Managing Dolly’s Seasonal Allergies

A few months ago, I wrote a post talking about how I manage Dolly’s allergies. Today, I wanted to do another post how I manage her seasonal allergies as the first post talked primarily about her food allergies.

Over the winter, Dolly’s allergies were finally under control and she was off her Apoquel and only getting baths once a week. We were even finally able to use a regular shampoo instead of her medicated one from her vet. This was a huge step and we were so happy to not have to go to the vet every month for refills and skin check-ups. We found that feeding her kangaroo as well as adding in some raw venison was working for her (as I like adding raw to her diet as much as possible and recently discovered raw kangaroo in the city). We also started adding an Omega Oil to her food and her skin and coat were the best they’ve ever been.

Then the snow melted, the grass and pollen came back and so did her allergies in a really big way. We would wipe her paws anytime she came in from outside using hypoallergenic wipes and it seemed to work, but only for a bit.

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As the weather got nicer, I was finally able to take the dogs for longer walks, so one day I took them for close to an hour. Multiple times during that walk Dolly stopped, sat down and start scratching. I knew something was up as she never does that. The scratching was more intense as the walk went on so when we got home, I took a look at her skin and she was covered in hot spots everywhere. So I grabbed her and gave her a medicated bath right away as I knew she was having a major reaction to something outside. After her bath, I gave her a ½ tablet of Apoquel an called the vet to get her checked out. I had a feeling all the progress we made with her would take a few steps backwards.

I took Dolly in and I could see her poor paws had hot spots everywhere and she would not stop licking and chewing them. The vet did some skin swabs on her paws and in her ears (as I had a feeling they were a bit of a mess as well) and sure enough, along with hot spots, she had yeast and small amounts of bacteria in her ears and paws and was the result of seasonal allergies as the vet said we were the fourth patient that week that came in with a flare up.

We came up with an action plan and to help put the fire out as my vet would say, Dolly would have to go back on her steroids for a week to help calm things down. She would also have to back on regular doses of Apoquel to help manage her itchiness. She was also given a medicated ear drops and a home ear cleaning solution for us to use with her. We would have to go back to bathing Dolly twice a week using her really strong medicated shampoo and on days where she didn’t get a full bath, we would have to bath her paws every day (something that will have to continue until the snow falls sadly).

I did however recently start using a natural solution to clean and moisturize her paws called Reliq. The great thing about this line is they use all natural minerals instead of harsh chemicals like alcohol to clean and sooth skin and paws. There is nothing I hated more than putting something on Dolly’s paws all the time that hurt (and only like to use it if things get really bad).

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I also found an all natural hot spot spray that is also free of alcohol and instead uses Aloe Vera as an ingredient so it soothes rather than burns. I find this great not only her paws, but her belly, neck and a spot on her tail that irritates her once in a while.

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I really love my vet because she would rather treat topically through bathing than medication and only use it when things are bad. She agrees with me that Dolly being on a lot of medication (like steroids) are not good for her long-term health and are only a band aide solution. She prefers to take a natural approach as much as possible and actually likes that we do our research on natural solutions (as I know not all vets sadly feel that way).

As I knew I wanted something that would be more of a long-term solution, I started to do some research on dogs and seasonal allergies. It was incredibly interesting some of the things that I was able to find out. I recently discovered Holistic Pet Radio on Instagram and they recently did a podcast regarding seasonal allergies and your pets. I actually was able to learn a fair bit from it and highly recommend you check it out (along with many other great topics they cover).

One of the biggest take always I got was regarding how gut health plays a huge factor in things like seasonal allergies. So, I have recently started adding a probiotic to her food, coconut oil and on occasion, small amounts of kelp to her raw venison (I only use about ¼ of a teaspoon as I don’t want to feed her too much of it as I know it can cause issues if you do).

