My 1 yr old west has been scratch and pulling his hair out since summer and we brought him to the vet once and they gave us a anti-itch med and an recover med too but we finished it in 3 weeks and he seemed to get worse....he's been shedding year round alot too and that isn't like a westie since there supposed to shed as much as humans and that has also becoming a problem, not to mention his loss of appetite. He's have spots of no hair now and is slowly recovering which is a relief but his shedding is still a big problem, we've brought him to the groomer as well, thinking its the puppy hair, but after the groomers it was still the same and that was when we had the skin problem... his paws are also kind flattened and u can separate them pretty far....i don't know what to do...ever since we got him he's never been a 'fine healthy westie' but full of problems, health and behavior and knowing my parents, if it gets worse then they would take him away from me and i dont want that...
The most common reasons for itchy skin in dogs include skin infections, microscopic skin parasites such as fleas, scabies or demodex mites, food allergy, or pollen/dust allergies. Unfortunately, Westies are a breed commonly affected by allergies. Your veterinarian can take skin scrapings to examine under the microscope for parasites and for skin infection. If skin infection is present, it is treated with antibiotics for 3-4 weeks and mild antibacterial shampoos. If your dog is not already on a good monthly prescription flea preventative such as Frontline, Advantage or Revolution, then your veterinarian can prescribe an appropriate choice (Revolution is a good choice, since it also kills microscopic scabies mites, which can be hard to find on skin scrapings and can mimic allergies in dogs). The itch can be treated symptomatically with mild oatmeal shampoos, fatty acids, antihistamines or a short course of oral steroids, but steroids are not a good choice for long term treatment due to their many side effects. If your dog's itch persists or recurs despite antibiotics, parasite control and symptomatic medications, then I would suggest talking to your veterinarian about a prescription hypoallergenic diet. There is no accurate skin or blood test for food allergy; the test and the treatment are the strict hypoallergenic diet trial for 6-8 weeks with no other treats or foods. Lastly, if your dogs' symptoms persist despite all of the above, or if the symptoms only occur during certain seasons, then talk to your veterinarian about referral to a veterinary dermatologist for possible allergy skin testing and desensitization injections for pollen/dust allergies to identify and treat the underlying cause of the itch and recurrent infections, rather than just treating symptoms with medications (veterinary dermatologists can be found in your area by going to www.acvd.org and clicking on the "find a dermatologist" button). Hope that helps!
Kimberly Coyner, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Dermatology
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