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Hey guys! Seems like I only come on the dog forum out of desperation :redface:, but I am truly desperate right now.
It's going to be kind of a long story, but I would really appreciate any ideas.

Middle of last year, our two dogs got fleas (but they're on Sentinel). Our back yard is composed of pinestraw, which is awful for fleas, so we were having a hard time getting rid of them. We were hoping that the NC winter would kill them off, but it's been 70 degrees here until now.

My little white Jack Russel, Trout, started itching himself and tearing his fur out. He made a bloody mess of himself night after night despite our attempts at bandaging, cones, bite collars, blow-up collars, hundreds of dollars at the vet, steroids, antibiotics, lotions, vet wrap tape, a hypoallergenic diet. Bug bombed the house twice.
None of it worked for long. He found ways to get around physical barriers to itch, and after the meds were done, he tore into his skin again.

So over December, we always do a lot of traveling to see my Fiance's family. My parents watch our dogs during this time, so off they went to grandma's house. My parents have a house out in the country- very open and grassy. They have never had problems with fleas. While at their house, he almost stopped completely. His urge to tear his fur out just didn't seem urgent.

We got them home two days ago, and two nights later, he's created a new hot spot and tore all the fur out around it.
They obviously hurt him because he gets upset when I examine them.

I need more ideas.
We had the opportunity to move to a house next to my mom's house. Since it's closer to my FI's job, we're taking it in hopes that the fleas will leave him alone there... but there don't seem to be any fleas here either! I haven't seen any on him since we got back!
So maybe the move will help, but until then, I don't know what to do. We move in mid-Feb.

A person at petsmart suggested that maybe it was an anxiety thing and to maybe try a thunder shirt, but they're awfully expensive to be just another thing that we try.
Do you guys think that it could just be anxiety?
Like maybe he gets anxious here because he remembers that the fleas were so bad before?

Has anybody experienced or heard of anything like this before? I would be so incredibly grateful. I don't mind taking him to the vet, but I'm tired of spending the money without getting any answers about an underlying condition.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
 

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Honestly if your dog is fine at your parents' house and not fine at your house, I'd be looking for environmental allergens - I'd be thinking of the pine straw for sure, either the pine itself or the fact that mulch tends to harbor a lot of varieties of molds that many dogs are allergic to. There also might be other plants - trees, grasses, or other sources of pollens or contact allergies - that might be the problem at your house but not theirs. Also if anyone in your house smokes but no one smokes at their house, that might be an allergen.

The fleas just seem like a bit of a red herring. If your dogs had fleas when they went to your parents', they'd still HAVE the fleas when they went to your parents', they wouldn't just magically go away just because your parents have never had a problem with fleas at their house.

Figuring out allergies is often like an episode of CSI, just without many clues and taking longer than an hour to solve. They are frustrating for sure.
 

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Should I be looking for things that came into my house at the same time as his allergies started? Nobody in my house smokes, I use very few chemicals (although I need to evaluate what I do use). I hadn't considered mold as a problem outside, so maybe we should try taking him completely around the pinestraw instead of just not letting him spend much time outside.

Far reaching idea but the only thing I can think of that had changed: we live in a townhouse and a new neighbor moved in at the same time that everything started. She smokes like a train, but I can't imagine that her smoking on our shared back porch area could be causing this problem for him?
 
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