I recently got a dog (English Bulldog) and her previous owner informed me about the hair that is growing back on her chest. I guess the owner before her said the VET told her to bather her everyday and caused her hair to fall out. Now she is all itchy on her neck and chest. she scratches until its raw. Is this because of the hair growing back and what can i wash her with and put on it to help her?
No, hair growing back does not cause itch, and daily bathing, although it can cause dryness and irritation if a harsh product is used, will not make the hair fall out. The veterinarian had probably suggested frequent bathing as a treatment for the dog's skin problem, as Bulldogs are unfortunately prone to many skin diseases, and I typically recommend bathing with a mild oatmeal shampoo 1-2 times weekly in dogs with itchy skin. 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. 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. 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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