How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9283
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience treating dogs, cats, mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, & iguanas
Type Your Dog Veterinary Question Here...
Dr. Kara is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Shiba Inu with seasonal outdoor allergies

Resolved Question:

Hi Dr. Kara! I have a 25-lb Shiba Inu. I've been giving him 10mg of Loratidine once per day (24-hour Claritin dissolvable chews), but it doesn't seem to be having any affect on his allergies whatsoever. Do you have any other suggestions? His symptoms include itching on the face and paws (he usually licks or chews them raw :( ) and watery, swollen eyes. Today, I upped his dosage to 2xs per day and it still didn't seem to have an affect. 

Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 11 months ago.

Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.

I am so sorry to hear about poor Copper, he sounds miserable.

Allergies are the most common cause of itchy skin and can give him 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. He may have more than one allergy given how symptomatic he 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, if only during the spring,
summer and early 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 or Advantix are excellent. Don't use over the counter products, especially Hartz or Sargents,
as most are ineffective if not toxic.

 

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. If his symptoms worsen seasonally I would think that inhaled allergens are a part of his problem.

 

You can try:

1) Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products with decongestants and acetaminophen as they can be toxic) at 1mg to 2mg per pound or one 25mg capsule per 25 pounds of dog orally every 8 hours.

OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at 5mg per 25 pound dog once or twice daily. You've been giving that at a higher then normal dose and it doesn't sound like it's helping much so I would recommend trying another antihistamine from my list.

OR 3)Hydroxyzine at 1mg per pound 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.
You'll have to try one for 7 to days and see if it works, 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 highest end of the dosing schedule for your pup's weight. The low end is for prevention but he needs more if he is already so itchy.

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 allergy is very possible with him as food allergic dogs often have very itchy faces and paws. Dogs can develop allergies to any protein or carbohydrate so even
if he is only fed one thing that can be what he 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. You could 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. Most owners see some improvement in 6 to 8 weeks. In a dog that I truly believe has food allergies I recommend going to prescription foods. 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 and ears 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. I do tend to stick with Purina 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.

Cortisone ointment applied to the very itchy places (as long as they aren't raw) twice daily may help as well if needed. Some sprays have alcohol which can be painful on raw skin and lead to more inflammation. I don't like oral steroids but topicals directed at the problem areas can be very helpful and are less likely to cause side effects. In some cases we do need oral steroids for a short time but I try antihistamines and omega 3's first.

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. If you are interested discuss this medication with your veterinarian as it is a prescription.


If it's been a while since his last exam parasites like cheyletiella, demodex or sarcoptes should be looked for as well if he isn't improving as they lead to very itchy skin.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Thanks so much! I have had him on a flea regimen since early spring, so I'm not sure that's the case, but I will check!


He does occasionally get allergic reactions to vaccinations and I give him Benadryl for that and it seems to work, so hopefully it's just a matter of switching back to Benadryl. I just thought Claritin was better for outdoor allergies. Perhaps that combined with fish oil will knock his histamines back out.


Year after year, he has the same allergic reactions/symptoms in the fall; once August hits, he's constantly licking his paws. I switched his diet to Blue (chicken and brown rice) last year before his "allergy season" and he didn't have such a bad time with ragweed (I believe that's the culprit) last year; however, this year is particularly bad and I'm wondering if he needs something more? What do you think? We already do not give him treats or food other than his own because he gets food aggressive.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 11 months ago.

Thanks for the further information, I'm sorry I missed it earlier.

I'm glad to hear that you are already on top of flea control, that gives us one less thing to worry about.

Every dog seems to be different and while one antihistamine seems to work for one dog, there's no guarantee it will work for another so that's why I gave you several options. I haven't necessarily found Claritin (loratadine) any more effective then any of the others but many owners like to try it as it can be a once a day dosing for some dogs.

Since his allergies do seem to be seasonal, as far as showing symptoms, he may not have a food allergy or it may be that the added on inhaled allergens (ragweed) make a food sensitivity more obvious. It wouldn't hurt to try a prescription hypoallergenic diet, and given where he is itchy it may indeed help. I'm not sure Blue is restrictive enough to get a fair picture of whether he is truly food allergic or not. I'd go with a true prescription hypoallergenic diet.

Let me know if you have any further questions and how things go for your fellow.

Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9283
Experience: Over 20 years of experience treating dogs, cats, mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, & iguanas
Dr. Kara and 9 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • It was so professional, so personally concerned (as we were) and you answered all of our questions. George and I are so happy that I found "JustAnswer" on my Google search -- you are now in my "Favorites" list! And, yes we do love our kitty - she makes our life complete! Bev & George Boca Raton, FL
< Last | Next >
  • It was so professional, so personally concerned (as we were) and you answered all of our questions. George and I are so happy that I found "JustAnswer" on my Google search -- you are now in my "Favorites" list! And, yes we do love our kitty - she makes our life complete! Bev & George Boca Raton, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin Kernersville, NC
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther Woodstock, NY
  • Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know. Robin Elkton, Maryland
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dr. Debbie

    Dog Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    902
    Companion animal veterinarian practicing for over 10 years.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DE/debkatreyn/2011-11-28_33650_682e.64x64.jpg Dr. Debbie's Avatar

    Dr. Debbie

    Dog Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    902
    Companion animal veterinarian practicing for over 10 years.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/VE/vetforyou/2012-6-20_33122_PearlPhoto.64x64.jpg Dr. Andy's Avatar

    Dr. Andy

    Medical Director

    Satisfied Customers:

    13796
    UC Davis graduate, emphasis in dermatology, internal medicine, pain management
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/doggfone1/2009-07-16_133633_vet_pic.jpg Dr. Scott's Avatar

    Dr. Scott

    Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    9550
    12 years of small animal, equine and pocket pet medicine and surgery.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RY/rydergar/2012-6-6_192240_IMG0328.64x64.JPG Dr. Gary's Avatar

    Dr. Gary

    Dog Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    7758
    DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/AN/andrewDVM/2012-4-27_12585_iStock000011751407XSmall.64x64.jpg Dr. Drew's Avatar

    Dr. Drew

    Dog Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    6598
    Small Animal Medicine and Surgery
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/1I/1ISUDVM/2011-3-1_22028_Honeymoon2005075294928803490646858.64x64.jpg Dr. Bruce's Avatar

    Dr. Bruce

    Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    6377
    13 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BI/bigislandvet/2013-2-21_214244_IMG0357.64x64.JPG Dr. Michael Salkin's Avatar

    Dr. Michael Salkin

    Big Island Vet

    Satisfied Customers:

    6049
    University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 41 yrs. of experience.