Why is my puppy so itchy all the time?
Original Question: Hi Dr. Greenway, I listen to your show and wanted your thoughts on my dog. I am fostering a guide dog now 6 months old (Yellow Lab). She has allergies and no outward signs of hot spots but is itching all the time. One round of steroids cured the itching very quickly but it came back just as quickly. Just today, they removed her from the program and I must decide whether to adopt her. I have read your blog on allergies and understand the things I can try. I'm wondering if you have come across such a young dog with allergies and if you think we can get her comfortable? We have changed kibble to Purina Sensitive Skin and Stomach but I was wondering if I should try another brand of food or a raw food diet once we adopt her? I'm feeling conflicted because I believe she would be better off in a household with another dog. If she is distracted, she will not scratch as much. We love her and provide lots of exercise but it is just me and my husband so the dog does spend time on her own to scratch! Many thanks for your time. - Anonymous
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com 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 it cured the itching but then it just came back.” They removed her from the program and 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 owner’s feeling conflicted because she believes she’d be better off in household with another dog. If she’s distracted, she will not scratch as much. They go on to say that they love her and provide lots of exercise, but it’s just her and her husband so the dog spends time on her own scratching.
Okay 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 people think 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 is you go to your veterinarian and you have something performed called a skin scraping. It’s not very expensive and this is where we scrape the skin with a scalpel and it’s a 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 and 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 that your dog has allergies because for allergies, 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 having a problem, send me another question. Thanks for coming to healthcareforpets.com where we are dedicated to your pet’s health and keep those questions coming.
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