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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19604
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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My red and blue heeler itches uncontrollably. Its not fleas,

Customer Question

My red and blue heeler itches uncontrollably. It's not fleas, we've tried cortizone shots, benadryl, oatmeal and aloe baths etc. Not a grass allergy, same winter and summer. It's like he has a continuous intense niacin flush. You'd think he was on fire. We use frontline plus. Spents hundreds, nothing helps. He is house dog. We use the expensive non-allergenic treats, and he is fed beef and rice or chicken and rice. Prefer to make my own dog food. Cheaper than the expensive non-aalergenic one at the vet. He seems so miserable it makes us miserable. He was dumped on us. He has a thick luxurious coat and the vets say his skin loooks fine. We r thinking of putting him to sleep. Any help?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 7 years ago.

Hi Sir or Madam,


has the dog been tested for skin allergies?

You state the vet says the skin looks find and his coat is great. Was treatement required to get it to this state?

Were there rashes and lesions before?

What specifically has been ruled out by your vet?

What shots is he receiving every three weeks?

How often is he being bathed?

What is he being bathed with?

Is his skin flaky?

Is it spongy or scaly?

Is there an odor to the skin?



Customer: replied 7 years ago.

No, he has not been aLLERGY TESTED. oVERALL the skin and coat look good. Occasionally he will bite AT Aspot till it gets raw, then i will use some medicine, pink lady, antibiotic cream anti itch cream or whatever. When the weather is warm he swims in the creek, a very clear cold creek close to its own source. He does not smell bad at all, even tho not frequently bathed with soap. I have tried oatmeal aloe shampoo,

homemade, and hydrogen peroxide rinses and I think vinegar lrst summer. He doesn.t get a shot every three weeks, when he has had the cortizone shots the benefits, which are slight only last about three weeks,during that three weeks he is more aggressive and eats 3x more food. I am now using Pedigree dry lamb and rice and canned lamb chunks with carrots and peas and rice. Sometimes I cook beef liver, broth and rice.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 7 years ago.



It sounds like he gets hot spots which usually are the result of an allergy which is frequently a flea allergy. A dog with a flea allergy needs only to be bitten once to start the reaction going which leads to intense itching and even the development of lesions. Usually trimming the hair back, disinfecting with an antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide along with an antibiotic cream or witch hazel will help clear up any lesions or raw skin that occur. Unfortunately, if it is caused by a flea allergy, then even one flea jumping on him when he is outside can have an effect on him. Now you can use

Diatomaceous earth, which helps kill them in the yard without poisons. This can also be used in carpets as well. You can read more about that here.


Fleas do not like a wet environment so frequent watering of the lawn can also make it inhospitable to fleas as well. Of course, it would help to know definitely that this was the cause of the itching since any allergy could cause the reaction. Anti-inflammatory medications do tend to help worth allergy conditions, so It is understandable that the shots help. As you have seen though, steroids can have an affect on the personality as well.


I would recommend having allergy testing done so you know exactly what the dog is allergic to. Many dogs are allergic to multiple things and some to food items. Foods such as beef and Chicken are sometimes the cause. Most allergy diets are made of protein sources that dogs are likely not to have been fed before such as fish or venison and potatoes in place of other starches and fillers.


He is a relatively young dog and rather than continuing to spend lots of money treating the symptoms with antibiotics, shampoos, prednisone shots and special diets, it would be better to spend it on testing to see what the allergen actually is. Once the allergen(s) are known, they can then be avoided or if it is impossible to avoid, desensitizing shots can be given to lessen the reactions to the allergen and allow the dog to live a more normal life without the constant skin issues.


I'm going to give you some links on allergies and allergy testing for you to read over and discuss with your vet.


Here is a site that goes over itching in dogs.


I'm also going to include a link that lists various skin conditions for you to look over. Look over these as well and discuss the more likely ones with your vet.


I hope this information is helpful to you.

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