How Do I Treat My Dog’s Allergies and Finally Put a Stop to the Scratching?

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with and we’re answering questions this morning. This one’s a bit of a long one, it says “hi Dr. Greenway I’m fostering a guide dog now six months old. She has allergies no outward signs of hot spots which are infections on the skin but she’s itching all the time. She was on steroids and cured the itching but then it just came back. [Dr. Clayton Greenway] They removed her from the program and she, this owner has to decide whether she wants to adopt her. They’ve read or watched the videos about allergies and she’s wondering if I’ve come across such a young dog with allergies and if we think she can get her comfortable. They’ve changed kibble to a certain skin and digestive health but they’re also wondering about raw food, this owners feeling conflicted because] I believe she’d be better off in household with another dog. If she’s distracted she will not scratch as much, we love her and provide lots of exercise but it’s just me and my husband so the dog spends time on her own scratching. Thanks for your time.” Ok this is a big question and I’ll try to plod through some of it. First off allergies at this age are kind of uncommon, I mean they can happen but at six months old, usually we actually see, people think, people, dogs are born with allergies but they actually usually develop between the ages of 2 and 5. So at six months old I’d worry that maybe there’s something else going on. Sometimes it’s really hard to detect things like fleas, you might want to look for mites. This is a dog that’s probably been housed with other dogs so there might be something contagious that’s causing itchy skin and I’d really recommend you go that route first. Then she goes into changing diets and if we don’t know what the issue is to start with, we may not have success from that and it’ll lead you down the road to more frustration. So what I’d recommend as you go to your veterinarian and you have something performed called the skin scraping. It’s not very expensive and this is where we scrape the skin with a scalpel and it’s very simple test, you want to do it in a number of places. I usually bring the dog in for a couple hours to do it thoroughly but a lot of vets will do it within the span of an appointment and you look at those scrapings under the microscope. You look for mites, fleas, bacteria, yeast things like that and if you find it, you can treat that. You have to get rid of all those possibilities before you decide, okay now my dog has allergies because allergies, you can’t there are tests for allergies but we don’t really have diagnostic tests for them. They are rule outs of exclusion, so you have to get rid of all the other possibilities of itching and then you get down to allergies and really the history has a lot to play into it, in that diagnosis. Yes you can change the food, you can try some things. When you talk about bringing in another dog just to get them away from scratching, again I go back to we got to figure out why it’s happening and I’d recommend that you do that first. I’m very suspicious that something is happening here other than allergies and the other thing I’m going to say is that she’s talking about whether she wants to adopt this dog or not and my strong advice is that you should because it sounds like this dog needs you. If you’ve reached out to talk to me, it means that you care and I’d really like to see this dog in your care and let’s face it when you go and adopt a dog it brings such a wonderful angle to the relationship. It’s a great thing to do, and a great place to start and I think if you address this, yes it’s a little frustrating but I think it will feel great when you get it under control and you give her a lot of comfort. Don’t feel that this may be allergies for certain and you’ll be dealing with them for her life, really do the medical tests first and dive in, take her home take care of her, I think you want to do it and I think it’s a great thing to do. So if you’re still have a problem send me another question, thanks for coming to where we are dedicated to your pet’s health and keep those questions coming.

One thought on “How Do I Treat My Dog’s Allergies and Finally Put a Stop to the Scratching?

  1. Outstanding recommendations. When at the Vet’s, PLEASE ask, encourage and be persistent,when asking for skin scrapings, inter-pad (between pads on feet) and ear smears be done. So many fungal disorders are missed and treated inappropriately. Too many times Vets don’t perform the “easy in office tests" which are done right under a microscope. If dog owners don’t mind spending a bit more (not that much) if it helps, it’s worth having your dog’s blood work done too, even as a baseline. Complelte Blood Count-“ CBC", including a Sedimentation Rate & Platelet count done. . Sometimes conditions, refractory to the most common treatments, these blood work can show autoimmune disorders which are treated more aggressively. Also an ANA (Anti-Nuclear Antibody) study can show more specificity with suspected immune complex disorders. After 40 years of comparing human & canine medicine, it still amazes me how similar canine and human “allergic disorders” are.
    Bravo for the skin scraping recommendations again. While many Vets & dog owners are still on the fence about a newer durg: iApoquel( Occlacitinib manufactured )by Zoestis,it is routinely being prescribed for refractory allergic disorders.. It’s been on the market and approved by the FDA for canines use,for a comparatively short time +/- 7 years now. And, .the long-term side effects are not well documented. But in so many dogs’ allergic conditions, Apoquel, seems to be fast-acting God-send. When compared to treatment with Corticosteroids.and other drugs with definite serious side effects, Apoquel does seems to give fast relief. This drug has a special antigen inhibitor effect, which means it acts upon the immune system in a very differnt way than other more potent drugs. Having said that, Apoquel could very well have side effects in some dogs that are quite scary; we just don’t know yet. Having read the literature and many dog owners’ blogs, comments after Apoquel use, over the past 3 years, there are reports of unusual skin afflictions, some respiratory symptoms of unknown ethology, which are not well understood. There are also some who report Apoquel may only be effective for up to two years. These have not been published in the scientific literature but dog owners were half of the group who were used to report the efficacy of Apoquel in the final FDA approval studies…so what’s the difference? At the end of the day, in hot Summer particularly, a dog suffering with dermatitis, with constant itching, alleged ear infections (with no clear evidence of microbes as a cause, and a general living a miserable life, it’s liley worth a try.

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