Dog

Get your dog care questions answered by Experts

Ask an Expert,
Get an Answer ASAP!

My Cocker Spaniel has the same habit of excessive sniffing…

Customer Question
My Cocker Spaniel has...

My Cocker Spaniel has the same habit of excessive sniffing and scratching. For the scratching, we started him on benadryl for a week but it didn't help. Went to the vet and they gave him a steroid to take for a few weeks but he continues to itch. I've changed his diet to make sure it isn't food related but nothing is working. Still itching and excessively sniffing. What further can I do?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. What is the dog's name and age?

Chico Rico and he's almost 8.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Chico?

Nothing else unusual.

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Dog
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Dog Question
Answered in 24 minutes by:
12/19/2017
Dog Specialist: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 34,881
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
Verified

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

Ask Your Own Dog Question
Dog Specialist: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Can you clarify "excessive sniffing" for me, please? Is Chico Rico sneezing with nasal discharge?

Ask Your Own Dog Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
No sneezing or discharge. Every object he walks by he stops and sniffs for an unusual amount of time. He goes from room to room sniffing anything at the level of his nose. Once done he'll lay down the get back up and do it all over again. This is all day long. Sometimes he will sniff mine, my mother's, or another guest's leg for a long time or until you tell him to stop.
Dog Specialist: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Thank you, Tee. I don't believe that his sniffing represents pathology unless he's become obsessive/compulsive which is described as mood/behavioral disorders characterized by repetitive, invariant, patterned behaviors that are exaggerated in intensity, frequency, and duration given the inciting stimuli (i.e., expressed out of context). The behavior interferes with health and well-being. Earlier in the course you may have been able to stop the behavior, but that may not be the case at this time. Chico Rico may hide (to perform the behavior), become aggressive when you attempt to stop it, or may begin avoiding you.

Consultation with a specialist veterinary neurologist (please see here: www.acvim.org) might be considered. All cases of OCD warrant intervention which is individualized and based on frequency and severity of clinical signs. Treatment is usually a combination of behavioral and environmental modification and psychotropic medication. The goal is to minimize and if possible eliminate bouts of compulsive behavior and the concomitant anxious states that accompany them.

In general, we need to identify and eliminate trigger events/situations. No punishment should ever be used since it can heighten anxiety and worsen the problem. If possible, these pets can be redirected to an alternative and incompatible behavior such as licking food from a toy instead of licking the skin if the redirection doesn't make the pet more anxious. Pets should be calmly rewarded for any spontaneous calm behavior. Keeping a structured daily routine helps decrease anxiety. The most successful medications used in the treatment of OCD in people include SSRIs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and clomipramine (Clomicalm). Typically, psychotropic therapy is necessary for longer periods of time than other anxiety-based disorders (months to years depending upon severity and how long the disorder has been ongoing). Lifelong medication use isn't unusual in severe cases.

His excessive scratching isn't an expected trigger for obsessive/compulsive disorders but, instead, usually represents an allergic dermatitis. I'll post my entire synopsis of the itchy dog for you so you can see all of the things I need to consider...

Pruritic (itchy) dogs are suffering from an allergic dermatitis in the great majority of cases. Allergies to flea saliva, environmental allergens (atopic dermatitis) such as pollens, molds, dust and dust mites, and foods should be considered. (Paw and extremity licking indicates both atopy and a food intolerance and so it behooves vets to distinguish one from another.) In many instances, a concomitant pyoderma (bacterial skin infection), yeast infection (Malassezia), or mange mite (Demodex or Sarcoptes) might be contributory.

Chico Rico's vet can check a sample of his skin surface microscopically (a “cytology”) for abnormal numbers of bacteria and yeast and skin scrapings can be taken in an attempt to find mites. Pyoderma is treated with a minimum of 3-4 weeks of an antibiotic in the cephalosporin class such as cephalexin (Keflex) and yeast is addressed with ketoconazole for at least a month. Mites are addressed topically, orally, and by injection.

Our dermatologists tell us to apply an over the counter flea spot-on such as Advantage/Advocate, a fipronil-containing product such as Frontline or, preferably, one of the newer prescription products available from Chico Rico's vet to which fleas are less likely to have become resistant even if fleas aren’t seen. Dogs can be such effective groomers so as to eliminate all evidence of flea infestation. Dogs who remain primarily indoors can contract fleas because we walk them in on us and flea eggs and larva can remain viable in your home for months. As the weather warms or you turn on heaters at this time of year, egg hatches are common. If the area between the edge of his rib cage and tail (the “saddle” area) is particularly excoriated, a flea saliva allergy should be the most important differential diagnosis. In severe cases, an anti-allergenic prescription glucocorticoid (steroid) such as prednisone will work wonders for dogs allergic to the saliva of the flea. If you have other pets they may have fleas too but may not be allergic to the flea’s saliva.

