Sunday, August 29, 2010

Avery's Allergy Ordeal...

Hey everybody. Avery's mom here. Taking over the blog for a post. A lot of you know through Avery's blog and comments left on your blogs about Avery's allergies. Some of you have questions and etc about what were his symptoms were/are and etc. So I decided to post about them on here to answer everyone's questions all at once...

Ever since Avery was a little puppy of 4 months or so he was on that Moist n' Meaty Cheeseburger Moist/Dry food (I think Purina makes it..I cant remember though). However after hearing about how bad that is for dogs for weight gain and how bad it is for their teeth I decided to switch Avery to a dry food. This all happened last fall and the decision was made after consulting with the vet about which food to get and all that. I went to Petsmart and got him some Iam's dry dog food and started him on it right away. He loved that food. However, within minutes of eating it, he was itching so bad he couldn't even walk. I figured that he had an allergic reaction and so I gave him benadryl and called the vet and explained what was going on. They told me that he probably had a reaction and told me that for dogs with food allergies to get him some food that was made out of duck or venison. So I rushed out with my mom that night back to Petsmart and spent $30 on different dog foods. I think I got two different kinds to start. I then gave Avery venison based food at his next meal and he ate it, but I could tell that he hated it. He only ate it because he knew that he wasn't getting anything else to eat.

Let's take a moment and go back a little bit before we finish. Avery has always had dry skin. It looked like he had dandruff, poor guy. He would scratch and stuff but nothing really too bad to be worried about. I bought some oatmeal bath knowing that it was good for dry skin. It didn't really seem to help all that much. Also, Avery used to get table scraps and all kinds of goodies. However Avery started to pack on the pounds and I knew that it was really bad for him, so I informed the rest of the family that he was NOT allowed anything other than the occasional DOG treat and his food. It was tough at first, but I am so glad that we stopped knowing what we do now. He used to weigh in at almost 13 pounds when he should ideally weigh in close to 10 pounds. He weighs 10 pounds 4 ounces now. That comes with strict rules on the amount he gets to eat. He gets two meals a day. One in the morning and one at night. And he gets treats 3-4 times a month. I am like dog food nazi around here.

Okay back to the allergies. So after I switched him to the venison, we still had the very prominent itching and runny eyes and nose, scratching at his ears, sneezing. So back to the vet he went. The vet then switch his food to a $30 bag of rabbit and potato. Thank god Avery ate it right up. He has been on it ever since. Well even with the food seeming to be good, the allergies symptoms were not going away. They were better, but still bothering him. The vet and I discussed having Avery allergy tested as we knew he had food allergies, but couldn't pinpoint what it was exactly and obviously there was something else that was bothering him as it wasn't going away.. Seeing as I am just starting out in this crap economy with my career and all I didn't have a lot of money. The allergy test was going to cost me close to $500 just for the test and then based on the result he might have to have allergy shots which cost about another $112 or so. I was in a panic. Where was I going to get this money. Well thankfully by this point we were well into February, so I hurried up and did my taxes and used my tax return to pay for Avery's allergy test.

On the day of the test, he was not allowed to have any benadryl or steroids (we had to resort to that somewhere along the way as the benadryl wasn't working there for a while) as it could throw the results of the test. They took two vials of blood and sent it off to the lab. I waited an anxious week before I got the results back.

Side story real quick..I smoked cigarettes pretty much off and on the whole time Avery has been with me (since 6 weeks). I noticed that the cigarette smoke bothered him, so I was pretty sure it was going to come up positive in his test. So that being said, I told myself that if Avery came up positive for a cigarette smoke allergy that I would quit for him (and myself) so that wouldn't be a cause of his allergies acting up.

I was at work when the vet called me to inform me of Avery's allergies. She asked me if I had the time to talk to her and I said that I did. I knew right then and there that this wasn't going to be good. Avery has tested positive for 21 different allergies. Some of them food and some of them environmental. Here's a quick list- (Foodwise): Corn, Carrots, Oats, Soy, Venison, and Kelp. (Environmental): All kinds of Grass, Trees, Weeds, and Fungi.

Here are the ones that when the vet told me, I cried. He WAS allergic to cigarette smoke (no surprise there..not a big deal either, I knew what had to be done). I quit the next day and haven't smoked since. He was also allergic to fleas, and the biggest one of all...COTTON..Yes my dog had/has a cotton allergy. Not very common in humans, but more common in dogs. Rare, but still. My dog had to be one of the rare ones with this allergy. Figures.

