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Dog keeps itching, we can't find the reason. Suggestions please.

884 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Kathyy
Charlie is a 9 year old Shiba Inu. I have had him since he was about a year old and up until July of this past year, he never exhibited any skin issues (or any issues for that matter). I've always fed him a mixture of canned and dry food , always grain free, high protein, and gave him alot of variety over the years -- he has never eaten two bags of the same food in a row. He has been fed duck, turkey, chicken, rabbit, lamb, beef, salmon, venison, etc. Some brands he has eaten over the years are either Orijen, Acana, Fromm, Nature's Variety Instinct, Nature's Logic, and Earthborn.

The gnawing of the legs, knees, and flanks started out mild in July. I took him to his regular vet that month and the Dr. performed a skin scraping and found no evidence of mange, yeast, bacteria, etc. Chalked it up to seasonal allergies, sold me some Apoquel for him which worked well while he was on it. The medication was meant to be given to to him for about a month and then go from there. Charlie was fine for about 3 weeks off the Apoquel, but then the scratching and gnawing came back in late August into September, but worse. Took him back in, vet said that this year has been horrible for allergies, that he doesn't look half as bad as many of his other patients coming in with allergies, told me that by the time the first solid freeze and snowfall came that they should finally subside, sold me more Apoqel in the meantime. Well here we are, dead of winter, 5 inches of snow on the ground, Charlie has been off his 2nd round of Apoquel for about a week now and is back to scratching and gnawing. I like my vet and have gone to him for years but I decided to get another opinion from another clinic, and she basically said the same thing. Seasonal allergies.

With snow on ground and Charlie still scratching I'm wondering if this is a food allergy. And for the past month just to see, I have fed him a limited ingredient dog food (Acana single protein - lamb), plus only 100% lamb lung treats. No improvement with the lamb LID. I've been sure to wash his bedding in only odorless, colorless, hypoallergenic laundry detergents, rinsed well with vinegar. I've done the super high quality oatmeal shampoos, conditioners, leave-in treatments, with no help whatsoever. He literally is scratching and gnawing within minutes after his baths (I bathe him about twice a month).

Things to note:

-his patchy hair loss (which is minor since there is no bleeding, pus, redness, as well as minimal), is limited to where he gnaws at on his knees, flank, and back of legs. The fur everywhere else on his body is thick, shiny, and not flaky/dry at all. This is very limited to his lower half, mainly legs. He has been scratching his face a lot too but no hair loss there.

-Ears are and always have been clean, no scratching there. Paws as well. No diarrhea at all.

-He is not miserable, just uncomfortable. He isn't crying or in pain, he's eating well, playing like a puppy, and it isn't excessive where there's skin breaking or bleeding - both veterinarians pointed that out as well. But he is getting up about 6 times an hour to scratch himself and/or gnaw at his legs, knees, and flank.

-I know the Apoquel works but I've read some facts about this medication that makes me not want to have Charlie on this for life. I want to get to the root of the cause of his allergy.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading.
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First, give him a bath. Sometimes pollen and allergens can cling to the fur and still cause reactions.

There are other things that dogs can be allergic to, such as dust mites. They live in everyone's house, no matter how clean. Wash your dog's bedding, vacuum, get allergy filters for your furnace/A/C. It's all you can do in that case.

Has your vet recommended anything like Benadryl? My dog has seasonal allergies, and I suspect allergies to dust mites since he gets occasional itchy spells even in winter, and Benadryl morning and night takes care of it typically. I get it for $13 at Costco, too, so cheap. Few side effects, and dogs seem to have less issues with becoming drowsy on that stuff than people.

If its a food allergy, all you can do is get a test and see if it comes out with anything concrete, or do trial and error.

If its seasonal allergies, medication is really the only option unless you put your dog in a bubble. According to my vet, allergies tend to get worse as the dog ages, too, so I imagine I will have to move up to something stronger than Benadryl at some point. There are multiple medications that can be used, and most have some sort of side effects. You have to decide if you want to risk what MIGHT happen from long term use of allergy medication, or if you want to let your dog be miserable and itchy in the present.
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Honestly this sounds like fleas. He is biting at the back end which is consistent with the presence of fleas. If a dog is allergic then a flea looking cross eyed will set the poor dog off. Do the wet paper towel test, put it under his rear and give him a nice scritching. Look at the debris for tiny dark specks that dissolve into a reddish ring. Flea poop. I'd get a single speck off my allergic dog's butt and that's all it takes. The best flea drops didn't help and I did end up using a medication for the rest of her life.
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