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Skin Problem in West Highland White Terrier
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Skin Problem in West Highland White Terrier

My adopted westie (about 3 years old now) seems to have a skin allergy that comes and goes.  The vet suggested since it isn't severe to treat with benadryl when it flares up, or bringing her in for shots.  I have read a lot about westies online with atopic dermatitis (sp?) and in some cases seems to be so severe that they eventually have to be put down. This worries me.  Even though her problem isn't that bad right now, it seems to get worse every time it flares up.  It probably comes about 4 times a year.  I have tried the expensive dog foods, but she refuses to eat anything unless I am eating it, or the cat is.  So she gets a mixture of cat food, and if the cat eats out of her bowl, then she will eat the dog food.
When symptoms arise, it is usually because she has picked up a flea out of the grass somewhere and seems to be allergic, so if it is time I get her a dose of advantage, (usually bath her first with selsom blue) and give her benadryl for a couple of days.  She has spotts on her stomach that never go away.   My concern is that over time these symptoms will get worse.  Are there any other westie owner's out there who has this problem?
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I have two westies, a male and female.  The female has been afflicted with the terrible westie skin condition Malassezia dermatitis.  She was diagnosed with allergies and a yeast infection of the skin at four months of age, when she had an open lesion on her head and an ear infection.  She was given anti-fungal shampoo, ear drops and told there was nothing really they could do as this was just a disease of West Highlands.  I continued only this course of treatment for a couple of months until she began to lose her hair on her limbs and then her neck, back etc.  She was so uncomfortable and would look at me as if to say “why can’t you help me?”  It was so sad!  Fed up, I began doing research of my own and found some additional holistic treatments for her.  First of all I took her off any food which contained any grain (corn, wheat, oats, barley etc), chicken or potato (sweet or regular) as it feeds the yeast in their bodies.  She is now on Canine Plus Wholesome Blend grain free fish formula.  Next, I started her on the NZYMES program which detoxifies the body with four products from the inside out.  Additionally, I feed her plain organic yogurt twice daily and mix some organic coconut oil with it.  I also still give her two baths in the anti-fungal shampoo (dermazole) twice weekly.  She is improving greatly every day.  My once black skinned, flaky westie is now turning pink and is growing back her hair!  They key to this disease is killing the yeast in their bodies from the gut first and the rest will heal.  Many westies are misdiagnosed with allergies when in reality it is an overgrowth of candida in the body from a suppressed immune system (inherited or causative from ‘routine’ vaccinations) .  If you are frustrated with your vet, try the Nzymes program with the other therapies I’ve suggested.  They have a web site or you can get it from select pet retail stores.  It’s a little expensive (around $120) for the four products, but it lasts a long time!  I’m not a vet, but I do love my dogs and this has worked for me.

If I were you I would not allow the dog to eat cat food anymore and would get them on a grain-free fish diet.  If you need to put the cat and dog in separate rooms to eat their meals.  I know this is difficult, but when you see your dog's health improve in a few months, it will be worth it!
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Oh and DO NOT let the vet give antihistamine or cortisol shots.  These remedies only help for a short period of time but ultimately make the condidtion worse.   Also, instead of getting your westie vaccinated every year, ask the vet to do a blood test to see if your little girl has enough of the vaccine remaining in her body from the previous year.  Many experts suggest too much vaccine in their bodies also increases the symptoms of this disease, and in recent years the rabbies vaccine etc have been produced a lot stronger.

No matter what happens, do not put her down!  I've been dealing with these problems for 1 1/2 years and i'm just now starting to get a handle on how to treat her.  
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There is a really good med called Atopica it is for problems like you are describing.My Bulldog has alot of skin problems and he has been taking Atopica for almost a year now and it has helped him so much.You could ask your vet about it.They start out taking it everyday for a month then every other day for a month then you can get them down to once or twice a week.We tried Benadryl,steroids,etc and it works the best.Sometimes when he looks as if he is getting ready to break out,he gets steroids every other day for a week and is fine. Good Luck
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I just figured out that our Westie has a yeast problem.  I had started giving him yogurt and he has been on a grain free food for a couple of months   I am wondering about your feeling on rice.  We have been making him biscuits for almost a year now and he hadn't had any problem with them I would like to change up the recipe and use rice flour instead of the ww and oats. In the last couple of batches I had added nutritional yeast  I will obviously be leaving that out:)  What do you think  
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Trying to raise a discussion with someone through an old post isn't very effective, mostly ineffective I think.  In the case of Lisa I see she is credited with only two posts, the two above back in 2010.  It is my guess she isn't visiting here much.

But, you got me : )

I have an ongoing struggle with our 9 year old (est) rescue.  I'll guess we've put at least $2,500 in at the vet in the first 18 months of ownership. This was not all for Yeast related problems but about half of it is/was.  Our battle goes on and includes a very restricted diet which avoids even traces of protein (such a chicken flavored treats or beef in Heart Guard medication).  He is an an antibiotic again and taking Ketoconozole pills and gets weekly baths in Ketoconozole shampoo.  He in general has very nice fur except for his feet legs which he has licked to bard skin, and he has some black/dark skin in ears and behind them and on bellly.  All are improving again, and without an steroids which I agree are "bad news" as far as a cure is concerned.

I think rice and potato as well as many other vegetables are fine, but grains are not nor are any dairy/egg ...

We had him on a grain free salmon and sweet potato kibble and canned food which he liked but now have him on prescription food that has only modified protein.  I think when we get him back under control I will again try the fish and be very (more) careful about him getting any "flavors" of protein.  I think he may be allergic enough to go over the edge with just a sniff of whatever it is.

I hope we can get him off of prescription medications... well he has dry eye and that treatment is for the rest of his life, and I suspect we will used medicated shampoo for the rest of his life.

A beautiful dog, albeit a bet stubborn, but very difficult to protect from his environmental sensitivities... still trying to find where these don't exist.

Good luck.
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