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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28998
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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He continues to lick himself raw in spite of his flea

Customer Question

He continues to lick himself raw in spite of his flea treatments
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: I found him out on the street about 4 weeks ago. Matted, dirty and obviousy flea infested. I took him to the vet for all his shots and flea treatment. The Dr said he thinks he's around 1 1/2. His name is Fiddle.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Fiddle?
Customer: Fairly certain he was abused in the days prior to joining my circus.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

When flea treatments don't suffice to stop my patient's pruritis (itchiness) I need to consider that a flea saliva allergy - a delayed hypersensitivity reaction - has arisen. This isn't unusual in dogs and can arise days after the last flea has bitten. The glucocorticosteroid prednisone is usually prescribed to break up this allergy and usually works like magic.

Less commonly, another allergy is present in Fiddle. Both atopy (allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc.) and food intolerance are considerations. Atopy is also usually addressed with prednisone but a food intolerance is best addressed with a hypoallergenic diet. Flea saliva allergy is most likely in Fiddle but I'll post my synopsis of food intolerance for you here:

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 Fiddle's 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 his 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 my patient has been eating the same food for quite some time.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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