The Georgia Shih Tzu


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Seasonal & Environmental Allergies
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2013
Allergies seem to be a growing problem in the dog community. I have found several sites that I feel will help you to understand your dog better. It is not known what causes some dogs to have allergies and others to not, since the way a dog develops and reacts to allergies is the same as humans. It has been said that inbreeding and unhealthy rearing conditions will increase a dog's chances of developing allergies, but I could not find any information to support that statement. I won't, however, say it is not true since I have seen that such dogs seem more likely and their allergies tend to be more severe. Whatever the origin, there are many ways you can help your dog without running to your vet though you may at some point. Allergies will manifest in many ways; skin rash, asthma, weak constitution, nasal irritation, overly weepy eyes, hair loss, hot spots, chewing or biting at one or more areas constantly, appetite loss, head shaking and rubbing or pawing, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. Sorry, but the symptoms are numerous. Before you decide your dog has allergies there are a few things you can try to clear up the irritation.
If your dog has very weepy eyes give him a carrot once or more a day; raw. It make take a few days, but carrots are very healthy for your dog and will make a big difference. Change their water bowl to a bottle. An open water dish is a collecting ground for all sorts of allergens. A bottle will minimize mess and clean up and maintain clean drinking water. Switch from tap water or filtered water to distilled or boiled water. No- it was not a mistake when I wrote change from filtered to distilled. Filtered only cleans the larger debris from water. It does nothing for the chemicals and other minuscule particles that would be irritating your dog's system. Boiling out the contaminants will reduce your dogs weepy eyes and sniffly noses. You can purchase distilled water but boiling is easy and fast. Set a pot to boil for 1 minute and cool to room temp. If you want to make large amounts at one time you can purchase 5 gallon water tank bottles from Target (you know- the kind the crystal water man delivers). Changing to a bottle can eliminate many problems like sniffling, sneezing, snoring and other congestion that many breeds suffer from. Make sure to brush your dog as often as he requires to keep him from losing hair due to mats (if your bitch is pregnant or nursing hair loss is normal). For vomiting, make sure your dog is not getting into things he should not. Keep your floors swept and vacuumed and clean up after anything that has been ripped or shredded. Make an especial effort to watch for any drugs that might have fallen to the floor during application. Many of these can be highly toxic and deadly. Keep him from eating outdoor clippings. Most puppies love to chew on nature, but that does not make it healthy. Diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting and weakness can all be signs of stress in a dog. For more information on stress please visit Stressed Out. Skin rashes can be caused by rubbing against abrasive items indoor and outdoor. Try using Bag Balm on the irritation before you change his food. It can be found at hay and feed stores and in the pet section of Walmart in a small green tin. Some dogs bite and worry their feet out of boredom. One trick I recently learned from my Shih Tzu group on Facebook is to mix 1 gallon water, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 1-4 cups of white vinegar (possibly 2 cups) and pour in a shallow pan and place your dogs feet in the pan and soak. You may need to work the liquid between the pads and toes, but this has been known to help stop the sensation they are worrying and reduce or stop the habit. Do as often as needed. Someone else uses 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of lemon juice.... If nothing works, allergies are your best diagnosis. The type of allergy will, again, depend upon the symptom.
Below are great sites with more information on allergies that might aid you in pinpointing the root of your dog's suffering.
Pets from the Net 2U - Pet informational articles and a directory of pet related sites.
Skin Allergies - The Long Beach Animal Hospital explains the origins of skin allergies.

When it really is allergies

Your dog can be allergic to just about anything; dust mites, ragweed, grass, trees, pests, tobacco and drug smoke, pest chemicals, perfume, detergents, cleaners, air fresheners and food. Food allergies are considered to be the most common, but tobacco and drug smoke can manifest as a food or any other allergic reaction. It can be very hard to diagnose allergies for your dog, unless you know what to look for. For immediate relief give your dog Benedryl starting with one dose daily for a few days and if you do not see a change move to two doses daily. Then tackle the job of finding the cause. Keep a notebook of everywhere your dog goes, everything they get into, everything they eat or lick or sniff, and every chemical that also comes in contact with those places and things. The first questions I tend to ask include if you use pest control, weed control or chemical lawn agents. If you do, you have to stop the treatments or find another place for your dog to go and keep them completely way from the lawn. If you use none of those things, does your neighbor or do you walk you dog around other neighborhoods and let them near the lawn? Next check your home. Do you regularly shampoo the carpets or have you recently? Do use wax your hard floors or use a cleaning agent to get them clean? Do you spray anything into the air? Keep a chart of everything and how often your dog comes into contact with it. Document the signs your dog exhibits and how long reactions take after being in a certain spot.
Pay close attention to where your dogs allergy spots are. If the problems are:

Internal~ look to the air for what contaminants they are breathing in or what is on the floor or in their food they might be ingesting.
External ~ the placement of their rashes and hair loss can lead you to the culprit.

