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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16888
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I have a ginger, short haired XXXXX XXXXX dog.

Resolved Question:

Hello, I have a ginger, short haired ***** ***** bitch dog. She is nearly 7 years old and unspayed. For the last 5 years I have seen my vet about a skin condition every early autumn. She and my two cats are treated with Advocate flea treatment every month. I have also used Inderet fabric and carpet spray and washed her bedding and the upholstery covers. The main areas that she scratches are around her tail and hind quarters. It is so bad and incessant that she pulls all her fur out and she looks like a mangy fox. The vet has treated her with antibiotics, fucidin cream, long term steroids, antihistamine as well as emptying the anal glands. None of these have been effective and usually when winter arrives the problem resolves. She drags herself all over the carpet and makes her taets very sore and swollen. I have spent an absolute fortune on her and it just seems she is obscessed with scratching. Is there anything else I can do?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that your girl Foxy is so miserably itchy every fall despite you and your veterinarian's best efforts.
Because she is reliably itchy every year at the same time a seasonal inhaled allergy, or flea bite allergy seems most likely because fleas are at their peak in the fall.

I am very glad to see that you are using effective flea control on all of your pets. Even if you don't see fleas I do recommend using protection, if only during the spring, summer and fall months. They are the most common allergen and it only takes one bite a month to make an allergic dog scratch so I recommend using flea prevention even if you never see one again. Frontline Plus, Advantage II, Advocate, or Advantix are excellent.

Other allergens can be inhaled (like grass pollen, dust mites or molds) and you can use a combination of antihistamines and high doses of omega-3 fatty acids to help with those (they also help with the symptoms of flea allergy). In combination fatty acids and antihistamines work synergistically, much better than either one alone. Because her symptoms worsen seasonally I would think that inhaled allergens are a big part of her problem. I know that you have tried some antihistamines but I'll give you a list in case there are some you haven't tried. In her case I would start them 2 weeks before she usually starts to get itchy and through the late fall/early winter to prevent problems.
You can try:
1)Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products as they can be toxic) at 2mg to 4mg per kilogram of body weight or one 25mg capsule per 7 to 12 kilos of body weight orally every 8 hours.
OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at 5mg per 12 kilogram dog once or twice daily.
OR 3)Hydroxyzine at 0.5mg per kilogram of body weight orally every 8 hours.
OR 4) Chlorpheniramine at 4mg to 8mg per dog once or twice daily.
Some dogs do better on one antihistamine rather than another. Give the one you pick a week trial and if it isn't working try another. Be aware antihistamines can cause sleepiness or hyperactivity in some dogs. These side effects do wear off with repeated use.
Omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil products. 3V by DVM or Derm Caps ES are good brand name products. Use the high end of the dosing schedule for your pup's weight. I recommend an omega 3 dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement, as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give her 20mg to 40mg of EPA per kilogram of body weight per day. For example an 8 kilogram dog could take 160mg to 320mg of EPA per day.

Cool water baths with an oatmeal shampoo or chlorhexiderm shampoo (which is antibacterial and antifungal) and a conditioner with an antihistamine may help. The water rinses off allergens and the cool temperature soothes itchy skin.

Food allergies are unlikely with her as she is only symptomatic at a particular time of the year and her food is the same all the time.

Another option if the antihistamines and omega 3's aren't enough is a product called Atopica. It suppresses the immune system a bit so it decreases allergic symptoms but it doesn't have as many harmful side effects as systemic steroids. I would start it 2 to 3 weeks before her allergy season normally starts. Another option is a brand new drug called Apoquel (generic name oclacitinib) which interferes with the allergic pathway. It works very quickly to stop the symptoms of an allergy. Most dogs are reported to be much more comfortable in a day or so. If you are interested discuss these medications with your veterinarian as they are prescription products.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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