Environmental allergies (atopy) are usually initially addressed with prednisone as well. In some dogs an over the counter antihistamine such as clemastine (Tavist) at a dose of 0.025 - 0.75mg/lb twice daily or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) dosed at 1-2mg/lb twice daily (maximum dose of 50 mg at any one time) may be effective. Antihistamines, however, aren’t reliably effective - as you've seen. Adding fish oil to the diet at a dose of 20mg/lb daily of the EPA in the fish oil might synergize with antihistamines to provide better anti-pruritic action. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are antiinflammatory but may take 8-12 weeks to kick in. The new cytokine antagonist oclacitinib (Apoquel) is likely to revolutionize how we address atopic dogs and should be discussed with his vet. Oclacitinib works as well as a steroid without a steroid's adverse effects. The new injectable immunomodulary drug IL-31 (Cytopoint) should also be considered. Please note that atopy, at least initially, should have a seasonality to it while a food intolerance should cause pruritis regardless of the season. Chronically atopic dogs may be pruritic year round.

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 Chico Rico'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. (I prefer the hydrolyzed protein diets 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 our patient has been eating the same food for quite some time.

We need to consider seborrhea in such a patient as well. This is skin disorder of keratinization and maturation. It's a diagnosis of exclusion of the above mentioned skin disorders and can be suggested by skin biopsy.

You also have the option of having a specialist veterinary dermatologist (please see here: www.acvd.org) attend to Chico Rico. You can expect some combination of skin scrapings, cytology, bacterial culture and sensitivity, fungal culture, skin biopsy, intradermal or blood allergy testing, or presumptive hypoallergenic diet trials to be performed.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Ask Your Own Dog Question
Dog Specialist: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago
Hi Tee,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin
Ask Your Own Dog Question
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Haven't gotten the skin test with him yet. Thanks for asking.
Dog Specialist: Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian replied 6 months ago

I understand. You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Ask Your Own Dog Question
Was this answer helpful?

How JustAnswer works

step-image
Describe your issueThe assistant will guide you
step-image
Chat 1:1 with a dog specialistLicensed Experts are available 24/7
step-image
100% satisfaction guaranteeGet all the answers you need
Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 34,881
34,881 Satisfied Customers
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience

Dr. Michael Salkin is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

You are a light at the end of scary tunnel when $ are tight, but people need professional help to turn to for help with their dear pets!

LinhCharleston, WV

$1,000 spent at his vet, and I finally get the correct diagnosis from Nancy Holmes for $15

CarolCedar Hill, MO

I think this is the greatest web site in the world. Thanks to all!

JudyNew Haven, CT

I have referred several friends to your web site. I'm impressed with how easy it is to use your site, the Experts available and the quickness of answers.

NinaUSA

I am completely pleased with the quick response that I received in our time of need for our dog, Jasmine. I couldn't believe how quick the response was and I thank you. It's good to know you're there!!

Jasmine's MomUSA

Please let everyone involved with your site know that your Expert, Dr. Lucy, has saved my dog's life. I will recommend your site to all my pet loving friends. Thank you again for simply being there!

Sonya GEasley, SC

Last night my Expert spent close to 3 hours working with me on my dog's illness. Thank you so much for this opportunity to share in her care and knowledge!

Cathie MPompano Beach, FL

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Dr. Gary

Dr. Gary

Dog Veterinarian

3,044 satisfied customers

DVM, Emergency Veterinarian; BS (Physiology) Michigan State Univ

Joan

Joan

Vet Tech

5,510 satisfied customers

Vet Tech for over 35+ years working w/Dogs/Rescues

Candy

Candy

Veterinary Technician

7,973 satisfied customers

Practicing Veterinary Technician for 26 years.Former Veterinary Practice Owner, Technician Trainer

Dr Scott Nimmo

Dr Scott Nimmo

Small Animal Veterinarian.

5,193 satisfied customers

BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }

Dr. Andy

Dr. Andy

Medical Director

4,909 satisfied customers

UC Davis Graduate, Interests: Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Pain Management

