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Itchy dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Golden
Age: 6-12 months
Hi Dr Marie,

Recall my email a couple of weeks ago about Max and his itchiness.

- Nips at fore arm, forelegs, thighs (1-2 x a day). Evidence of non-recent licking on front paw around outside toe on each leg.
- Began bum-skating 10 days ago. Anal glands expressed 7 days ago (moderately full). Since then it's been 1 per 2-3 days. Prior to 10 days ago stool was softish, but on new food, stool is not large but solid.
- Scratches around left ear with hind paw 1 x day, begining 3 days ago.
- while the nipping has been with him since 4 months old, the bum skating, ear scratching have started and overall nipping frequency increased.
The nipping occurs in the cage, but he will also stop chewing on a toy to nip his arm them go back.

Action taken:
Vet visit indicates:
- no redness or discharge near anus
- No visible skin irritation or loss of fur
- no redness of the conjunctiva
- no redness or smell around ear pinnas
- no sign of fleas
- fur appears very healthy.
- no evidence of inhaled allergy
- Started Revolution II yesturday.
- switched from chicken to "Skin Support" fish-based food 10 days ago.
- Max likes to chew on "bull penis". As per recommendation that will be eliminated so only food is dog food and peanutbutter and hypoallergenic treats from vet.

Overall it's not destructive but it seems to be increasing... I'd like to resolve this for Max.



Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Well that sure is frustrating.

Usually if there are allergies the first thing we see is that the skin is really red - ears, bum, feet, etc.

However, this still could be early allergy. Has your vet talked about doing allergy testing on him? It's a little bit pricey to do a full allergy panel, but it's a much quicker way to get our answer than to keep guessing and trying different foods.

I think the Revolution is an excellent idea. Often dogs can be super itchy because of 1 or 2 fleas and we don't always see these. Revolution will also treat sarcoptic mange which is a skin mite that can be really hard to diagnose. If the Revolution is going to help then you should see improvement within 2-3 days if it is fleas. If it is sarcoptic mange (which is not likely) it may get worse before it gets better and will take about 2-3 weeks to clear up.

You could also ask your vet about the possibility of an infection in his anal sacs. When glands fill up quickly again it can sometimes be because of infection. (But then this wouldn't cause itchiness in other areas.)

It sounds like the plan is good. The only thing I might do differently is some allergy testing.

I'm just heading into surgery so I'll be offline for 30 minutes or so, but let me know if I can help any more.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

I mentioned allergy testing but the vet said a) food allergy testing is unreliable (and I know that from experience) and b) environmental testing is best done in the fall.

Also Max was on Benadryl 50 mg BID for 4 days with no effect and then I switched him onto Claritin 1.5 Tab / day for the last 2 days. Hoping this will have an effect.

If it was an anal gland infection you'd see signs of licking, wouldn't you? No signs at all.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry for the delay Jay! I had an urgent case here in the clinic that kept me occupied, but all is well now.

Allergy testing is indeed controversial. I have been using a new company called SPOT ultimate allergy that I am quite happy with. But, if your vet is not comfortable doing testing then this is ok. No one really knows for sure how accurate it is.

Regarding the anal glands, yes, you would usually see licking, but not always.

The other thing that I might consider if the food change and the Revolution is not working for him is to try a very small dose of prednisone for a couple of weeks. This may be enough to get him through "spring allergies" if this is the case.

Customer reply:

My previous dog went for food allergy testing. $400 later I found out he was allergic to chicken, pork, seafood, soy, venison, lamb, turkey. In truth he was only allergic to fish. Go figure.

Pred reminds me of his IBD treatments so I'm going to wait for now and see how the food trial and revolution go.

He is just 10 months. I'm hoping somehow it wont get worse by the time hes 5 years. In my notes at 4 months I wrote he began this arm biting routine.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It sounds like things aren't too severe now, so let's hope they don't get worse!

I'd love to hear how things go with the Revolution and the food trial.

Customer reply:

His diet now consists of Skin Support food and peanut butter. I'm searching for something to substitute for his beef bones. He loves frozen cucumber. Is this alright to give him?
What about frozen bananas? I've tried frozen celery but it didn't go anywhere.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It's definitely a good idea to substitute for beef as this is a common allergy for many dogs. Frozen cucumber or bananas should be fine, if he wants to eat those.

I had a client in recently who said their dog loved sweet potato. This is a possibility as well. You could try it raw or frozen.

In theory, a dog can be allergic to almost any food, but it's not common to be allergic to veggies.

Carrots are a good food to try as well.

Customer reply:

Just no berries, tomatoes, onions, grapes or raisins.

My previous dog loved frozen pineapple.

Is it ok to give him cheeses such as cheesewiz on his diet?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Tomatoes actually aren't toxic to dogs. See this question here: Are tomatoes bad for dogs?.

I don't have a problem with berries either. But yes, stay away from onions, grapes, raisins and also garlic.

Cheese is a tough one - it's not toxic, but I don't think I'd want to include it on an elimination diet for allergies. I definitely wouldn't want cheeze wiz.

Customer reply:

because of the fat and salt content?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Mostly because of the preservatives and other chemicals...could possibly contribute to allergies. But then no one really knows. I'm just going on a gut instinct.

Customer reply:

Thank You

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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