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I took Whisper to the vet on Monday. I've had her five years and she has always been an itchy dog. Over the past two months, she's gotten steadily worse to the point she has chewed off all the hair on her lower legs and markedly thinned the hair on her flanks and given herself bals spots near the base of her tail. When I took her to the vet last year, they thought it was an allergy to flea bites and we did the whole Frontline regimen on all animals in the house as well as bombing the house, which killed every insect, making it well worth the effort of cleaning up after the bombing, making sure that there was nothing for animals or humans to get sick from any residue.

 

Anyway, she never really got over the itching. It improved a bit, but about two months ago it started escalating. I was thinking food allergy, so I changed her food, but nothing helped. A visitor thought it looked like Mange, so I immediately did some research, and it did look like Mange. No fooling around there; I got her into the vet (had to get a loan from the Bank of Mom to do it). They did the skin scraping and no Mange was found, but she does have a yeast infection. They still insist it is a flea allergy, though as hard as they tried to find fleas on her, nary a one was to be found.

 

I was given (sold) a bottle of mediated shampoo to give her and a pile of meds to help alleviate the itching, treat the yeast infection, and an antibiotic to help prevent a secondary infection. Also some fish oil to help her coat. She got her first of two baths this week last night, and I had to let it sit on her for ten minutes. She hates baths, and making her stay soaped up for ten mintues watching her tremble (whether she was cold or scared, I don't know) was a hard thing to make her do.

 

Giving her pills started off easy--I hid the pill in a piece of sliced cheese. That worked wonderfully, but she's no dummy. She wanted no part of sliced cheese this morning. Peanut butter worked as an alternative, but she's going to figure that out in a hurry, too. I have a month to get through! Anyone have any suggestions?

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Once the treat thing stops working, just push it as far down her mouth as you can (to the back of her throat) shut her mouth and rub her throat, wait until she licks her nose (that means she swallowed). They don't like it, but if you do it quick it is not too bad.

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Some dogs are hard to trick - try Pill Pockets, a piece of hot dog or other meat (slit and insert pill), or just open her mouth, put the pill at the back of her tongue, shut her mouth, and stroke her throat (it may help to wet the pill first), and give a treat after she swallows it.

 

I am always a fan of making sure a dog gets sufficient fat in their diet to (among other things) avoid dry, flaky skin. You might want to supplement with enough fat to make the ratio of 3 protein to 2 fat (if the diet is 21% protein, make sure she gets 14% fat), as many prepared diets are low in fat.

 

Have you tried a raw diet? I don't feed raw but it may be a useful alternative for her as there might be something in prepared food (other than an obvious ingredient) that she is allergic to. Also, dogs can have grass allergies, dust allergies, and so forth, which can complicate things.

 

Poor girl - I hope you get this solved or at least ameliorated soon! Best wishes!

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Another pill trick that works with mine: wrap the pill in cheese or meat, and reserve a few extra pieces. Then give her just a piece of meat (or whatever you're using), then the piece with the treat in it, then just a plain piece again. Do this quickly and she'll swallow the one with the pill before she knows it.

 

If that doesn't work, Carla's method is what I do.

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This works for me, but my dogs are super greedy for treats. I get the bags of cheese that are cut into little cubes. I take out three cubes and

put the cheese in one. First I give the dog a cube without the pill just to give them the taste. Then I hold out the cube with the pill in it and

immediately offer the third cube so they will gulp down the treated cube in order to get the third one. Always works for me. They swallow the

second cube without chewing or really tasting it in their hurry to get the third cube. good luck.

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Another pill trick that works with mine: wrap the pill in cheese or meat, and reserve a few extra pieces. Then give her just a piece of meat (or whatever you're using), then the piece with the treat in it, then just a plain piece again. Do this quickly and she'll swallow the one with the pill before she knows it.

 

If that doesn't work, Carla's method is what I do.

 

Also, if you have more than one dog, line them all up and feed them treats-- tjey'll all eat more eagerly -- just be sure the dog that needs the meds, is getting the "loaded" treat.

 

Liz

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Oh, and one other trick if you have more than one dog - treat the other dog(s) as well as the dog getting the medication. Give several treats all around, then treat the other dog(s), give the medicated treat to the dog, and then treat all again. My dogs don't tend to look at treats too closely when everyone is getting something.

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I know this isn't responding to your actual question, but have you considered having an allergy panel run on her? I ask because Whisper's symptoms sound very similar to those of my friend's lab, Raven.

 

Raven was almost constantly being treated for one skin condition or another one--she and my friend were both miserable most of the time. Finally (after literally years of medications and frustrations) another vet suggested an allergy panel. Lo and behold, Raven is allergic to the main ingredients in the food she'd been eating her entire life! I know you said you tried a food change, but if the new food contained one or more of the allergens, that wouldn't necessarily help. Another friend's dog is severely allergic to the mites that live in food, so she reacts regardless of what diet she's on.

