Fin soon after arrival

This is a true story about Fin – a pedigree cavalier spaniel with horrendous allergies to almost everything.  Bred by us, Fin was a superb little puppy, showing no hint of what was to come.  As responsible breeders we took him back when we heard about his problems and immediately set about treating him.

When Fin Arrived

He came back to us at around 3 years old, having at some point between 8 months and 18 months developed severe allergies to almost everything. His condition had gone largely untreated for around a year before we got him and his distraught owner was at the end of her resources – the only other option open to her was his euthanasia.


Fin at his Worst


Fin came to us with hardly any hair, infection oozing from every orifice and was obviously suffering and depressed.  He often wouldn’t get out of his bed until 9am.  His skin was red, dry, itchy, scaly and flaking. We immediately consulted our vet, Donaldson’s Vets for a diagnosis and prognosis.  We started bathing him daily in a specially formulated shampoo and treating him constantly with ear and eye drops.  He embarked on course after course of antibiotics and a very restricted diet, and although he improved to a point, his recovery plateaued out and our vet started talking euthanasia again.  “Don’t go there” I said.  Having spoken with Charles Barrett, our Homoeopathist, we asked our vet to take Fin’s blood which we sent to Charles who made a potent remedy (we are fortunate to have a vet who is open-minded towards homoeopathy).  This remedy, along with several others are given to Fin twice a day. It literally saved his life.

The change within 2 months was noticeable.  He had a much improved coat, his skin was smooth and the infection much reduced. He still gets flare-ups of itching and infection from time to time, but he is a much happier little dog.  Our vet had no explanation for his improvement and said “If I ever have the misfortune to treat another animal with as many problems as Fin, I’ll be referring him to your man in Spain” – Lets hope he does just that!

Anal Gland Problems

Fin’s anal glands kept becoming infected and our vet was constantly having to empty them.  After discussion with our vet, the decision was taken to have them surgically removed, which proved to be a very good move as they were far worse than the vet had first thought.  After a few days of soreness, when Fin took to his bed, he recovered well.

Fin’s Allergies

We had fin tested for his allergies.  We knew that he had multiple allergies including yeast, colourings, preservatives and the like, but we wanted to get a fuller picture so that we could eliminate as many allergens as possible from his environment. The list (and this is by no means exhaustive) includes beef, lamb and chicken, egg, maize (corn). We can eliminate these from his diet, so no problem there.  He is now fed exclusively on Burns Fish and Rice, as are all our dogs, to prevent him harming himself by stealing their food!  Also 2 different families of grasses.  Not so easy to avoid, but our back garden has no grass, so he is ok there.  No more running through the fields and woods for Fin!  Then there are Storage mites (two common types were tested) and house dust mites (a teaspoon of dust may contain over 250,000 mite droppings and is the most common cause of allergy in the UK).  These last two are invisible to the naked eye, so you can never be sure of eradicating them, the best you can hope for is to reduce their numbers.

Damp dusting and regular, thorough vacuuming of carpets, curtains and soft furnishings will help, as will keeping a window open for ventilation. Storing of dry food in an airtight container and cleaning of the container before another pack of food is emptied in is a must and we have found that freezing his biscuits prior to feeding helps too. The last two things he reacted to – and this was by far the strongest reaction – was the yeast and bacteria on his own skin.  Apparently these occur naturally and normally live in harmony, but antibiotics can knock the bacteria out and “Malaseb” shampoo can knock out the yeast, causing an inbalance.  We agreed to leave antibiotics alone for the moment and use Pet Nat block shampoo, to try and restore the balance of the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria on his skin.  This seems to have improved greatly.

His baths reduced to once a week, and his ear and eye drops as necessary.  We noticed in the autumn and winter he is worse, but improves in the spring and summer.  He will lay outside “sunbathing” for hours if we let him.  Another consultation with Charles brought a new remedy to add to the arsenal for use from autumn to spring.

Light Therapy

Fin receiving Light Therapy

On the internet, Anne read about red and blue Light Therapy for skin conditions.  Light Therapy – particularly light at blue and red wavelengths – can help acne sufferers achieve healthier skin in two different ways: by killing the bacteria and also soothing inflammation. Like Acne sufferers, Fin’s skin was infected and inflamed.  Could Light Therapy help him? There was only one way to find out!  We bought a Lumie Clear unit to use on Fin.    Fin has taken to the Lumie Clear Light Therapy Unit well.  He has to wear yellow goggles as a protection for his eyes but is relaxed about the whole thing, usually going to sleep in the chair.  The Lumie Clear Unit seems to work best if his skin is infected, less so if he has a yeast flare-up.

Best of all he is up with the larks, has started playing and enjoys going to training class.

Pro-biotic Supplement

We introduced Fin to a pro-biotic Supplement Bionic Biotic concentrate.  Within a month he was much brighter in himself and was  moving around more.

Weight Problems

As time progressed, the use of steroids and his lack of exercise, due to the fact that he cannot be walked on grass, meant that his weight increased.  We bought a treadmill for ourselves, but also with Fin in mind.  He took to it really well – here’s his first video using the treadmill.  As he is so food motivated, he was easy to train.  We try to do 5 minutes twice a day with him and he is doing well.

Fin has recently been put on a smaller-portions diet which has worked well for him.  He is almost down to his ideal weight and he is much more active.

His baths are now every 2 weeks, unless he has a problem in between.  Our vet even commented the last time he saw him that he has never looked so good.

None of us expected that Fin’s road to recovery would take so long – we have now had him 4 years, but we are getting there.

His yeast flare-ups, (whilst we dare not say are a thing of the past), certainly are much less frequent, and his infections, when they occur, respond to a short course of anti-biotics.

We are not there yet, but Fin is now doing well.

Here is a video of him playing with the girls.


Horner’s Syndrome.

Fin - Horners SyndromeJust after Fin turned 9 years old, I noticed that he was holding his head on one side. He really looked as though he had aged in the space of about a week or so.

Andrew, our vet, diagnosed Horner’s Syndrome. Apparently it affects the nerves on one side of his face, causing the eye to drop, reduced blinking function, drooling and lethargy. He has taken to holding his head on one side in much the same way as a stroke victim would.

I managed to get a sample of his urine to take to the vets with him, and a test revealed considerable amounts of protein – a sign that his kidneys are leaking protein out.

A blood test revealed:

‌fin after a bathFirstly he was anaemic, so he is now on a low dose of iron tablets.

His white blood cell count is high, which indicated he was fighting an infection, so he had a course of antibiotics for that.

His liver and kidney results were respectively high and low, so we have some homoeopathic remedy to support his liver and his kidney function.

Finally, again on the homoeopathic front, we have a remedy which should help to repair the damaged nerves in his face.

We can’t make an old dog young again, but we can support him whilst ever he has quality of life. His ability to eat is not diminished,

…  Anne