Hi i was hoping you could help.. i changed my dogs food last year 09 about march or around that point, About a few months before christmas i noticed that my dog was getting smelly quite frequently , i try not to bathe my dog too often as i have been told its not good for her, but the smell would get really bad so i was bathing her every month from about august, from november to december i bathed her 3 times and one was 2 weeks after the last one,,,, i came to the conclusion that it had to be her food... i did notice over the time that her coat wasnt looking as healthy as it had, so i changed her food,,, within 3 days of her being on the better food the smell had gone, but she was scratching more, the lat time i bathed her after christmas i used the kids shampoo to see if it would take the smell away so im not sure if that had irreted her skin and that why she scratched more,, she has been on the new food for nearly 2 weeks, but she is still scratching,, its not constantly but still often, but she is a big dog and had big nails and big itches (im suprised she doesnt knock her head off when she starts)!!! but over the past couple of weeks because of all the scratching she becoming bald in some spots, and all along the side of her you can see how much her hair has thinned out (her coat color is blue) im going to give her a bath in the morning with her normal dog shampoo and im hoping it might wash off anything that is bothering her on her coat, if there is any,, but what would you recommend and do you think i should just take her to see a vet? thanks rachel x
Hairloss, scratching and odor are all symptoms consistent with a bacterial skin infection, less likely demodex mite infection. Since the symptoms started after a diet change, an underlying food allergy may have triggered the skin infection, although I see many Great Danes with pollen/dust allergies and secondary skin infections as well. Additionally, dogs with blue coat coloration are prone to color dilution alopecia, in which the abnormal pigment causes the hairs to break, inciting a secondary skin infection; these dogs are not usually itchy unless infection is present, and with the symptoms you describe, I am more suspicious of an allergic process with secondary infection. I recommend taking your dog to your veterinarian for examination and treatment. The veterinarian can perform skin scrapings for mites and infection and if bacterial skin infection is identified, then a 3-4 week course of oral antibiotics is needed. The itch can be treated symptomatically with 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 despite treatment of the infection, then I would recommend starting a hypoallergenic diet trial for possible food allergy (there is no accurate skin or blood test for food allergy, the test and treatment are the hypoallergenic diet for 6-8 weeks with no other treats or foods). Finally, if the itch persists despite the strict hypoallergenic diet, then pollen/dust allergies would be likely, and you can ask your veterinarian for referral to a veterinary dermatologist for allergy skin testing and desensitization therapy.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM DACVD
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