Talk about major life change. Avery sleeps with me at night. Always has and always will. I will never make him sleep on the floor. However I had 100% cotton t-shirt sheets and so I went that night after work with my mom again and went all over the whole town to find non-cotton sheets. Let me tell you, not a lot of places carry non-cotton sheets. Walmart, Target, etc. do not carry non-cotton sheets in their stores. You can buy them online, but not in the stores, at least not here where I live. Finally I found some Microfiber sheets that were on sale (thank god) at JC Penney's. I bought two sets. Now I had to draw the line with our clothes being cotton. I couldn't make everyone go around in silk clothes now and I wasn't wearing silk clothes. I will do many things for Avery, but wearing silk clothes is not one of them. So I talked to the vet about this too and it wasn't a big deal if Avery came into contact with our clothes as long as he wasn't in cotton all the time.

So because of the numerous allergies it was determined that he needed to be on allergy shots. So I forked out the extra money and ordered the allergy vaccines. He started out getting allergy shots every two days. We give them to him here at home. My mom gives them to him in the neck and I hold him down and still because I don't have it in my heart to stick him. I hate giving him the shots, but they really do seem to have helped him a lot. The worst part of the shots are that they burn once they get in. He cries the most pitiful scream as I know it hurts him so bad. It breaks my heart to pieces to hear him/see him like that, but I am helping him and I have to tell myself that. However, after the shot we gave last week I have decided that I am going to take him to the vet to get them. I can't stand to hear him cry like that any more. I just can't do it anymore. It has gotten to the point where I have asked myself is it necessary to keep doing this to him and the only thing that keeps me going is that he has gotten so much better with them and it would almost be wrong of me to deny him something that is helping him. We have been giving him the shots since the beginning of March and now he gets them once a month. He will probably be on these shots for the rest of his life so I have been told, but if they help him then I will do it. He still has to get benadryl maybe once or twice a week but it overall has gotten better, since we have eliminate as much contact as we can with all his trigger allergens.

Apparently terrier breeds are very common for having severe allergies the vet told me. Avery didn't inherit much Schnauzer traits from whichever parent was the Schnauzer. Just the beard, bushy eyebrows, and floppy ears, but he sure did get the allergies. Now some other breeds can get allergies too, in fact I'm sure all breeds can, but terrier breeds are more common allergy sufferers. The vet told me something that I would like to pass on to you so that you are aware. When humans have allergies they show symptoms with runny eyes and nose, sneezing, head and chest congestion. When dogs show symptoms of allergies, it shows in their skin. Dogs' allergy receptors are in their skin. So when your dog has flaky constant dry skin, it could possibly be an allergy to something. A lot of dogs have food allergies but they don't show up severely enough to cause their owners to notice anything. Every dog reacts differently, just like us humans.

So we have learned to live with Avery's allergies. Strict diet limitations. I have found only two treats that he can have that don't mess his stomach up or cause reactions. The food is working wonderfully. It's expensive, but it helps. I can't eliminate the grass/weed allergies, but he has a box in the garage that is filled with sod so that he can use the bathroom (we have coyotes and hawks) in the safety of the garage. This is also helpful because it doesn't have tree pollen and other stuff in it because it is safe from these things.

I'm sorry for the long post, but I didn't want to skim on anything. Just in case some of this sounded familiar to you and it might lead you to do some more investigation to help your dog. Also, if any of you guys have any questions in regards to allergies or treatment feel free to ask me. I am pretty sure at some point and time we have tried almost everything and we can offer some insight with our experiences and try to answer your questions. However, I strongly encourage you to talk to your vet if you have some concerns, as I am not a vet and they will of course be the one who can help you decide treatment options or diagnose symptoms.



  1. Miss Kimberlee,

    Poor Avery. :( What a good momma you is fur going the extra mile for hims. YAY for you quiting smoking!! Mom says she never realized just how common it is fur pups to have allergies, cuz none of her pups has ever had dems. Tanks for the informations. :)

    WOofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  2. Hi Ms. Kimberlee,
    Tell Avery that I'm sorry he's got so many itchies... I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't have special num-nums! My mommy wants to know what kind of food you give to Avery because she's looking for a new kind for me. Mommy says she can't believe how much it costs for the allergy test and shots! She's very glad that I don't have bad itchies, but I do have dry skin sometimes that makes me a little itchy, but mommy thinks that is because I get so many baths...

    Tiny-Tongue Lickies,

  3. Wowza, what a story! Can I ask what he's eating now for a food? You may be interested in the raw diet. I've heard SO many stories of dogs with horrible allergies turning into perfect, symptom free dogs after switching to raw. Even if it was one of the dehydrated raw foods like ZiwiPeak, Honest Kitchen or Sojos. The daily cuisine of dehydrated ZiwiPeak does have kelp in it but the wet formula (that doesn't cause runny poos like many wet foods do) does not. I don't know the ingredients for Honest Kitchen but I know it's another one of the best foods out there.

    Anyway, I'm sure you've looked at many MANY dog foods out there but I just thought I'd throw the idea your way because of the many stories I've heard about raw changing a dogs life.

