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Itching and gnawing!

Discussion in 'Dog Health and Nutrition' started by Emraa, May 10, 2010.

  1. Emraa

    Emraa PetForums Senior

    Jun 4, 2009
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    My friend's dog (terrier mix) has had a skin problem for a few years now and it seems to be getting worse than ever. He scratches and gnaws the back of his neck, the base of his tail, the insides of his front legs and his belly/inside of thighs. He is even starting to pull hair out with his teeth!
    He even had to have part of this tail amputated a few years ago as he gnawed it to the bone one afternoon while they were out!!:eek:
    She has been to the vet numerous times and had endless tests and medication to no avail.
    It comes around the beginning of summer and lasts until around September time, she is giving him Piriton on the vets advice but this doesn't seems to make any difference and this year it is worse than ever, already he has had it for 5 weeks and it is driving him round the bend!
    They have changed his food several time but this doesn't seem to be the problem.

    Can anyone help? :confused1::
  2. katiefranke

    katiefranke PetForums VIP

    Oct 6, 2008
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    hi emraa - unfortunately allergies are such a frustrating and horrible problem as they can take ages to work out what is the cause :(

    ok not sure what exactly the vets have tested for yet, but some guidelines and links regarding allergies below, which I hope will be of use to your friend. Maggie suffers from food and pollen allergies which started from very young, so have been through a lot of tests etc with her so far and I know how distressing it is to have to watch them suffer with it and not be able to help relieve it :(

    Ok, so dog allergies can be caused by food (a proper allergy, not just upset tum-type intolerance) but this is quite rare, inhalent allergens such as pollen, dust mites etc and contact allergens such as washing powder and cleaning products etc. The most common tends to be inhalent (pollen) and then contact, then finally food.

    However, it is not always clear cut as usually dogs with allergies develop allergies to numerous things - and sometimes they may have a low allergy to something in their food and a low allergy to pollen, but when combined, they produce a full on allergic reaction. Once one of these triggers is removed, the reaction calms -therefore although it is assumed that seasonal allergic reactions are caused by pollen, it could be more than one thing!! :rolleyes:

    There is a set procedure that most vets will follow to pin-point the allergy/allergen and it really needs to be followed or it can take ages to work out what is causing the problem.

    So first off, the vet should have ruled out (by treating for):
    - mites/lice/mange (by treating with topical product)
    - fleas (by treating with topical spot-on etc)
    - bacterial infection (antibiotics and anti-bacterial shampoo)
    - fungal infection (anti-fungal shampoo)

    If all of these are ruled out, an allergy would then be determined. To then work out what the allergen is, a process of elimination is carried out. Now if the allergy seems to be seasonal (as your friend's dogs seems to be) then first thought would be pollen and the vet would trial the dog on an anti-histamine such as Piriton. They would usually prescribe one or two tablets daily dependant on weight of dog and severity of allergy (i.e. half AM/half PM or one AM/one PM etc). In conjunction with this, if the skin is very inflamed already, they would normally prescibe some sort of medicated shampoo (such as Malaseb) to keep the skin calm and free from infection while the trial is going on. If this has no affect within a couple of weeks of treatment, a different anti-histamine can be tried - there are a number that are suitable for dogs and one can usually be found to help relieve symptoms.

    However, if this still doesnt work or it doesnt necessarily seem to be seasonal, a food trial would usually be suggested.

    However, it cant just be a general change of food - the different food needs to be a hypoallergenic diet (no additives/colouring/preservatives), with a novel source of protein and/or carb (so something that hasnt been fed to the dog before) and this should be fed and nothing else for 3-12 weeks to see if the allergy stops. sometimes it can take months for the reaction to clear up, as it can be their immune system which is reacting to something, so even when you stop feeding the offending food, it takes time for the body to settle again. it can also happen after the dog has been fine with something for some time - in fact often the body needs to be exposed to it for some time before the full allergy can develop, so it is not necessarily something new either.

    if it is a food allergy, it is usually to a protein source and is often the main one that is being eaten. other common allergens are all forms of cereals, beef, chicken and eggs - but this is mainly because these are ingredients most common in dog foods. but your dog could become allergic to any food.

    Ok so if this shows no improvement, then on to more advanced tests. the dog can have a skin test for common allergens (very similar to that which a human can have) and this can often show which things a dog is allergic to and at least then you can try and avoid them in the environment or manage them...this could be a combination of drugs and bathing/topical creams etc.

    But the main thing is not to go straight for steroids and stick to it, as long-term they can be very damaging for the dog and although a lengthy process it is much better for the dog to work out what is causing it and then treat appropriately.

    Some good info under the links here about causes, elimination trials, treatments, drugs etc: Dog Skin Problems: Allergies, Skin Diseases & Dog Ear Care
    Treatments: Allergy and Atopy Treatment in Dogs

    So there are a range of options out there, but it just takes a while to get to it!!!

    Sorry for the essay and I hope that is of some use! :)
  3. herbiedog

    herbiedog PetForums Junior

    May 10, 2010
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    That is really interesting I have said in another thread that Herbie has a allergy which has been diagnosed as atopic dermatitis here are a few things that the vet has reccommended ..

    The flea control we use is Stronghold
    The shampoo is Episoothe
    we also give cod liver oil and evening primrose oil in his food which we found in liquid form at our local pet shop
    Also another thing the vet said was to shower him when we have been out to get rid of any pollen on him or brush him also we do give him piriton
    Every now and then he has to have steroids but don't really like to do that too often
    He is also on a raw diet

    I am really sympathetic with you over this it is so distressing
  4. Emraa

    Emraa PetForums Senior

    Jun 4, 2009
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    Thanks everyone.
    As far as I know the vet has done pretty much every test he can and has beeing giving the dog Cortizone injections, but my friend isn't too keen on these so wants to try other things to see if it will help.
    I will pass on the info I have been given and hopefully the poor dog will be feeling better soon :)
  5. kazschow

    kazschow PetForums VIP

    Oct 23, 2008
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    Personally, I'd get a referal fo full allery testing and evaulation at a dermo vet... At least then they'd know for sure what they were dealing with. I have a friend just gone through this with a cow, that turned out to have an alergy to Flea saliva!!! THe dog ever had fleas, but since they're all arond in the environment, came into contact with their body fluids.
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