Archived Message

by Kenny Jarels

I have a female maltese that is about 7 years old and has always had a problem with allergies. She bites her paws constantly and her skin turns an almost black color. Does anyone have any suggestions?


I presume you have been working with your vet on the allegeries. If your vet hasn't mentioned it, I would recommend your asking about behaviorial drugs. Sometimes excess paw chewing/licking is a sign of a neurological problem, or a compulsive type problem for which there drugs on the market. I do not know how much biting she is doing, but it evidently is enough to cause changes to the skin. Over the long run this could possibly cause other problems I would think.

So, I suggest you check with your vet, if you haven't. If you have, consider getting a second opinion and even going to a specialist such as a veterinary dermitologist.

Do you have any idea what the allergies are? My Cloud had severe allergy problems like the ones you described for about a year. We had to bring him to the vet monthly for cortisone shots. The vet suggested that if we wanted to we could do some (rather expensive) tests to determine what kind of allergy it was. Luckily we were saved from the expense of that by determining that it was my brother's cat. (My brother had left his cat with us for a year because of moving frequently with his job). When my brother took his cat back home with him all of the symptoms cleared up within two weeks. We haven't had a problem since (a year and a half). I read somewhere else on the net about a Maltese that was allergic to peanuts and was given them as a favorite treat. When the dog went off peanuts the allergies cleared up. Sometimes it can be such a simple thing. I imagine that if your dog has had allergies for seven years you've tried a lot of possibilities, but don't forget to look for the one's that might be least expected. I never would have thought that a dog would be allergic to a cat, but a friend of mine who also works as a vet says it's somewhat common in long haired breeds to be allergic to short haired sheading animals. As far as suggestions we tried all kinds of anti-itch remedies when Cloud was suffering. The vet gave us a specially medicated shampoo, and we sprayed his fur and paws with stuff designed to soothe hotspots. Also, we have some bitter apple spray which is supposed to deter them from chewing. It doesn't last nearly long enough, but it is better than watching them irritate an already inflamed sore spot. Anyway, I hope your little darling can find some relief. I know how hard it was to watch Cloud go through this. He wasn't the same dog. His fur was always gone and his eyes always looked red. He would get infections easily. I hated to see him suffer and I am still amazed how wonderful the change has been since the allergies cleared up.

I am thinking of getting a Maltese, because I've heard they are hypoallergenic and don't shed. Is this true? I also think they are very cute and I like small dogs. Do any of you know of someone who is normally allergic to animals, but not the Maltese?
-Rebecca A.

Rebecca, my husband is allergic to dog fur and my son has mild asthma. I thought we could never own a dog because of this. I found out by asking a friend that is a vet is there any dog we could get. He told me that the poodle is 100% hypoallergic because it is a hair dog. I learned after that..the Maltese is a hair dog, the Bichon Frise, and some terrier breeds..people with allergies can handle. It's not the fur, but the dander or dandruff of the animal that people are allergic to. Because the Maltese has 'hair' versus 'fur', there isn't the dander problem. I have to tell you that my husband is extremely allergic to dog fur and suffers terrible when I go visit my sister who has a Pug, Pom, and Shiz-Zieu [forgive my spelling]. My son who has asthma tolerates our Maltese wonderful. My husband is doing great with the dog. Unfortunately your choices for dogs are this: Maltese, Poodle, Bichon Frise, Terrier Hair breeds. I have to HIGHLY recommend the Maltese. Although, I adore Poodles, I think the Maltese breed is beautiful and has a disposition to match. Even though I was told that the Maltese would be a good choice for my allergic husband, I still was concerned. He doesn't have any reaction to the dog. We always wash our hands and faces before we go to bed just as a precaution. Because Maltese don't shed like the fur dogs, you won't have a bunch of fur and dander laying around on furniture on floor, which is real problem for people that suffer from allergies. Hope this helps.

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