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Dr. Louis Gotthelf
Dr. Louis Gotthelf, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2438
Experience:  35 years as a small animal veterinarian in a clinical practice and a skin and ear clinic
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My dog wont stop scratching himself.

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My dog will not stop scratching himself & it's really really annoying!
He doesn't have fleas, there isn't a wound, he's been to the vet for blood tests, he's on allergy medication (I already asked his vet and its not the pills making him scratch), he was just washed again yesterday with an oatmeal shampoo, I add fish oil to his food (which is home made by the way), and I've even changed the recipe of his food, its not his blankets, he's not coming into contact with something that would cause him to scratch...he just won't stop!! There are 3 spots on his body that he will go for. I've put hydrocortisone on everything he's scratched right after he stops, I've even put the solution that is supposed to taste bad and discourage scratching, but nothing will stop him. He cannot go 5 minutes without incessantly scratching a part of him & this is 24/7. I haven't had sleep for 3 months now. He wakes me up half a dozen times a night with the noise he makes scratching. Its to the point where I'm going to lock him outside permanently if he will not stop.

I have been a vet for 33 years and I would like to use my experience to help you with your pet's medical problem. Can you tell me what medication the dog is taking and what dose?

Dr. Louis Gotthelf and 4 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

He is taking, 12.5 milligrams twice a day. That fixes most of his allergy issues, if I give him anymore he just sleeps all day. Its easy (and gross), but I know how his allergies are because one of his eyes will discharge large amounts of mucus from the tear duct. This is the same side as the ear he is always scratching. (I clean his ears on a regular basis). I'm worried that he's creating the issue and exacerbating it himself.

You did not tell me what drug he is taking. !2.5 mg of what??
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He's on Benedryl, sorry, I'm not getting sleep remember...
I now really think this is a fake situation with the dog. He's been scratching his left side non-stop. I just slathered the entire are in hydrocortizone about 20 minutes ago, now he's scratching on the right side. I got 3 hours 22 minutes of sleep last night before the noise woke me up. The fact that he won't go 5 minutes without scratching something kept me awake...he doesn't notice if his body or his tail is smashing up against anything as he's scratching also, so he is very very far from quiet.
Ok. Here's the scoop. Benadryl in dogs does not stop itching because dogs do not have much histamine in their skin. Only about 10% of dogs ever respond to Benadryl or other antihistamines. And....12.5mg is a very tiny dose for a Bassett Hound.

So here are 2 suggestions for you to discuss with your vet. First, have the dog dipped for sarcoptic mange. It can be done with either Phosmet (Paramite) or Amitraz (Mitaban). Another option is a shot of Ivermectin. Sarcoptic mange is very itchy and it is hard to diagnose so we dip these dogs to remove that possibility.

Second, have the vet give your dog a shot of Dexamethasone or Triamcinolone. Both of these are potent anti-itching steroids that will last for 5-7 days from one shot.

If the dog gets relief from these two procedures and never itches again, it was probably inapparent sarcoptic mange that was cured by the dipping. If the dog does well for a week and then starts itching again, it is most likely an allergy to something, which went away from the steroid shot and then returned when the level of the medicine fell too low.

If the steroid shot helped then the itching returned, you can use steroid tablets or cyclosporine capsules (Atopica) at home to control the itching for the summer.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He was not given the benadryl for the itching, that was for his allergies & benadryl did stop everything except the scratching. You would think that with all the scratching, something would be showing on his coat and/or skin by now, but his coat is soft & shiny and his skin looks totally normal where he is scratching. That's why its so strange...there aren't any marks, he just scratches.
He was checked for sarcoptic mange and anything else hounds in the NW are prone to picking up on a trip to his vet last month. The only thing that was found was a small ear infection. I treated that and it was gone 2 weeks later when I brought him back for a check-up.
I was just watching him through the window and the part that he's really aiming for now are his tear ducts. They are usually crusted over in the mornings, and I've gotten used to cleaning his eyes.
Dogs that are allergic show itching. It is called Atopic Dermatitis. They don't show the hay fever watery eyes and sneezing that we humans do. I see so many itchy dogs that benefit from a dip for sarcoptic mange because most doctors cannot diagnose it even with repeated skin scrapings. So we just treat for it and many of these dogs get better.
Dr. Louis Gotthelf and 4 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
There is where it gets confusing (for me). He actually does get watery eyes & sneezing attacks...its what actually reminds me to give him his allergy pill sometimes.
I trust that you have been doing this for 33 years, so I will print out your recommendations and give them to his vet here, but I'm not kidding when I say that I do not have the money to take him to the vet every single month.
If he has allergies, then all you need to do is to give him the right medication, which is relatively inexpensive. That does not require monthly vet visits. If he picked up mange mites, then that is a one time treatment. Obviously what you are doing is not working, so you will need to take another approach to see if you can give the dog some relief. I have been doing dermatology for over 25 years, and I am trying to give you the benefit of my experience with dogs like this.
Dr. Louis Gotthelf and 4 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I'm not questioning your abilities or your suggestions. If I knew thew answer, I wouldn't be here, and if I thought that you didn't know the answer, I would have stopped responding to you long ago! You bill yourself as an animal dermatologist, and that's exactly what I was looking for; you're the only person with enough experience in specific issues like that I've spoken with. I only commented on the fact that my vet is going to be buying a summer home, with how often he's seeing us.
I live in the Pacific NW and I like to spend time up in the mountains camping, hiking, etc. The last thing I would want, would be for Duke's life to change because he was bitten by something treatable and I didn't get treatment.

