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Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7564
Experience:  Veterinarian - BVSc
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Our dog is 7 years old, half Border Collie and half

Customer Question

Our dog is 7 years old, half Border Collie and half Brittney. We live in the mountains of NW Washington in the middle of lots of wildlife, including a yard full of wild turkeys. About 2 months ago I noticed that every once in a while Taz would scratch a spot here or there for a couple of seconds. This dog is in gorgeous condition, bathed and groomed regularly (even brushes his teeth every morning), white and copper in color with the most soft fur possible. He has never had a bug or any kind on him. When closely examining an "itchy" spot, I found tiny, tiny black bits near - but not on - the base of his hair. Pulled off, there was no movement, like a plant seed or such he may have picked up in the woods; however, after several baths of great length and rinsing, they remain. Could he have picked up lice from the wild turkeys in the yard (he no longer chases them so they come right to the house as they did before be got him), ALSO this seems to have started when I changed his food from Pedigree Healthy Longevity to Purina One 7+. He is not in "distress", but there are quite a few of these specks left on him even after several good shampooing and rinsing, brushing, etc. He does get regular worming and flea and tick protection. Thank you very much. Andrea Martello
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 9 months ago.

Hi there,

Thanks for your question regarding your boy Taz who has been scratching a spot quite regularly. It is extremely unlikely this is at all related to the wild turkeys in your area, and if you are keeping him up to date with flea and worm treatments, then this is definitely not the cause. It is quite possible he has an allergy of some sort, so I will run you through a few possibilities in my response. I'll get back to you in the next 5 minutes or so.

Dr E

Expert:  Pet Doc replied 9 months ago.

Hi again,

Thank you for your patience. As you can imagine, there are a number of things that could be causing Taz's skin issue and the itchy spot and we need to consider everything from external parasites, to infection, to an allergy of some sort. Firstly - you need to make sure that Taz is definitely up to date with flea control. Make sure you are using a flea product appropriate for his weight. Even if you may not see any fleas on him doesn't mean there are one or two lurking and oftentimes this is all it takes for a dog with flea allergy dermatitis. In Taz's case it does sounds like he may have an underlying allergy of some sort with secondary infection, however this could also be caused by parasites or fungi (ringworm or yeast). The black bits are unlikely to be external parasites, but we need to consider that here as well. These are more likely to be plugs from the pores in his skin.

Basically dogs are allergic to four main things - food, fleas, grasses/plants (contact allergy) or environmental allergens (canine atopy - the dog version of ezcema). Flea allergies are avoided by strict flea control - every 4 weeks with Advantage or Advantage multi, or every 5 - 6 weeks with Frontline. You must also ensure any other cats or dogs in the household are treated at the same time. I would recommend a product like Advantage Multi to cover off the chance of mites and lice here. A food allergy is a little harder to diagnose and would require a special food for Taz to eat (and nothing else) for 8 - 12 weeks to see if this improved his condition. This is less likely given Taz only seems to be irritated in one specific area. Contact allergies are best treated by avoidance of the plants that are to blame, but identifying the exact cause of a contact allergy can be very hard. A referral to a canine skin specialist may be the way to go in Taz's case for either a skin patch test or a blood allergen test.

While it is very unlikely, we do have to consider whether Taz could be affected by external parasites from the wild turkeys or other wildlife in your area. There are a range of parasites that affect your boy. In terms of canine mites, the most common type are either Demodex (less itchy) or Sarcoptes mites (VERY itchy) and you should ensure a full Veterinary check up so that he or she can carry out a physical examination and possibly a skin scrape to check for mites and lice, as well as signs of fleas.

The next step would be to double check for fungal disease (such as ringworm) and there are several tests for this including a UV light and a fungal culture. Again a full Vet check will be able to confirm or deny this. You should also purchase a medicated shampoo that will deal with both yeast and bacteria, and the product Malaseb is the most ideally suited for this. This requires you to make a lather and leave this lather on for 10 minutes before washing off! For many clients this is easier said that done, but it is SO important.

All the best with Taz, and do definitely follow up on this skin issue with your local vet when you get a chance. I hope all of the above makes sense? If you have more questions or if I can help in any other way, please do not hesitate to ask! If you would like to accept my answer, please press RATE OUR CONVERSATION (I am not compensated in any other way). Bonuses are always welcome. Thanks! I hope to work with you again soon!

Kind Regards,

Dr E

PS: If you have additional questions after you rate the question, you are welcome to request me for additional conversations if I am on-line or by beginning your question "Dr. E..." or "Pet-doc..." and others will leave the questions for me.

Expert:  Pet Doc replied 9 months ago.

Hopefully my message came through ok Andrea? Let me know if you have any further questions.

Dr E

Expert:  Pet Doc replied 9 months ago.

Hi again Andrea,

Let me know when you get this message and feel free to get back in touch then with any further concerns,

Dr E