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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 23827
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Scratching at ears and biting in the air. JA: I'm sorry to

Customer Question

Scratching at ears and biting in the air.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Using the wrong medication for fleas can be dangerous. You should definitely talk to the Veterinarian. What is the dog's name and age?
Customer: She has no fleas,
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the dog?
Customer: She's 3 boykin
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 5 months ago.
Scratching at the ears can result from otitis externa - infection with bacteria and yeast in the outer ear - but more commonly results from the pruritis (itchiness) of an allergic dermatitis. In that case we consider the ears to be reactive rather than infected although it's not unusual for a secondary infection (usually by yeast) to arise in reactive ears. Biting in the air is a reflex when our dogs scratch at themselves. I can induce that reaction by scratching an itchy dog's saddle area - the areas between the edge of the rib cage and tail - that often is quite pruritic in cases of allergic dermatitis.Both atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.) and food intolerance (much less common) should be considered when my patient is scratching at her ear. Her vet can scope your dog's ears and tell you if they appear to be reactive, infected, or both and treat accordingly - usually with a combination antibiotic, antiyeast, and antiinflammatory otic ointment or suspension. Systemic therapy for atopy usually involves a short course of a low dose glucocorticosteroid such as prednisone or, preferably, the new cytokine antagonist oclacitinib which works as well as a steroid but without a steroid's adverse effects. 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 her 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 her vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra (a hydrolyzed protein diet is my preference because it avoids the possibility of my patient being intolerant to even a novel protein). 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.Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 5 months ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin