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Intense itching on back and at base of tail. Will chew the

blood out of area. JA: I'm...
intense itching on back and at base of tail. Will chew the blood out of area.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What sort of animal are we talking about?
Customer: Aussie, male 8 yrs old.
JA: Maybe I'm confused. I thought you had a problem with a pet. Is that correct?
Customer: yes, he is a aussie shepherd.
JA: Using the wrong medication for fleas can be dangerous. You should definitely talk to the Veterinarian. What is the Shepherd's name?
Customer: Cheyenne
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Cheyenne?
Customer: I changed his food from Beniful to Blue Buffalo
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
8/4/2017
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17,140
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you.
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
No Thanks

Allergies are the most common cause of itchy skin and can give him a skin crawling feeling which many dogs find irritating, thus his increased itching/chewing at his skin to the point that he causes it to bleed. I'll give you an allergy rundown of likely causes for skin troubles. He may have more than one allergy given how symptomatic he is now. Dogs that have one allergy often develop several with time. The effect of multiple allergies aren't additive, they actually compound one another.

Even if you don't see fleas I suspect do recommend using protection. Fleas tend to like to live/bite around the lower back and tailhead area, so would fit perfectly with his primary itch spot. Flea bite allergy is the most common allergen and it only takes one bite a month to make an allergic dog scratch so I recommend using flea prevention even if you never see one.

Frontline Plus, Advantage II or Advantix are excellent as is the new Seresto Flea collar. I don't normally recommend flea collars, but this one really works and lasts for at least 6-8 months. New prescription products on the market such as Bravecto or Nexgard, which tend to have less flea population resistance because they are new, may be worth trying too.

Don’t use over the counter products, especially Hartz or Sargents, as most are ineffective if not toxic. Unfortunately even after the fleas are gone the allergic reaction can continue for weeks and I will discuss controlling that reaction below.

Other allergens can be inhaled (like grass pollen, dust mites or molds).

You can use a combination of antihistamines and high doses of omega-3 fatty acids to help with the symptoms of flea allergy and inhaled allergens. In combination fatty acids and antihistamines work synergistically, much better than either one alone.

You can try:

1)Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products with acetaminophen or decongestants as they can be toxic for dogs) at a dose of 1mg to 2mg per pound of body weight or one 25mg capsule per 15 to 25 pounds of body weight orally every 8 hours.

OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at 5mg per 25 pounds of body weight once or twice daily.

OR 3)Hydroxyzine at 1mg per pound of body weight orally every 8 hours.

OR 4) Chlorpheniramine at 4mg to 8mg per dog once or twice daily.

OR 5) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at 1/2 mg per pound of body weight orally every 24 hours. That would be one 10mg tablet per 20 pounds of body weight. Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because dogs cannot tolerate decongestants.

Some dogs do better on one antihistamine rather than another. Give the one you pick a week trial and if it isn't working try another. I would start with Zyrtec as that is the one many dogs seem to respond to, but if that doesn't work I've given you several options. Be aware antihistamines can cause sleepiness or hyperactivity in some dogs. These side effects do wear off with repeated use.

Omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil products. 3V by DVM or Derm Caps ES are good brand name products. Use the high end of the dosing schedule for your pup's weight. I recommend a dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give him 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example a 40 pound dog could take 800mg of EPA per day.

Cool water baths with an oatmeal shampoo or chlorhexiderm shampoo (which is antibacterial and antifungal) and a conditioner with an antihistamine may help. The water rinses off allergens and the cool temperature soothes itchy skin. If you choose to use topical flea control drops do not bathe him for 2 to 3 days before or after applying topical flea control products or the bath will interfere with the product's efficacy.

Cortisone ointment applied to the very itchy places (as long as they aren't raw) twice daily may help as well if needed. Some sprays have alcohol which can be painful on raw skin and lead to more inflammation. I don't like oral steroids, although with bad allergies they may be needed for a short time, but topical directed at the problem areas can be very helpful and are less likely to cause side effects.

