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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 27433
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Dog has sore on head

Customer Question

Dog has sore on head
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Excessive scratching
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for the photos. Your Lab has scratched her face to the point of causing a "hot spot" (pyotraumatic dermatitis). Notice her inflamed (reactive) ear as well which might be at least partially what her scratching has been directed to. Her scratching is likely to have an allergic basis (allergy to environmental allergens, flea saliva, food intolerance, e.g.). The proper manner in which to proceed is to have her vet clip and clean that hot spot, apply a topical anti-itch/antibiotic + steroid spray or non-occlusal ointment, irrigate the ear and then pack the ear canal with a similar ointment which you'll continue to administer into the ear at home, and administer and prescribe a glucocorticosteroid such as prednisone and a systemic antibiotic such as cephalexin which is an antibiotic of choice for what is likely to be a Staph infection in that ulcerated skin. Once your Lab is well-controlled and her skin and ear nicely healed, the search for the cause of her allergy should commence.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
We have been cleaning with peroxide and using burrows solutions on her, do dogs commonly get allergies later in life?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Additional pics of ear
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

Ouch! Thank you. The photos show a well-known response to allergic dermatitis in retrievers. Atopy - allergies to environmental allergens - is over-represented in this breed. Yes, allergies can arise at any age. Environmental allergies are usually initially addressed with prednisone as I mentioned above. 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 (maximum dose of 50 mg at any one time) may be effective. Antihistamines, however, aren’t reliably effective. 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 (anti-itch) 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 her vet. Oclacitinib works as well as a steroid without a steroid's adverse effects. Please note that atopy, at least initially, should have a seasonality to it while a food intolerance should cause pruritis regardless of the season. Chronically atopic dogs may be pruritic year round.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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