Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Maya's Allergies Under Control and Lessons Learned

It's been a while since I posted here. The good news is, Maya's allergy has been under control for the past year. 

Cone free in the middle of summer!

I have been asked under several occasions for tips on dealing with allergies. I'd like to share some of our experience through this whole ordeal. 

Elimination food trial is a good start to rule out food allergies. There are no real scientific way to test for food allergies, but Glacier Peak (Maya's results) and Hemopet has "sensitivities and intolerances tests" which may be worth trying. I'd suggest using raw rabbit as main protein for the trial.

If the allergy is not food related, then you'll need to look into environmental allergens. Blood test (Maya's results) or skin test (Maya's experience and results) could help find the cause, and the vet can prescribe custom made allergy shots or oral sprays for immunotherapy treatment. This is the only possible way to really "cure" allergies. Unfortunately, for Maya, neither test was conclusive, so we tried RESPIT, which uses the common allergens in the area. After a year, it seems to help with her fall allergies, but not for spring.

If immunotherapy doesn't work or is not a possible solution, then there are two different types of medicine, Atopica and Apoquel. Sadly, both may cause long term side effects. Maya is currently on Atopica and so far it has been effective. Between the two meds, we opted for Atopica, because it has been out on the market for longer. Apoquel will be our last resort if somewhat Atopica fails. With a good understanding of Maya's seasonal routine, we were able to keep her dosage very low.

There are also many holistic methods you can find online. They may or may not work. Some are worth trying, but do keep the exceptions low. I have had my fair share of high hopes and big disappointments. 

She still made a small scratch mark on her face this year

And a few lessons I learned along the way:
  1. Whether it's food allergy or not, keeping a healthy digestive system is important. Digestive enzymes and probiotics are helpful. Check the poop daily and try to keep it firm.

    Maya had very soft poop throughout her puppy days. The vet told us it's common for puppies and she'll grow out of it. It never gotten better till we switched her to raw. I often wonder if I had fed her better when she's young, perhaps things will be different. Well, I'll never know.
  2. Use flea repellents. Monthly flea meds only works when the dog is bitten, which is too late. Repellents lower the chance to even get bitten. I make my own using this recipe.
  3. Be careful with open wounds and infections. Open wounds lead to infections. Infections increase the itchiness. Increased itchiness causes more scratches. More scratches lead to more wounds. And the bad cycle goes on, extending the itchy duration beyond the allergy season. More than once, we had rely on steroid and antibiotics to end this bad cycle. This year with Atopica keeping her itchiness under control and not causing infections, we realized she was itchy for a much shorter period of time than before.

    For yeast infections, we found the Zymox products helpful. (See Maya's ear infections.) For bacterial infections, we used Douxo AntiSeptic Mousse (the mousse is a bit hard to apply though, I would suggest using a different product with same ingredients). You may need your vet's help to determine weather it's bacterial or yeast infection. For a long time, we thought Maya has yeast infections, but it was actually bacterial.
  4. Keep a detailed journal. Write down meds taken, food eaten, activities, places visited and "itchiness level". We were able to conclude Maya's allergies is seasonal from our records, and also adjust her Atopica dosage accordingly. I use Day One app on my iPhone to keep Maya's journal

We hope no other dog ever has to suffer what she did

Disclaimer: The information above is solely from my own experience. Please do your research before trying anything someone suggested online and consult with your vet.