Recently, Scottie Mom Krissy wrote me for advice:
Hi Scottie Mom! I have had poor Keira on allergy shots for a while now, and her itching doesn't seem to be getting better. She is allergic to cats, but we have cats. I want to find a way to help her, besides her medicated shampoo. Do you have any advice? The vets aren't much help.
Ironically, shortly after I got Scottie Mom Krissy's message, I noticed Mr. K started itching more. Mr. K and I have been through the allergy thing for some time now but until recently, I thought our problems were solved. A vet friend of ours likes to say I'm allergic to Mr. K and he's allergic to me (although, as you can see, that doesn't keep us apart). He scratches and licks his paws. I sneeze. A lot. So, at the vet's suggestion, we increased the number of baths he took to one per week and switched his food to Blue Basics. My treatment, on the other hand, is to tough it out with over-the-counter medicine as needed and snuggle him as much as possible (very therapeutic, I assure you...).
This helped Mr. K's scratching significantly and for the past few years, things have gone quite well. Admittedly, I've slacked off on the weekly baths but we've stuck to the diet. His scratching has gotten considerably worse in recent weeks and I've even begun to notice some random scabbing on his face and under his chin. So, I took a look at the food to make sure nothing major had changed and decided to try the grain free variation of Blue Basics. Our next course of action is to resume the baths and check in with a vet if things don't calm down after that. While Keira's situation seems much more severe than what Mr. K has experienced, I believe the weekly baths and maybe even switching her diet could help Keira as well.
One thing to consider is setting boundaries for the cats and Keira. For example, maybe the cats stay upstairs and Keira on the main level of your house. Or, if you're like me and can't stand the thought of having to separate your fur babies (especially if they are close like Heather and Mr. K), I would definitely make sure the cats don't use Keira's doggie bed, that Keira doesn't use any cat beds and perhaps one or the other can use the couch exclusively - but not both. Try cleaning Keira's doggie bed and anything that both Keira and the cats may come into contact with once a week or two. And vacuum frequently. This will help limit Keira's exposure to cat dander and should reduce the number of times she comes into contact with allergens that aggravate her symptoms.
Additionally, I would recommend redoing the allergy test if you noticed the shots worked at first but not so much now. It is possible that Keira's allergies have changed over time and therefore, it may be necessary to have the formula of the vaccine altered to help her with symptoms as well. Also, I have heard it can take up to a year to see results so keep that in mind if she hasn't been on them very long. There is a percentage of dogs this treatment doesn't work for...I sincerely hope Keira isn't among those. If she is, there are a number of other things I've heard can help with dog allergies like fatty acid supplements and even antihistamines like Benadryl. However, I'm not a vet so I would check with a vet you trust before making a decision to try alternative treatments.
Speaking of vets, one thing that does concern me is that you say your vet isn't very helpful. I'm a big believer in second opinions, especially when it comes to a Scottie's health. If you feel your vet isn't giving you or Keira the time, expertise or value you need, look around for someone that will. Taking care of your Scottie's health can be challenging and you need a vet who not only knows a bit about issues that affect our Scotties but who is knowledgeable about latest treatment options while being open-minded to alternative therapies and lifestyle changes versus pushing an array of pills. I hope some of this has been helpful and that sweet Keira can find relief soon! As a lifelong allergy (and allergy shot) sufferer, I feel her pain. Fellow Scottie Moms and Dads, if I missed anything, feel free to weigh in here in the comments section below. Much love, The Scottie Mom.