Ive switched my dog back to duck/potato food because while switching to venison/potato, her skin itching,hair loss, flaking, along w/ear infections/redness, increased. My question is, in the meantime, with all the itching & flaking of skin, especially the lower back area, just above the tail, should i take her in to have a prednisone/cortisone shot to alleviate these sympoms? OR will the food change alone, if it works, alleviate the flaking skin? Thanks!
I never recommend steroid shots in dogs due to side effects, and in general steroids are minimally helpful in cases of food allergy. The flaking of the skin is most likely due to a secondary bacterial skin infection, which should be treated with antibiotics; steroids will worsen skin infection. The diet change alone will not resolve infection, but the correct hypoallergenic diet should prevent itch and infections from recurring. Additionally, make sure your dog is on a good montly flea preventative, as itching and dermatitis on the lower back is a classic symptom of flea allergy dermatitis, which can occur concurrently with other allergic skin diseases in dogs.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
Thanks for you reply Kimberly! How do I know if my dog's itching/flaking is flea allergy dermatitis or if its food related? Or does that matter? --and I would just treat both the same- with antibiotics, as you mentioned? I started her on Frontline Plus on 3/1 beause I found 1 flea on her & her stomache area had red spots/flaking. She no longer has red spots..but continues to have the flaking/itchy skin.
Both flea allergy and food allergy can cause itching and secondary bacterial skin infections, and your veterinarian can evaluate your dog to see if antibiotics are indicated. It only takes one flea to cause a reaction, so be sure to continue to use the Frontline Plus on her and any other pets every month.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
Hi Kimberly- HELP! My dog has been on antibiotics for a week now & she's still itching. Is it because she doesn't have a bacterial skin infection? The vet said if the med didn't work to bring her back in & he would give her a steriod shot (i believe). Do you think that would be the best thing for her?
I do not administer long acting steroid injections to dogs, have you already tried antihistamines? Is your dog on a monthly flea preventative? If your dog's itch persists despite strict flea control every month, antibiotics, antihistamines and the OTC hypoallergenic diet, then the potential reasons would be a yeast skin infection, microscopic skin parasites such as cheyletiella, food allergy unresponsive to OTC foods (many food allergic dogs require prescription foods such as Royal Canin rabbit/potato, and the key is to give nothing else but water since it only takes one bite of a non-hypoallergenic food to ruin the diet trial), or a different allergy such as pollen/dust allergies. If I have to use steroids in dogs, I prefer to use a short course of oral steroids, which is tapered over 1-2 weeks, while the underlying cause of the itch is addressed. I would suggest trial treating your dog for microscopic mites with Revolution spot on applied every 2 weeks for 3 treatments, switching to a strict prescription hypoallergenic diet, and a short course of oral steroids to reduce itch. If the itch resolves on steroids but then recurs despite the Revolution and the strict hypoallergenic diet, then the reason/diagnosis would be pollen/dust allergies (atopy), and I would recommend a consultation with a veterinary dermatologist (www.acvd.org) to discuss allergy skin testing and desensitization injections for pollen/dust allergies so that your dog does not have to live on steroids.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
Yes- I currently have my dog on Benadryl & she got her first dose of Frontline Plus on 3/1 & the 2nd on 4/1. She is also on antibiotics & now the vet has her on 5 days of Prednis. & then 10 days of Prednis, every other day.(not real thrilled about the steroid as this really doesn't cure the underlying problem). She's also been on a srict diet of duck & potato food for several months. I also had her on venison & sweet potato awhile back, but then her skin flared up, so I switched back to duck/potato. Her ears have always bothered her (since she was born) - on & off, so I put her on the duck/potato food. In addition to ear problems, she now has skin problems. i would say the skin problems started in January. Let me back up; I moved into my apartment in mid-October & around January, she got a red bumpy rash on her stomach & chest area, in addition to a lot of itching & clumps of fur loss. That's when the vet diagnosed her w/bacterial dermatitis & put her on the abtibiotics, but it didn't seem to do anything. What Im wondering is if you these could be symptoms of mold exposure?? Everyone in my apt complex has mold in their windows. I noticed it 2 wks after moving in. I try to bleach the windows whenever I see it, but im sure its in the woodwork as well. Its interesting because she never had skin problems until shortly after I moved in. She also has been chewing on the top of her feet for the past few months. In talking w/the neighbor, his dog does the same thing. Needless to say, I'll be moving out when my lease is up in October..but just wanted to get your take on the mold issue. The mold isn't REALLY bad, but, as I said, it's on every window & theirs also a lot of the flooring that is high in areas & lower in others, which makes me think there's moisture problems in the flooring as well. I guess this complex was built on what used to be a swamp. Thanks for putting up w/all my question's!
Yes, dogs can have allergy issues with molds, and the onset of symptoms after moving is suspicious. I would also be concerned about microscopic skin parasites such as Cheyletiella, which can live in the environment for up to a couple of weeks, and if the prior resident had pets this may be a problem. I recommend using Revolution Spot on instead of Frontline for 3 doses, as Revolution will kill both fleas and microscopic mites. If the itch goes away on prednisone and then recurs despite Revolution and the hypoallergenic diet, then environmental (pollen/dust/mold) allergies are likely, and if anithistamines are not helpful, then you can talk to your veterinarian about trying oral Atopica/cyclosporin as a non-steroid way to reduce allergic itch (better than chronic steroids, but still only treating symptoms), or discuss referral to a veterinary dermatologist for allergy skin testing/desensitization injections to identify and treat the cause of the itch.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
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