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Old 10-25-2012, 07:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Food allergy possible; coat itchy, dander, smells

Hello friends, I am looking for advice from seasoned dobie owners who a) know what the coat is supposed to look or smell like and b) can tell me from the below if they suspect something is wrong with our Duke.

I will *try* to keep this brief.

I introduced ourselves and our dog on the welcome page a few days ago and I am now seeking your advice. Duke is almost 2 yrs old, a rescue from Aztec Doberman Rescue of San Diego. The rescue recommended Nature's Domain because it will keep flatulence at bay (I'm guessing it does as he not gassy) and it is a higher quality food that is also grain free. We are using the salmon and sweet potato formula with absolutely NO human food or wet food. Just kibble and water.

When we picked up Duke his coat seemed healthy (albeit dusty and a bit dirty from being kept outside during the daytime hours) with no smell and no visible dander. We drove straight to Costco from the rescue, picked up Nature's Domain and gave him his first meal. He seemed to like it fine. The next day we gave him a bath to clean up the dust on his coat.

Fast forward about ten days. We start noticing Duke has a very strong musky smell. Very visible dander now... and itching has started. We wait till the two week mark since his first bath and then gave another bath (vet said OK to bathe once per week but NO MORE). ONE DAY LATER the strong musky smell returns, more itching. A few days later VERY VISIBLE DANDER.

After I checked that his food was good quality on Dog Food Advisor's site--it came back as 4-stars--I thought it's a reaction to the shampoo. I waited one week till he was "due" for his bath (and barely could make it because of his smell!) and mixed my own homemade shampoo recipe: 1 cup water, 1 cup Seventh Generation dish soap (gentle and toxin free), 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1/3 cup glycerin. Shampooed Duke and we thought we were home free; he didn't smell for two days! Then BAM! The smell, dander, itching and now, shedding, started back up.

A couple of days later, while standing outside, I noticed the fur on his back, around the rump area was thinning. I freaked out and took him to the vet. He said there is definitely an allergy as Duke is not supposed to have dander, smell like this, nor have an oily-feeling coat, nor be showing bald spots.

He thought it was an environmental or inhaled allergen, eliminated a flea allergy, and thought that Nature's Domain *should* be just fine as food, but that we could come back and re-examine later, if it turns out it's not an environmental allergy. He gave him a cortisone shot and a prescription shampoo ($42!!) to help his coat and clear up the itching and dander.

He said we could wash him right away to start the healing process. We did that, it's been a week...and we are back to square one.

Mercifully the vet called to check up on him right as I was about to reach for the phone and call them myself. I relayed that there has been absolutely no change at all, he still smells, still dander-y, still itchy, and shedding.

He said the cortisone would have helped about 90% of dogs with environmental allergies, so if there was no change at all, it was now time to look at food as an allergen. He is prescribing ZD Science Diet.

I researched online and on this forum here and was not pleased with what I was reading, yet I really like this vet and this practice (ABC Veterinary Hospital in San Marcos, CA; highly rated and I was VERY pleased with their care and attention) so I am doubting that they would prescribe something harmful.

So net/net (thank you for reading along till now, if you are still with me!):
1) In your vast experience, do Dobies smell? Have very visible dander? And do they go through shedding cycles?
2) If the answer is no and you agree that there is an allergy, what has worked for Dobie owners who have come across this?

Please help. I am desperate and I am finding myself reluctant to be near him which breaks my heart--we rescued him so he could be LOVED, not avoided! Luckily our kids are oblivious to his stench and lavish all the love and attention on him they can.

Many thanks,
Hiba
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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One you identify the offending ingredient in the food the problem is easy to control. Bacchus has a food allergy. His is corn. Corn in any form. Corn, corn syrup, corn gluten, corn meal, corn starch, corn oil. That said, you must read labels. French fries are a no no now because they are fried in vegetable oil which contains corn oil. Turkey breast is off is menu because they inject an oil to keep the meat moist.