  4. It seems us dogs are just as prone to allergies as humans these days. Try a hypoallergenic kibble, Dip has to have this for her colitis with fresh meat and a little bit of veggies.
    We hope Avery is feeling much better soon.
    Wags, Dip Bridge and Elliot xx

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this information. Luckily, my two dogs don't have any allergies that I'm aware of.

    My parents have a young beagle who has had some problems with his belly being bright red all the time. It itches him so he's constantly scratching and licking at it. He's been to the vet numerous times and tried various meds and foods but nothing seems to be working. After reading your post, I'm thinking my parents should have him tested for allergies to find the specific problems. And I'm wondering why the vet hasn't already suggested it.

    I hope Avery is feeling well. I can tell how much you love him and he is just the cutest thing ever!

  6. Oh my goodness. We have a kitty with similar issues. He doesn't have nearly as many as Avery, but holy smokes, he had scabs and all sorts of weird things for the first year or so that we had him. He was found at a public campground, and he was skin (LOTS of skin) and bones. Hes now an overweight kitty on California Natural food, because he's allergic to corn.. and a bunch of other stuff that isn't in California Natural, and he also has a terrible flea allergy, but it's completely controlled by advantage, thank goodness.

    Way to go for being such an awesome mama, maintenance bills at the vet are costly enough, let alone sickness stuff, and it is pretty clear Avery had a lot of those! :( I'm glad to hear you guys have made it work. Yay for you! :D

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm sorry to hear Avery has had so many problems with allergies. My old golden Pal had allergies and we went through the food limitations and itching and hotspots etc... I always felt so bad for him. I'm glad Avery is doing better with the shots, even though he doesn't like getting them. One of my favorite thing about dogs is their ability to live in the present and not dwell on things in the past!

    Kira (and Murphy)

  8. You have been awarded on my blog, at I hope you love it!

    Cuddles and licks,
    Love Miley xxx

  9. Poor Avery! OH MY DOG! We can't imagine what that must have been like to find out all of the allergy stuff and the treatments oh you poor boy! Bobo has allergies but they are seasonal and a bynadryl in the spring and summer do the trick. Thanks fur sharin'

    Wags and Licks,
    Mollie Jo & Bobo

  10. I wish I knew about this sooner, I could've given you tons of advice about dog foods and what vets DO NOT know about food. First off, vets are not taught nutrition in school, so they only know foods by what reps. try to push on them. Food that you would normally buy in a grocery store is basically like giving Avery garbage (and this includes Iams, I've read many horrible things about that brand of food), all it really is is just fillers with little to no nutritional value. Really it's up to us as caretakers to do our research into the best possible food we can feed them!

    What Heather posted above about raw diets is true, I've heard of many dogs whose health has made a complete turn around since starting raw. I'm very passionate about the food I give to Chewy & Lilibell and have done tons of research and talked to many people about dog food. C&L were on Wellness, which is a good quality food, and from them being on it, their poops were small and hard, their energy levels went up and their coats have a beautiful glossy sheen to it. I then switched them to Halo Spot's for Stew (for reasons which is really too long to get into here, but it didn't have anything to do with the quality of Wellness). Halo is another good brand of food - holistic and all natural. I've been wanting to get them on a raw diet for a while now, but when I told the BF all about it, he said absolutely no way - he's scared of them getting salmonella. Nothing I said could persuade him from his refusal. Then recently I started hearing about the Honest Kitchen, which is a dehydrated food with human grade meat, vegetables and fruit. All you do is add warm water to it to rehydrate it. It's about as close to a true raw diet as you can get. I looked into it and today just placed an order for our first bag (I know the BF will not catch on that I'm feeding them a raw diet because it looks like kibble before it's rehydrated ;)). You may think it's a bit pricey, and it probably is a little more expensive than other foods, but a 4 lb. box (which makes about 17 pds of food) costs between $24 to $45, depending on which formula you buy. I bet that if Avery was switched to a raw diet, he would no longer need his shots. Since Avery is allergic to oats, they also have a grain free formula. That's the one that I actually ordered. Lilibell gets bad tear staining and I noticed that when I feed her food that has little to no grains in it, her tearing clears up - which means that she more than likely has a slight allergy to grains.

    Anyways, sorry about the long comment, just wanted to give you some food for thought, and email me if you have any questions. I'm not claiming to be an expert in the area of dog food, but I've done enough research to be able to give good advice!

    Way to go on quitting smoking, today is day 2 for me!!

    Hugs, Nadine

    P.S. Oatmeal shampoo also will not help dry skin, it will in fact make it more dry. Oatmeal baths is what they prescribe for people who get poison ivy or stuff like that to help dry it up! A good thing to help with dry skin is to add salmon oil (you need to make sure it is pure Alaskan salmon oil) to his food. Chewy gets dry skin in the winter due to the cold, dry air and salmon oil helps him out a lot.

  11. I know you do everything possible for him!
    Thankfully Lorenza does not have allergy problems because here where we live... nobody does those tests!
    Take care
    Kisses and hugs