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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 15577
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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MY BORDER COLLIE KEEPS ITCHING she doesn't have fleas or ticks

Resolved Question:

MY BORDER COLLIE KEEPS ITCHING she doesn't have fleas or ticks and is upto date with everything, her skin is so sensitive
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that your girl is miserably itchy even with not seeing any fleas or ticks on her. Allergies are the most common cause of itchy skin and can give her a skin crawling, all over itchy type effect which many dogs find irritating. I'll give you an allergy rundown of likely causes for skin troubles. She may have more than one allergy given how symptomatic she is now. Dogs that have one allergy often develop several with time. The effect of multiple allergies aren't additive, they actually compound one another.Even if you don't see fleas I do recommend using protection. Flea bite allergy is 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. And as itchy as she is if only a few fleas are biting she may be literally eating the evidence before you see them. Frontline Plus, Advantage II or Advantix are excellent. Don't use over the counter products, especially Hartz or Sargents, as most are ineffective if not toxic. Unfortunately even after the fleas are gone the allergic reaction can continue for weeks and I will discuss controlling that reaction below. Other allergens can be inhaled (like grass pollen, dust mites or molds). You can use a combination of antihistamines and high doses of omega-3 fatty acids to help with the symptoms of flea bite and inhaled allergies. In combination fatty acids and antihistamines work synergistically, much better than either one alone. If her symptoms seem to worsen seasonally I would think that inhaled allergens are a part of her problem.You can try:1)Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products with acetaminophen or decongestants as they can be toxic for dogs) at a dose of 2mg to 4mg per kilogram of body weight or one 25mg capsule per 7 to 15 kilograms of body weight orally every 8 hours.OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at a dose of 5mg per 12 kilograms of body weight once or twice daily.OR 3)Hydroxyzine at a dose of 2mg per kilogram of body weight orally every 8 hours.OR 4) Chlorpheniramine at a dose of 4mg to 8mg per dog once or twice daily.OR 5) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at a dose of 1 mg per kilogram of body weight orally every 24 hours. That would be one 10mg tablet per 9-10 kilograms of body weight. Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because dogs cannot tolerate decongestants.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, meaning if she is between doses pick the higher one. I recommend a 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 40mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example an 40 kilogram dog could take 1600mg 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. Do not bathe your girl for 2 to 3 days before or after applying flea control products or the bath will interfere with the product's efficacy. Food allergy is possible with her as well if she seems to be itchy all year round, although most dogs show signs of food allergies at a younger age. Dogs can develop allergies to any protein or carbohydrate so even if she is only fed one thing that can be what she is allergic to. Dogs with food allergies tend to lick and scratch their paws, face and ears the most, but any of the "allergy reactive areas" can be affected.Make sure that the food that you put her on is a true hypoallergenic diet if you choose to test/treat her for food allergies. The trouble with "limited ingredient" or "low allergy" pet store brands is that the same machinery is used on multiple lots of food without sterilization cleaning in between. So for example even if a food says it has salmon and rice if the previous batch had beef and corn then you will get traces of those ingredients in your bag of food. Not a big deal if your dog isn't allergic but a waste of money thinking that the food was hypoallergenic and not good for your dog if those happen to be allergens for your dog. The veterinary brand true hypoallergenic foods are more expensive because it isn't cheap to thoroughly remove all traces of a previous food mixture from the machines used to process food.Generally what I recommend is trying to clear the skin with a prescription hypoallergenic diet and then adding one food item (chicken, beef, corn wheat etc) every month to see what they react to. Then we can find a regular food to try that doesn't have the things that we find she is allergic to. As far as permanent diets I do tend to stick with Purina Pro Plan brands or Nature's Recipe as I find those rarely if ever have cross contamination. Purina Pro Plan Turkey and Barley or Nature's Recipe Vegetarian or Venison are pretty good products. I know that this isn't easy from personal experience (my dog is allergic to wheat) and it is time consuming, but worth it.If you choose to try testing/treating her for a food allergy I recommend that you try a true hypoallergenic diet like Hills z/d or Purina Veterinary Diets HA. No treats, flavored medication or bones while on the diet and it must be used for a least 12 to 16 weeks to see the full effects. You should see some improvement in 6 to 8 weeks. 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.Another option is a newer drug called Apoquel (generic name oclacitinib) which interferes with the allergic pathway. It is not very effective against food allergies but it works very quickly to stop the symptoms of an inhaled or flea bite allergy, usually within 24 hours. Most dogs are reported to be much more comfortable in a day or so. Unfortunately it is on limited supply now due to overwhelming demand, but it is something to keep in mind for the future if she continues to have trouble. If you are interested discuss these medications with your veterinarian as they are prescription products. Another option if you are interested, is trying immunotherapy. She would need to be tested to determine exactly what she is allergic to, and then she is given small amounts of the allergen to build up her tolerance to it, increasing the amount of allergen in the injection incrementally so that her immune system no longer responds to it. This isn't a quick fix, it takes time to slowly build up their tolerance and as she develops new allergens things may need to be added, but it is an option. If it's been a while since her last exam microscopic parasites like cheyletiella, demodex or sarcoptes mites should be looked for by your veterinarian as well if she isn't improving as they can lead to very itchy skin.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have read your info above but I don't think it is fleas or parasites as she is covered by stronghold her skin is very clear, not red or spotty but the fur is wearing thin with her rolling
all the time
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Excellent, I am pleased to hear that she is on a very broad spectrum product to control both fleas and heartworm as well as some intestinal parasites.When they have normal looking skin that is very itchy that means that the urge to itch is coming from the inside, and that points toward inhaled allergens or possibly a food allergy. It is worth trying one of the antihistamines I mentioned along with an omega 3 fatty acid. If she is still itchy then perhaps one of the prescription medications I discussed will help.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will try Shelley on some antihistamines and omega 3 and hope this improves, she is petrified of the vets, was a rescue dog when I had her at 18 months old and was mistreated so has loads of phobias !! If this saves a trip to the vet even though I have her insured I will be grateful, thanks Joan
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry to hear that Shelley is so afraid of veterinarians, poor girl sounds like she had a really rough start. I can understand why you want to try and avoid a visit if you can. It is certainly worth trying the antihistamines and omega 3 fatty acids. Please let me know how things go for her.
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 15577
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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