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View Full Version : Both Cavaliers itchy & shedding like crazy..what's going on?



LucyDog
23rd February 2010, 07:54 PM
Hi Everyone,
Over the past several weeks both Lucy & Charlie Brown have been excessively itchy...biting at their flanks & backs and just generally miserable and it seems to be getting worse and worse. They are also both shedding quite a bit more than normal. I see no evidence of fleas and they are not outdoors a bunch this time of year either. I did change their food a few months ago to something lower in calorie. Do you think they could be allergic to it? I always worry about syringomyelia but think it is unlikely since both dogs (different parents, different ages) are suddenly showing the same type of symptoms at the exact same time. I haven't had them groomed for awhile either (at least 2 months)...it did cross my mind that maybe the groomer changed shampoos or something....will have to call and check on that, but even if he did would the itching be getting worse now? Other than the food I can't think of anything I have done differently. Any ideas would be helpful.

Thanks,
Aimee

lorebringer
23rd February 2010, 09:43 PM
In my opinion, because both of your dogs have the same symptoms, it is an external stimulus that is causing the problems. I doubt it is the grooming shampoo because symptoms would subside over time, not get worse! I would put money on food, hair loss and itching are both red lights when it comes to allergies. Have you tried changing to another food, maybe a hypoallergenic brand, to see if it has any effect. The big culprits in food are usually grain and protein source, changing to a food with a different protein source and grain free could do the world of good. I would also treat them for fleas just in case, a flea allergy would also have the symptoms you described. Another area to look at is cleaning products and other chemicals you use in your home - have you changed you floor cleaner or other cleaners they come into contact with reasonably regularly? If the problem does not clear up you may need to bring them to the vet to see if there is anything they could do to help (a skin sample etc.). Hope you get to the bottom of it soon!

Karlin
23rd February 2010, 10:07 PM
Definitely a trip to the vet is in order and I would do that first, not least because you are saying they have been miserable for weeks -- they really need this assessed and resolved :flwr:. Absolutely agree this is almost definitely environmental and external, but if both dogs are doing this at the same time, personally I would doubt an allergy could be the problem, as true allergies are not all that common to begin with, and the chance that they would both suddenly come up with one at the same time would have to be most unlikely.

Sounds to me like anything from rabbit mites to mange to flea dermatitis - - hair loss and biting at flanks suggests mange is a possibility. It is easy to miss fleas and the others really need a skin scrape. I would put my money on one of these pests. As they will infect a household and in some cases can spread to humans, I would make an appt immediately to get this properly checked. If anything continues for more than a few days it is always a good idea to have a vet have a look as it can cost a lot more and be a lot more hassle to treat once something has really settled in. If mites, fleas or mange you will need to also treat the house to some degree, boil wash bedding, etc but your vet can give you guidance once the source is identified.

Central heating can also cause hair loss etc but I know from my mother that is has been pretty mild out your way of late and also, all these things taken together suggest something on the skin.

Margaret C
23rd February 2010, 11:37 PM
This does sound as if it could possibly be Cheyletiella, also known as Rabbit mite or walking dandruff.

It can be intensely irritating to some dogs, although others that are living & sleeping alongside the affected dogs will show no signs of infestation

My dogs have not been troubled with this for some years, but I did find that a human anti-dandruff shampoo called Selsun was very effective.

Cathy Moon
23rd February 2010, 11:45 PM
It sounds like flea allergy dermatitis to me. I would definitely get them in to the vet as soon as possible for treatment. Hope they feel better soon.

waldor
24th February 2010, 02:40 AM
My guess is either food allergy, or the local fleas are now resistant to your flea prevention treatment.
Fleas around here laugh at Frontline. So far, K9Advantix still working.
Oma's Pride is still the only food Sophie can eat that doesn't yield scratching and itching.

Daisy's Mom
24th February 2010, 02:45 AM
I don't know, but we had Daisy to the vet in December and twice since for the same types of symptoms. They said it was a yeast infection and allergies. We've had 2 rounds of Diflucan for the yeast and now, about 10 days after the 2nd round, she has started to scratch again! I think I'm going to ask the vet to check her thyroid levels as I've heard that systemic yeast infections are often associated with low thyroid levels. I also know they are very hard to completely cure, unfortunately. A lady at work has a Cavalier that has chronic yeast all the time, despite months of medicines, baths, etc.

Good luck! Let us know what the vet said. It's always good to learn from each others' experiences on these things.

LucyDog
26th February 2010, 01:26 AM
So, I took the dogs to the vet today and they are not sure what is causing the itching. They can find no evidence of fleas, mange or other parasites. The vet said their skin looks pretty normal other Lucy's being slightly red from all the scratching and biting. Lucy did have some irritation and discharge in one ear so they treated it and are testing for yeast or other bacteria...in other words I would have eventually ended up at the vet anyway...but it wasn't her ears that she was scratching so I hadn't noticed it. They suspect it is either an inhalent allergy or more unlikely a food allergy but because both dogs are suddenly itchier than usual they are not sure that allergies are the case either....it would be odd for both dogs to develop allergies at the same time. In other words, I really know nothing more than I did yesterday. They did give Lucy an injection...cortisone I think...because her itchiness is severe, whereas Charlie Brown's is a lot more moderate. They gave me oral meds...low level steroid/antihistimine combo to use for 10 days and then they will wean them off and see what happens. $400 later and I am basically in the dark. I guess we will see what happens from here. Skin testing is an option but they said at this point to hold off because they don't even know for sure if it is allergies or not.

