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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14570
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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We have a 9 months old male Vizsla (Logan). Logan weighs

Customer Question

Hi, We have a 9 months old male Vizsla (Logan). Logan weighs around 50lbs. For the past few weeks, he developed itchy skin and in a few days I saw red dots/rashes on his chest, tummy. He has scratched under his arms a lot and it almost looks like it is bleeding. He scratches behind his ears too. He has bite spots(lost hair) on his legs too. He has a few bumps on his back which comes on and goes off. We took him to his regular vet and the vet gave him a shot(1.4units) of Triamcinolone 4mg/ml and the itchy red spots vanished and completely stopped itching for 5 days. Now he has slowly started to itch again and I see some red spots developing on his chest. We still don't know what the reason is and we also want to know how can we treat him better to stop itching. He eats a mixture of Wellness core grain free puppy formula dry food and Costco chicken and rice puppy formula dry food, we add boiled egg on it some times, and some times we add cooked chicken, and some times we add raw chicken too. But since he started itching, we give him the dry food mixture and add some cooked chicken on it.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. The Veterinarian will know what to do about this bleeding. I'll connect you ASAP. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the dog?
Customer: His diet has not changed recently. We also give him a few treats (different kinds), dental stix etc. But since he started itching, we have stopped all the treats. We were taking him to dog park every day. But for the past 2 weeks, we have stopped that too. I used to give him bath once in 3-4 weeks with baby powder shampoo. Now bathe him just with water. I tried giving some Benadryl but looks like it did not help much.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that your fellow Logan is miserably itchy and has developed a rash, both of which responded nicely to a triamcinolone injection but returned as it wore off.

Given his response to triamcinolone, which is a steroid, this is likely an allergic reaction.

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. Flea bite allergy is 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 II or Advantix are excellent as is the new Seresto Flea collar. I don't normally recommend flea collars, but this one really works and lasts for at least 6-8 months. Don't use over the counter products, especially Hartz or Sargents, as most are ineffective if not toxic. Unfortunately even after the fleas are gone the allergic reaction can continue for weeks and I will discuss controlling that reaction below.

Other allergens can be inhaled (like grass pollen, dust mites or molds).

You can use a combination of antihistamines and high doses of omega-3 fatty acids to help with the symptoms of flea allergy and inhaled allergens. 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 acetaminophen or decongestants as they can be toxic for dogs) at a dose of 1mg to 2mg per pound of body weight or one 25mg capsule per 15 to 25 pounds of body weight orally every 8 hours. I know you gave Benadryl, but dogs take a much higher dose than we do and I wanted to make sure that you dosed him high enough.

OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at 5mg per 25 pounds of body weight once or twice daily.

OR 3)Hydroxyzine at 1mg per pound of body weight orally every 8 hours.

OR 4) Chlorpheniramine at 4mg to 8mg per dog once or twice daily.

OR 5) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at 1/2 mg per pound of body weight orally every 24 hours. That would be one 10mg tablet per 20 pounds of body weight. Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because dogs cannot tolerate decongestants.

Some dogs do better on one antihistamine rather than another, most seem to do the best on cetirizine but if not you have several choices. Give the one you pick a week trial 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 high end of the dosing schedule for your pup's weight. I recommend a dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give him 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example a 50 pound dog could take 1000mg of EPA per day.

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. Do not bathe your fellow for 2 to 3 days before or after applying flea control products or the bath will interfere with the product's efficacy.

Food allergy is very possible with him as well if he seems to be itchy all year round. 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.

Make sure that the food that you put him on is a true hypoallergenic diet if you choose to pursue food allergy possibilities. 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 with a true hypoallergenic diet and then adding one food item (chicken, beef, corn wheat etc) every month to see what he reacts to. Then we can find a regular food to try without those ingredients that he reacts to. As far as permanent diets I do tend to stick with Purina Pro Plan 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.

If you choose to try testing/treating him for a food allergy I recommend that you 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. You should see some improvement in 6 to 8 weeks.

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 sometimes we need them to break the itch cycle. Then use antihistamines and topical products directed at the problem areas, both in combination can be very helpful and are less likely to cause side effects.

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.

Another option is a newer prescription drug called Apoquel (generic name oclacitinib) which interferes with the allergic pathway. It works very quickly to stop the symptoms of an allergy. Most dogs are reported to be much more comfortable in a day or so.

If you are interested discuss these medications with your veterinarian as they are prescription products.

Another option if you are interested, is trying immunotherapy. Your fellow would need to be tested to determine exactly what he is allergic to, and then he is given small amounts of the allergen to build up his tolerance to it, increasing the amount of allergen in the injection incrementally so that his immune system no longer responds to it. This isn't a quick fix, it takes time to slowly build up their tolerance and as he develops new allergens things may need to be added, but it is an option.

If he's not improving parasites like cheyletiella, demodex or sarcoptes mites should be looked for by your veterinarian as they can lead to very itchy skin. He may have picked mites up at the dog park.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 months ago.
Hi Nithin,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 months ago.

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

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