Another option if the antihistamines and omega 3's aren't enough is a product called Atopica. It suppresses the immune system a bit so it decreases allergic symptoms but it doesn't have as many harmful side effects as systemic steroids. Another option is a newer drug called Apoquel (generic name oclacitinib) which interferes with the allergic pathway. It works very quickly to stop the symptoms of an allergy. Most dogs are reported to be much more comfortable in a day or so.

If you are interested discuss these medications with your veterinarian as they are prescription products.

Another option if you are interested, is trying immunotherapy. He would need to be tested to determine exactly what he is allergic to, and then he is given small amounts of the allergen to build up his tolerance to it, increasing the amount of allergen in the injection incrementally so that his immune system no longer responds to it. This isn't a quick fix, it takes time to slowly build up their tolerance and as he develops new allergens things may need to be added, but it is an option.

There is a new injection out (Cytopoint) that can be given by your veterinarian that can help with allergies for 4-8 weeks. It neutralizes a key allergic pathway inflammatory protein, thus stopping the itch before it starts. It's a bit pricey but you won't have to give pills, and it is very effective.

If it's been a while since his last exam parasites like cheyletiella, demodex or sarcoptes mites should be looked for by your veterinarian as well if he isn't improving as they can lead to very itchy skin.

Since his itchy behavior came about with a food change then food allergy is possible with him as well if he seems to be itchy all year round. Dogs can develop allergies to any protein or carbohydrate so even if he is only fed one food that can contain the ingredient(s) he is allergic to. Dogs with food allergies tend to lick and scratch their paws, face and ears, and perianal area the most, but any of the "allergy reactive areas" can be affected.

Make sure that the food that you put him on is a true hypoallergenic diet if you want to investigate him for food allergies. The trouble with "limited ingredient" or "low allergy" pet store brands is that the same machinery is used on multiple lots of food without sterilization cleaning in between. So for example even if a food says it has salmon and rice if the previous batch had beef and corn then you will get traces of those ingredients in your bag of food. Not a big deal if your dog isn't allergic but a waste of money thinking that the food was hypoallergenic and not good for your dog if those happen to be allergens for your dog. The veterinary brand true hypoallergenic foods are more expensive because it isn't cheap to thoroughly remove all traces of a previous food mixture from the machines used to process food.

Generally what I recommend is trying to clear the skin with a prescription hypoallergenic diet and then adding one food item (chicken, beef, corn wheat etc) every month to see what they react to. Then we can find a regular food that doesn't have the allergens he reacts to to try. As far as permanent diets I do tend to stick with Purina Pro Plan brands or Nature's Recipe as I find those rarely if ever have cross contamination. Purina Pro Plan Turkey and Barley or Nature's Recipe Vegetarian or Venison are pretty good products. I know that this isn't easy from personal experience (my dog is allergic to wheat) and it is time consuming, but worth it.

If you choose to try testing/treating him for a food allergy I recommend that you try a true hypoallergenic diet like Hills z/d or Purina Veterinary Diets HA. No treats, flavored medication or bones while on the diet and it must be used for a least 12 to 16 weeks to see the full effects. You should see some improvement in 6 to 8 weeks.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you so much for your help.

You are very welcome, I hope your pup is much more comfortable soon. Allergies can be truly miserable.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17,140
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
Verified
Dr. Kara and 87 other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
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Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara
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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
No change, I'm giving him 2 25 tablets of Benadryl every 8 hours, and omega 3 fish oil every day. I have treated him with advantage ll.

Given that you might try another one of the antihistamines I listed, or he may be too itchy for antihistamines to get this under control. Antihistamines seem to work best as a preventative measure before the itching gets intense. If the pup is very itchy we may need to use a short course of steroids or Apoquel to get it under control.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I will try another product, and a bath to see if that helps.

That sounds like a good plan.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you for following up.

No worries, please let me know if you have further questions.

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Dr. Kara
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