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A really good piece of advice I got from the podcast was giving your dog bromelain and quercetin as they act as natural anti-inflammatory and anti-histamines. Some people have even referred to it them as “Nature’s Benadryl”. I was fortunate enough to find treats that contain both and give one to Dolly two or three times a day (there is a listing of how much to give your dog based on their weight).

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I can say that since starting a more holistic approach to dealing with Dolly’s allergies, she has been doing amazing. The biggest thing that I am finding is if I go more than two days without bathing her paws, she does start to lick them (even though she just chews her claws for whatever reason but there is a difference from when she does that compared to when her paws are irritated). Dolly’s allergies are finally under control and she is the healthiest she’s ever been. I can’t do anything to stop seasonal allergies, but I’m happy that there is a plan in place to manage them.

I want to add that I am not an expert no and highly recommend speaking to your vet about things. And if you are not happy with what they recommend, seek another opinion as you are your pet’s caregiver.

Supporting Local and International Animal Rescue

Over the weekend, an account I follow on Instagram posted something something that both made me sad and quite angry. They adopted a dog from Thailand through the wonderful Soi Dog Foundation and were criticized for it. Some people made comments towards the dogs owner for “importing” a dog and felt the need to judge the owner by saying they “didn’t care about dogs here.”

This struck a bit of a personal chord with me. My dog Dolly was rescued from the illegal meat trade over in Thailand and was rescued thanks to Soi Dog. To insinuate that because I (and many other dog owners) have dog that was brought over to Canada from another country and say we don’t care about animals here is 100% false and considerably too black and white as to where we choose to spend our time, energy and money.

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I could not imagine having this girl in my life.

 

If you care about animals, why would you be upset about rescue organizations bringing animals to your country to give them a better life and to see them from horrific situations like the meat trade? A life saved is a life saved, regardless of geography.

Just recently, the Human Society International saved many dogs from the meat trade in South Korea and brought them to Canada. Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel rescued a dog from there last year and American skier Gus Kenworthy, just recently adopted a dog he met in South Korea. It was a wonderful story to know that these dogs are now safe and going to be going to their forever homes.

But not everyone was happy about the dogs coming here. Many people felt the need to comment by stating ” dogs die here in shelters everyday” and “we don’t need more dogs” among many other things.

Yes, sadly many animals are euthanized everyday in North America due to overcrowding as well as other issues with animal rescue, but does that mean we can’t and shouldn’t try and help all animals in need, regardless where in the world they’re located? The reason there are so many animals in shelters is because of many people who do not spay and neuter their pets (hence, overpopulation). Then there are people who get an animal and then dump there animal because they no longer want the animal. That is where education about the importance of spay and neutering comes in (including spay and neuter return programs which a so crucial to rural communities) and education about responsible pet ownership. This is why many rescues do intense screening processes as they do not want that animal to be returned, and most won’t adopt out an animal until they have been spayed or neutered.

There seems to be a ideology that because someone supports international animal rescue, they can’t possibly support local animal rescue. I’m not sure why there is that thought process or how it go started, but I’m here to hopefully shed some light.

You can support international animal rescue AND local rescue. The two are not mutually exclusive. Yes, Dolly is from Thailand but my other two were adopted from two local animal rescues here in Alberta. You can adopt from more than one rescue organization. You can financially donate to multiple animal rescues (I donate to Soi Dog and multiple local animal rescues). I also volunteer at a local animal rescue (which partnered with Soi Dog to bring Dolly to Canada to give her a better life).

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Dolly when she arrived in Canada
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Dolly is now happy, healthy and safe
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All three of my rescue dogs living the good life

It’s much like saying that because I care about animal rescue I can’t possibly care about other causes such as mental health and addiction, domestic violence, poverty or racism. That would also be false. They are not mutually exclusive. I’ve worked at social service non profits, volunteered and donated to all the causes. Yes, I write about animal rescue but that does not mean I don’t or can’t care about other causes.

