I don't know if the stuff they use on little kids to get them to stop thumb sucking and nail biting would be okay, but my guess is that it would be. That might deter her.

Felicity said...

We are currently dealing with this issue with Mr. Stardust. He had all sorts of little bumps all over him and horrible inflammed welts on his stomach.
Vet said he's got environmental allergies, which has caused infected hair follicles. So he's currently on cortisone and antibiotics.
So Ziggy sympathises with Ms M.

Meeka said...

I've got allergies too and instead of once a month bath, I get a bath every other week using a medicated shampoo. I don't like it but it sure helps.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Oh my goodness, hysterical that she chews her nails to points...BOL
Benny & Lily

ForPetsSake said...

A few tips:
You can try giving her fish oil caplets - great for skin, coat and what ails you. Truly help maintain good skin.
You can try wiping her down with a wet washcloth after going outside to reduce allergens brought into the house.
I've also experienced the thyroid connection as HoundDogMom says and the nails - you might try having her tested.
Arwen gets watery eyes and we rinse them with eye flush/saline to keep the yuckies out.
If you use anything on the carpets, like powder that you later suck up, don't. Some dogs are allergic to this stuff.
If she has acne/ allergy on her chin, use a stainless steel bowl for water and food. If there's a plastic or otherwise bowl, and she's sensitive to it, the stainless steel will curb that.
Good Luck!!!!

Anonymous said...

That was sly Mr. B ;) Bet you caught heck over that photo when Miss M found out! BOL!

On itchies, Mom says she's learned that a lot of doggies are allergic to grains. If you haven't tried switching to a no grain food, that may be something to look into. Also, winter can bring on dry skin in doggies (just like humans); my vet had Mom get Allerder Spot On (non prescription / contains ceramides and fatty acids) partnered with Benedryl (two caplets per day). No more itchies after a couple weeks for me :D

On the scissorhands...I'm stumped :(


parlance said...

Penny's on the Hills z/d ultra low allergen diet at the moment, and we give her an antihistamine three times a day. She has stopped licking her rear end and her paws, or dragging her butt around the floor.

I don't want to keep her on all this, though.

Thanks for the interesting discussion, everyone.

Good luck with the problem.

gamebred said...

feed raw. that way i know better what they are getting than kibble, no need for elimination.

if raw scares you or isnt your bag then feed grain free kibble and treats. those are main allergy buggers.

our white boy is semi allergic to the sun. he breaks out in hives. so put sunscreen on your lightly colored pooches or their lightly colored areas. for pits that is. ive never had problems with allergies in other types of hounds.

SusanA said...

Feed raw is a good suggestion for itchy/flakiness. Also if that isn't an option I can vouch for Orijen kibble. I assume any grain-free food would help, maybe some fish oil too. Last summer, Stella had (serious) rashy belly/hives/hot spots and I dug around online for some natural approach. What I ended up with were two spray bottles. The first has one part peroxide, four parts water - the second has straight Witch Hazel. I sprayed them (in that order) 2x daily. It was like a miracle cure. We used it intermittently all summer.

Peppy Sheppys said...

I do the fingernail pointies too! I had bad skin allergies (as did my brudder Oscar) but I've gotten a lot better with a raw diet with no wheat and a rotation of fish oil and coconut oil. I've also heard that seasonal allergies can be helped with raw honey that is grown locally (something about it helping with sensitivities to local plant allergens.)

Otis T. Potus

C. B. Irvin said...

Ours doesn't have severe allergies or super dry skin (boxer pit mix)--- but still flakes and constant scratching... benedryl did nada but Head and Shoulders shampoo has seemed to calm things most of the time. Plus is his coat is super shiny and smells great!

Malu'sMom said...

My Malu has all sorts of skin problems which seem to have gotten better as she's gotten older (started at 10 mos., she's now almost 5 yrs). She would get little bumps on all over her back. I tried all sorts of dietary measures but nothing worked. Vet gave me a special shampoo made by Vet Solutions which did help:


Also prescribed me 25 mgs of Hydroxyzine Pamoate for Spring when everything is in bloom. The script wasn't too bad (under $50) and the shampoo was maybe $12-15? Well worth it in my opinion! Good luck!

Two French Bulldogs said...

Oh Ms M your nails look absolutely beautiful. BOL Allergies, oye! 568843 dollars later at a dermatologist, my Lily is allergic to all grains and grasses. She has to take Atopica daily for relief
Benny & Lily

It'sNotAbouttheMoney said...

My pittie has horrible allergies, doesn't respond to benadryl much and was on very high grade kibble (Acana). I was finally convinced to try a raw food diet. I hate it - the expense and everything but it has done wonders for my pooch. A lot fish oil and quercitin and bromelien and she is not itchy for the first time in her 6 years of life.

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