I need some help, on behalf of my lab mix and my rough collie.

Here's a little bit of background:
Tucker is a 4 year old floppy-eared lab mix, we adopted him 3 years ago. For the past year or so, his ears have been bothering him alot. A few times, it has been an ear infection. Other times, he rubs his ears, but doesn't have the same smell or discharge. My collie is almost constantly trying to lick inside his ears, which she didn't used to do, so there is obviously something going on. No food change around when this started, though he only had one ear infection when we lived in Louisiana (yeast) and his frequent problems started since we moved to Georgia. I'm thinking either an environment allergy - something that wasn't in Louisiana. Or maybe a food allergy that is just getting progressively worse (he has always licked his feet).

Colleen is a three to four year old rough collie. We adopted her two and a half years ago. She was found nearly naked and bloody, due to a severe case of demodectic mange. Mange returned due to the stress of moving to a new home (ours), but mite population has been relatively normal since that incident when we first brought her home. Groomers in Louisiana commented that she had dry skin. We've got her on a wild salmon oil supplement that gets added to her food daily. We moved to Georgia in fall of 2007. Late last spring/early last summer, when brushing her, we discovered that she never blew her winter coat. We literally filled a trash bin with all of her undercoat. Needless to say, I've been much better about keeping her brushed since. Damage was done, however, and she has had constant skin problems since. Not only did she have all that undercoat when it was too warm for it, but we no longer have central air so she only gets air conditioning when we're home. Not surprising that she wound up with a pretty bad skin infection. What I don't understand is why her skin has NEVER completely healed from it and the fur has never completely grown back. It's almost spring again, and she still has hair loss in the same places at the rear part of her back. Not as bad, but it's still there. She's been on numerous rounds of antibiotics and antihistimines. She doesn't scratch at it, but she loves to be rubbed there. Even during the winter, she had problems with her skin. Even shaved like a smooth collie, she has problems. Potential food allergy or environmental allergy? Funny thing is, at the dog park, everyone says how pretty her coat is. She looks beautiful. Until you push back the hair that covers her couple of thin patches and show people that she has some type of skin problem.

Now the history of their food.
In Louisiana, we had them on Beneful, but switched to ProPlan Sensitive Stomach and Skin when the groomer said Colleen had dry skin.
Here in Atlanta, we kept them on that until I got laid off (late September). Then I switched them to regular ProPlan to save money. Then back to Beneful Healthy Harvest. Though they've been on Purina One for a week because I went to 4 different stores and couldn't find a large bag of the Beneful. It wasn't until this winter that we took them off ProPlan, so both Colleen and Tucker's problems started before the switch - while they were still on ProPlan Sensitive Stomach and Skin.

I was looking at the ingredient listing for the ProPlan, and I can't for the life of me figure out what it is that they may be allergic to, so that I know what to avoid.Here's the ingredient listing. No corn. No wheat. No soy. The top allergens aren't there.

Salmon, brewers rice, canola meal, oat meal, fish meal (natural source of glucosamine), animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), salmon meal (natural source of glucosamine), pearled barley, brewers dried yeast, animal digest, salt, potassium chloride, Vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), manganese sulfate, niacin, calcium carbonate, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.

Anything on the list jump out at you as an allergen? Is it possible to be allergic to salmon or rice? (Keep in mind that even when on the lamb & rice pro plan, Colleen still got her salmon oil supplement.) If anything jumps out at anyone as a potential allergen, I'll check the ingredients for the other foods to see if it's also in those.

I'm not sure what to do for Colleen. It doesn't seem to bother her, but I feel like a bad dog mom because her fur hasn't grown all the way in and her skin is still flaky. I've given up on taking her to the vet. The medicine doesn't solve the problem, it just costs me tons of money to take her in. If she's still having this problem when I find another job, I'm going to ask her vet to give me a referral to one of the local allergy/dermatology specialists so that I can get their opinion.

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Our Weim is very allergic to everything. He's allergic to environmental and food items. He got 3 bouts of staph infections, lost a fair amount of his hair and was almost bloody with the amount of scratching he did. We initially thought it was a wheat allergy but his problems still continued. We paid about 300 to 400 dollars for a blood allergy test to find out that he's allergic to yeast, corn, beets, rabbit, turkey, dust, and a whole bunch of trees and weeds and flowers (and embarrassingly, outside of the yeast, corn, beets and rabbit--I'm allergic to the same things thanksgiving has sucked so much since i found out.) Looking at the proplan, your pups could very well be allergic to the yeast in the food.

Rice can also be problem with some dogs. If you can't get the allergy test done, you should try the take away diet. Get the suspected items and feed them only that and if its ok, then that's not a problem. Also, maybe just try another dry food. Avoderm has been really good and Blue Buffalo is pretty good too.

Being in Georgia myself, I understand what you are going through! Our Weim came from Arizona so at about 6 to 7 months he went crazy with allergies. Also, keep in mind there may be cross reactivity from the pollen/fruit that your dogs eat or veggies.

If anything, please, please try not to over use steroids. They can build tolerance to it and I would hate for that to happen.

Best of luck and if you have any questions, I would gladly do my best to help.
Thanks for the suggestion! They were close to needing a new bag of food, so I bought a bag of Nutro Natural Choice Venison and Brown Rice, which is yeast free. Colleen's skin is doing better than it has in a long time, so I'm not convinced that her problem is food related, but Tucker's ear infections are always yeast infections, so it should would be ironic if he got yeast infections because of a yeast allergy. If this doesn't seem to help, I may get him allergy tested.

Thanks again for the help.
If Colleen is still itchy, try Avoderm. It's a little bit pricey but they don't need to eat as much. Cloud's coat looked the best on that food than it did before.
Two of our seven dogs have HORRIBLE allergies. Poor Ayla (our female catahoula) looks like you tied her to a truck and dragged her down the street! We finally settled on Natural Balance Lamb allergy formula with no grains. What a HUGE difference!! My goodness, she hasn't looked normal in two years but now she's just gorgeous. The NB is expensive. But, we've made other cuts in our budget to accommodate it since it works so well.

As for your lab's ears, your collie licking them can be the underlying cause of the yeast. Do you clean their ears regularly? Just take a cotton ball and some alcohol and clean them out every few days. It will make a difference in the ears. As for your collie's coat and skin, Beneful and ProPlan are not as good for the skin as some other more nutritious foods. By adding the Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil you are doing a great thing. It's wonderful for skin and coat. However, both ProPlan and Beneful are hard on coat and skin. A more nutritious food, when you can afford it, will help even more.

Do you have a furminator? Sometimes you can get them on this site relatively inexpensively. It will help strip the coat on your collie and get her skin exposed to the air a bit more. Man, that furminator is a lifesaver for a double-coated dog!

Best of luck,

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