Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Allergies; What Works for Buffy.

For some time Buffy has had an allergy to wheat based products, bread, pasta and dry dog food all contain wheat (or worse yeast). Buffy's problems were caused we think by a wheat ear becoming lodged in her ear canal one hot dry summer out gambolling through the local fields. 

Border Terriers as all owners will affirm, love their free running field time, following the scents of "beasts" and returning periodically and then dashing off again. I am sure that there has to be an internal trip switch in Border Terriers between their nose and their ears so that when an "interesting smell" is encountered the trip switch clicks in and their ears stop working. It was one of those hot summer afternoons that Buffy's problems started.

Buffy of all our Borders went straight for the hedgerows and would often come back with scratches, Buster was a field bouncer (running then jumping up in the long grass) and Bobby was a chaser, running in large circles. It was not unusual for them all to scratch off the dust dirt and debris from their adventures while out. When we arrived home we always checked them over and rubbed them down before they entered the house, looking at paws and legs for ticks and getting the loose dirt off them. But I never used to check their ears and it was a week or two before I noticed that Buffy was scratching one ear more than usual. I looked inside and one ear had mucus and that started the Vet visits and she gradually deteriorated. The wheat ear was extracted with a lot of mucus and her ear treated but the allergic reaction had been triggered.

The consequences of Buffy's allergy to begin with were HUGE Vet bills, biopsies, drugs, eye treatments, ear treatments, skin treatment and food additives. After changing Vets twice we found someone who offered real alternatives to costly drugs and regular treatments. 

To start with it was dietary; restricting and removing all Buffy's access to any carbohydrate (that was very difficult). In Buffy's case carbohydrates metabolised into strong sugars which fed bacteria which in turn fed Yeast which in turn feed on her skin (turning it black and causing fur loss).

Step one was putting her on a raw meat diet; and giving her steroids to enable her immune system to kill the yeast and using a medicated yeast killing bath wash twice a week, along with anti-fungal ear and eye treatments. I thought here we go again more Meds and more bills; but after two weeks her fur had grown back, she had stopped scratching and was back to herself. When the Meds stopped and she was just on raw meat I was expecting another flare up - but nothing happened.

After a lot of research and with the help of an understanding Vet Buffy is now virtually normal. Winter is the worst period as she can find scraps of food that can cause flare ups. 

She has moved on to Butchers Tinned Dog food (loaf not jelly and available in any good supermarket) and we add a spoonful of coconut oil to her food. I don't know why coconut oil in her food works but it does. It somehow stops any reaction starting in her gut and keeps her skin resilient. Her fur has completely grown back, even over the badly yeast damaged skin on her legs and her flare ups have decreased significantly. Now a flare up is unusual and down to once maybe twice a year. 

Buffy is now nearly 13 yrs old and enjoys sitting in the sunshine in the summer; this picture is her on her chair in the garden as I write this update.

I started looking for natural alternatives to Vet prescribed Meds to manager her flare ups and I discovered Apple Cider Vinegar. This kills the yeast on her skin naturally. We mix 20 ml in a litre of warm water and wash her weekly, especially in the creases at the top of her legs, behind her ears and along her tummy. The smell is not unpleasant and quickly disappears. I also use it as an ear flush / wash once a month just to keep her ears clean.

The diet strategy with coconut oil and periodic skin cleaning with diluted Apple Cider Vinegar works for Buffy. If your dog has an allergy try it (but don't use diluted Apple Cider if your dog has cracked skin, broken skin or open sores).

Finally if you think your Border Terrier smells of biscuits or old bread? I can tell you that is the yeast growing naturally on their skin. Most dogs don't develop beyond smelling like biscuits (as Buffy did) but some go onto have allergy problems. I wish I had used Apple Cider Vinegar on Buffy long ago to kill that natural yeast; once its triggered into aggressive mode is very hard to control. I can only offer it you as a precaution.