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biting and licking causing sores

My 9 year old mix breed terrier has been constantly itching, biting and licking for about 8 months.  Although she's always had an excellent dry-foods diet her life, she does not get much, if any raw meat (i'm a veg, so it's just not something found in our home, but I have no problem feeding it to her, if that's what she needs). I began changing her diet about 6-7 months ago and eliminated all grains. I started with Taste of the Wild made completely with Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, canola oil, salmon meal, smoked salmon, and potato fiber as its main ingredients.  No change, except that the itching seems to change places on her body. Then I switched her to a venison formula, but that has chicken/egg ingredients.  Her paws are completely pink and sometimes bloody.  I've avoided steroids/cortizone, but the vet gave me a low dose which did not help.  

Her breathing has also become labored, almost asthmatic, which really worries me.

2 questions: Any tests/ recommendations you can make about diagnosing? One possibility I've seen which pretty much covers all her symptoms is Atopic dermatitis, but I feel like I'm hunting in the dark.

The other is, is there a non-harmful spray or tincture I could use on her open sores and paws to reduce the itching and bacteria?  I've read of using sulfadine and tea tree oil, and I was wondering about using zinc. She'll be licking it off, so whatever I use needs to be ingestable. Thanks so much
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234713 tn?1283530259
A good dermatological exam includes a skin scraping, fungal assay and culture, tape prep, fine needle aspirate, skin biopsy and more.  A two month food trial with a single novel protein and novel carbohydrate is also necessary to rule out food allergies.  

Have these diagnostics been performed at your veterinarian?  

Skin problems, if allergy related can be complicated by skin parasites, fungal and/or bacterial skin infections, auto-immune disorders and others.  All instigating factors such as environment and food allergies must be controlled at the same time as the secondary factors (skin parasites, fungal infections, etc.).

New food allergens can occur anytime in a dog's life, which differs from environmental allergies.  Environmental allergies usually develop by age 4 and usually don't change after that time unless the environment changes drastically such as moving to Florida from New York.

Huang Lian Coptis Powder is a Chinese herb that is extremely bitter, is non-toxic and can be applied to itchy areas to stop itching. It is available online.  Please make sure that you order the powdered version.  If you order the pills or tablets they will have to be crushed to apply topically.

The best way to treat allergies is internally though.  If steroids were ineffective they were either the inadequate dose, or were not given long enough or the secondary factors needed to be treated simultaneously, or the problem is not allergies, or it is just food allergies.  

If the itching is very severe, than the itching could be caused by scabies, demodex, or other mite or flea allergy dermatitis.  Even if a flea is never seen, a single bite can cause itching for a month in the allergic dog.  

Revolution Topical is helpful for flea allergy dermatitis and Scabies.  Ivermectin or daily Intercepter would have to be used for Demodex mites.

There are many herbal formula's that can help with environmental allergies but they are best prescribed by a veterinarian who is versed in herbal medicine.  Some potential formula's include: Wind Toxin Formula, Derma Wind Release, Damp Heat Formula, and many, many more.  

A food trial may also have to be performed.  Venison and sweet potato might be a good one to try.  It has to be something totally new!  Anything that your dog has eaten before is a potential allergen.  

The breathing problem must be addressed.  Chest radiographs should be performed to determine if there is bronchitis, heart disease or other problem that is not related to allergies.

Good Luck and let us know if we can help further.
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