Calling all (allergic) Shibas

Tierce, Shiba Inu, Allergies

Atopica is not working.  We tried it last year and it only made “some” improvement in Tierce’s itching.  This year, he started seriously scratching around the end of May – we noticed an increase on the 15th and full-on tearing at his chest and face by the 1st of June.

Tierce has been on Atopica since the beginning of June.  Things aren’t getting better; they’re getting worse.  Over a month of pills and they aren’t making an apparent dent in his reaction to what we think is grass or some kind of pollen.

Food trials have gone nowhere – Purina Hypoallergenic has done nothing.  The itching comes on in May and ends in October.

What do you use to treat your dogs’ allergies?  I’m going to take Tierce back to the vet and tell her that we need another option.  I’ve heard of allergy shots and Prednisone (not ideal but it’s better than this).  Can anyone give me any overviews of what they’ve found is effective?


  1. – baby wipes after every grassy walk: around his muzzle in the direction of his ears, every paw (taking the time to inspect between digits and wipe there if need be, too), armpits, shins
    – as much raw and home-cooked as possible
    – grain-free, high quality kibble when not
    – NO processed chicken or beef, and we’re adding lamb to the list of verboten proteins now since that doesn’t seem to agree with him either; some raw chicken every now and then hasn’t seemed to set him off
    – Azmira holistic tonics ( We do yucca root year-round, and I’ve been giving Bowdu some of the grass and pollen formula at least 2x a day with apple juice for the last month (they recommend 3-4x a day, but they also recommend giving it on an empty stomach… I just don’t have that kind of schedule).
    – bathing with medicated shampoo (See this:, there’s also a part 2); he’s gotten 2 baths since June so far, which is quite a few for him. Soaking his feet in medicated baths once every week or two seems necesarry, even when a full bath is not.
    – Comfortis (oral flea medication) so as not to risk the chance of ANY flea dermatitis setting him off

    We’ve done well with NO prescription drugs this season so far, just a bit of generic Diphenhydramine and Chlorpheniramine 2x a day at most. Last year, Bowdu was on Temaril-P (combination prednisolone and antihistamines) for months before he was diagnosed as hypothyroid (and he did have a break from the drugs before his diagnosis, otherwise they would have interfered with the numbers).

    Currently, Bowdu only barely has a titch of a hotspot on his “wrist,” which I also treat with various hotspot remedies available on the market (Sulfodene, Sentry HC). We’ve been completely on the defensive since April or so, and it seems to be working out for us…

  2. I’m with MC – she covers it. A few other notes:

    Too much shampoo will make it worse, but wipes help. And the food is a huge thing – “hypoallergenic” foods aren’t really all that. Zuko is on Primal raw nuggets and Ziwipeak – expensive, expensive but we save on vet bills. No grains except in some treats and only a little then. He was super itchy as a puppy and rubbed his muzzle raw one year. Since we went 100% grain-free, he’s been good. He’s still a little scratchy now and then, but nothing a good wipe-down won’t fix. We still use Frontline, but I have a friend who uses the Comfortis and saw improvement. She didn’t go to a frozen raw diet, but is using Instinct dry and has had massive improvement. Her dog was chewing herself raw AND having seizures. The food was the key thing to change.

    Keep us posted – that adorable little face shouldn’t be looking so sad! 🙁

  3. Allergy shots from the dermatologist clinic worked great for my allergy Shiba. We also used antihistamines and raw/grain free diet for her. It turns out using steroids would have made her particular allergy case worse (further supressing her already weak immune system), but thankfully the diet and shots did the trick. I also did some chlorhexadine baths once a day for her feet, and benadryl shampoo for the rest of her. Does he get that grimy sticky skin too?

  4. My shiba is prone to allergies as well. We started with steroid shots a few years ago (Prednisone, Temarip-P, etc.), but because of the dangers of constant use, I decided to start the allergy shots as well. They made a difference, but mostly they just prolonged the time until she started her serious itching during the summer. She started on Atopica last month, and there is some improvement. My doc says not to change anything until we hit eight weeks and then see how she is doing. The itching in her paws isn’t gone completely, but it has lessened. She has lost most of the hair on the back of her legs and her tummy, but thus far there are no open sores and she doesn’t seem too uncomfortable.

