First of all this is what I consider a very long post and doesn't have a lot of photos. It's more of a collection of my thoughts today on Heidi's current skin issues and where to go from here ... again!! I will post later about Stella's and Sadie's daily activities.
The photos below were taken this morning and is the starting point for another idea of treatment. Based on what I read about yeast infections recently and last year I have decided to try the water/vinegar mixture the article talks about. Diet changes were already made last month with no-grain food and no potatoes of any kind in the kibble. The vet states those promote yeast growth.
After my friend who has a PhD as a Physical Therapist, who not only suggested I try the Wounded Warrior Ointment but made a special trip to buy it and ship it to me ... agreed with me that we were not seeing any differences in Heidi's skin late Sunday afternoon after using the ointment for eighteen days.
I decided after that to give Heidi a 20 minute soak with warm water and epsom salts. I rinsed those areas with plain cold water afterward. She seemed to scratch less Sunday night but still spent a lot of time licking her paws.
By Monday morning I was seeing signs of improvement. I was happy with what I saw and posted that I planned to give her a soak at least every three days or more often depending on what her skin looked like.
From Sunday night until this morning, I've been reading a lot of different websites. Some of those I found, some were sent to me by readers via email. One reader, a retired nurse, suggested in a comment on Monday night that maybe I should try a daily epsom salt soak for ten days and see if that would help killing the infection.
I was about to try that until I started my reading and searching on websites. It is an option I will still consider doing after I try this latest treatment that I picked up last month and again yesterday when reading about Yeast Infections. If this doesn't work then I'll try the daily epsom salt soak.
The reason I didn't decide to go with the tens days of epsom salt soaks at this time, was because of what her skin looked like Tuesday and Wednesday morning. I gave her another soak on late Monday night with the plan of doing it every day for ten days.
Tuesday morning the redness was gone. Yet the places where her skin is raw or has little hair, was hard and crusty. It had lost the suppleness it showed with the Wounded Warrior Ointment. Over night she had scratched a lot and by Wednesday morning there were flakes of skin were all over her blanket ... just thick with skin flakes.
I was still in the middle of reading websites on Tuesday so I decided to hold off on the epsom salt soak for that day. Taking a day off from that soak, Wednesday morning her skin was inflamed, really red and she had chewed a couple of spots raw.
These photos taken this morning actually look better than her skin looks in the flesh. Her skin looks a lot more red than this. Notice the bright read spot on her right paw.
Her skin under her neck has been this way for such a long time. The K9 Klear cream used last winter, nor the Wounded Warrior Ointment made any changes to her skin under her neck. All vets have seen it but have not made a recommendation. This is similar skin to what is below each of her ears along the sides of her face. That gold color stain is from the Wounded Warrior Ointment.
I am saying she has a yeast infection again because I can smell a definite yeast smell. The vet article calls for a cup of vinegar for a gallon of water. I did not want to mix that much at one time but did have a smaller container that was 48 ounces of water and that equated to 3.2 ounces of white vinegar.
Just like the water she drinks, the water in this mixture is filtered water.
Without a spray bottle I applied the mixture with cotton balls. You are suppose to towel it off and let the mixture dry. I applied it by dabbing the cotton ball and leaving it on any skin that was red/raw.
Before I bought her from the rescue service in June 2011, her vet paperwork showed they had diagnosed her with Atopic Dermatitis. This is the same diagnosis my local vet said in December 2014.
At the time she said she smelled a strong yeast odor, she recommended me giving Heidi Atopica and change her diet to grain free food, I posted the results of that decision on the blog. You can see the multiple blog posts from the past by searching "Atopica" in the search box in the upper right corner.
As I have posted in the past ... this health issue is a long drawn out, hit or miss, type of thing. That is consistent with what I have read from regular vets to vets that deal in only holistic treatments. For me it's not only been very frustrating but sad that she has to go through something like this, especially since no one can find a solution or cure.
From the link I posted the other day sent to me by a blog reader, the vet writing that article even stated there may not be a solution ... ever! Also there is not a specific treatment for this type of skin allergy. Thus the comment about being "hit or miss". It also verified why four different vets have not been able to fix the problem, each trying their own ideas.
One reason is, they have been trained to suppress the injury/allergy instead of treating it to cure the problem. You might think that going to a vet that deals with holistic treatments would be the way to go. I read a lot about holistic treatments yesterday and last night, written by vets that do deal in that type of veterinarian practice.
Many of the readers on the holistic vet's website commented and they also had the same frustrations I have had. In many cases they had their dogs on a raw diet, or a no-grain diet since they were puppies. They had always used holistic vets instead of the regular vets ... the majority were still having the same issues with their dogs as they got older, with no solutions. NO ONE made a comment that whatever their holistic vet recommended ... worked!!
The two main causes of allergies in dogs have always been either food or the environment. All the vets I have taken Heidi to have agreed on that. John said that 85% of his dog clients show up in his office due to skin allergies. Yet, his studies showed that only 3% of them were caused by food.
I've kept a spreadsheet log for Heidi since last fall. I tracked her skin condition, rated 1 to 5 with a 5 being the worst. I listed dog foods being fed at the time by name, any possible reason for her skin having a strong reaction. In all of that record keeping I cannot see it makes a difference between grain and no-grain dog food. Nor can I find any differences in her skin by feeding her different kinds of protein. Nor did I see any improvement using the ointments, the creams, the liquid zinc oxide, steroid shots or pills.
The holistic vet I was reading about last night stated that "food is only a temporary solution" because over time the dog's system will adjust and become allergic to the new food.
