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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9123
Experience:  I have owned, bred and shown dogs for over 40 years.
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My 6yr old teddy bear who never licks herself is suddenly

Customer Question

my 6yr old teddy bear who never licks herself is suddenly doing it all the time.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: She's fixed, but we also recently moved from Wis. to AZ and wonder if that has anything to do with it or possibly something happened with her and a group of dogs that she stayed with recently for several days while we were gone.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — Dog Specialists generally expect a deposit of about $19 to help with your type of question (you only pay if satisfied). Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 8 months ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.

I'm sorry for this concern for your dog. There are actually two possible explanations which come to mind that might explain her licking if this is entirely new behavior:

1. She could be developing an inhalant allergy especially since you've moved and she may now be exposed to things in her environment which weren't present in Wisconsin. Inhalant or pollen allergies are very common in dogs and include reactions to such things as pollens, grasses, weeds, trees, dust mites, mold....any or all of these things can cause a dog's skin to become itchy. Sometimes mild itch, sometimes intense itch to the point of losing fur.

It would take skin testing by a dermatologist to confirm this problem but sometimes response to steroids can confirm it. Anti-histamines can sometime help as well if the itch level is not too high.

You might try human, over the counter Benadryl at a dose of 1 mg per pound of body weight twice daily to see if it helps. Sedation is the most common side effect although it can cause excitement in some dogs. If this is not strong enough, steroids are often needed. Anti-itch sprays are not terribly effective, in my opinion although oatmeal shampoos can sometimes help soothe the skin and can be given once/week without drying out the fur.

Fish oil can be effective for some patients but it will take several weeks for them to build up in the body.

2. If this is entirely new behavior (there haven ever been skin issues before) and since she's had contact with other dogs, then Sarcoptes Mange mites is another possibility. These are very itchy mites and yet they are difficult to find on a skin scraping done by your vet. We currently have a responsibly accurate blood test for this might although false negatives are possible. In other words, a negative test doesn't necessarily entirely rule out the problem.

If I have a dog where I strongly suspect that Sarcoptes are the problem, then I'll treat my patient with oral Ivermectin once a week for four weeks. Every vet has their favorite protocol but I've not yet seen this drug fail to work.

I hope this helps. Deb