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Dr. K
Dr. K, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7540
Experience:  13 years experience as Veterinarian
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2 yr old border collie itching, loosing hair, dry skin flakes

Customer Question

2 yr old border collie itching, loosing hair, dry skin flakes observed
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. K replied 4 years ago.

Dr. K :

Hi, For how long has Charlie had this problem?

Dr. K :

Where on his body does he itch?

Dr. K :

Where is he losing hair?

Dr. K :

In the areas that have lost hair, does the skin look normal or does it look red, rashy or irritated to you?

Dr. K :

What type of flea medication is he on?

Dr. K :

When was the last time that it was applied?

Dr. K :

Does he lick and chew at his front paws a lot?

Customer :

losing hair all over except chest. Has been going on now for 2 months (end of summer). I can't remember the name of it, it is drops between the shoulder blade once a month. He's been on that all his life. My son does this for me, so I don't have it here. He itches his shoulders with his back paws, and uses his mouth aroung his hips. Flea meds are added first of month. He has long-time gnawed at one back foot. Haven't noticed licking front paws more than usual.

Customer :

skin doesn't look rashy.

Dr. K :

It is important to know what the flea medication is...some are not very useful at all, and if it is not a reputable brand, then I would not really completely rule out the possibility of fleas. Does Frontiline or Advantage sound familiar?

Customer :

yes, frontline

Dr. K :

Is he your only dog, or are there other pets living in the house?

Dr. K :

OK, good. Frontline usually does a great job.

Customer :

two indoor cats

Dr. K :

Are they experiencing any of these symptoms?

Dr. K :

Are the cats also on flea preventative?

Customer :

No, not at all. They are not, but have no evidence of fleas.

Dr. K :

Then, fleas still could be a problem. Even if the cats don't seem like they have fleas...if the dog brought in one flea on himself, and then it jumped on the cats...then fleas could easily set up shop in your house. All animals need to be on a flea preventative to stop this from occuring.

Dr. K :

Even if you do not see the fleas, they could still be there.

Dr. K :

I would have your vet check the dog and cats thoroughly for evidence of fleas.

Dr. K :

If Charlie is allergic to flea saliva (a very common allergy)...

Dr. K :

then just one flea on him could drive him absolutely crazy!!!

Dr. K :

So, it is important to rule out fleas before proceeding further, as fleas are actually a great problem to have....because they are treatable!!!

Dr. K :

So...once fleas have been ruled out, we can examine other possibilities.

Customer :

Wouldn't there be evidence of fleas? I know what fleas look like and the black debis left behind. Also, Charlie is groomed, they don't find evdience of fleas.

Dr. K :

One such possibility is sarcoptic mange (scabies).

Dr. K :

As I mentioned above....if there is no large flea infestation, you may not see the evidence...like the black debris.

Dr. K :

If Charlie has flea allergy hypersensitivity...then only one flea will make him very itchy.

Customer :

Can I bathe him with anything that might soothe him?

Dr. K :

I would prefer to finish answering your question of what the possibilities are...and then let you know what can be done.

Customer :

So, I need to take him to the vet.

Dr. K :

Scabies is a small, microscopic mite that can infect the dog's skin and cause severe itching. This can often be diagnosed at the vet with a test called a skin scraping. In many cases, however, the scabies mite is not visible on testing. Therefore, if the vet strongly feels that scabies is a possibility then, they will treat for it with something called Revolution, to see if the dog responds.

Dr. K :

If they do...then it was scabies.

Dr. K :

Since Charlie has had this problem for awhile and he does chew a lot at that back paw, he may be a dog with an allergy problem called atopy.

Dr. K :

Dogs with food allergy will also be very itchy like this.

Dr. K :

Atopy is usually treated with small doses of steroids and/or antihistamines. Some dogs with atopy will also benefit from frequent bathing with an allergy shampoo, such as Histacalm.

Customer :

Sounds like no easy answer to this. I appreciate your help. I'll take him to the vet.

Dr. K :

It is important to see the vet concerning this, as many dogs with atopy will have secondary bacterial or yeast infections of the skin that will need to be treated with oral antibiotics or antifungals. If these infections are not cleared up, then the cycle of itching, scratching and reinfection continues.

Dr. K :

I think that would be wise.

Dr. K :

For itching this long...a vet is definitely going to be needed to help find the underlying cause

Dr. K, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7540
Experience: 13 years experience as Veterinarian
Dr. K and 4 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you

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Dr. K
Dr. K
Veterinarian
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13 years experience as Veterinarian