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malteseMaltese Skin, Allergies & Diet
by Milly Miller

Bobby was born on November 28, 1980. We named Bobby - King Robert Revere. He is an absolute joy. At 16 Ĺ years old he is in extremely good health and the vet says he is a perfect example of a dog who is loved very well. That tells it all. We have treated him and cared for him as if he were a child in this family. When he was about 6 we started having terrible problems with his skin, he had weeping sores, he was loosing hair and he chewed and scratched himself constantly. We found a vet who specialized in allergies and he began treating him for a flea allergy. Here in Florida we do have a serious flea population. Well the cortisone injections would help for a little while then he would get a secondary infection and he would be on antibiotics and then he would start itching again. It was a vicious cycle and his health was really failing, rapidly.

Finally, when he was 10, the vet suggested a blood test for food allergies. When I asked why we hadnít tried this before he explained that the test was very expensive and most people donít want to spend that kind of money on a dog. But that, since he had come to know us and realized that we would do whatever we needed to do for Bobby he thought it was time we tried a different approach. When the results came back we were all surprised to find that he was allergic to his dog food. These tests are done on a numerical scale with the higher numbers being the stronger reactions etc. Any number over 95 was considered very high and should be avoided completely. As you know, most dog food is made from a base of corn or rice. His score for corn was 222 and his score for rice was 118. Dog food also usually contains some soy. His score for soy was 117, wheat -189, beef -102, milk-133, and finally brewers yeast-1222. At the time that we made this discovery there were NO commercially prepared foods without rice, wheat or corn as a base.

It is fortunate that Maltese is a smaller breed because I had to cook for Bobby. I prepared chicken, potatoes and green beans for him. That is another story completely. It took awhile to get the proportions down to the point that he was getting a good nutrition level and not too much protein but we did it and his health and his skin and finally his coat began to show improvement. This photo was taken when he was 14 yrs old. Today he looks pretty much the same but I keep his hair short now to cause him less stress with the maintenance of it. Oh, by the way, that allergy test cost $155.00.

The best part of this story is that about 18 months ago a friend told me that there was a new IAMS formula that had a potato base. I went straight to the vet and we checked all of the ingredients against his lab results and found nothing that would be a problem. I no longer have to cook and he is very happy with the FP (fish and potatoes) taste. This formula was actually created for inflammation problems and since his only health issue at this point is related to his hips, we feel very fortunate that he can handle this food. He is on methylprednisolone for his joint problem and it is maintaining him very well. He is not blind, he is not deaf, and he still has all but one of his teeth.

We feel truly blessed to have been allowed all of these years with Bobby and at this point we feel that we will probably have several more. I know that I have rambled, and I donít expect you to put this on your web site, I covered "SKIN" & "ALLERGIES" & "DIET" but these issues were the things we struggled with the most over the years and I feel that more people should have the benefit of our experience. My advise: If your vet has no answers - find a specialist. Just like you would do for yourself. If people would do this, the answer to the question "How old do Maltese live?" will dramatically change.

Use this information as you see fit. If anyone would like to know how I prepared Bobbys meals I would be happy to talk to them or prepare a report that outlines all the mistakes to avoid and the easiest ways to accomplish it. Now that IAMS has FP formula I think they have covered all the bases and no one should have to cook but you never know what combination might be a problem.

Questions or comments concerning this article can be sent to Milly Miller at tomilly@mediaone.net

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