    I also do oatmeal baths once or twice a month, wipe the feet/muzzle with baby wipes after walks, and keep her bedding clean.

    She has been on Royal Canin Skin Support dog food for at least two years. It has all the added omegs that they recommended giving her, without the extra supplements.

    Luckily my shiba is only prone to allergies during the spring/summer. Her coat comes back full and healthy during the winter. Unluckily I live in South Texas, so winters don’t last that long.

    The use of steroids is a pretty hot debate it turns out. My dermatologist didn’t mind using them, as long as the liver function and blood was tested periodically throughout use. As a mom, I didn’t like the idea of keeping her on steroids six months out of the year so I am trying everything else. But they do work for Bella. Side effects for her though are increased appetite and weight gain. She can get up to 38lbs. during a round of steroids.

    Antihistamines never worked, the medicated shampoos didn’t seem to make a difference, neither did sprays, supplements, special diets, etc.

    Good luck with Tierce. This is a long and expensive journey – one I am still on myself. Oh if I didn’t love them like they were my kids…

  5. I’m persuaded that the chemical additives in commercial dog food are an allergen for some dogs. Even though we identified beef as a problem for one of my Shibas, putting her back on commercial food of any kind means a return of some symptoms and those additives are all that I can’t “eliminate” in a food trials. Since they are vitamins, that’s a problem but mostly resolved by well balanced home cooked.
    No grain.
    Baby wipe downs help but a damp washcloth seems to work even better. Have to get the paws especially before they bring the allergens in the house. I’d like to do a quick rinse down with the hose each time we get home but my 2 won’t have it.
    Frequent medicated baths may be a necessity but they will definitely dry coat/skin; remove needed oil.
    Neem oil is said to help. Sunflower oil with fish oil added is a close approximation to neem’s content and is helping with my girl. My vet had a third oil he uses but don’t think it has the anti-parasite side effect which is a nice addition to have when they scratch themselves raw.
    Low thyroid and synthetic thyroid meds both affect hair growth so can be an additional factor in itchies.

    Have definitely seen a stacking effect of food allergies, environmental allergies, and now low thyroid (hair loss and regrowth that’s out of sync with their normal cycle and seems to annoy them). It becomes a juggling act. Have found much more help on the Net and from other owners than the 3 vets and the board certified vet dermatologist so now come here first and then just run the ideas past the vet for health/safety approval 🙂

  6. Hoshi was having allergies around his muzzle. Vet put him on Hydroxyzine (HCL) 25 mg for his weight plus the Atopica. This went on for about 3-4 weeks. Not on HCL now, just decreasing dosage of Atopica. Because of his kidney issues, he is now on Hill Prescription K/D diet.

    How much exposure does Tierce get to sea water? It’s an odd thought, but maybe there is something in the water that might trigger an allergic reaction. (Just throwing out an idea.)

  7. I did allergy shots with my guy when he was 1-2 yrs, he has a ton of environmental allergies (and suspected food stuff). The shots seem to have helped a lot. I only did them for about a year (it was a huge pain in the butt and I just couldn’t keep it up), but even that seems to have been enough to take the worst of the edge off it for him. Also switched to a grain free food and I think that helps too, though I think his food allergies are pretty mild. He gets the itchies a little bit still, but never enough to get to hot spots or scratching himself raw.

  8. besides one pesky chest spot, yucca root + benadryl and a raw diet have been working fairly well. now is the worst time for our tsuki, with the humidity and all. by now her face is usually red and she’s chewing on all four legs, but not just yet this year.

  9. Hi There,

    I have a 6 yr old shiba with allergies too (we adopted her a year ago). She’s on Hill’s prescription ultra gold, and there is a magical formula that has helped with her allergies!

