It all started back in May of 1999, Frazer would chew and lick at his feet until they were red raw, the soreness seemed worse right at the base of his pads and occasionally around the nail beds. The feet would be so sore that he could hardly walk on them and he would be lame for days to follow whilst the soreness was healing. Also periodically sores would appear in his inner thigh, groin area and underneath his front legs.
After taking the vets advise trying numerous creams, anti-biotics and various other treatments for dermatitis and fugal infections for the next three months, it was then suggested that maybe it could be a thyroid problem.
So in August of 1999 tests were carried out for thyroid, results showed that Frazer was Hypothyroid, so he was prescribed Soloxine. 
By this time I was at my wits end trying to stop him from chewing at his feet, I went out and bought four pairs of socks and I used to tape these on his feet whenever I was leaving him in the hope this would stop the chewing. The socks worked for a little while and Frazer would come to me a lift his paw when I was going out to have his socks put on. However, I would sometimes come home and he had licked and licked at the socks which would be just a soggy mess. It wasn’t until later on that I discovered that I was not helping his problem by using the socks, but my vet told me if it worked keep using them, so I did.
Anyway, back to the thyroid problem, the vet informed me that the medication to control his thyroid would take sometime to get into his system, so I persevered, but the problem was not getting any better, we kept returning to the vet for thyroid test checks. We had more anti-biotics and Soloxine but the feet were not improving.
On my final visit to the vet on 15th November he made the decision to refer us to The Animal Health Trust at Newmarket – Dr Janet Littlewood – Dermatology Clinic, well we’ve never looked back.
Two weeks prior to our appointment I was told not to use any creams, shampoo or sprays on Frazer at all.
On the first visit a thorough examination was made, yeast plates were taken from under his front legs and in his groin and inner thigh areas. A complete food change was made, Frazer was only allowed Wafcol  Fish and Corn complete food and nothing else. All medication was stopped all treats everything, (I felt wicked not being able to give him anything else, as the saying goes ‘you have to be cruel to be kind).
We were issued with the following:
Malaseb Shampoo – shampoo twice weekly all over – shampoo feet everyday down to alternate days.
Frontline – all my dogs – monthly
Dermacool – a menthol / witchhazel based cooling spray – use as necessary
Dr Littlewood also carried out further thyroid tests (controlled tests) which showed that Frazer was not Hypothyroid (we had therefore wasted three months by treating a Hypothyroid problem that did not exist)
Anyway we went away dropped in at Petsmart on our way home and stocked up with 
Wafcol Fish and Corn Food.
Our second visit was in January 2000, the food change had not made a noticeable difference so the next step was Intradermal Skin Testing (patch tests), Frazer had to be lightly sedated for these tests the whole time he was under sedation I would speak to him and reassure him as Dr Littlewood assured me that he could hear me.
The test involved a largish patch being shaved just behind his front leg on the side of his body, then 60 felt tip pen dots were marked one for each allergy test, one being a control test injected with histamine to compare any allergic reactions with. Each dot was injected with a different substance ie: clover pollen, dust mite, mosquito bite etc.
After all the injections had been given there was a noticeable reaction to one in particular.
Dr Littlewood diagnosed from the tests that Frazer had Atopic Dermatitis (also known as atopy). This is an allergy to things like house dust mites, pollens and / or mould spores.
Now we knew what was causing Frazer’s problems we could start to fight against it.
All my dogs now sleep in plastic beds with Vetbed which is washed weekly at more than 60 degrees, I invested in a Dyson vacuum cleaner with a special filter that stops sending the dust back out into the house! The ideal situation would be to kennel outside but I’m afraid my dogs are house dogs and so long as we can keep on top of the situation they will continue to live in.
We were given four types of antihistamines which we tried over four separate weeks during which time I kept a score sheet of Frazer’s scratching at the end of each week we would total up marks out of ten and from this decided which was the most suited to Frazer.
Essential fatty acids are given every day – a combination of evening primrose oil and fish oil. These are anti-inflammatories and work together with antihistamines to give an overall better effect.
The malaseb shampoo still to be used twice a week all over and every other day the feet are washed, this in conjunction with a human product (Bettamouse) which is used for eczema in the scalp, this is applied twice a week to the feet sparingly as this contains steroid ( this is a wonderful product and I feel has contributed a lot to helping Frazer’s problem but is available only by prescription).
Our third visit to AHT was in February by this time I was actually starting to see a slight improvement, the constant licking and scratching was becoming less and also the red raw feet were beginning to improve, the skin in his feet was not so red and angry looking.
On this visit Dr Littlewood prescribed a hyposensitising vaccine made specifically for Frazer containing those things relevant to his disease. The immune system is altered by the injections and they allow it to deal better with his allergy. These are given every 2-3 weeks initially then monthly for maintenance. An increasing dose of what your pet is allergic to is given at each injection until the maintenance dose is reached. The initial injections were given by my vet as there is a small risk of a vaccine reaction, but I quite happily do them myself now.
It is very important that you check your pet regularly, in our case its just par for the course, every day I check all his feet for minor sores or any licking.
Our latest visit  was in April, Dr Littlewood was very pleased with Frazer’s progress as am I, he is a different dog to what he was this time last year, he must have been in so much pain, you know how it feels if you yourself just have a blister for a few days, just imagine what he was going through.
On our second visit to the AHT I gave permission for Frazer’s blood to be taken as they are experimenting as to what in the house dust might causes the allergy’s, so Frazer has also done his little bit, hopefully to help dogs in the future with similar problems.   He was the perfect blood donor!
I must stress that it has been very hard work and still is to keep on top of the problem but it’s worth it just to see him so fit and healthy again, we have our little routine every day with medication and bathing and Frazer makes life so easy by being so 
All I can say is that if you experience an allergy problem, insist on having the tests carried out early on to establish what allergy you are treating, and hopefully you will have a good pet insurance as the bills soon mount up, our bill is presently up to nearly £2,500 (this includes all the early vet bills in that first six months that really were all guess diagnosis and to no effect)
Our next visit to see Dr Littlewood is in November when I will be able to report that Frazer is doing wonderfully both at home and in the show ring. 
I wanted to share my experience with you because I would hate to think that other dogs are suffering out there and are not getting to the root of their problems quickly.
Rachel Newell
September 2000