We had a Cocker Spaniel with severe allergies and skin and ear problems. The allergies could be all due to dietary allergies, not contact allergies. I would suggest starting with an elimination diet, if possible try a diet without any processed food and grain-free. My first choice would be a raw meat and bones diet (which could be any kind of meat, but you would have to experiment). This is the most natural diet for any dog.
Any medications will only treat the symptoms but never cure the disease. Steroids have huge side effects and would be my absolute last resort. Even diphenhydramine (Benadryl) has the side effect of making the dog very sleepy and is not a long-term solution. To treat the ears symptomatically I have used virgin coconutoil on a Q-tip, which has antibacterial and antifungal properties without any of the burning, stinging sensation of the malacetic acid and also smells good. Just diet elimination may bring results, but if not, it is possible to do allergy testing for inhalant allergies, but these are not as common, so I would not spend the money and time for those unless diet changes don't work.
This is just a quick summary, I may think of more.
You may want to do a search on the internet about BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diets and about raw feeding in general. Generally, the less processed a dog's diet is the better.
The most common allergens for dogs and the most toxic ingredients in their diets are wheat, corn, soy and elements of those like gluten so sometimes just reading the food label carefully and eliminating these ingredients will work. Also be aware of miniscule elements of these that may be present in vitamin/mineral supplements added to processed foods.
A home-cooked diet of meat and plain rice for a few days may be another easy way to eliminate allergies.
Edited by: HOUNDLOVER1 at: 7/23/2012 (12:37)
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