The first thing we did was put him on some antibiotics to clear up the staph that had developed because of the outbreak. Then he as taken off ALL food except Natural Balance Venison and Potato. He was fed that and only that for 2 months and then we re-evaluated his progress. Then once a week I would add ONE new food. One week it was cheese. They we watched. No outbreak, we added another food (eggs) and watched. We did this until we found that it was only corn. The problem is that people tend to rush things or feed outside the menu and get an outbreak. It is a long and drawn out affair but in the end you find out what the offending food is. I can tell when he gets corn because when we go to the agility trials he finds treats on the floor and eats them. Then he gets the breakout. I give him benedryl immediately and within a few days the bumps are gone. If you don't get to them asap you wind up with pustules.

When Bacchus was having these problems his coat got thin on his topline and shoulders. He had tons of "mosquito bite" looking bumps and some were pustules. He had an odor. And he shed like crazy. His skin was red and hot.

I'm not saying this is what you dobe has but just let you know what it was like with our food allergy.

I spent a ton of money going to a dermatologist and this was what we came up with.

Forgot to add that he had 2 thyroid panels and they were ok. He had a biopsy, skin scrapings and fungal stain. He had an odor. He now smells like Fritos but no allergy stuff. I remember the vet had to put him on antibiotics for weeks. Some only prescribe them for a couple of weeks but that's not long enough.

Last edited by VZ-Doberman; 10-25-2012 at 08:02 PM..
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for your input. I will keep it in mind. And yes we don't allow any human food, including french fries and he is with me all day so I know what he is eating. I am willing to be patient and figure out what he has. His food is grain-free salmon and sweet potato (Nature's Domain). Thank you again for your comments!
H.
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I would try a totally different food and company and protein. It could be something in the Nature's Domain. There is always the RAW Diet route. If it was up to me I would not feed the sicence Diet. There are other limited ingredient foods out there. Natural Blance LID, I would stay with Grain Free foods.
Some other things to give for skin & coat issues are Krill Oil, Fish Oil, Vit E, Coconut Oil USDA Organic, Raw organic egg.
Also I would not be getting any Vaccinations anytime soon until this is all cleared up.

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Old 10-25-2012, 09:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Chanel had different allergy issues (hives) but we also had to work through some different foods.

I found that the local pet food store manager was a better source of information about the food that the vet. In the end, he gave me samples (lots of samples) of a single protein food & although I quickly returned the first one, luckily the second one worked out well for me.

The Pure Vita Bison (with Sweet Potato & Peas) worked for us (grain free & single animal protein - which lots are not.). It's a 4 star when I'd prefer a 5 star, but she's back to good health & once I'm confident we'll start adding one different food at a time to try and be more definate about the allergen.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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For a food allergy you have to get back to one source of protein and veg.. The dog food will have all the other nutrients you need. If you start adding other food items before you get the system cleaned of offending foods you will just compound the problem. The whole idea is to eliminate everything except the one source of protein and one veg. Then add only one item and watch. It's a single step process.
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Was he on Nature's Domain in the rescue without having these issues? Has he had a full thyroid panel run (not just a T4)?
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Has he been scraped for Demodex?
My shep mix had it and had the oily coat, a horrible odor, thinning hair and itching.

If that's been ruled out, I'd suggest a potato free diet in addition to grain free. One of my dogs is allergic to potato.
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadowCat View Post
Was he on Nature's Domain in the rescue without having these issues? Has he had a full thyroid panel run (not just a T4)?
Not sure but my feeling is he was not. They are the ones who suggested Nature's Domain since that is what they feed their own (adopted) dobies. Could it be the salmon? I want to help him but ZD Science Diet sounds awful. I am not against cooking for him myself (single protein, single vegetable for a few weeks to see if it clears up and then adding single ingredients one at a time...)

Not had a full thyroid panel. For sure

Last edited by Hiba R. Fennelly; 10-26-2012 at 07:04 PM.. Reason: Add about T4...
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes for sure. That is what we are planning on doing. Going back to single protein single veg even if I have to cook it myself. My question is, based on what I described above, anyone else gone throught this with a dobie and is ZD Science Diet OK (my feeling is it's not)...
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:08 PM   #11 (permalink)
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No, he has not been tested for Demodex. But good to know that potato might also be triggering the allergy not just the salmon.
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Has he been scraped for Demodex?
My shep mix had it and had the oily coat, a horrible odor, thinning hair and itching.