When it comes to animal adoption, those criticizing are forgetting one very important thing, at the end of the day a life is saved. Every time someone adopts, fosters or rescues an animal, that animal is being saved. They are being saved from being on the street. They are being saved from abuse and neglect. They are being saved from death (and in the case of Dolly and other meat trade survivors, a horrific death).

There’s already too much judgement in society, so why are we judging people who are trying to do good? So rather than try to point a finger at someone who is doing something to benefit an animal outside of our borders, ask yourself what you are doing to make a difference, either through adoption or donations. All rescues would appreciate more assistance, either through volunteer hours or financial donations.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

How I Manage Dolly’s Allergies

When my husband and I adopted Dolly a year ago, one of the things noted on her adoption profile was that she had allergies and needed to be on medication to manage those them. It never stated what she was allergic to.

People have asked me “well, how do you know she has allergies?”. It was quite apparent as she had red marks on her neck (including a couple of scabs from her scratching so hard that skin would bleed), she constantly chewed and licked her paws (they were pink and raw from her chewing them), licking her belly and constantly scratching her ears as she had developed a number of ear infections.

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Dolly’s poor neck looked like this for a long time

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The medication she was given was Apoquel, which is an allergy medication for dogs which relieves itching without the use of steroids. It provides onset relief within 4 hours and works up to 24 hours. The great thing about it is that I have noticed little to no side effects with Dolly on it. But, it still did not solve her skin issues.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been to the vet with Dolly in 2017. I’ve actually lost count. When we adopted her, we decided to feed her the same food as Max and Freckles which was a chicken based food. The other two did quite well on it so I figured it would be easier to have them all on the same food. Every once in a while, I would also feed them some cooked ground chicken. Her skin didn’t get better, it seemed to get worse. I honestly could not figure out why. I thought maybe it was something in the environment as she she had gone from the hot and humid climate of Thailand to the cold and dry climate of Canada.

It was so bad that at one point, she was on Apoquel, a steroid called Vanectyl-P (because her allergies were out of control and she was itch all day and all night), and had yeast in her paws and her ears, a medicated cream to put on the spot on her neck and had to have medicated baths twice a week. As you can imagine, she was not feeling so great and I felt awful. Also, this was quite a costly time between the vet visits and all of the medication.

So why was this happening? What could possibly cause so many issues for her? The answer: chicken. The vet asked me what food I was feeding her and I told them. That’s when they told me to switch her food and cut out everything with chicken in it for her.  After talking with the vet, I was told that it’s quite common to see dogs who have allergies to common-found protein sources such as chicken and beef. We were told to try her on an elimination diet and see if that was the culprit before doing a full blown allergy test (as they are quite expensive to do and by this time we had already easily spent close to $1500 trying to get her allergies under control).

So, I switched her to a fish based diet and decided to switch Max and Freckles over to it as well. We continued to feed Dolly an all fish diet for a number of months. While her allergies improved, they still were not as good as they could have been. She would still get skin flare ups and was still on Apoquel to help her manage her itchiness which was not an ideal solution.

I also discovered she can’t have anything with wheat in it.  I was feeding her treats that had wheat flour in it and she would itch and lick every time afterwards. My parents, who love eating toast for breakfast, would feed her some when they would stay with us and I started to notice red spots on her neck again. Sadly, she can no longer share toast with them.

When I took her to the vet to once again get her skin checked out and a refill of her Apoquel, the vet asked me if I ever thought of feeding her a kangaroo based food. I’d never even heard of such a thing. The reason it’s recommended (that and venison) is because it’s a novel protein here in North America. Dogs who eat these type of meats do very well on them because they have no developed an intolerance or allergy to them. Kangaroo is also high in protein but low in fat.

After spending a year trying to get Dolly’s allergies under control and finding nothing that would work long term, I decided it was worth a shot. I was able to find a brand called Zignature that made a kangaroo based food. What I liked about this food is that it was highly rated by other people who’s dogs were dealing with the same issues as Dolly. I also really liked the ingredients that were in it. There’s no chicken, eggs, wheat, potatoes, grain, glutens, tapioca, corn or soy.  It’s a single protein (which is what is recommended if you have a dog with food allergies).