    For Pika, she was having itchy paws, and she would shed so much that there was 2 lines of bald spots going down her back. Our groomer who used to be a vet assistant put together a mixture of 1/3 teatree oil, plus 2/3 distilled water in a spray bottle, shook it up, and we sprayed it all over Pika twice a day. It is the miracle cure if you have a dog that has major hair loss possibly due to allergies (her shedding wasn’t like the normal molting that all shibas go thru twice a year).

    We would also wash and rinse her paws everytime she came back from a walk, and sometimes would use a damp towel to wipe down her body (as to remove as much pollen and whatever is outside that she could be allergic to).

    Good luck!

  10. I have a shiba with environmental (pollen,grass,fleas) allergies. I’ve tried different options from the vet, but the long term effects of some of those medications have made me consider other alternatives. Three months into the summer, she’s doing better than ever.

    What we do:

    Organic pet superfood immunity supplement. Consists of powdered organic mushrooms, helps regulate immune system function. Easy supplement to add, and I’ve heard good results from other owners as well.

    Raw diet. Not for everyone, but doing a prepackaged raw has worked well for me. You can opt for a raw that has been freeze dried for ease of feeding, or one that has been subjected to high pressure pasteurization (such as Primal) if that’s a concern of yours. Digestion and proper nutrient absorbtion effects immune system, raw has helped my girl with that. In addition, it is very easy to find limited ingredient raw diets, or raws with no carbs coming from potato or grain whatsoever.

    Fish oil, I use sardine, but others use salmon. Fish oil can act as an anti inflammitory and the omega 3s aid in skin repair.

    Topically I use jojoba oil as a leave in conditioner to help with some of the itchy dryness that accompanies the weather.

    I also use coconut oil topically for hotspots as an alternative to antibiotic ointments, the long chain fatty acids in it help to kill bacteria.

    My girl will also occasionally get ear infections, for that I use a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and warm water to rinse her ear.

    I’m not saying that these methods in any way replace or are superior to traditional vetrinary medicine. Just that they were the options I selected and have worked for me.

    Good luck with your boy.

  11. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system has an exaggerated reaction to a usually harmless substance. The most common allergens (substances that trigger the allergy) are dust mites, molds, pollen, pets with fur or feathers, stinging insects, and some kinds of foods.

  12. My 2yr old Shiba was miserable with all kinds of allergy symptoms and when I took her to the vet she was diagnosed with a mild form of Lupus. She is on antibiotics, Zytra, ear drops and is improving. Her muzzle is still inflamed somewhat and she has to wear animal sunscreen because sun irritates the inflamed areas. Hope this info helps.

    • Thanks for your post! We had Tierce tested and apparently it IS atopy (skin irritation from an allergic reaction) but your comment is a good reminder that sometimes a health problem isn’t always the most common complaint.

      • My shiba Miki
        Had issues right at 6 months
        She bites her feet and rubbed
        Her fur off her face. She was and is on grain food right from 9 weeks. After trying other foods I had the vet do a test for demodex
        Mange and they did find one. She has been on ivermectin for a long time. It went away after about 6 months but came back a few weeks latter so I changed vets. The new vet says she was on the wrong dose it’s to be .5 every day for 9 months and I was on .2 for six . So she has been at the .5 now for about 4 months and going okay until a few weeks ago. I now think it’s allergies . And maybe she had the mange too?
        I will try some of the things you do but I really need to know if it’s allergies or mange ? Thanks for all your postings

  13. My Shiba has environmental allergies too. She started having it when she was 9 years old. She will be 11 next month. Lately she has been itching like crazy once again and yesterday we noticed a dollar size qtr chunk of hair gone and the area looked like it was bleeding raw. I feel so sad for Shiba. We’ve done the whole dermatologist thing. We are still trying so hard to do the right things but she is taking a step backwards. How many times should I wash her? Once or twice a month? We’re going to start a grain free diet now since it’s a common thing I’m reading about online. She takes cyclosporine daily. My husband and I tried taking care of her wound today and we put a collar cone on so she couldn’t get to it. What else can I do? I feel helpless and I want her beautiful coat to come back. Help! 🙁

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