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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 33307
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 3 year old black labrador is always scratching under his

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My 3 year old black labrador is always scratching under his belly using both back legs.
Any suggestions on the causes and what suitable remedies are there?
Pruritis (itchiness) on the ventrum (the area below the midline of the body) is most often associated with atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.) in Labs. Less commonly, I'll find a food intolerance or scabies (mange mite). Secondary bacterial infection (pyoderma) and yeast infection (Malassezia) are common and contribute to the pruritis.Your dog's vet can check a cytology (microscopic exam of a small sample of representative skin surface for abnormal numbers of bacteria or yeast) and treat accordingly. Skin scrapings can be taken looking for mites. Once any secondary infection is well controlled, an allergic dermatitis can be addressed with a low-dose glucocorticosteroid (prednisone, e.g.) therapy or, preferably, with the new cytokine antagonist oclacitinib (Apoquel) which works as well as a steroid but without a steroid's adverse effects. Topicals can be helpful but without a diagnosis we can't know which type of topical will be helpful. Soothing agents (non-medicinal) such as Bag Balm ( and other over the counter products containing a mild steroid (hydrocortisone) or antihistamine found in pet/feed stores may be palliative but rarely curative. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
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Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.