Side note: I retweeted an article an article a while back about how dogs are carnivores and need protein so vegan diets for dogs don’t make sense (unless your dog really is allergic to pretty much everything and it’s your last resort). I also mentioned that I feed Dolly kangaroo as she’s allergic to everything else and got attacked by vegans (who think I’m awful for feeding my dog meat) and by someone who thinks I’m evil for feeding kangaroo as it’s filled with parasites and I’m “killing my dog”. It was quite hilarious. 

I slowly switched Dolly over to it and I can honestly say for the first time ever, her skin is clear, she’s not constantly itching and licking and she’s lost weight. We have gradually decreased her Apoquel dosage to the point where she does’t need it. Even her fur is starting to grow back in areas where she was bald and her coat is incredibly soft and shiny. She’s the healthiest she’s ever been. She also no longer needs medicated baths.

Sadly, we do believe she has seasonal allergies and is allergic to grass. Every time she walks on grass, she will lick and chew hers paws for hours so we have to wipe them down every time she comes in from being on grass and have started using a natural solution to clean her paws on a regular basis. It’s not quite as severe as a friend of mine who has a dog who has Lupus and is allergic to the sun and grass. The poor guy has a rough time during the summer months.

I’ve known people who refuse to use any sort of medication as they want to go a natural route to dealing with their dogs allergies. That’s fine but, I will say that without Apoquel, Vanectyl-P, and the anti yeast medication, Dolly would have continued to itch uncontrollably and suffered. Medication is NOT a bad thing (when it’s needed). I’m fortunate to have a great vet that believes that medication helps but is not a long term solution and we have worked together to find the right solution that is best for Dolly’s health.

Let me be clear in saying this is what works for Dolly. What works for her might not work for another dog. I’m certainly in no ways an expert or capable of giving out medical advice. There’s enough judgement out there and people are smart enough to make their own decisions. When in doubt, talk to your vet.

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Our happy and healthy girl now

Do you have a dog with allergies?  What did you find that works?  Leave me a comment as I love talking with other dog owners who have gone through the same thing.

Animal Rescue Profile: Soi Dog Foundation

This month’s animal rescue profile is the Soi Dog Foundation.

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Soi Dog is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.  Based out of Phuket, Thailand, Soi Dog rescues street dogs and cats by providing them with shelter, vaccinations and medical treatment.  A main focus of the work is spaying and neutering as many animals as possible to help reduce the population of unwanted pets in Thailand.

Soi Dog’s most well known work is being advocates for animal welfare and have been one of the biggest forces behind almost eliminating the illegal meat trade of dogs in Thailand.  They continue to work tirelessly on also ending the barbaric slaughtering of dogs for meat in South Korea, Vietnam and China.

They save thousands of dogs destined to be tortured and killed every year in Thailand.  My dog, Dolly, was one of the dogs they saved.  She was living in a box and had a horrific fate awaiting her before Soi Dog rescued her.

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Dolly on her way to Canada.
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Dolly now, happy, healthy and loving life.

Soi Dog can’t do the amazing rescue and advocacy work they do without support.  If you are interested in donating to Soi Dog, click HERE.

I will say that when I’m able to, I will adopt another dog from Soi Dog again.  Interested in adopting and how the process works, click HERE.

If you are interested in helping out Soi Dog, here are the ways you can do so:

Click HERE to volunteer at the shelter

Click HERE to be a flight volunteer

Click HERE to purchase Soi Dog Merchandise (I have two tank tops and the 2018 calendar)

Click HERE to donate medical supplies

Click HERE to sponsor an animal

Click HERE to Like them on Facebook

Click HERE to Follow them on Instagram

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When you support and organization like Soi Dog, you help dogs like Dolly get a second chance at life.

