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Can senior dogs develop food allergies?
07-06-2017, 02:40 PM,
#1
Can senior dogs develop food allergies?
Hi All, 

My families senior Shepard Mix has recently been having severe skin irritation and itching problems. His skin is crusty/scabby under his very thick coat - this is happening mostly on his face, ears, chest, and butt, but we do see it further back on his body as well. He has lost all of the fur on his ears. Its been going on for about 4 months now and we have been back and forth to the vet multiple times. They did scrapings to test for mites and didn't find anything. We have tried many different mite and mange medicines including a round of revolutuon with no luck. We also tried to give him Zertec with no luck.  He is currently taking apoquel to relieve the itching and it does seem to help but not only is it expensive we really want to get to the root of the problem. While we are aware that these symptoms could be secondary from something else going on inside his old body, we also wonder if it could be a food allergy? He has always eaten a chicken and rice formula. Our vet said she wouldn't rule it out but doesn't think that he would develop an allergy at this age.  Can this happen? Has anyone else experienced their senior dog developing an allergy so late in life? Does anyone have any other ideas as to what this could be? The vet is stumped and my parents arent too thrilled about seeing any kind of specialist...

Thanks in advance!
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07-06-2017, 03:24 PM,
#2
RE: Can senior dogs develop food allergies?
As in people, dogs of any age can develop allergies, even to foods they have been eating all their lives. Allergies to food may not be as common though as allergies to things in the environment, but they do happen. More common than food allergies are allergies to flea saliva, dust mites, pollen, grasses, chemicals used in the home etc.

You have been going through the right process for a diagnosis (skin scrape) and several medication trials to rule out mange and possible allergies. Yet, you report no changes both when given mange medicines and zyrtec which is an antihistamine.

Apoquel may work for some dogs and not for others. From your description, it is helping relieve the itching, but you are right to think that it's important to go to the root of the problem.

When you see the vet for many times, as a general rule, this is often sign that it is time to see a specialist. There are board-certified veterinary dermatologists who have made of skin problems in dogs their specialty. When vets have failed to find a diagnosis, these specialists may have what it takes to deal with challenging cases. I know your parents aren't too thrilled, but sometimes it helps to see a specialist so to get to the bottom of the problem saving money in the long run considering several fruitless general vet visits.

Your dog may need an antifungal or antibacterial shampoo if he's repeatedly scratching and opening up wounds that are causing secondary bacterial/yeast skin infections on top of the allergies. This creates a vicious cycle of itching and scratching, scabs and then more itching and scratching.

A food trial may be suggested by the specialist just to rule this possibility out. Typically, hypoallergenic diet like Hills z/d for 4-6 weeks is prescribed.

Ask your vet about supplementing with omega fatty acids. Cool oatmeal baths may provide temporary relief as the water rinses off allergens from the coat (if from environmental exposure) and the oatmeal is soothing.

While skin scrapings are pretty accurate, at times they may fail too, (like 30 percent may do statistically) and a skin biopsy may be a better option which also may help rule out autoimmune skin problems.
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07-06-2017, 04:36 PM,
#3
RE: Can senior dogs develop food allergies?
(07-06-2017, 02:40 PM)marissd2311 Wrote: Hi All, 

My families senior Shepard Mix has recently been having severe skin irritation and itching problems. His skin is crusty/scabby under his very thick coat - this is happening mostly on his face, ears, chest, and butt, but we do see it further back on his body as well. He has lost all of the fur on his ears. Its been going on for about 4 months now and we have been back and forth to the vet multiple times. They did scrapings to test for mites and didn't find anything. We have tried many different mite and mange medicines including a round of revolutuon with no luck. We also tried to give him Zertec with no luck.  He is currently taking apoquel to relieve the itching and it does seem to help but not only is it expensive we really want to get to the root of the problem. While we are aware that these symptoms could be secondary from something else going on inside his old body, we also wonder if it could be a food allergy? He has always eaten a chicken and rice formula. Our vet said she wouldn't rule it out but doesn't think that he would develop an allergy at this age.  Can this happen? Has anyone else experienced their senior dog developing an allergy so late in life? Does anyone have any other ideas as to what this could be? The vet is stumped and my parents arent too thrilled about seeing any kind of specialist...

Thanks in advance!

The scrapings for mites was a good try.  And it would be unusual for a geriatric dog to develop a food allergy to a dog food it has eaten all of its life. 

Did the Vet test for low thyroid?  Common for geriatric dogs.  Also not included in the standard blood work would be some pricey tests to confirm or rule out Cushings or Addison's disease.  Yes, tests which your Vet would probably refer to a doggy internal Med specialist

Have you noticed other symptoms?  For hypothyroid the dog may become more lethargic, have weakness, anorexic, and a variety of other symptoms which we owners might mistake as aging.   Addison's is another with a variety of symptoms,  that could mimic aging.  Cushings unlike its opposite Addison's has classic signs:  Increased thirst,  increased appetite, loss of muscle tone on the abdomen resulting in a pot belly eventually, panting, and intolerance to heat.  All 3 metabolic disorders can involve hair loss, and skin problems.
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