Daisy's Mom
26th February 2010, 02:15 AM
Yikes -- $400! That's a hefty bill. It is very frustrating, isn't it? I keep hoping Daisy does not go down the recurring yeast road like my friend's cavalier. Her dog has crusty patches all over her and is very smelly. Daisy only had dark crusty patches on her nipples, nowhere else, plus no weird odor. (They are a lot better, but still a little crusty.) I changed her food a couple of days ago to a bison formula (Solid Gold Wee Bites) and I'm going to see if that helps. I know she's sensitive to chicken, so I haven't fed her anything with that in it for quite a while now, but I'm beginning to fear she has allergies to something else as well. Who knows if it's food or environmental?

When I first noticed her itching, the vet kind of thought it was a mold allergy because we had an extremely wet Fall/Winter. She did respond very quickly to the antihistamine/steroid combo that your vet prescribed for your dogs, so that's good. Unfortunately, I don't know how much good it does long term.

Anyway, good luck with your sweeties. I hope you discover the source of the problem soon so you can address it.

Karlin
26th February 2010, 10:59 AM
Wow, that is a lot! :eek: Did they do a skin scrape? I know of quite a few stories where vets say there's no sign of skin problems and don't do skin scrapes. When they do... it turns out to be mites. A lot of US vets don't seem very familiar with the rabbit mites margaret mentions -- I know these have been missed quite a few times and they cause exactly this reaction. I've had two dogs with this -- they are really, really itchy for the dog.

It is as your vets say, just very odd for two dogs to suddenly have the same irritated skin at the same time -- this would be extremely unlikely with an allergy as most dogs don't jointly get them, especially if they are different ages, different backgrounds. Maybe if it is a cleaning chemical...? Sorry you didn't get a clearer answer; that is very frustrating.

chloe92us
26th February 2010, 01:08 PM
I'm sorry you didn't find a solution. My only advice is at $400 I'd be looking for a new vet! :eek: If I had taken my crew in to my vet and had the same things done, it would not have been more than $100.

Daisy's Mom
26th February 2010, 02:13 PM
I actually had my bills right here from two of the times we took Daisy in to the vet for itching/ears/anal glands/crusty nipples. The 2nd visit was $125. That was for the visit, anal sac expression, bordatella vaccine, ear medicine (mometamax), Clavamox, and diflucan. (She had an infected anal gland that time.) In November when we first brought her in, it was $126 and that was for the exam, anal sac expression, antibiotic, diflucan, steroid, metronidazole (don't remember what that was for.), and Epi Soothe shampoo.

Just thought it might be helpful to have some comparison. I don't think my vet is particularly cheap, but he is cheaper than the first practice I used when we first got Daisy. They were sky high and the vet I was assigned to was really a large animal vet who much preferred working with large animals. He told me he had to start doing small animals because as our area became more urban, he didn't have enough business with just large aimals. Didn't exactly instill a lot of confidence, although I really liked him and the other vets there. They were crazy high and they gave no discount for rescue dogs. I took two dogs to him for Lucky Star and the bill was embarrassingly high, so I switched after that. Love both vets at our new practice.

I know prices in CA are probably higher in general, but that seems way high if they didn't even do any real testing.

frecklesmom
26th February 2010, 02:48 PM
I'm sorry you've met such an expensive roadblock and no answers. Have you thought about taking them to UC Davis Vet Clinic? I can only speak from years ago but their Dermatology Clinic was outstanding and helped me with skin problems of my Sheltie. There is a wealth of expertise there. :xfngr: you have success in finding out what is bothering them.

waldor
26th February 2010, 03:27 PM
They suspect it is either an inhalent allergy or more unlikely a food allergy but because both dogs are suddenly itchier than usual they are not sure that allergies are the case either....it would be odd for both dogs to develop allergies at the same time.

My thoughts are that this is environmental and some sort of contact dermatitis type allergy, since both are suffering and it's not the food. (I trust the food has not changed within a month or two of this starting)

The big question is "What has changed in their environment around the time this started?"
Change of dog shampoo or conditioner?
Any sort of chemicals on the carpets or floors or furniture, like Febreze?
New carpet(s) in home?
Have you changed fabric softeners that might irritate when they sit on your lap?
Is there a pollen, or something in bloom outdoors (or indoors) right now?
Have they been walked in a new area, perhaps with a different sort of grass?
Are you wearing a new perfume?