If that's been ruled out, I'd suggest a potato free diet in addition to grain free. One of my dogs is allergic to potato.
Sorry I replied no to Demodex. But if that's the mange, then yes, he was scraped and it came back negative.
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Did they only test for demodex in the scraping? Could be a yeast infection and potato in food can aggravate it. Yeast overgrowth causes a distinct smell and flaking.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:12 PM   #14 (permalink)
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For Bacchus they did a biopsy, fungal stain, thyroid panel, multiple skin scrapings. On GPs they treated him with ivermec. The antibiotics were for an accompanying staph infection.
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
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My shep mix had a skin scraping for demodex (yes...its a type of non-contagious mange) and it came back negative the first time. I was an idiot and had bathed her just before bringing her in so she wouldn't stink up the car! I had to wait about another week or so, brought her back in, and this time they did the scrape from the ear. Something about the ear usually having a more concentrated level of the mites than elsewhere on the body. She came back positive after that test.

Also agree about a possible yeast infection. Does he smell like rancid fritos?
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
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My shep mix had a skin scraping for demodex (yes...its a type of non-contagious mange) and it came back negative the first time. I was an idiot and had bathed her just before bringing her in so she wouldn't stink up the car! I had to wait about another week or so, brought her back in, and this time they did the scrape from the ear. Something about the ear usually having a more concentrated level of the mites than elsewhere on the body. She came back positive after that test.

Also agree about a possible yeast infection. Does he smell like rancid fritos?
Somewhere there is a thread about what foods your dog smells like.
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:06 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Hello!! I hope you are still reading this. My dog at age 2-2 1/2 had the exact symptoms. I was told by the vet it was allergies. It was NOT, he is NOT allergic to anything he has a thyroid issue. I finally had him tested for that after discussing it on here at great length. He is almost 4 and has been on the meds for about 1 year. It was a miracle, he looks beautiful, he doesn't smell, his coat is wonderful, no dandruff and it feels thick, he does not scratch nor do his eyes get goopy. He was so stinky, I couldn't stand it, my whole house smelled like him, I too bathed him but with special expensive soap from the vets to combat infection (from all the scratching) twice a week. I did steriods for the itching, benedryl, zyrtec, I did prescription Atopica (super expensive!!)...well you name it and I was finally referred to an allergist when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I called around and found a vet who would test Dr. Dodds way, used the same lab in fact. I was so discouraged up to that point, he scratched, he was loosing all his fur and he smelled. He was also cold when he shouldn't be cold. I changed food over and over again, he has loose stools, he was a wreck and I was a wreck worrying about him. So, I don't think it is your dogs food, I think he needs to have his thyroid tested. It isn't expensive and can be treated. It's worth it. Then, if it isn't a thyroid problem (which is common in dobermans btw) you can do all the allergy stuff. Oh and my vet said he was too young to be having thyroid problems and that was why he felt it was unnessary to test him and it was allergies, he was wrong.
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Old 11-01-2012, 06:56 PM   #18 (permalink)
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... nor do his eyes get goopy. he scratched, he was loosing all his fur and he smelled. He was also cold when he shouldn't be cold. he was a wreck and I was a wreck worrying about him. So, I don't think it is your dogs food, I think he needs to have his thyroid tested.
Lori thank you so so much for this. Two symptoms that I did not mention were goopy eyes (I wipe his eyes a few times a day cause it's so beneath this beautiful breed to look icky!) and he is often cold as soon as the temps dip between 60 and 70º (have I mentioned we live in San Diego?!?) I did not realize this. I have seen the words Dr. Dodd but I have no clue why this should be significant or important. Forgive me I am new to dog owernship. And this poor chap is my first charge, unlucky him How much was the thyroid test? Any specific T that they test for? Or full panel? (which I am guessing means all the Ts?) I can't thank you enough for this. I will bring it up to my vet. I am going to post a new update in a minute but wanted to specifically thank you and acknowledge I have received this as well as your private message.
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:11 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Thank you to everyone who has replied, inquired, posted and has been so supportive. What a wonderful community and resource this is, especially to an inexperienced dog owner such as me. I feel bad for this poor dog and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make him better. He certainly deserves it! And if I may be a bit brutally honest, sometimes I feel bad for us, that our first experience has been, so far, so exhausting. Anyway, enough of the self-pity. Here's a quick update:

We officially switched Duke to ZD Science Diet on Saturday and noticed that the dander has decreased and that he only started to smell bad again today (wednesday). Normally he'd start stinking up the joint within a day or two. We thought his itching had gone down but it's back to full force. Not sure if Lori is onto something (see her note above on thyroid) or if clearing his system out of the Nature's Domain is going to take more than a couple of weeks.