Theresa

Theresa

A Voice for Your Pet

4,705 satisfied customers

19+ years experience in small animal medicine

Dr. Drew

Dr. Drew

Veterinarian

3,294 satisfied customers

Small Animal Medicine and Surgery

< Previous | Next >

Related Dog Questions
My Cocker itches excessively. Ears, and feet, anus. He is
my Cocker itches excessively. Ears, and feet, anus. He is about seven, has itched ever since we got him 2 years ago. He is on flea preventative, itched before that, … read more
Dr. Alleyne
Dr. Alleyne
Veterinary associate
Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine
1,393 satisfied customers
Have a springer spaniel and took her to groomer. I received
Have a springer spaniel and took her to groomer. I received coupon for free flea and tick bath. Two days from the haircut, she began to scratch so I immediately took her to vet. She was given steroids… read more
Gina
Gina
5,877 satisfied customers
I have a 4 year old cocker and tonight he started to itch himself
I have a 4 year old cocker and tonight he started to itch himself all over and he is panting, like he is out of breath.Got a clean bill of health 2 weeks ago from vet.We just gave him a benadryl about… read more
Lisa
Lisa
Certified Veterinary Technician
Associate Degree
15,483 satisfied customers
charlie my spaniel cocker wont stop scratching can sleep
charlie my spaniel cocker wont stop scratching can sleep or let me sleep took him to the vet he have some medication wish it do nothing took him again same he is only one year and l have 2 more dogs n… read more
Lisa
Lisa
Certified Veterinary Technician
Associate Degree
15,483 satisfied customers
My dog has been scratching a lot lately. We changed his food
My dog has been scratching a lot lately. We changed his food to a chicken and brown rice only mix, and gave him another round of Frontline, but he is still scratching. I've looked at his stomach and h… read more
Joan
Joan
Vet Tech
Private
5,510 satisfied customers
my dogs tongue is turning black at the base and she has red
In October, after moving into an apartment, I noticed my dog's scratching drastically increase. She also started developing rashes and loss of skin under her arms from scratching and licking so much. … read more
Cher
Cher
JustAnswer Expert & Mentor;Teacher/Tutor
Masters Degree
1,382 satisfied customers
I have a cocker spaniel who is 4 years old. She is constantly
I have a cocker spaniel who is 4 years old. She is constantly scratching her ears, feet and private area. She has a fishy smell. I was wondering if Monistat cream could be used in her ears. I read tha… read more
Lisa
Lisa
Certified Veterinary Technician
Associate Degree
15,483 satisfied customers
I have a 15 yr old cocker spaniel who has been treated for
I have a 15 yr old cocker spaniel who has been treated for a yeast infection with good results the first time. Soon after he cleared up the skin problem returned so back on the program. He doesn't see… read more
UKVETJH
UKVETJH
Veterinary Surgeon and acupuncturist
Bachelor's Degree
383 satisfied customers
My 2 year old Pugrat is itching constantly and particularly
My 2 year old Pugrat is itching constantly and particularly the top of his paws. We think it is seasonal because last year about the same time he had the same thing. He hasn't been him self as he's fa… read more
Joan
Joan
Vet Tech
Private
5,510 satisfied customers
Cocker Spaniel: month old..scratch..her paws..medicated shampoo
Howdy, I have a 5 month old Cocker Spaniel named Trixie and I think she has severe allergies. Trixie will scratch and dig into her paws, her back lets, and groin area until she screams and I am at a d… read more
Joan
Joan
Vet Tech
Private
5,510 satisfied customers
cocker spaniel: his belly near his private area..vet appt..benadryl
i have a small cocker spaniel that has a rash on his belly near his private area and we have a vet appt for tomorrow. can i give him childrens benadryl (maybe 1/2 dose). he is very uncomfortable and w… read more
Jennifer E.
Jennifer E.
Master's Degree
48 satisfied customers
cocker spaniel: 3yr old..treated..scratching and licking started..bath
3yr old cocker spaniel, have changed food, was treated by vet, within two weeks the scratching and licking started again and odor too.I have to bath him at least twice a week, the smell is so bad and … read more
NancyH
NancyH
Pet/Animal Care Expert
Bachelor Degree
19,712 satisfied customers
cocker spaniel: his vet gave him some pills but they have not help.
I have a 8 year old cocker spaniel that started having a scratching problem. He can not stop scratching. his vet gave him some pills but they have not help. It is also making him depressed. Can you he… read more
DakotaSouthFive
DakotaSouthFive
Independent Contractor
High School or GED
23 satisfied customers
cocker spaniel: is 5 1/2 months old..stomach area..fleas
My cocker spaniel is 5 1/2 months old and ever since we brought him home he has been scratching. He generally scratches his feet and stomach area. I have taken him to the vet and they (three of them) … read more
NancyH
NancyH
Pet/Animal Care Expert
Bachelor Degree
19,712 satisfied customers
Our 3 yr. old cocker spaniel has been panting almost ...
Our 3 yr. old cocker spaniel has been panting almost continuously, drinking LOTS of water, and seems to be hungry all the time. She is almost 4 weeks pregnant. Does this sound like a health problem? O… read more
Cheryl K.
Cheryl K.
Associate Degree
2,127 satisfied customers
cocker spaniel: bad skin allergy..biting..>12; Male; Breed..benadryl
I have a cocker spaniel and he is 15 years old, he has had a bad skin allergy for many years but it has gotten worse over the years....he has sores all over his whole body and he scratches all the tim… read more
Tammy F.
Tammy F.
Freelance Writer and Editor, Animal Resc
4,438 satisfied customers
cocker spaniel: has begun itching everywhere, no fleas..bath..shampoo
My dog, 9 year old cocker spaniel, has begun itching everywhere, no fleas, and now his right side of his muzzle is swollen. I've been using an anti-itch spray on him that the pet store recommended and… read more
Joni
Joni
Certified Veterinary Technician
Vocational, Technical or Trade Scho
1,048 satisfied customers
cocker spaniel: has itchy skin..fatty..Breed..change shampoo, diet
My dog has itchy skin, i've tried changing his diet and giving him fatty acid supplements but nothing has worked Optional Information: Breed: cocker spaniel Already Tried: change shampoo, diet, and su… read more
Tammy F.
Tammy F.
Freelance Writer and Editor, Animal Resc
4,438 satisfied customers
Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x