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Dr. Jo
Dr. Jo, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2818
Experience:  DVM from Iowa State University in 1994; actively engaged in private regular and emergency practice since that time.
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Dog has patchy areas of lost hair and scabby condition. Itches.

Customer Question

Dog has patchy areas of lost hair and scabby condition. Itches. We have been to the vet him saying and testing the thyroid which is fine. Went through allergy pills and ointment. Changed his dog food to Blue Diamond Basics. What else is there. He is a Cairn Terrier about 18 pounds.
Submitted: 2 years ago via Dog-Health-Guide.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
I'm Dr. Jo and I'm here to help you with your question about Rocky . I'm so sorry he is having this problem, but glad you're looking for the information you need.
You may join the conversation at any time by typing in what you want to say then clicking REPLY. That way we can chat back and forth until you are satisfied with the information I've provided and are happy to give me a positive rating.
Please let me start by saying dealing with skin problems is complicated and you usually have to try several things before finding a solution that works. That means you'll need to keep the lines of communication open with your vet about what is and is not working.
You mentioned you tested for and ruled out thyroid disease. That's good. Unfortunately, thyroid disease is not something expected to cause scabby patches of hair loss in a 5-year-old terrier.
You mentioned you tried "allergy pills". While allergies are a very common cause of patchy hair loss and scabs in a 5-year-old dog, it's important to understand the following...
1. Allergy treatment is very complicated. You usually have to try a lot of different things before getting improvement.
2. Allergy treatment doesn't CURE anything. It just relieves the symptoms. That means that once you find a treatment that works for your dog, you have to stay on the medication FOREVER or else the symptoms will come right back.
In regards ***** ***** his food...
1. This would only be of benefit if you knew for certain Rocky has a food allergy. That's not easy to determine. If he doesn't have a food allergy, then changing his diet is a waste of time and effort.
2. Choosing the right food for a food allergic dog is a complicated matter. It's important to choose a food with very limited ingredients that he's never had before.
3. Doing a limited-ingredient food trial for a food allergic dog properly takes at least two months and it is essential he receive absolutely nothing else by mouth during that time.
So... what else is there?
In short, either this is NOT allergies and is something like mites, a bacterial skin problem, a fungal skin problem, or an autoimmune disease, or it IS allergies, but you are not on a treatment plan that is currently working.
The most important part of my job when I take care of pets with allergies is educating their owners so they know why we are doing what we are doing and what to expect. The biggest thing is making sure owners understand their allergic pet will require a lot of medication for the rest of his life.
I'll attach below some helpful articles about managing skin problems in pets.
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
I know this is a lot of information, and I don't mean to be overwhelming, but I think it's important to realize how complicated skin disease is in dogs. Please read the following articles and let me know if you have additional questions. Please also keep in mind that these articles are ONLY about allergies and not any of the other illnesses that would be likely to be the cause of Rocky's skin problems (although allergies of some type are the most likely).
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
Just checking in to see if you have any additional questions after reviewing the information I've provided so far.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
There is so much to take in. I may try an antihistamine with omega. Is there a topical creme you would suggest to use on his back?
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
Yes, I know. :-)
At least I can take some satisfaction in knowing I've helped by knowing that you now realize how complicated an issue this is.
In regards ***** ***** an omega fatty acid...
That's a great start. It's the easiest step you can take to make sure Rocky's skin is as healthy as it can be, regardless of the cause of his trouble. Please do keep in mind that you won't notice any rapid improvement from this. It takes about 6 weeks to get on board and become effective.
In regards ***** *****
They're safe; you won't do any harm. If this is something besides allergies, however, they're totally inappropriate. Also keep in mind that you usually have to try half a dozen different ones before you find one that you think makes a difference.
In regards ***** ***** topical cream...
No, I don't have a recommendation to make because I don't know what Rocky's diagnosis is (bacterial, fungal, parasitic, autoimmune, allergic). With that in mind, however, creams are generally not a very big part of therapy for canine dermatitis issues because a dog will usually lick it off and they're usually ineffective.
Sorry this is so complicated. My allergy patients are some of the most time-demanding and complicated patients I care for. We usually book their appointments for a minimum of an hour.
The most efficient (time-wise and expense-wise) path to healthy skin for Rocky will be for you to develop a long-term relationship with a veterinarian you trust in order to provide his ongoing care. Sure, it might sound expensive at first, but it's way cheaper than trying the wrong treatment over and over again.
I hope this information helps. Please do take a moment to rate my response when you are satisfied with the information I've provided. Thank you.
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
Just checking in to ask how things are going with Rocky and to ask if there is anything else I can help you with.