One thing I will say: HE LOVES THIS FOOD. (I can hear you all gasp, LOL!). He would "snack" on the old food, Nature's Domain Salmon and Sweet Potato, and it would take him until 2 pm to eat 2 cups, which I am guessing he only did because by then he was starving. Then another two cups which would take him until 8 pm or so to polish off (again, picking at the food, not exactly chowing down).

Now with the ZD SD stuff, he inhales it. He can't wait to eat, finished 2 cups in less than 30 seconds the first time and now I've had to up his morning feeding to 2.5 cups and his evening feeding to 2.5 cups because when he's done eating he's looking for more. I get the sense also, that he is VERY HUNGRY all the time. Is it because the ZD SD doesn't have much in it to fill him up? The other thing I noticed is after every feeding he becomes EXTREMELY HYPER. Like CRAAAAZY hyper, more so than he already is. As in, protect-myself hyper cause he will leap at me and knock me back on my arse.

I am also very intrigued by Lori's input. The three things I did not mention as symptoms (in addition to his thinning coat, smell, itch, and dander) were goopy eyes, sensitive to cool temps (we're only talking 60º and he hates to go outside and will shiver) and very hyper personality but the latter could be that it's because he's only just now turned 2 yo.

So could it be thryroid-related? If so what specific thyroid test I should ask for? Cause frankly this $85/25lbs of food is not thrilling to me. He has a big appetite (now) for this ZD SD stuff and I'd rather test the thryoid first than keep buying this for the 4-6 weeks the vet told me it would take for us to clear his system and then start adding one food at a time.

Finally, who is this Dr. Dodd I keep hearing about?! Thank you all.
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:16 PM   #20 (permalink)
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...Does he smell like rancid fritos?
LOL!! NO IDEA! Seriously I have no clue what rancid Fritos smell like and if indeed he smells thusly.
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:17 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Did they only test for demodex in the scraping? Could be a yeast infection and potato in food can aggravate it. Yeast overgrowth causes a distinct smell and flaking.
I am pretty sure it was just that one test. What he called "mange".
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:31 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Here are some links for you

Ivan is Hypothyroid

It's low thyroid!

Eli update...

Thyroid problems

Just make sure you have your vet run a T4 and talk to him/her about what lab is testing. See if he/she is comfortable and knowledgeable discussing it.

I can't remember how much the test was but it was way less expensive than all the allergy stuff I went through. I used the search function and put in Dr. Dodds and got 8 pages of stuff on here so you might want to do that also. I gave you a few links to start you off. Two of them are mine.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:52 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Honestly he sounds exactly like he has hypothyroid. Anything else you do will 'help' or seem to help for a little bit, but if you do not get his thyroid checked and under control, everything will keep reoccuring.

The test itself is around $100-150 and medication for me is about $8/month for a dog who's on 1mg 2x day, which is a pretty high dosage.

The smell you describe sounds like Yeast. This also usually accompanies thyroid issues.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:40 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Lori thank you so much. Shortly after I first replied to you I looked up Dr. Dodds. I will be discussing a full panel with my vet immediately. At least we can confirm or eliminate thyroid, which will be one more test out of the way. I want to get to the bottom of this, and stat. His belly is nearly bald and he has hair loss or what looks like callouses around his front "elbows". We went to my kids' soccer practice today, about 65º ... he was SHAKING from the cold! Also wanted to mention he drags himself on his belly a lot, which I'm guessing is his way of scratching.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:46 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Thank you so much Asmit. Thanks to Lori and you I will be asking for a full panel. I am praying we find something. Lori, my dog's coat looks just like Ivan's. And Duke's belly is BARE. I thought this was normal for Dobies! Yikes.
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