LucyDog
27th February 2010, 12:57 AM
Wow, that is a lot! :eek: Did they do a skin scrape? I know of quite a few stories where vets say there's no sign of skin problems and don't do skin scrapes. When they do... it turns out to be mites. A lot of US vets don't seem very familiar with the rabbit mites margaret mentions -- I know these have been missed quite a few times and they cause exactly this reaction. I've had two dogs with this -- they are really, really itchy for the dog.

It is as your vets say, just very odd for two dogs to suddenly have the same irritated skin at the same time -- this would be extremely unlikely with an allergy as most dogs don't jointly get them, especially if they are different ages, different backgrounds. Maybe if it is a cleaning chemical...? Sorry you didn't get a clearer answer; that is very frustrating.


Quick question, could it be rabbit mites if both dogs are on Advantage? Because I read online that Advantage is one of the treatment options for rabbit mites on dogs and Lucy and Charlie Brown got their monthly Advantage treatment about 3-4 weeks ago.

Cathy Moon
27th February 2010, 01:14 AM
Wow, our members are coming up with lots of good suggestions and questions to ask about changes to your dogs' environment. :thmbsup:. The vet should be asking you those environmental change questions.

I'm a firm believer in going to specialists for things like this. I truly believe a veterinary dermatologist will cut to the chase and come up with an answer much faster than a regular vet will.

A few years ago, one of the dermatologists at OSU diagnosed my India with a food-allergy caused yeast infection of the ears, when one my regular vets didn't even tell me there was a problem!

LucyDog
27th February 2010, 03:25 AM
Nothing that I can think of has changed in their environment except I did change their food a few months back to a lower calorie food because the vet said they were both getting fat. The food was a concern because it is much lower in fat than what they were on before and I wondered if that could dry out their skin. Plus, we are indoors a lot more because it is rainy here in Northern California and I don't enjoy walking in the rain...nor do I enjoy brushing the tangles out of wet dogs so they have been indoors a lot and they are litter box trained so they don't really require going out in the yard too much, but they do in between storms. I also run the central heating a lot because our house has high ceilings and large windows and it gets really cold in the winter time. The vet did say this could contribute to dry skin as well.

I have not changed laundry detergents nor have I changed any shampoos, perfumes etc. I have horrible allergies myself so everything I use is dye free, fragrance free and hypoallergenic. We have not gotten new carpet or any flooring at all. We did get a new mattress but that is always covered with sheets, blankets and a comforter so I just don't see how that could be the problem. Honestly, the only thing to change would be the food and the heat running more often.

We did spend some time at a Cavalier birthday party in January, which is why I was worried that it could be some type of parasite, but that is most likely not the case as they are both on Advantage, which I believe would not only kill fleas but most mites as well.

As for the veterinary costs....remember I have two dogs..not one, so it was around $200 per dog..not $400 for one dog and Lucy had an ear infection which they took swabs of for cytology and treated her ear, plus they gave her an injection because she was so itchy...so it really wouldn't have been all that expensive if I had taken just one of the dogs and if Lucy hadn't had an ear infection. That said, I do think the vet is on the expensive side....but ALL the vets in the Bay Area are on the expensive side and I absolutely LOVE this office and my vet....they are always willing to see the dogs on a moments notice, the staff is helpful and friendly and the vet always call me personally the same day to follow up on test results (if they have them). They even have called me on the weekends just check and see how the dogs are doing when they have been sick. I do have pet insurance (ended up buying it because of SM worry, even though I originally thought I wouldn't) but I have a $200 deductible..so that is not helpful in this case as the bills were around $200 for each dog (Lucy was actually more and Charlie less). Someone had suggested going to UC Davis, but that is like 2 hours away from where I live and not really practical. I am not saying I wouldn't do it should the problem not resolve itself..but I feel like I am at the beginning of this journey not the end if that makes sense. So, at the moment I am waiting to see how they do on the medication. FTR, Lucy has not scratched once since the injection so at least she is not suffering at the moment, which is my first concern. Charlie is less itchy too after starting the oral meds, so he is suffering less as well...again my major concerns for right now. I will see how it goes from here and I would consider a specialist in the future if the dogs don't continue to improve.

Thank you all for your suggestions though. It is always helpful to hear other people's ideas and thoughts.

waldor
27th February 2010, 08:53 PM
You sound like me, with all my own allergies.

It might be the combination of dry air from the heat, and the lower fat food, causing dry skin.

They might need the higher fat food, just for their skin, but in smaller quantities if you made the change for weight control.

Has the litter box filler changed in any formulation or brand? If not, my guess is the food and the lower fat, or some ingredient that is in the food that wasn't in their old food.

Why not work the old food back into their diet, just smaller portion, and see if that works.

Our Sophie starts scratching & itching the minute I start to work in Orijen kibble or even any of the other raw pre-mixed diets that have other ingredients. Oma's Pride has the least amount (no berries, herbs, or potatoes) and she does great on it. We'll see how she does when the grass season begins, but once I put her on Oma's, I was able to get her off the Temaril-P.