 

I know running the allergy panel isn't particularly cheap, but the long-term benefits could be amazing. Or at least you could rule out some causes as you keep looking for others.

 

Best of luck with Whisper. I kept Raven for a week this summer, so I got a little sample of how tough skin problems are for dogs and their humans alike.

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I have at least one dog who knows which treat has the pill *no matter what.* I just gave up on trying to find something to trick her with and instead open her mouth, push the pills all the way to the back, shut her mouth and rub her throat. It works every time, and I don't have to go looking for spit out pills around the house (or worse, worry that someone else will eat a spit out pill). It's not as pleasant for her as giving her a pill(s) *in* something, but there are times when the most direct approach is the best approach. And since she's on multiple meds for the rest of her life, it just needs to be a method that works.

 

Now my old-old guy is getting super finicky about eating. I used to be able to give him all pills (he's also on lifetime treatments) in peanut butter. Now I find myself having to shove pills down his throat too.

 

J.

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I've always used braunschweiger (sp?) as my go-to pill hider. I think it is called liverwurst in some areas? At any rate, I just wrap the pill into a little meatball and the dogs inhale it. Generally I give a little ball without a pill first, and followed after by a treat. And yes, typically all of the dogs in the house get some, not just the pill receiver. Even Kaiser, my "non-eating dog," never turns this down.

 

What shampoo are you using? My parent's Westie had horrid, horrid skin problems. His allergies were so bad at one point that he lost almost all the hair on over half of his body. We did do allergy testing and discovered he was allergic to everything under the sun (grass/trees included). What made the difference with him was a shampoo called Ketochlor. He started out getting 2/3 baths per week, then weekly, then monthly. His hair all grew back and he was feeling better than ever. We kept him on a special diet, but the Ketochlor is what really turned his life around.

 

I used it this fall when Luke's seasonal allergies were at their peak and it gave him a lot of relief, too.

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Ross has a SEVERE flea allergy...it only takes 1 or 2 bites and he turns magenta and itches like mad. I didn't believe that it was fleas either because I use Frontline, no one else has any fleas and I never see them on the dogs. But after I found a flea in my sock while in the yard I started treating my yard and it made a huge difference. We have a ton of squirrels and stray cats and my guess is they deposit the fleas in the yard.

 

What helps Ross when he is in the start of "magenta" stage: 1. cool baths with hydro-cortisone shampoo, 2. benadryl 3. cool towels pressed to his bare spots (belly, inner thighs). If he starts in a "itch cycle" and we start this he will usually get better.

 

Occasionally he gets worse and starts digging at his skin and we have to get vet intervention and get him a steroid shot to clam his skin.

 

We also started a regular dose of the fish oil for joints a few months ago and I noticed he has had fewer episodes...its possible there have been fewer fleas but its worth trying, I think.

 

As far as the pills:

This works for me, but my dogs are super greedy for treats. I get the bags of cheese that are cut into little cubes. I take out three cubes and

put the cheese in one. First I give the dog a cube without the pill just to give them the taste. Then I hold out the cube with the pill in it and

immediately offer the third cube so they will gulp down the treated cube in order to get the third one. Always works for me. They swallow the

second cube without chewing or really tasting it in their hurry to get the third cube. good luck.

 

+1

 

This usually works really well with slightly suspicious or greedy dogs.

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Boy, we lucked out I guess. I just hand Scooter his pill and he takes it. Done. No hiding. No tricking. He's a very unusual dog though. :rolleyes:

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For our lab, all you have to do is act like he's not supposed to have it. You'd be surprised how fast that dog can swallow something he shouldn't have. Our old german shepherd would only take pills in a treat but you would have to immediately follow up with an "untainted" treat, otherwise he would spit it right out. Our BC Harper just sits and takes whatever you give her with no complaints, though I'm sure that is rare.

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Once the treat thing stops working, just push it as far down her mouth as you can (to the back of her throat) shut her mouth and rub her throat, wait until she licks her nose (that means she swallowed). They don't like it, but if you do it quick it is not too bad.

Agreed. Annie is difficult to trick, and has learend all the deception tricks, so I use this approach. I supplement it by putting water in a plastic syringe (no needle) and squirting some into her mouth while rubbing her throat; this seems to trigger a swallow response.

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Related, but a little off topic. I use a hemostat with a curved end to pill my cat, small dogs or young pups. Just pick up the pill with the hemostat and dip it in vegetable oil. (Don't lock the hemostat.) Wrap your other hand around the back of the animal's head and put your thumb in at the corner of the mouth. They will usually respond to the thumb-pressure by opening the mouth a little. You don't need much of an opening to slip that hemostat in, and you can go past the back of the tongue and well into the throat. Release the pill. The oil keeps it from sticking in their throat, so they have less chance of gagging it back up.

