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HELP! Major skin problems... :(


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This is a long post - but please bear with me! I could use some help!!! :cry:

My dog, Cosmic, has been itchy and scratchy, on and off, for quite a long while now. He's a 2yrs+ English Cocker Spaniel, with no previous history of skin problems - until he reached the age of 1 3/4 yrs old.

His skin problems started with a tick infestation he got at about 1 3/4 yrs of age. At that time, I decided to stop using Frontline Spot-on applications for tick prevention as I wanted to try a more natural means instead. I introduced Neem Oil - used topically whenever I shampooed Cosmic. (5 drops of Organix 100% Neem Oil mixed with his shampoo). Neem didn't work well for us at all, and for the first time, Cosmic was infested with ticks. We de-ticked him manually with the help of Frontline spray & went back to Frontline Spot-Ons. After that one incident, he would get itchy & scratchy on and off. (Before that, clean bill of health).

Recently, his skin problem has gotten so bad that he breaks the skin scratching! He gets bumpy red spots on his neck, "armpits", inner thigh and on his back. They look like bringht pink angry rashes. :( We saw a vet a month ago. After a dose of medication (including steroids and antibiotics) his skin recovered some. But ONE WEEK after he was off meds, the itching & scratching have started again! :(

He still gets ticks from time to time. (No more than 5 at a time.) He's already on Frontline Spot-on and until 4 days ago, was usually misted all over with Neem oil (+water) before each outing. When he was on a HCF diet, some garlic was also included.

My vet suspects that it might be a food-based allergy. I'm at my wit's end, so I'm thinking of putting him on an elimination diet, beginning with just beef.

But before I start, can anyone shed some light on what his itching might be? Am I even on the right track, considering I don't really think it's his food?

Cosmic has had a very very varied diet since puppyhood - without any problems, until the tick infestation I described. He has been mainly on Azmira kibble for the past 2 months because I've been fostering another dog - and feeding 2 on HCF is too costly for us. :P

[b]My primary suspects now are: [/b]
1. The ticks?
2. Neem Oil (On hindsight, his itching started with neem & [i]seems[/i] to fluctuate in intensity depending on how much neem is used.
3. His food?

[b]Cosmic's Diet History: [/b]
*^3mths - 6mths --> 50% Innova Kibble, 50% HCF (Home Cooked Food)
*^6mths - 2+ years --> 95% HCF, 5% California Natural Kibble
*Last 2 months --> 70% Azmira Kibble, 15% Merrick's/Nutripe Canned (All flavours) and 15% HCF
Last 1 week --> Nothing but Azmira kibble

*Supplemented with Omegas 3 & 6
^Supplemented with calcium (eggshell powder) and occasionally Ester C.

HCF includes:
Full range of meats, mainly --> Chicken, beef, pork, fish, lamb & (rarely) duck.
Full range of veges, including --> Carrots, broccoli, sweet peas, spinach, watercress, mushrooms, leafy green vegetables etc.
Carbs --> Brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes.

Given in a 60% Meat, 20% Carb, 20% Veg ratio.

Saesonings were used. Including --> Herbs, fresh & dried, garlic, pepper, parprika, olive/sesame oil, butter etc. (Bad mommy. :oops:)

His food is served steamed, grilled, roasted and cooked in soup & stews.

I'm not really convinced it's his diet because his problems only surfaced when he was infested with ticks. Before that, he had been eating everything & anything with no problems!

His skin problems were also present when he was on HCF + California Natural, so I think I can rule out Azmira. (Right?) Unless it's a common ingredient in both foods? But he barely got any kibble then. Only fed CN when we had absolutely nothing to cook.

Cleaning agents used around the house: Apple Cider Vinegar
His bedding & toys are washed with (very little) Dynamo.

Right now, I'm using Azmira's Rejuva Gel on his bumps.

4 days ago, I started suspecting that it might be the neem that I've been using. I've since stopped using that. I [i]thought[/i] I saw some improvement on Day 3, but apparently, it was all in my imagination :( because, last night, Cosmic's rashes looked like clumps of measles - they were THAT red, and THAT angry looking. :cry: Can anyone help?

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it could be a food allergy, but it could also be environmental. the fact that this just started appearing at 1 3/4 years old doesn't mean anything, stuff like this often appears later on in life. the same thing goes for seizures for example. and sometimes an event that severely taxes the immune system (like the tick infestation you described) is a trigger for such a problem to appear.

i'd start keeping an exact journal on the dog's health, writing down even seemingly insignificant things. stop the neem oil and if possible the frontline too, until you have things under control. use a hypoallergenic detergent for the laundry, just in case it makes a difference. look for stuff that's recommended for use with baby clothing, or 7th generation, or planet - both good brands.

you can also give your dog benadryl to get the itching under control and let the skin heal. 1-2 mg per pound of body weight, up to 4 times a day, even long term isn't a problem. start out with 1mg per lb of body weight and see if that does the trick. keep an eye on whether the dog is still scratching to determine how often to give it. sometimes a minimal dose twice a day is enough already.

as supporting treatment i suggest the following:
* azmira yucca intensive (to get itching and skin inflammation under control)
* azmira aller'g free to deal with the allergy symptoms
* azmira immuno stim'r to boost the immune system and increase the effectivity of the other products
* azmira aller'g skin & digestive to detox and help the body deal with the allergy attack

i would also try the elimination diet and cut out all grains.

what is the omega 3 and 6 supplement you are using?

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Cosmic was put on steroids & antibiotics - the meds only helped as long as they were being administered. :( But they don't help with the root cause - something I need to find out. :?

Thanks anyway, gigishiba. :)

Are there any nutrition experts here who can help? :(

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Thanks TDG! I posted my last post before I saw your reply. :)

I've been using Apple Cider Vinegar for general cleaning around the house. I'll look for hypoallergenic detergent this weekend.

I've been using human grade supplements on Cosmic all along. Evening primrose oil and fish oil for Omegas 3&6.

My objective is to try and pin-point the source of his allergy if possible. If I start adding other medication or supplements to his diet, it [i]will[/i] affect the "results" correct? I'd really, really like to learn just what it is that makes him break out like this. :( If I start giving supplements without knowing the cause, would I need to give those long-term? It may not be finanacially viable for me. :(

Also, I've been thinking of putting him on an elimination diet if I see no further improvements after 2 weeks off neem oil. (My main suspect at this point.)

Right now, my plan is to:
- Feed only Azmira kibble (which contains grains!)
- Supplement with EPO & Fish Oil (1000mg/day of each)
- Make the switch to hypoallergenic detergents ASAP
- Stop using Neem (5 neem-free days so far)

Will it be ok if I held out on the above points for another 2 weeks? I'm REALLY hoping that it's the neem (since his itching seems to coincide with my usage of that) - and if it is, I should see an improvement and eventual recovery!

If that doesn't work :( and I need to start him on an elimination diet - shouldn't I be taking away ALL his supplements, instead of adding any? I'm confused! :? :oops:

I'm working on the assumption that the cause of his itch is not something inherent in him, (bad breeding? :oops: ) but, if what you said turns out to be true, and it's just bad genetics, what can I do? Am I looking at long-term medication/supplements to manage the problem?

Also, I would really really like to stop using Frontline altogether - but Cosmic attracts ticks like you won't believe. :? What can I do? I've also tried applying lemongrass & lavendar oils to his collar to repel ticks - didn't work. :(

*tearing my hair out*

Please help!

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My 12 year old lab has been scratching all the time, he recently had a yeast infection, he had lost hair under his neck, underneath what I call his armpits. the spots were slimy, smelly and the vet put him on an anitbiotic. Cleared up, he is back to itching, on the meds again, still itching, no slimy thing going on this time, I am not sure why he is itching so. I have not changed his food either, I used frontline on him last month. He hardly ever gets ticks, and does not have fleas. He is driving me nuts itching, I can only imagine what frustration he is feeling.

