Itchy dog. Itchy, itchy Andre.

Andre has always been a sensitive boy. Especially his skin.  He turned three last summer, and every summer he's been with us he's needed antibiotics due to skin infections. He turns into "Itchy Dog" and starts scratching. He scratches until he bleeds and then his skin gets infected. We've tried Benadryl, Claritin, and even did allergy testing. The test results state that he's not allergic to anything, so we just kept trying various home remedies for itchy skin and trying different allergy meds. He was taking fish oil and coconut oil, with no help. Medicated baths every other day when he had infections, or weekly the rest of time. (I'm glad he loves water. He'd prefer to play in the lake or with the garden hose, but enjoys his baths inside too.) His last skin infection nearly drove us both nuts. He refused his antibiotic capsules, so I had to give him injections of cattle antibiotics.

After doing some research online, I found myself at nzymes.com. I'd looked at their site over a year ago when we were doing the allergy tests but didn't order their product. This time, I figured, "What the heck? I haven't got any answers yet and I'm spending just as much on vet visits, antibiotics and antihistamines. I might as well give this a try."

Andre and Percy eat a raw diet. Mostly chicken, with beef liver and kidney, turkey legs, and some pork occasionally. There weren't any changes in his diet to explain his itchiness. Our vet suggested a trial of hypoallergenic food, but I refused. It's nearly impossible to eliminate everything except dog food from his diet. The kids are always dropping stuff on the floor, or feeding the dogs "snacks." Plus, I really, really, really don't like the idea of feeding the dogs kibble unless absolutely necessary.

Anyway, Andre started on the Healthy Skin Program at the end of November. It took a few weeks before I noticed that his ears and between his toes weren't as red and irritated-looking any more. But I still hadn't seen any improvement on his skin. His skin was still red and flakey. :(

We switched from Pyoben medicated shampoo to DERMagic's Skin Rescue Shampoo and started seeing some results. His flakes would be gone for 2-3 days after a bath, and he'd be itch-free for about the same length of time. I've added Linatone to his diet, coconut oil, and continued giving him a daily multivitamin for dogs. Finally, we're starting to see some significant improvement. We've cut down on his baths to once every 7-10 days and he's hardly scratching, but still was flakey. (His skin, not his personality.) Right now, before bed every night, he gets a scoop of plain yogurt, several squirts of Linatone (from a gallon pump), 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil, the four components to the Healthy Skin Program, and lots of snuggles.

The last couple baths he's had, I've massaged melted coconut oil into his fur after the final rinse. (I melt about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and mix it with about 8 ounces of water in a squirt bottle.)

It's now been 10 days since his last bath, he's not scratching any more than a "normal" dog, he has a few dandruff-like flakes on his lower back, and he's romping around like a young whipper-snapper. Today, he was rolling over my husband and my husband said, "Knock it off, Percy!" Then he realized that it was Andre.

The front half of Andre now has soft puppy-like fur, just like Percy. I can't contribute it to just one thing we've changed, but I do believe the Healthy Skin Program really helped (I'm not using the shampoo in his ears and they don't look irritated any more). I'm sure the supplemental oils are helping him, as well. As of right now, I'm not willing to stop any one of the things we're doing, but I do believe he's improving. The lack of skin flakes and the increased rambunctiousness are sure signs of feeling better.

I guess the real test will be whether he loses fur and needs antibiotics next summer.

(I've also started giving the cats some of the Nzymes probiotics. Cuda no longer needs his prednisone and Pepcid AC for chronic vomiting. Runty seems a bit more athletic for a 15-year-old arthritic cat. Bindi seems as crazy as ever.)