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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24471
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I have a 9 year old golden retriever. He has problems with s

Customer Question

I have a 9 year old golden retriever. He has problems with his skin. Itching and
scratching. My vet gave me vetalog which seems to help somewhat. I stopped using it for a week. I have discovered dried skin scabs all over his back, but not on his underbelly. I
live in Knoxville, Tn area.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Christian K. replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

This is Dr. Christian. I'd be happy to help. Can you tell me the dose of vetalog you are using, how long you have been giving it and how often? Have you noticed any fleas? When did this start?

Expert:  Dr. Christian K. replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry. I'm not set up for phone calls yet but I'm happy to chat this way if you'd like or I can opt out and another expert can try to help.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner and I regret that I'm not allowed to correspond with customers by phone. I'm concerned that the dried skin scabs represent a pyoderma secondary to an allergic dermatitis in your Golden. Can you upload a photo of representative skin to our conversation? You can use the paperclip icon in the toolbar above your message box (not if you're using the chrome browser) or you can use an external app such as imgur.com or dropbox.com. I can be more accurate for you if I can see what you're seeing.
I'm going to post my synopsis of the pruritic (itchy) dog for you. Please peruse it and then return to our conversation with additional information and further questions or concerns...
I’m sorry to hear of this with your Golden. Pruritic (itchy) dogs are suffering from an allergic dermatitis in the great majority of cases. Allergies to flea saliva, environmental allergens (atopic dermatitis) such as pollens, molds, dust and dust mites, and foods should be considered. (Paw, extremity, and anus licking indicates both atopy and a food intolerance and so it behooves vets to distinguish one from another.) In many instances, a concomitant pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) as I expect exists in your dog, yeast infection (Malassezia), or mange mite (Demodex or Sarcoptes) might be contributory.
His vet can check a sample of your Golden's skin surface microscopically (a “cytology”) for abnormal numbers of bacteria and yeast and skin scrapings can be taken in an attempt to find mites. Pyoderma is treated with a minimum of 3-4 weeks of an antibiotic in the cephalosporin class such as cephalexin (Keflex) and yeast is addressed with ketoconazole for at least a month.
Our dermatologists tell us to apply an effective over the counter flea spot-on such as Advantage, a fipronil-containing product such as Frontline or one of the newer prescription products available from his vet even if fleas aren’t seen. Dogs can be such effective groomers so as to eliminate all evidence of flea infestation. Dogs who remain primarily indoors can contract fleas because we walk them in on us and flea eggs and larva can remain viable in your home for months. As the weather warms, egg hatches are common. In severe cases, an anti-allergenic prescription glucocorticoid such as prednisone will work wonders for dogs allergic to the saliva of the flea but will also predispose your dog to secondary bacterial infection. If you have other pets they may have fleas too but may not be allergic to the flea’s saliva.
Environmental allergies are usually initially addressed with prednisone as well. In some dogs an over the counter antihistamine such as clemastine (Tavist) at a dose of 0.025 - 0.75mg/lb twice daily or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) dosed at 1-2mg/lb twice daily may be effective. Antihistamines, however, aren’t reliable. Adding fish oil to the diet at a dose of 20mg/lb daily of the EPA in the fish oil might synergize with antihistamines to provide better anti-pruritic action. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are antiinflammatory but may take 8-12 weeks to kick in. The new cytokine antagonist oclacitinib (Apoquel) is likely to revolutionize how we address atopic dogs and should be discussed with his vet.
Food intolerance/allergy is addressed with prescription hypoallergenic diets. These special foods contain just one novel (rabbit, duck, e.g.) animal protein or proteins that have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed) to the point that his immune system doesn't "see" anything to be allergic to. The over the counter hypoallergenic foods too often contain proteins not listed on the label - soy is a common one - and these proteins would confound our evaluation of the efficacy of the hypoallergenic diet. The prescription foods are available from his vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra. (I prefer the hydrolyzed protein diets.) A positive response is usually seen within a few weeks if we’ve eliminated the offending food allergen. Food intolerance can arise at any age and even after our patient has been eating the same food for quite some time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I got all the information free while awaiting a phone call. Nothing was addressed about how my dog would feel. All the information received from you was all addressed on line free. Really wanted that live phone call so I could discuss my dog's health. I don't know whether your vet is good or not and do not like rating someone based on the above. I just wanted the live contact.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I really will not be paying in advance anymore online.