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Bubblezzz, the herbal remedies i listed are actually for the purpose of getting things under control right now. you will want to stop using them for the elimination diet, but i don't think it's a good idea to do that as long as you still have an acute situation. you'll want to start with a dog that is symptom free, so you can see clear results when you start bringing the challenges into the diet.

if at all possible, eliminate the grains from the diet. they might be aggravating things. since you said your dog has already been exposed to duck, it wouldn't hurt to try the natural balance duck & potato or fish & sweet potato food instead of the azmira kibble.

also leave out the evening primrose oil and give fish oil only. omega 6 fatty acids tend to aggravate allergies and inflammation, omega 3's work against that. you can get a great supplement with vitamin E already added from seapet.com at a very reasonable price.

the ticks are most likely attacking your dog because of an compromised immune system. if you work on detox and strenghtening that, this can improve.

it's possible that this allergy is something you'll have to manage for the life of the dog, which is best done with a home prepared diet and the proper supplements. it could be genetics or something else, the outcome is pretty much the same - a situation that needs to be managed. but to find that out you need to work on clearing up the underlying cause and see if it comes back.

it is for example said that if a dog has flea dermatitis once in his life, he will always have it. my own dog is proof that this doesn't have to be the case. when he practically chewed himself raw because of flea bites within 24 hours he was on nutro natural choice puppy. now, 3 1/2 years later, after being on a home prepared diet (mostly raw but also some cooked foods) he doesn't react at all if he picks up the odd flea at the dog park or while out hiking.

if you can't afford to do anything else right now, at least get the immuno stim'r and the aller'g skin & digestive detox. they are truly great products, i have even used them for myself for the occasional detox week and they do make a difference.

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[quote name='TDG']Bubblezzz, the herbal remedies i listed are actually for the purpose of getting things under control right now. you will want to stop using them for the elimination diet, but i don't think it's a good idea to do that as long as you still have an acute situation. you'll want to start with a dog that is symptom free, so you can see clear results when you start bringing the challenges into the diet. [/quote]

Thanks for your reply TDG. :) I understand the need to start an elimination diet on a clean slate, but if I put him on so many supplements at once, how am I supposed to find out which one is actually helping? And WHAT it's actually helping with?! :-?

I'd really appreciate any insight you could give me!

[quote]if at all possible, eliminate the grains from the diet. they might be aggravating things. since you said your dog has already been exposed to duck, it wouldn't hurt to try the natural balance duck & potato or fish & sweet potato food instead of the azmira kibble.[/quote]

Natural Balance does look good. I'll make the switch ASAP. I'm not sure if Cosmic's allergic to grains though - no presence of a yeast infection so far. Would putting him back on purely HCF help? I can do that as well - and I'd really appreciate help with Cosmic's diet plan! :oops: I do give him grains (brown rice) normally, but I can remove those and either replace or decrease his carbs.

[quote]also leave out the evening primrose oil and give fish oil only. omega 6 fatty acids tend to aggravate allergies and inflammation, omega 3's work against that. you can get a great supplement with vitamin E already added from seapet.com at a very reasonable price.[/quote]

This is the first time I've heard that omega 6 could aggravate allergies. :-? Is it because it's plant-based? In fact, my vet recommended that I increase my dosage of Omega 6 to help with his skin. Also, Omegas 3 & 6 have to be given together for better absorption right?

[quote]the ticks are most likely attacking your dog because of an compromised immune system. if you work on detox and strenghtening that, this can improve.[/quote]

Ok. But in his state right now, should I still discontinue Frontline? :-? Or is this something I can remove later on, when he's actually healthy?

[quote]it's possible that this allergy is something you'll have to manage for the life of the dog, which is best done with a home prepared diet and the proper supplements. it could be genetics or something else, the outcome is pretty much the same - a situation that needs to be managed. but to find that out you need to work on clearing up the underlying cause and see if it comes back.

it is for example said that if a dog has flea dermatitis once in his life, he will always have it. my own dog is proof that this doesn't have to be the case. when he practically chewed himself raw because of flea bites within 24 hours he was on nutro natural choice puppy. now, 3 1/2 years later, after being on a home prepared diet (mostly raw but also some cooked foods) he doesn't react at all if he picks up the odd flea at the dog park or while out hiking.[/quote]

This is very encouraging. :D Thanks. I'm really hoping that I can have my perfectly healthy and happy dog back for good too. :P *all fingers & paws crossed*

Thanks for helping! :angel:

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Another thing...

