Pet Skin Problems Expert Forum
My dog has excessive scratching & oil skin
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My dog has excessive scratching & oil skin

Im not sure why my dog has excessive scratching & oily skin but it makes her stink so bad she can barely go a week with out a bath & i know baths arent good for animals weekly...Ive tried switching her food & that didnt work Ive tried several different shampoos & none of those worked either...Any help will be greatly appreciated & as far as the scratching she doesnt have any fleas what-so-ever so I dont know why she has excessive scratching...she doesnt make herself bleed nor does she have any 'bumps' related to the scratching...Please help me?
Type of Animal
:  
dog
Age of Animal
:  
5-6yrs old
Sex of Animal
:  
Female
Breed of Animal
:  
shih tzu
Last date your pet was examined by a vet?
:  
January 09, 2010
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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, Shih Tzus are a breed commonly affected by allergies. The oily skin may be due to a secondary bacterial or yeast skin infection, and a weekly mild antimicrobial shampoo such as KetoChlor may be helpful. Normal dogs don't need frequent bathing, but allergic dogs often benefit from weekly bathing as long as harsh products are not used. 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 such as shampoos and antihistamines, then I would suggest talking to your veterinarian about a prescription hypoallergenic diet such as Royal Canin rabbit/potato. 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---switching to a different over the counter dog food is not usually helpful, since they often have similar ingredients, and they key is to feed only the prescription hypoallergenic food and nothing else for 6-8 weeks.  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 oily skin, 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
www.dermvetvegas.com
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