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Dr. Gabby
Dr. Gabby, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Our 12 year old Papillion seems to itch constantly. He scratches

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Our 12 year old Papillion seems to itch constantly. He scratches himself wherever he can reach, but mostly he uses his teeth to scratch on his back near his tail, often to the point of giving a little cry as if he's hurt himself. We know he has allergies because his tummy skin can get pretty red. He's somewhat allergic to grass, but this seems to be more than that. The constant scratching is driving us (and him) nuts. We've done everything we can think of - we put skin & coat oil supplement in his food, we've tried Benadryl (doesn't seem to work very well), when we bathe him we use a mild puppy shampoo (but we don't do that more than once a month because we don't want to dry out his skin), we rinse him off once a week or so to get rid of any grass pollens that might be on him. We just don't know what else to do.
Hello and thank you for asking your question. My name isXXXXX will try to help.
I need a little more information please.
1. How much does he weigh?
2. How many mg of benadryl are you giving him? How often do you give it?
3. What do you use for flea control? How often do you apply it?
4. Has he had a blood test to see what he is allergic to?
5. Have you tried putting him on hills z/d, the hypo-allergenic diet, to see if he has food allergies?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1. 12 pounds (he's a large pappy, not overweight)

2. We haven't given him Benadryl lately because it doesn't seem to work. we have given him children's and adult. We either squirt a children's dose into his mouth or crush half an adult capsule.

3. We use Frontline flea control and just applied some 3 weeks ago.

4. No. Our vet (who just passed away) told us about the grass allergy because Reg licks the bottom of his paws a lot.

5. No


Thank you,
The the severe itching in the area you describe could be a few things.
Dogs have anal glands, just inside the rectum, that are used to mark the territory when they have a bowel movement. Sometimes the drainage ducts become blocked. Then the glands become too full or infected. It is quite painful and annoying for the dogs. The treatment is to have the vet, or veterinary nurse, drain the anal glands manually with a finger in the rectum. If there are signs of infection, antibiotics will be needed. If there is inflammation, a short course of prednisone may be needed.
Fleas like to bite over the lower back. That is the favorite place to feed. One flea bite can cause a big allergic reaction. The fleas always go on the dog to feed and then they jump off. So you may never see the offending flea. Shampoos wash off the topical flea products as well. You can apply the frontline every three weeks if needed.
He may also be having pain back there. He is an older guy so he may be having some arthritis in his hips or spine. You can try giving him one of the small dose aspirins which come in 81 mg tablets. Give it with a meal to help prevent gastrointestinal upset. If it helps, then I would take him to the vet and get him a pain medication that is more effective on pain and less likely to cause gastrointestinal upset.
You can also try 1/4 of a 10 mg zyrtec tablet every 24 hours.
Or 1/2 of a 4 mg chlopheniramine tablet every 12 hours.
Sometimes a different antihistamines is more effective on certain dogs.
You an can always spray topical hydrocortisone spray, on any itchy areas, every few hours.
I hope this helps.
If you have additional questions, please reply.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. We're pretty sure he has no back or hip problems - he's extremely active and shows no signs of pain when running, fetching, etc Are the medicines you mentioned antihistamines - zyrtec, chlopheniramine? Should we try a hypo-allergenic diet? Please tell me what the "hills z/d" diet is. We feed him Blue Buffalo dry and wet food combined, with added bran since he's become somewhat constipated as he gets older.

You are welcome.
He could have pulled a muscle over his back or hips? Just trying to cover all the bases.
So if we want to figure out if a pet has food allergies, we put them on a completely hypo-allergenic diet for 6-8 weeks. If the symptoms resolve, then we know it is food allergies. Food allergies do cause rectal itching. They can also cause paw licking, skin inflammation, and ear issues. The diet that has to be used, for the test, is called "hills z/d." It is a prescription food and has to be purchased at a vet clinic. Blue buffalo is a great food but not hypo-allergenic. If you have not already done so, I think a hypo-allergenic diet trial is a great idea.
Some dogs have food allergies plus environmental allergies.
The bran, or metamucil, are fine by the way. I think the metamucil would be less allergenic. 1 teaspoon, twice a day, for his size. He can have it every day if needed. You can also buy metamucil at the human grocery store and drug store.
A vet could do a blood test to see what he is allergic to if his itching continues. The blood test is a few hundred dollars though.
Yes, zyrtec and chlopheniramine are human antihistamines. You can buy them at the human grocery store or drug store.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If we decide to try the antihistamines, what dosage is appropriate?

zyrtec 1/4 of a 10 mg tablet once a day
chlopheniramine 1/2 of a 4 mg tablet twice a day
Dr. Gabby and other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Ann,

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

Dr. Gabby