"He can’t eat that" – Confronting your dog’s allergies


Lower intestinal problems begin

Murphy had not been home long until the stomach issues kicked in. He had a “wonky” belly in the am – throwing up bile almost weekly.  I probably aggravated things by switching his food too quickly and letting him eat treats that were (I now know) disgusting with their content. 

Murphy loves food, but it does not always love him.

Murphy loves food, but it does not always love him.

We began a six-month adventure of about monthly visits to the vet with raging diarrhea.  I have to brag on my little dude – once he was potty trained, he never went in the house.  He would frantically beg to go out and would cross the street to have an explosion.  (Sorry for the visual – that’s what it was).

The vet would test for worms and other bacterial issues and prescribe drugs and antibiotics.  On the third or fourth visit Dr. James looked at his chart and noted that this was happening too much.  She said, “we’re treating the problem, but not getting to the source.  I think he has allergies.”  She recommended that I put him on prescription food and do a food elimination diet.  I did it.

"Ears and Rears"

That began a saga of year to 18 months.  Murphy did great on the venison vet food, but every time we went somewhere and he was given a treat before I could stop it or he found something on the ground and scarfed it down before I could fish it out (seriously), we began the cycle all over again.  And at one point Murphy rejected the food and I had to switch proteins.

I would feel so badly for him that I would try healthy treats.  And we were doing training and agility and Murphy simply would not “work” for his boring kibble.  Sometimes the treat experiments worked and sometimes it was a disaster.  I learned the phrase “ears and rears.” Dr. James helped me understand that itchiness at the ears (near where the food goes in) and at the backside (where the food comes out) is a classic food allergy sign. 

She did not recommend allergy testing, hoping we could bring it under control with careful monitoring.  He also had severe reactions to flea bites and what appeared to be seasonal allergies.  She just recommended carefully monitoring his food.  I know some people have had success with Apoquel. She didn’t recommend that either, and I was willing to give food restrictions a chance.

Allergy Testing?

In some online research I found a “Group On” for an allergy kit from a company called ImmuneIQ.  It was $50 and I thought if it gave me some insight, it would be more than worth it. Like everything online, there are critics, but there were things that were uncanny in the results.  Murphy was on rabbit vet food and was not tolerating it well.  The test said he was allergic to rabbit.  He also was allergic to some things that were standard fair in food and treats – green peas and sweet potatoes.  I got really focused about avoiding those things and it worked. 

I eventually shifted Murphy to a national dehydrated brand supplemented with Kibble from our friends at Pet Wants Charlotte.  And he has been great.  When I mess up and give him something that he is allergic to, I’ve learned that ½ a Zyertec can calm the waters (Benadryl did nothing to help).

Under Control, For Now

I’m always interested in high quality foods, treats and supplements.  I think Murphy likes variety and I certainly do.  But I am so glad that the allergies that tormented us both his first year are largely under control (knock on wood, because I have learned these things are dynamic).