Divide and Conquer

Starting with Internal allergies by turning, first, to food as 9 times out of 10 food is the culprit. Is your dog eating anything, ever, that is not their usual dog food? If they are eating anything else start here, first, and remember to only make one change at a time once a week; no faster unless you see an increase in reactions. If you like to feed your dog non labelled "dog" treats whether it is table scraps or not, first make sure you are only feeding them foods that are recognized as safe for dogs. The only non labelled foods I will ever feed my dogs are
  • eggs
  • goat milk (never cow: for hand feeding puppies and weaning)
  • cheese
  • seedless watermelon (seeds block the intestinal tract)
  • bananas,
  • carrots
  • baby oatmeal cereal (for weaning or sick puppies/dogs)
  • baby food meats (stage 1 or 2 meat alone: for weaning or sick puppies/dogs)
  • cucumbers
  • corn syrup
  • peanut butter
  • and cooked chicken with rice (for sick dogs only)
  • Greek Yogurt
Others say that berries are safe, but only within small limits or they become toxic. A great reason to stay away from them. Avoid anything with cows milk. For some reason cow milk is more likely to cause allergies and digestion problems then goat milk. Though regular yogurt is considered safe I have read and heard of many reactions after being offered to dogs. I only use baby food meats, rice, boiled chicken and oatmeal when I am working with a sick dog, orphaned pups over 4 weeks of age and dogs refusing to eat though they appear healthy. Otherwise, I relate chicken to ramen. It goes straight through them without leaving any nutrients behind, which is why doctor recommended brands for sick or recovering dogs is always chicken based. I keep the cheese and eggs available only for pregnant and newly lactating bitches as the added nutrients, though fattening normally, will help them maintain weight and energy while feeding greedy puppies. Many more foods, such as raw organic beef bones, liver, sweet potatoes and avocados, can be added to this list if you are feeding your dog a raw diet only with no processed dog food. Mixing these foods and others like it can lead to obesity in your dog and a whole other set of problems. By searching the internet you may also see items such as brewers yeast, garlic, parsley and flax seed, but I do not include information on these items here as they are not the type you would usually give to your dog as a treat. For more information on these please see my
Once you have looked at all non labeled foods it is time to turn to your labeled foods. Is your dog eating more than one brand of dog food at a time? I speak with many owners that like to add canned diets to the dry diet to keep their dog eating when there have been problems in the past and not all dry foods have a canned equivalent. Both the dry and the wet have the potential to cause an allergic reaction, or it may , simply, be the mixture of the two. Do you give your dog store bought snacks? This is another item deserving scrutiny. As with wet and dry, not all dog foods have a treat equivalent. If you have your dog on everything made under the same brand, not the same company, then try switching brands. There my be something in the formula that is causing the reactions.
Moving on to External allergies by defining where the reactions are located. Problems on the back would be signs of crawling under something or near something irritating. Paws, legs and belly are going to lead you to the floor. On the muzzle would be anything they like to sniff at. Sides and neck may indicate anything you are wearing or that your dog rubs up against. The tail is a tricky one. I have never heard of anything other than the beginnings of mange being isolated to the tail, but I have no idea what your situation at home may be like so you will want to look for wherever your dog is getting their tail into most. Maybe a child is grabbing it repeatedly after having used a lotion or something else? Look at plants, watering systems, lawn and pest treatments, shampoos, lotions, perfumes, air fresheners, insects, cleaners, candles, fabrics, chemicals, paints, oils and anything else that could possibly come in contact with their skin. Do not discount dog parks and neighborhood lawns if your dog does not stick to the sidewalk when being walked. If you notice reactions flaring after visiting certain places you should find somewhere else for your dog to frequent. Try not to change more than one thing at a time or you will not truly know what is causing the symptoms.
If, after all this, there is no change it is time to go to the vet. For safe dosage please visit Home remedies for weight:amount recommendations and more information on allergy medications. If you smoke or others have smoked around your dog you may visit my article on Second Hand Smoke for ways to help your dog. For remaining allergy symptoms I could plagiarize other sites, spend hours telling you what I learned, or send you straight to the source. Forgive me, but I feel this last to be the best course. If you still cannot find the answer to something, please tell me and I will try to find what you need. I am sorry, there is no cure; only avoidance.
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