I recommend starting by taking your dog to your veterinarian for assessment of the itch and medication recommendations. The most common reasons for itchy skin in dogs include skin infections, microscopic skin parasites such as scabies mites, food allergy, or pollen/dust allergies. Since scabies mites are difficult to find, I trial treat dogs for scabies with Revolution every 2 weeks for 3 treatments. If skin infection is present, it is treated with antibiotics for 3-4 weeks and mild antibacterial shampoos. 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 dogs' itch persists or recurs despite Revolution 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
Our dog has this and it is a food allergy, specifically, protein. We have her on a strict diet. We are pretty sure that we caused it by giving her toast, which she loves. The yeast and sugar in the bread was the culprit. We now only give her potato millet bread toast. It has baking powder in place of yeast, and no sugar. We never give her anything with sugar in it. Also, I asked my wife to ask the vet about doggie probiotics. She says the vet got real wide-eyed and looked it up for us. She had not thought of it. Probiotics added should help her to reduce the yeast overgrowth in her body. I am certain that a simple case of too many yeast cells can cause this in dogs just as it caused problems in people.
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