 

It takes a little practice to do it fast, but, especially with cats, it works like a charm. And you don't get bitten! Cat and puppy teeth are sharp! Also, I have found that once they've been pilled this way a couple of times they accept it without any fuss - presumably because it's over so quickly and feels much less intrusive than having their mouths pried open wide enough to fit human fingers. Doesn't seem to stimulate the gag reflex so much either.

 

Another thing about cats. If they are the suspicious type and tend to start struggling the moment you do anything unusual to them, slip a rubber band around their face - in front of the ears and under the throat. Most cats will freeze for up to 30 seconds or so, which is plenty of time to pill them or cut a mat out of their fur. Doesn't work with dogs.

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For our lab, all you have to do is act like he's not supposed to have it.

For a while we used that technique. We'd drop the pill on the floor and he'd gobble it up, then we decided we were just encouraging negative and possibly dangerous behavior. What if we dropped something we didn't want him to have? The direct approach has worked ever since.

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Aspen has to take meds every day and will for the rest of his life. He doesn't chew, just swallows, so at first it was easy. Then somehow he figured out we were giving him pills and we went through the cheese, PB, hotdog, etc., routine but then he'd take the treat and somehow manage to spit out the pill. How he did that (or even knew the pills were there) w/o chewing I still haven't figured out. One day I was feeling especially frustrated so I got out the mini marshmallows. I pried one open (wow are they sticky inside!) and put the pill inside. He couldn't get the delicious coating off without eating the pill, so he just swallowed it. That's worked now for a couple of years. Every morning I ask if he wants his marshmallows and he runs to get his pills.

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If you aren't opposed to a raw snack, chicken hearts work very nicely. There is even a perfect sized hole at the top and it is easy to stuff the pill down in.

 

When I use these, I give one empty heart, the one with the pill, and then one more empty.

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I too have an allergy dog (Sprite) & In January my old girl (Gilly) developed (w/in 2 months!) renal failure, IBD, ruptured disc & mild heart failure.

 

Gilly has never been a problem eater & would take any pill with ease (she had always been healthy so we are talking heartworm & supplements mostly). But once she was sick she'd go off food so often & just getting her to eat was often a problem and I didn't want to associate her meals with the pills. So we have eventually come to the technique that works for us. I use a Bullseye Pillgun. I have taught her that if she lets me open her mouth & put this in the back then she will get a high value treat. It is much like teaching a sit or down with a rewards. The problem I found with hiding the pills in snacks is that once the dog learns they can get the reward while still spitting out the pill...you are screwed (pardon my expression :P) As you can imagine with all her problems, Gilly takes many pills a day. So to help with this I buy Empty 000 Gelcaps and put multiple pills in at one time. The capsule is great to disguise the flavor of bitter pills (like Tramadol), helps them slide down her throat with out dissolving and minimizes the poking I have to do since I can fit several pills in one capsule.

 

I find this method is easier because I am not sticking my hands in the dogs mouth & the pillgun allows me to stick the pill all the way back pretty simply. In fact, I have added "lets take your pills" to all the dog's repertoire of tricks because it has worked so well to minimize stress at medicine time. Now, anyone who comes running when I say "Let's take your pills!" gets the pillgun in their throat (even without a pill) & then a reward.

 

Also, I will offer a small bit of unsolicited advice to those of you with allergic dogs. If you must give your dog steroids, & I do understand that it can be necessary sometimes, it is best to use a product called Temaril-P or another oral steroid. Temaril-P has a low dose of prednisone & anti-histamine combined which allows for lower total steroid dose but doesn't work for every dog. There are long term consequences to steroid use so using the lowest effective dose for as brief a time is the best option. I try & avoid a steroid injection because while it is simple (no pills to give) it is also irreversible. Once the injection is given you can not get rid of the drug until is is eliminated by the dogs' body. In some dogs this takes 6 weeks or more. If you use pills then you can modulate the dose as needed according to the dogs' reaction & the presence of the allergen (dastardly flea bites in Sprite's case).

 

HTH!

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If it is a food allergy, switching foods won't necessarily help as the new food could also contain the stuff your dog is allergic to. My golden has severe reactions even to the fancy allergen-free food the vet sold us. After several thousand dollars of vet bills and testing (which aren't always accurate, especially with food) we put her on a diet for 6 weeks of a protien and grain she had never had. (in our case, catfish and brown rice) Her skin cleared up beautifully. By comparing the labels of all of the kibble she has had that made her react, I narrowed the culprit down to either chicken or corn. So now, I am vigilant in checking all dog food and treats. I buy the Nature's Select fish and potato kibble for my dogs now, it's pricey, but a whole lot less than the meds they wanted to put her on! I hope you can find out exactly what the problem is that is making your dog react.

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