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Cocker Spaniels/Escalating health issues


QUESTION: First of, thank you much for your advice to Cocker owners it is so valuable and appreciated.  Teddy is a 6 year old male [chocolate American] and most handsome if I may be so biased. In Nov 2012 he had a serious allergy problem /ear infection, diagnosed as a food allergy and he was given antibiotics and a Hills Science Diet Hypo-allergenic food treatment for 12 weeks.  All forms of treats were stopped and the problem seemed to get better until trying to find a new kibble that agrees with him.  His diet consists of 50% home cooked food [beef as the protein] plus 50% kibble which has primarily been Acana for the past 3 years. I believed the Acana flavor he was fed could have been part of the allergy problem so I have been looking for a substitute. I have noticed that if a kibble food bothers him he licks his paws more often and has an increase in eye discharge plus more aggressive ear scratching.  Sometimes he scratches [kicks] his ears so hard there is a small amount of blood in the opening of the ear canal. In Feb 2013 vet prescribed probiotics and Metronidazole for diarreah. I was afraid the Metro was going to kill him as his eyes started rolling back in his head and he had barely enough nergy to stand. At that point the meds were stopped immediately. Now April 20 he has red bumps in his groin and is licking excessively so I must now address whatever that may be. It's been a constant struggle trying to get him back to the health he was at 6 months ago.  Is it normal for Cockers to develop more health issues as they age?  Tired of the vet bills over the last few months.  Thank you.  Darcy

ANSWER: Darcy...we have a lot to talk about.  I think your vet isn't very good and I have a lot of questions.  But what I'd like you to do today...right go to the drugstore/supermarket and get an antihistimine called Reactine.  Plain ingredient only "certerizine" (read the label) and get the 10 mg. tablets, not gel caps.

Ceterizine is one of two of the most successful antihistimines for dogs and you have about a 30% chance this will end the problem so it's well worth giving a try.  For today, cut one tablet in half and give in food.  If all is well, give the other half at bedtime.  Tomorrow, just give one 10mg. tablet daily and give it a week before you assess.  Dogs take longer to react to an antihistimine than we do.  So one 10mg. tablet daily for a week.

I will guarantee you this is not a food allergy simply because 95% of the time it's inhalant.
The very, very first thing your vet should have done was run a thyroid test (a simple blood draw so no big deal for Teddy).  Any cocker over age 3 who suddenly develops these sort of symptoms should have that done first.

Do you have another vet in your city?  Teddy needs a thyroid panel done..not a snap test in the office...ask for a "full six panel thyroid test".  this is essential.  It's an easy test and if he is hypothyroid the meds are incredibly cheap.

I don't like the beef added to kibble since it's unbalanced unless it's just a small amount.
But we can talk about that later.

How often are you bathing and with what?
Did vet give any topicals?
What are you using to clean his ears?  Any meds?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Delores, thank you so much!  I am in Calgary, so lots of vets although Teddy's initial vet retired last year so the search is on.  We were referred to this one by someone who has show champion dogs.  Until finding your site I was led to believe that frequent bathing was NOT good for dogs so I am sheepish to say that only happens every 6-8 weeks, unless it's muddy out.

The shampoo used is 'top paw' Super Sensitive Skin Shampoo. [I didn't buy it]
Ears are treated with Avena Sativa - I swab them out every 2 days or when he starts kicking them.
Ted is presently not on any meds.
I can send you a description of how and what I make his 'burgers' if you wish.  it is a combination of cooked beef, semi raw, steamed vegetables and rice.  I then mix it with kibble.

Until last Sept Teddy lived in an environment with hardwood floors and now lives in a house with carpet.  Could this be the inhalant problem?  I work at home and because of that he sleeps less during the day than he was used to.  Since Sept he doesn't seem to have the energy he had previously either.

I will get him Reactine asap.  So appreciated and looking forward to more precious info.  Delores thank you so much!

Answer absolutely must add a few things to homemade food or you'll have issues.
I can go over it with you.  Salt and calcium are a some oils..nothing complicated.

Is this mostly confined to ears & paws?  Is he itching anywhere else?

Write me directly at - it'll be faster.  I have a lot more questions.

p.s.  For the paws...get a large bowl or pan and fill with half water/half white vinegar.  Plunge each paw in (or all four at once)..count to five and let him go.  This kills yeast (which I'm pretty sure this is) and will give Teddy some relief.  Do it daily..then taper off.

So the plan is to start him on him for a thyroid test..we will talk food and topical approaches and especially ears via email.

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Delores Beck


Health, nutrition, training. Please note: I used to highly recommend Innova products but, unfortunately, as with Canidae, they have sold out to Proctor & Gamble. This guarantees lower quality to a dangerous point so I will no longer be advising anyone to buy it.


20 years of owning this breed.

Psychology, MA

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