Introducing: Dolly

Today I would like to introduce everyone to my dog, Dolly.  It was a year ago this week that we welcomed her into our family.

Dolly is no ordinary dog.  Dolly was rescued from the illegal meat trade in Thailand a couple of years ago thanks to Soi Dog.  Without them, she was destined to be tortured and brutally slaughtered.  She was brought over to Canada as part of a partnership with Soi Dog and Zoe’s Animal Rescue Society where she was placed in a loving foster home while she discovered what it meant to be loved and safe.

For the first couple days with us, she hid under the desk in our office and shook.  Any time Max or Freckles would bark (which tends to be a lot), she would run and hide.  I honestly was worried that it might not work.  Then, one night she decided to come out of the office.  I was sitting on the couch and she jumped up on he couch and sat next to me.  It was then, I knew she felt safe with us.

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When I finally decided I was safe here.

Today, Dolly is a happy girl who’s loving life and I want to show case her in a really fun way.  Please enjoy what I believe her online dating profile would look like:

Name: Dolly Tusef Somerset (Tusef means safe in Thai)

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I now love to sit on the seat and look out at the world in the vehicle.

Nicknames: Dollars, Dolly Dollarson, Dollar Store, Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all, Dollaroo, Dollarama, Dolly Molly, Dollar Mollers, Moller, Molleroo, Sweet Doll, Baby Doll, Love Dove, Lover Doveroo

Age: 8

Breed: Akita, Brittany Spaniel and Chow Chow

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I love getting dressed up in my Rayna Collars.

Body Type: Loveable, squishy and itchy

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Do you have any toast?

Likes: Sleeping, eating, going for walks, licking myself, chewing my nails, being needy for love when no one’s petting me, running (I’m even going to be getting someone to run with me soon), allowing my sneaky tongue to pop out, laying my head on pillows, sitting in corners, sitting in the dark on the stairs, jumping up on the bed if daddy’s already up but mommy’s still in bed, getting licked in the face by my sister, shoving my face into my sister’s face so she’ll lick me, daycare, wearing my Rayna Collar and bandanas, stealing socks and licking them (I’m just starting to figure out toys and what to do with them), the farm back in Shaunavon, getting toast from grandma and grandpa (even though I  should not be having any due to my allergies), chewing on my The Woofery Antler chew, chasing bunnies, flooping.

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Mommy put my boots on for a walk and I decided to floop.

Dislikes: Getting baths (I have some PTSD from Thailand regarding water), being itchy, mommy telling me to stop licking, being cold (I love Canada, I just don’t like the winters), going to the vet, having to wear booties in the winter, mornings, LOUD NOISES.

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Mornings are hard.

Favourite Food: I really love things I’m not supposed to have such as chicken, beef and toast (which grandma and grandma love to share with me).  I do really enjoy my kangaroo food and love kangaroo crisps the mommy gives me.

Ideal Saturday Night: Eating supper at 5pm, sitting on the couch and demanding pets from mommy or flooping in front of daddy, going for a short walk (because I still do not pee in the backyard), getting a treat and going to bed.

Goals In Life: Continue to learn how to be a dog, avoid baths, hide in all the corners and floop as much as possible in a very dramatic fashion.

Puppies: I’ve had 12 litters over the years while living in Thailand.  I never really had a chance to be a mommy as they were ripped away from me by some very awful people.  Thankfully, the wonderful people at Soi Dog made sure I could not longer have any more.   I’m much happier and healthier now since being spayed.

Adoptive Status: Mommy and daddy officially adopted me one year ago this week.  I love my mommy, daddy, brother and sister.  They work to give me the life I truly deserve and I’m quite spoiled here.

Interested in seeing more of Dolly?  Then follow me on Instagram at @fortheloveofanimalrescue .

Have a dog that you want me to feature?  Drop me a comment below.