Do not worry...I bitch and moan, but I would never let any animal suffer, especially one in my care.

Thank you for your suggestions!

I hope he gets treated so he can stop itching. I live in the Southeast US where every other patient is itching, so I treat it all day long.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hello again,

I have not been able to take him to his Dr, I do not have any money. (I was retired from the military due to cancer, and that only pays once a month.)

Here is something interesting though: I gave him a bath a few days ago, and the amount of hair that came off of him was insane!!
I filled up an entire flowerpot with loose hair in less than 10 minutes. He had been shedding like mad for months, so I wasn't that surprised, but now all of the sudden he is shedding less & that is a surprise. He is brushed daily & I've tried a lot of fur remover tools that haven't done anything (like the Furminator).
His ears has been producing (or collecting) a lot of brown gunk. I usually wipe the insides of his ears with Epi-Otic ear cleanser every couple of days, so I know they are clean, because I'm the one doing the work.

That's about the only thing that has changed since we last spoke.

Thanks for checking in! I will let you know when a solution is found, if one can be found. I always like the experts to know what the situation becomes as the weeks go by.

(One thing...and this is for your personal knowledge: why is Just-answer paying you only $5 for this question? They gave a vet assistant double that for another question 2 months ago & it was half as complex! She knew what she was talking about, but not with the level of understanding that you have (which is why you are the Dr & she is the assistant).
Just an observation...I've always felt that society treats charges from vetenarians like teachers & child care providers asking for a raise. Everyone uses your services at some point, and if you were not here there would be a lot of trouble! Yet few people want to pay. Then there are the times that I'm sure you've worked for nothing, just to help an animal that was suffering. All the days that you make money are even out by the times that you just help animals w/o money.

A very close family friend married a vet about 20 years ago & they are always broke. I watched him perform hip surgery on a dog that was the victim of a hit & run. The dog was a stray that someone brought in (and then left). He knew there was zero chance of being compensated for the supplies he used, never mind the time spent and school bills he is still paying. I think a lot of people probably asked him why he didn't put the dog down. That's Mike though, there is no chance that he would ever turn away any animal in need. If he wasn't 2000 miles from here, Duke would have already been in his office for an exam moths ago.
You can call your vet and ask them to call in a prescription for Prednisone...enough for 2 weeks. That is very cheap.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hello again,

There is no chance of me ever giving him prednisone. I know if its adverse side effects on animals, I've seen it personally. I refused the drug when I was going through chemo & radiation, so if I won't take it myself, then there is no chance I would give it to an animal. I know your experience with the drug is different, but my first experience with it had the "worst-case" side effects.
A great Black Lab that I knew was given Prednezone for 2 weeks when he was 3. He was dead by the time he was 5, and that was after 2 years of physical deformations happening throughout his body. He couldn't walk, he couldn't breathe, he looked like he was 15 years old not 5. It devastated his family so much, and they felt so guilty, that they never got a dog again and they still feel guilty today. (it happened in the mid 90's)

I'm sure I could have just told you No, but I like to head off any arguments about the side effects being rare, etc. I don't care if this is rare, I don't care if you personally in 33 years have never had the smallest side effect; you didn't watch a perfectly healthy dog (with hay fever) slowly wither and die after a 2 week Prednezone regime.

Is there anything else that would do the same thing?

There is a drug called ATOPICA that is a little more expensive that controls allergies similar to pred but without all of the side effects. You would have to get that from the vet.
Dr. Louis Gotthelf and 4 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you! Will the Atopica cause drowsiness? He is a Basset Hound, he's already lazy enough... I'm worried about causing a real problem by constantly scratching the same area. Something out there will fix this situation, I'm not worried.

Cheers! & I'll let you know how things are in a few weeks.

The only side effect for ATOPICA is vomiting if you feed him before giving the medicine. I recommend that he is not fed for 3 hours before or after the capsule
Dr. Louis Gotthelf and 4 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Good to know, thanks!

I feel your profession is worth more than a computer repairman's; if he screws up, he just orders new parts. If you screw up, depending on your patient, you may lose a few parts.