In Dr Pitcairn's book, he recommends a fast. What do you think? :-? Has it really been known to help? I loathe the idea though - I have a very greedy boy who lives for food. :roll: Putting him on a fast would be the worst torture for him! :oops: :(

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[quote]I understand the need to start an elimination diet on a clean slate, but if I put him on so many supplements at once, how am I supposed to find out which one is actually helping? And WHAT it's actually helping with?![/quote]

the things i listed all work together. they do not necessarily address any allergies specifically, but aid the immune system, to help the body detox, heal itself and bring things back into balance.

[quote]Natural Balance does look good. I'll make the switch ASAP. I'm not sure if Cosmic's allergic to grains though - no presence of a yeast infection so far. Would putting him back on purely HCF help? I can do that as well - and I'd really appreciate help with Cosmic's diet plan! I do give him grains (brown rice) normally, but I can remove those and either replace or decrease his carbs.[/quote]

the grains may or may not aggravate things, but the problem is you won't find out unless you try. when the body has a severe allergic reaction, there is a good chance that it even reacts highly sensitive or even allergic to things it would under normal circumstances not react to at all. that's also the reason why an elimination diet is a good idea, [i]after[/i] the body has had a chance to calm down. you'll also want to feed the first two ingredients of the elimination diet for 6-8 weeks just to make sure the dog doesn't react.

home cooked is of course better, since you have more control over what goes into the dog. so you'd be able to actually feed fish and potatoes for example, and not fish and potatoes and whatever else comes in a bag of commercial food, including vitamin and mineral supplements.

[quote]This is the first time I've heard that omega 6 could aggravate allergies. Is it because it's plant-based? In fact, my vet recommended that I increase my dosage of Omega 6 to help with his skin. Also, Omegas 3 & 6 have to be given together for better absorption right?[/quote]

sadly your vet is wrong. it is true that omega 6 fatty acids are needed in the diet, and that they support skin and coat, but in excessive amounts (especially arachidonic acid), they can aggravate inflammation and allergies. many health conditions in humans and dogs are caused by too high an amount of omega 6 fatty acids in the diet, and not enough omega 3's.

it is unlikely that any dog on a halfway decent diet lacks omega 6's in their diet, simply because they are so abundant in common ingredients like corn and other grains, chicken fat and various vegetable oils.

the two important omega 3's however (DHA and EPA) [b]only[/b] come from marine sources such as fatty coldwater fish. they are not even in flaxseed oil, and many dogs (and people!) do not get enough of them.

for good health, omega fatty acids need to be balanced. but that does [b]not[/b] mean that you have to pour even more omega 6's into your dog, along with omega 3's. your goal should be to create a balance of anywhere between 7:1 and 2:1, the lower the ratio, the better for dogs with allergies and inflammatory conditions such as for example arthritis. so if you know that the diet you feed has a ratio of, say, 10:1, you would want to add omega 3's [b]only[/b], in order to lower it to a better one.

one of my pet peeves is when i see supplements for dogs that claim to have a "balanced ratio of omega fatty acids". sorry to be blunt, but that is so much BS, since the ratio will change anyway once it's combined with the food you feed every day.

[quote]But in his state right now, should I still discontinue Frontline? Or is this something I can remove later on, when he's actually healthy?[/quote]

i would discontinue it for now, along with everything else that can possibly aggravate his condition.

[quote]In Dr Pitcairn's book, he recommends a fast. What do you think? Has it really been known to help?[/quote]

fasting is a good way to address some health issues, but in this case i doubt it would make much of a difference.

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Thanks for all the advice! :angel:

I noticed some improvement in his skin last night :D - 7th neem free day today & he's still on Azmira kibbles & Omegas 3&6. His rashes are not as red anymore, and seem to be drying up. :D I've been applying Azmira's rejuva gel on his infected skin 2x a day. Maybe it's helping?! I don't know! :oops: Certainly doesn't seem to be doing any harm though.

I think I'm going to have to find out more to understand the balance and rations needed between the omegas you were talking about. :oops: Meanwhile, I'll try decreasing the Omega 6s he gets.

I also plan to change his diet back to HCF in 2-3 weeks time - 2-3 weeks because I'm really still hoping that the neem has a part to play, :oops: and I don't want to make any sudden changes now that he [i]seems[/i] to be showing slow improvement.

If improvement is not obvious, I'll begin his elimination diet.

Either way, I'm going to take your recommendation and try out the Azmira supplements - beginning also in 2 weeks.

I'm hoping to see a vast difference in his health in 2-3 months!! :P :oops: *fingers crossed*

Again, thank you. :angel:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just thought I'd toss my 2 cents in. My male Dobe, Mason, has food allergies. He didn't seem to have them as a pup, they developed later on and presented themselves in two ways. He would compulsivly lick his paws, sometimes to the point of removing fur. He would also develop bad rashes on his belly and underarms. He would then lick the rashes to the point where they became infected and we'd be off for antibiotics and steroids.

Once we realized that Mason had food allergies I immediately put him on an elimination diet. (Oddly enough, he'd been on the BARF diet prior to that.) Doing the elimination diet we found out that Mason is allergic to fish and fish oil. (Poor boy, I gave him fish oil caps every day before the elimination diet and he regularly had a fish dinner on BARF.) He's also allergic to all grains. We suspect that it may be that he's allergic to gluten but, we don't know that for sure. he's allergic to flax seed and flax seed oil. Allergic to milk and milk products. He's just allergic to a whole bunch of stuff. Oh yeah, he's allergic to beef too!

Now I told you all that so that you can see that the best way to sort out allergies is to do an elimination diet. You stop ALL supplements. You pick one source of protein and one carb. (Mason's first elimination diet was vennison and potato food.) Try to use an "unusual" protein, something that your dog hasn't been exposed to before....something he wouldn't have developed a sensitivity to. Keep the dog on the diet for several months to make absolutely certain that there is no reaction/sensitivity to what you're feeding. (Grains, particularly corn, are a huge trigger for many dogs.) If there is no reaction then you may add one item to the dog's diet at a time. I'd give a month for each added item to ensure that you'll have time to see a reaction.

Allergies can be managed once you know what the triggers are. Mason has not had a reaction for about 2 years now.

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Thanks for the feedback Nancy B. :)

To update:

I spoke with the Azmira representative in Singapore, where I am and he recommended that I start Cosmic on the basic supplements (Garlic Aid, Mega Pet daily & Super-C) to boost his immune system. I went for it (hoping to save some money on the additional booster supplements) and have had him on these the past 2+ weeks.

I've also been trying to regulate his omega 3 intake so that it's closer to a 5:1 ratio. Cosmic is on a Natural Balance Duck & Potato diet now.

I've also made the switch to a hypoallergenic detergent.

Well, so far, so good. His rashes seem to be subsiding day by day - and I don't see any new ones forming.

However, he IS still itchy & scratchy - especially on his back now where I usually find the ticks hiding. :( I haven't given him any chemical tick repellents like Frontline - and the ticks are still attacking him. All I've been doing is giving him a once over daily to remove all the ticks I can find.

Since I'm supposed to give the basic supplements 6-9 weeks to take full effect, I'll wait it out and update again then. If the changes are not significant, I'll add the yucca, allergy free and immuno supplements.

No elimination diet/HCF yet as I've decided that that would be easier to do after my foster girl goes to her new home. So meanwhile, I'm giving the azmira supplements a shot.

Fingers still crossed!

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Hi, I'm new to the board but certainly not new to skin problems. My female, Daisy, has mange and is being treated with Echinacea to boost the immune system, we rotate the Echinacea with Pau D'Arco and Astralagus every 3 weeks, so far, so good. From what I learned, steroids are the last thing you want to give to your dog as they further suppress the immune system; granted, they provide temporary relief but the dog is usually worse of after the steroids are discontinued.

We don't use chemical tick/flea repellants on our two, after all, the tube advises to wear gloves and to avoid contact with skin (human). This part I found almost amusing - it is obviously dangerous for me to come in contact with it but it's fine to smear it onto the dogs!?! We give each dog one glove of freshly pressed garlic per day - garlic can, however, lead to slight anemia in which case you will need to opt up the organ intake.
An elimination diet is always helpful, ours are allergic to grains and so we have put them on raw food which has helped a great deal.

As for ticks, you could try rose geranium oil - 3-5 drops onto the collar each week - we're in New England and haven't had a tick in a year.

Good luck.

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