How to ditch your dog's itch - Dr. Marty Becker

How to ditch your dog’s itch

Friday, Feb 19th, 2016 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Dog scratching himself behind his ear on green field
** Note: Soft Focus at 100%, best at smaller sizes

One of the top reasons people seek help from a veterinarian for their dogs is itching! That’s just the problem this reader came to me with:

Q: My 8-year-old chocolate Lab suffers from allergies. I’ve had tests done, but they come back with only high yeast content. I thought giving him yogurt with his food might help, but he’s not fond of it. I’ve purchased special shampoos from the vet and I give him Benadryl, but his sides usually end up with no fur; right now he’s working on his chest. He eats a salmon and sweet potato food.

A: Allergies are a common problem in Labs. It’s not unusual for them to suffer from allergies to fleas, certain food ingredients, cleaning agents used in the home, pollens and more.

Determining the cause of an allergy can be time-consuming and frustrating. And solving it is rarely as simple as adding yogurt to a pet’s food.

Your best bet is probably to consult a veterinary dermatologist who can take you through the steps to figure out whether your dog has a contact allergy from, say, a carpet deodorizer, laundry detergent or fabric softener; air fresheners or disinfectants used in the home; or fabric or leather cleaning products. He may have an allergy to one or more ingredients in the food or treats you give or to pollens, molds, dust mites and yeasts in the environment.

An accurate diagnosis requires a thorough history, including the types of products you use in your home and everything you give your dog to eat; a physical exam, looking at such things as the pattern of hair loss and whether hairs are shed or broken off; and skin scrapings or skin biopsies to check for bacterial, fungal or yeast infections. Blood work and urinalysis may be necessary if a hormonal problem is suspected. An elimination diet, containing ingredients your dog has never eaten before, can help to determine if he has a food allergy.

Until the problem is diagnosed, medication can help to relieve the itch, whatever its cause.Read more, including 11 things you may not know about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, in this week’s the Pet Connection!