Environmentally, I live in an area that is probably not the right situation for a dog with allergies, even a human being for that matter. That is something I did not consider when making the decision to buy Heidi. In fact it was not even a thought because based her photos in June 2011, her skin didn't look bad at all although I was told she would need regular medical attention for her skin allergies.
I live 80'-100' from a highway that has heavy traffic. That brings a lot of dust into the air and since I like to have my windows open during the seasons where the temps have not hit 90° yet ... a lot of that dust shows up inside my house. I've never lived in a house that collects dust faster than this house.
I am also surrounded by fields that are plowed, planted, fertilized, crops harvested, then plowed again. That cannot be a plus for her skin condition. I also have two other large hounds that are sure to have dander, and their normal walking or playing on carpet is sure to create air particles that are not helpful to Heidi's skin allergy.
My house was built in 1975 or 41 years ago. I don't care how great of shape it is in, with the drastic differences in seasonal temperatures there has to be mold somewhere inside and outside.
So all of this is the "perfect storm" for flaring up allergies whether it be me or Heidi. Why don't the bloodhounds have the same problems while they live in the same environment????
Is it their genetics? They also eat dog food with grains, always have. They have both had rabies shots although I stopped giving mine shots in 2011 after articles I had read ... but that's another story I'll not blog about today. According to the vet records that came with Stella, she was given the typical annual shots her whole life ... holistic vets claim that those annual shots are the cause for all the health issues in dogs we see today.
Stella and Sadie have had no skin issues or health issues. Stella will be 7 years old in August and Sadie will be 8 years old in June. Yet Heidi came with skin issues. As she got older they have become worse and continue to be all twelve months of the year and not just seasonal.
Someone else has told me they think that Heidi's problem is not food related. They understand why I am feeding her no-grain, no potatoes food based on the yeast infection article that has been linked a couple of times today. They feel it is stressed related, that Heidi is affected by the two large breed bloodhounds and specifically Stella.
Even though Heidi has never lost her appetite for food, losing 13 pounds in 2015 gives them concern. Yet for the past year Heidi has maintained the same weight at 36 pounds. On two different blood workups, both had normal levels and nothing showed anything wrong on the inside.
Add in the lack of activity this past year and all the sleeping she does ... this person seems to think she is depressed living here with me and the two bloodhounds.
They thought in the past that Heidi may have thought her foster home was going to be her forever home, thus her change in moods. I reminded them that Heidi did not act this way until the fall of 2014, three years after I got her, when her skin flared up outside her normal allergy reaction.
I have no idea if her original family had kids or why she ended up as a volunteer turn in to the shelter. It was noted that she was a "runner" and would run away every chance she got. It was recommended that I keep her on a leash at all times. She has not shown that tendency to run while living here.
She didn't look depressed a month or so ago when I forced her to join us on the daily walk. The photos showed Heidi rolling on her back in the tall grass, her nose to the ground with her tail curled and upright as she explored the field. She still does and always has did a morning sprint, and at times rolling on her back growling at herself.
I don't see that as Heidi having problems living with a couple of large breed bloodhounds, without having kids around. I think her activity level is determined by how she feels that day ... where her infected skin or rear hocks might be too sore to do anything else but lay around and sleep.
My records show that Heidi's skin did not have a lot of negative reaction when Stella arrived but did when Winston died. She didn't have a reaction traveling out west last June but did have a UTI a few weeks after we returned home. Her skin was the worst I've ever seen in February 2015 but started flaring up outside the norm the previous September.
Heidi will eat all that I give her. She will even come running from a deep sleep if she thinks I will give her some of my own food. She will eat all the dog food I will give her and I have tried to see how much she would eat before stopping ... that one time, she never stopped eating!!!
If no-grain food is suppose to prevent yeast growth ... yet I can smell yeast after feeding this to her for a month this time and many months prior ... is there a need to continue feeding her no-grain food? Would foods with grains and carbohydrates help her gain some weight back? This past week I have been giving her a little chicken, steak, ground beef and fish .... all cooked ... in addition to her kibble, in hopes that helps her gain some weight.
Do Stella and Sadie play a role in stressing out Heidi, thus causing these constant skin flareups? A couple of people say I should rehome her to a place where she would be the only dog. Some say she needs a family with kids. That was one of the first questions I asked her foster mom in 2011, if Heidi could live in a house with two or three other dogs. She replied that was not a problem because they had a large greyhound and another smaller dog.
The question of rehoming her is a tormenting question for me. One, I like her too much to give her away. I never give my hounds away whether it be for medical problems or destructive issues. Who would give a hound away with medical issues that cannot be figured out and may not have a solution? How would that affect Heidi after living here since July 2011? That would be another change for her in where she lived. Since she spent her time in and out of dog shelters her first two years, who knows how many times she has had to move to a different owner her first two years.
I remember the day I made the four hour drive home after picking her up ... she "talked" to me nonstop for the first thirty minutes of the drive. She was happy to be around Winston. She LOVED being in the field and LOVED the walks.
Stella was an obnoxious and clumsy four year old bloodhound when Heidi showed up. They rarely played when Sadie tried to engage. Even then Heidi was "a loner", staying by herself most of the time and didn't sleep with Winston nor Sadie like other hounds did.
A lot of questions and many of them have been asked over the past 20 months since her skin went crazy with redness and inflammation. Here are a couple of photos I just took a few minutes ago after her lunch.
Let's see how the vet suggested mixture of water/vinegar works in the days ahead.
I've got to go ... I hear Heidi scratching again.