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Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 7920
Experience:  Veterinarian - BVSc (DVM equivalent). Special interest in canine and feline medicine and surgery.
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Dog is a west highland terior and is constantly scratching

Customer Question

dog is a west highland terior and is constantly scratching and wants to lick the sand on our monoblock can you tell me why?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 2 years ago.
Hi there,Thanks for your question regarding your Westie girl Holly. I am currently typing up a response and will have something for you in the next 5 - 10 minutes.Thank you for your patience.Kind Regards,Dr E
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 2 years ago.
Hi there,Thank you for your patience. These symptoms Holly is displaying are definitely very common with a range of different skin conditions. The scratching is an obvious sign of this, and although it seems a little strange, licking rough surfaces can often give some relief to itchy skin as well. There are quite a number of possible causes for this itching Holly has been doing, including allergies and external parasites. Given she is a Westie, there is a high likelihood that the scratching is due to an underlying allergy.Firstly - you need to make sure you are using a flea product appropriate for Holly's weight. Even though you may not see any fleas on her doesn't mean there are one or two lurking and oftentimes this is all it takes for a dog with flea allergy dermatitis. You should put the flea treatment on her religiously when she is due - not just when you see active fleas on her. In your girls's case it does sounds like she may have an underlying allergy of some sort with secondary infection, however this could also be caused by parasites or fungi (ringworm or yeast). Basically dogs are allergic to four main things - food, fleas, grasses/plants (contact allergy) or environmental allergens (canine atopy - the dog version of ezcema). I always like to ensure I have talked through each of these with my clients here in New Zealand. Flea allergies are avoided by strict flea control - every 3 - 4 weeks with Advantage or Advocate. You must also ensure all dogs in the household are treated at the same time. Be sure to wash Holly's bedding thoroughly to help ensure all flea larvae and pupae are killed and consider spraying the house with a flea bomb to ensure all other areas are covered.For a food allergy, you need to undertake a food trial with a 'novel protein' or hydrolyzed diet such as Hill's Z/D ultra or Royal Canin Anallergenic and needs to be fed SOLELY for at least 8 - 10 weeks. After this time if you are seeing a change in Holly's condition you can slowly introduce different foods week by week with the guidance of your Veterinarian. Contact allergies are best treated by avoidance of the plants that are to blame, but identifying the exact cause of a contact allergy can be very hard. A referral to a canine skin specialist may be the way to go in Holly's case for either a skin patch test or a blood allergen test. This would be very important for Hollie as canine atopy is very common in Westhighland White Terriers.It is also possible Holly may have skin mites or lice as they commonly cause intense itching and irritation. These could be either Demodex (less itchy) or Sarcoptes mites (VERY itchy) and you should ensure a full Veterinary check up so that he or she can carry out a physical examination and possibly a skin scrape to check for mites and lice, as well as signs of fleas. The next step would be to double check for fungal disease (such as ringworm) and there are several tests for this including a UV light and a fungal culture. It could also be that Holly has a bad yeast problem - and a good medicated shampoo such as Malaseb may well do the trick! Again a full Vet check will be able to confirm or deny this. If after these tests there is no diagnosis, the next step would be to carry out a food trial as above.I really would encourage you to get your girl checked out at your Vet clinic as I am a little worried this could be mites or fleas. For the best thing for her in the mean time, as above, is a medicated shampoo that will deal with both yeast and bacteria - Malaseb (or a similar product containing both Chlorhexidine and Miconazole) is the most ideally suited for this. You can focus on the really itchy parts over her body and leave the bits that are fine. This requires you to make a lather and leave this lather on for 10 minutes before washing off! For many clients this is easier said that done, but it is SO important. it also sounds like she may have an ear infection or at least a large amount of wax, so be sure to get your Vet to check her ears as well - she may need some medicated ear drops.I hope all of the above makes sense? Please let me know if you have any other questions. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business and I hope to work with you again soon!Kind Regards,Dr EBonuses & positive feedback are always welcomed and very much appreciatedIf you have any further questions in the future, I would be more than happy to help you again! Just bookmark my profile and ask a question via the question box.
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 2 years ago.
Hi again Christina,

I thought I would follow up quickly to see if you have made any progress with Holly. It would definitely be a good idea to follow up on the above with your local vet again when you next can, and particularly worth trying a food elimination trial.

It would be great to get an update if you get a moment.

Kind Regards,

Dr E