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Anna, Dog Expert, Biologist
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 11464
Experience:  35 years training & showing dogs. Written articles for Dog Fancy, Dogs, Dog World.
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my 3 year old yorkie had god-awful allergies - at least that

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my 3 year old yorkie had god-awful allergies - at least that is what they tell me. he CONSTANTLY scratches and bites himself - to the point where he bleeds. he also chews his paws until the pink underpads are showing. He is also so congested he pants and can hardley breathe. I am in pain watching my little dog suffer (he is a big yorkie not a little teacup). I have taken him him to the vet several times. they said they don't hear anything in his lungs. they give me antibiotics - which don't address the problems. i have tried recommended OTC product - animal and human. Nothing has worked - at all. Please help...


I'm sorry to hear you and your Yorkie are going through this. Some additional information will be helpful.

What kind of tests has your vet done: allergy tests, x-rays, blood work, etc.?

Are antibiotics the only treatment they have tried?

What do you feed your dog (brand names of the foods)?


What are the names of the OTC products you've tried?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

They have not done these. last year they gave me a prescription anithistimine. My last visit in Jan 2013 vet prescribed the antibiotics for an ear infection (from scratching his ears). she suggested x-ray of the throat because to make sure the trachea is not collasped, but unfortunately my dog fund was tapped out. I feed they only human food -meat and veggies and apples. i started this 2 years ago when he wouldn't eat the deer/brown rice diet that the vet suggested. I actually have 2 yorkies - they are purebreds - litter mates. he is the runt. i also have his brother - who is bigger and has no apparent problems - except pottie training - he just won't get it. smaller brother definately got the brains of the litter. he is smart and clever and gets his training quickly.

Thank you for getting back to me. He sounds like a delightful little dog. It's too bad he's having these problems. The scratching and itching certainly sound like allergies. Dogs don't usually develop breathing/congestion symptoms with allergies, so I suspect that is something else. Collapsed tracheas are fairly common in small breeds, so your vet may be right, but you won't know without the x-ray. Allergy testing would be the best way to find out what he is allergic to, but unfortunately, that is expensive, too. There are a few things you and your vet can try without doing more testing.

Allergies can be very difficult to treat. One of my dogs has severe allergies, so I know how frustrating it is. Even with the help of a good vet, it's frequently necessary to try different medications before finding one, or more likely several, that work.

There are three main types of allergies: flea bite allergies, food allergies, and inhalant allergies (which may be seasonal or year round).

Even one flea can cause a reaction in a sensitive dog. If you don't find a single flea, don't start treating the dog for fleas as a preventative. Many of the flea treatments can further irritate the skin, so you don't want to use them if they're not necessary. If you ever find fleas, call your vet to find the best way to treat a dog whose skin is already agitated.

If there is a food allergy, the best way to find it is to try a food elimination program under the guidance of your vet. The alternative is to switch to a high-quality diet with very few ingredients, such as California Natural, or one of the duck/potato or fish/sweet potato diets available through veterinarians. You've already tried that, and your dog didn't like it. your home-prepared meals should be fine. I'm a big fan of them, and I do home-prepare my dogs' food. I want to mention something about that just in case you don't already know. Dogs on homemade meat diets need to have a calcium supplement. I use Kal Bone Meal ( a human product). You add 1/4 teaspoon per 4 ounces of meat. You don't need to add any for the veggies or fruit, just the meat. This doesn't have anything to do with the allergies, but is important for your dogs' health.

Despite their name, inhalant allergies cause itching in dogs, not sneezing. Dust mites and pollen are two common causes. Ragweed pollen often causes allergies that develop in the late summer and end after the weather turns cold. These allergies are usually treated with antihistamines. My own dog suffers from these allergies. There are many different antihistamines used in dogs. I had to try three different types with my dog before we found a combination that helped. Hydroxyzine is one that often helps with itching. It's available by prescription from your vet. When antihistamines don't work, the next step is usually to use some form of prednisone, either injected or in pills. If you haven’t tried corticosteroid injections (usually methyl prednisolone acetate) with your dog, that is something else to discuss with your vet. For many dogs an injection every 3 to 6 weeks gives them great relief. Some vets are hesitant to use corticosteroids this heavily because of the side-effects, but when the alternative is a life of misery and nonstop itching, your vet may be willing to try it. Here is a site where you can read more about allergies:

Adding omega-3 oils to the food helps with some skin problems. This isn't an instant fix; it would take several weeks to notice any change. Salmon oil is a good source of omega-3s. Here is a link to a reputable brand:

You can spray the body parts your dog is licking/chewing with one of the anti-itch sprays available in pet stores. There are also anti-itch shampoos that help some dogs. Here is an online source of over-the-counter allergy solutions:

Getting relief from allergies often requires using a number of different remedies, and experimenting (with your vet's guidance) with different medications until you find something that works. Here are two other drugs that are often successful for allergies:

There are also desensitizing extracts that are injected. They work in about 70% of dogs. I'm getting good results with my own allergic dog using these, after nothing else helped her. There are some downsides to using the extracts, even though they are one of the most effective allergy treatments. They're relatively expensive, especially in the first few months when the injections have to be given more frequently. The dog owner has to be willing and able to give injections because at the beginning of the program, injections are given every other day. Some dog owners just can't bring themselves to give an injection. If you want to read more about this, here's a link to one company's site:

As an example of the lengths you may have to go to, I’ll use my own allergic dog as an example. She is fed a limited ingredient homemade diet and supplemented with fish oils. She takes two different antihistamines, and a low-dose prednisone tablet. Every three weeks she receives an injection of de-sensitizing extracts, All of these measures together control her allergies.

I hope you find some itch-relief for your dog soon. If you need clarification or more information on any of this, just let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your detailed and well researched answer. I hope something you suggested helps. It's hard to believe your dog is on so many medications. They really work their way into your heart, don't they?

You're welcome. You'll probably have to try more than one thing, but I, too, hope some of them will help. Yes, they certainly do work their way into our hearts. My girl is 13 years old, and her allergies occur only for about 4 months of the year, so she isn't on all those medications all the time. Only the extracts and the fish oil are given all year round. It took several years to figure out what would help her. I hope you can get much quicker results.

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