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allergic dog 

my 8 1/2 year old cairn terrier has seasonal allergies - have tried every antihistamine on the list the vet gave me - nothing helps - have been rinsing him a solution of apple cider vinegar and green tea - which has helped a little - feed him grain free food - do you have any other suggestions ? thanks and LOVE your show

Answered Wednesday 11 March 2015

Thanks for your question and for watching the show! Allergies are one of the most frustrating things we treat as veterinarians. Just like with people, you can never cure your pet’s allergies, you can only manage them! If you have tried everything and your dog is still having really bad flare ups of his allergy which aren’t managed with the medications that your vet has prescribed, then it might be worth visiting your veterinarian and asking for a referral to a specialist dermatologist. Sometimes what might appear to be seasonal allergies could be a food allergy, or a contact allergy to grasses, and a specialist dermatologist can work with you to figure out the exact allergen that’s making your dog itch! 

Anti-histamines often don't work as the basis of the itch may be an immune-mediated problem, not a mast-cell/histamine releasing problem as it is in humans ie hayfever. Hence, medications are required that suppress the particular component of the immune system that is overreacting ie cyclosporin, corticosteroids etc.
Although a good quality, reputable grain free food is probably providing your dog with its complete nutritional needs, it is no better or worse than its grain-including equivalent with regards to allergies! Just a thought especially as those grain-free diets are so expensive. We would also recommend washing your dog with a medicated shampoo most likely available at your local veterinarian, instead of apple cider vinegar and green tea, because  that combination can be bad for the skin. 
Omega 3 and 6 fatty-acid supplements are also good at stabilising cell membranes and reducing itch and are worth adding into your dogs diets. Ask your vet for the best product.
Hope this helps, good luck and remember the problem is likely to reoccur in years to come!  


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Dr Ant and Dr James

These two best mates share a love of animals and are the stars of Village Vets Australia.

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