My 54 pound mixed-bred Shep/Hound dog, 3 yrs. old, has been allergic to something for most of his adult life. I changed his food once before, to Chicken and Rice formula, and have changed it again, two days ago, to a grain-free food, Turkey, Duck and Salmon mixture. He chews himself, all over, and scratches all over, also, very often, day and night, summer and winter. If he isn't allergic to grain in his food, I have started vacuuming our carpets twice weekly, in case it is from dust mites. I want to give him Benadryl tablets - 25 mg. - how often should I give him one pill, or do I give him more than 25 mg's at a time? He doesn't have any sores on him, and no fleas. He is not pulling out his hair, either. Just chewing and scratching all over from ears to hind legs, and belly, and chest. I can't afford allergy testing at the Vets, so I have to try to find out what he is allergic to myself.
Sorry for you and your pup to have to go through this. Let's see if we can figure out a couple of things to try.
There are many different types of allergies dogs are getting these days. Most popular is from the foods they eat but also airborne, contact, flea and chemical type allergies we are seeing.
Since this is ongoing summer and winter, we could start by ruling out airborne and probably flea allergies if you are not seeing any fleas.
I'm sure you have checked your laundry detergent that you use to wash his bedding. If not, make sure it is a hypoallergenic type.
The Benadryl is fine to give him temporarily until we can find out what's going on. A typical dose the vets recommend and a guideline we have used is 1mg per pound of dog every 8 hours or three times per day.
Since he is 50lbs, I would give two 25mg tablets 2-3 times a day.
Depending on what type of allergy it is will determine if the diphenhydramine in Benadryl will be effective or not.
Let's go ahead and start by looking at the number one cause of allergies and that is the diet. A good healthy balanced diet will create a stronger immune system as well. This will help with any other type of allergy that may be present.
If he had an allergic reaction to some food he grew up on, his constant scratching and itching could have developed into a habitual problem as well.
If not a behavioral issue, then lets look at the diet.
You mentioned that you just put him on a grain free diet. That's great, no dogs really need the grains in their diet.
I wish you would have mentioned a brand name so I can see the ingredients.
But the one we typically recommend people start with is a simple formula like Natural Balance Duck and Potato.
You need to limit the ingredients in his diet. This formula has only the two. The same with his wet foods. Natural Balance makes a canned version as well.
You didn't mention if you do feed canned foods or homemade foods. No dog should ever be on a dry food only diet. This is not healthy or balanced.
Dogs by nature are meat eaters or a high moisture diet eaters. Dry foods of course have no moisture in them. A dog on dry or mostly dry diet will actually live in a mild state of dehydration. This effects internal organs including his skin and coat.
At least half his diet should be in canned or homemade foods. The more the better but this will at least get his moisture intake higher. The water they drink does not count. They will never drink enough water to satisfy their needs.
So if you are not feeding any canned or homemade, you need to start. This will start to help things.
You also need to be on a good grain free diet for a month or two to really see if it is going to do any good or not. Sometimes dogs get worse before they get better as the bad stuff is leaving their system.
The next thing you need to do is to add supplements to his diet. They will never get all they need from a bag or can of food.
The most important supplement anyone can give their dog or cat for that matter is enzymes and probiotics.
These VERY vital nutrients are present in a dogs natural diet or what's called the prey model diet. They get these through eating "live" foods.
When you cook foods, you destroy these two nutrients. So most all dry dog food as well as canned foods that have been cooked are void of these.
The lack of these two nutrients are the main reason so many dogs are developing degenerative type diseases and filling up the vets offices.
The lack of these is also the cause of a weak immune system which leads to allergies, arthritis, obesity, skin and coat and coat issues and much more. They are that important.
There are a couple ways to get them into his diet. One is by feeding him a raw food diet, the best for any dog in the world, or by getting a supplement and applying it to each meal.
Animal Essentials makes a good one we use. It contains both enzymes and probiotics in one powder that you just sprinkle some on each meal.
Doing this alone will help many dogs with allergies as well as strengthen their immune system and provide the most nutrients extracted from whatever they eat. Please do some more research on these and you will see the how important they are.
We feed an exclusively raw food diet to our dogs and cats and we still add enzymes and probiotics to each meal, they are that important.
We also rescue dogs from kill shelters. Many come to us wit severe skin and coat issues. We usually transition them to a raw food diet as that is the fastest way to heal most any dog from any condition.
There are many good commercially made raw foods for dogs. These are simple to store and feed and they provide a complete balanced meal for them.
This is what we typically recommend to people with allergies or other immune problems. If they choose to try it, we help them transition. If they don't want to go that route, we help them with the food and supplements they will need to make the meals balanced.
Adding fish oil product to the diet goes a long ways to helping the skin and coat as well. IF the skin and coat is nourished, they will tend to leave it alone.
You would do well to research a raw food diet for him. This is by the best and he will enjoy eating it and he will thrive the way nature intended him to do.
You can find many books on Amazon or other book sites about feeding a raw food diet. We wrote one book on the basics of feeding a dog and choosing a good food. It's on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Food-Decoded-Choose-Healthy/dp/1478351217/ref=sr_1_1?i
We are also writing one on just the raw food diet. If you have a Kindle or Kindle app or even just an Amazon account you can get our first book for only $2.99.
I strongly mention the raw food diet because we've even seen dogs not get better from being on the best grain free dry and canned foods. Some are just sensitive to the dry and some of the ingredients in them.
The one ingredient that took us the longest to figure out for a couple of dogs was flax seed oil. Most dry foods have them. But that was the problem and once we got them on a food without flax in it, they were fine.
So as you can see, you really have to narrow things down and slowly add things back into the diet as they tolerate it.
I know this has been a lot of information so I'll stop here. If you still have more questions or need clarification, feel free to respond back to this same question and I'll try to help.