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Itchy dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Beagle
Age: 1-2 years
My question is long because I have to give all the background data. On May 10, 2011 I went to a breeder to buy a pup. This pup is 1 year old. He was fine in every aspect on that day. We were spending the night and coming back the next day to pick him up. The next day he was scratching. The breeder had taken him to the vet for a check up the day before. He got a micro chip implant and a flea preventative, Interceptor. The breeder did not have fleas but the vet suggested it anyway. He scratched and scratched when we got him home. About 4 days later I took him to my vet to see what the scratching was all about. He gave him a steroid shot, some medicated shampoo, a sulphur dip and sent us home. He stopped scratching. About a week later we went on a trip and put him in a kennel. When we picked him up his bedding was wet and smelled of disinfectant and had fleas. Of course the kennel disallowed all this. He started scratching again. I searched him for fleas and found and killed three. About the 10th of June I gave him a topical of Frontline Plus just in case I didn't kill all the fleas he got at the kennel. He continued scratching. First thing in the morning he gets up and scratches for 20 minutes and then is it lesser during the day but still is scratching. He mainly scratches the backs of his front legs, chest, chin and sometimes his ears. I was washed his ears and they smell okay. I gave him another dose of Frontline on the 10th of July. The next morning I noticed a rash on his stomach. It lasted a day or two and is now gone. We feed him the very same dog food the breeder fed him, Precise. I am going back to my vet if you don't have any suggestions.

Related Article: How to get rid of fleas!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, the poor little guy. It sounds like you've been through a rough time!

I think the main question here is why you keep seeing fleas. Frontline is usually a good flea treatment. If you're applying it properly then it will work to kill fleas.

You did right to reapply Frontline on June 10th. In fact, you're going to want to keep applying Frontline (or a different flea product if your vet suggests it) monthly. If he had a lot of fleas then there will be flea eggs that are in your environment. These eggs can hatch any time in the next few months and then they will jump on him.

Do you have any other pets? If so, they all need to be treated with a good flea product. If not, the fleas will just get a meal off of those animals and will be able to reproduce.

I'm concerned though that there may be something else going on. You mentioned he was itchy on his legs, chest, chin and ears and these are not the most typical areas to be itchy from fleas. Usually dogs with fleas are itchy on the top and sides of their back and neck. But, it's still possible that this is all because of fleas.

It's possible that Choo Choo has sarcoptic mange. This is a little mite that can cause extreme itchiness. It can sometimes be diagnosed by having your vet do skin scrapings but it can be hard sometimes. If your vet suspects mange then they will possibly treat with Revolution.

It's also possible that he has a skin infection as a result of having flea bites. If this is the case then he is going to need antibiotics.

Another possibility is if he is allergic to fleas. If this is the case then he is going to need more steroids to help him get through this.

One other thing to talk to your vet about is how effective they feel Frontline is in your area. Some vets, especially in the southern US feel that Frontline is losing its effectiveness.

Unfortunately it does sound like he will need to see his vet again.

I hope everything is ok!

Dr. Marie.

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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 guess I was very clear about the fleas. He is completely flea free now. I have seen a flea on him, except when he was at the kennel and the next day. I have a flea comb and have searched and searched, there are no more fleas. I am wondering if the first flea preventative, Interceptor started the scratching and my continued use of flea preventatives gave him an allergic reaction. He was completely fine the day we first saw him and then the next day after the Interceptor he was scratching. This breeder had the father, mother and two other siblings and none were scratching, either the first day or second day we were there. They did not get any flea medication. Could a micro chip implant cause an allergy? Would the sarcoptic mange just come on in a day? Most dogs seems to chew around the tail base when they have fleas he doesn't do that. Choo Choo in a one coat Beagle and so you can see his skin rather easily by brushing the hair back. Never any sign of fleas or flea eggs.

His first steroid shot was around the 14th of May. How soon can he have another? His scratching is driving me nuts. He wakes at night and I can hear him scratching in his crate. It seems to bother me more than him. He doesn't have any places where he scratches that get red and the only rash was after the second Frontline I gave him. I have been putting a medicated powder on him on his stomach, chest and front legs where he scratches. I don't know if that is good or not but he seems to like it and when he sees the powder can he lays down and rolls over. Thanks, Ralph

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It's interesting that he got worse after the interceptor...but I think it may be a coincidence. Interceptor is not a flea preventive. It is a heartworm and intestinal parasite medication. I give interceptor many times per day and I can't say that I have ever seen a dog have an allergic reaction to it.

My best guess is that there is a bacterial skin infection that may have started with the first bout of fleas and now has gotten pretty bad.

Here is another thought. You mentioned that your vet gave lime sulphur dip. This is something we do if we suspect ringworm which is a fungal infection. If there is ringworm then he will need either more sulfur dips or possibly other medications. Ringworm could definitely be a cause of these problems.

If your vet deems it helpful then yes, another steroid shot could be given at this time. If they think there's infection though then they may decide on a different treatment.

And no, a microchip would not cause any sort of reaction like this.

It's also possible that he has some allergies to something other than fleas...beagles are notorious for this. If he has allergies then your vet may talk about keeping him on a small dose of steroids throughout the summer and fall months.

Customer reply:

Thanks for your advice. I am going back to my vet tomorrow.

Customer reply:

Hi Dr Marie,

I just wanted to tell you what has occurred since you provided me with the info above. I saw my vet the next day and he said that he would not give Choo Choo another steroid shot but instead gave me some topical steroid spray. Also, put him on antibiotics and suggested using Science Diet Z/D for food allergy. That day, when I got home I sprayed him with the topical and he stopped scratching instantly. That was last Friday and he hasn't scratched again. (He does occasionally scratch an ear or chin but maybe once or twice a day, just like a dog would do normally). Now my problem is how in the world am I going to know if the spray was the only cure or if the dog food is the final cure or if the antibiotics killed something causing him to scratch. These are not really questions for you but just rhetorical questions. I wanted you to know what the prognosis. Thanks for your help. I was amazed that you were able to get so close to his condition without seeing him. Ralph

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for the update!

To answer your question, it's very unlikely that the spray was the cure. The spray is mostly to reduce the symptoms of itchiness. So, the spray is probably helping, but likely it's the antibiotics that will cure him.

Have a great day!

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

If I need to start a new question and pay a new fee, please just let me know.

Choo Choo's itch has continued all the time since I first asked these questions. The only time he has not itched is when he got the initial betasone 0.3 ml SQ shot and when I used the solution of 0.015% Triamcinolone Acetonnide spray. While on the spray program, which runs one month, twice a day for a week, once a day for a week and every other day for two weeks) he didn't scratch but once off the spray program the itch and scratching came back. Since he never broke the skin scratching nor did he lose any hair I just kept trying to do the things that MAY help. I removed all the carpeting in the house and replaced it with wood floors. No help. Tried difference dog foods for dogs with sensitive skin, didn't help. Am going to try fish and sweet potatoes next. Now I am putting apple cider vinegar in his drinking water. Also, was told by a breeder (non vet) to bath him in a mild apple cider wash. Sensitive skin shampoo doesn't seem to help, neither the oatmeal nor the Sebolux.

Anyway, on the 21 of this month Choo Choo got a REAL bad case of itch and was chewing at his rump. He made both sides on his upper real leg red and was dragging his rear end on the floor trying to scratch the itch. He was even crying out. After about 30 minutes of this outbreak I was headed to my vet. She gave him another betasone shot and some more of the spray. Now my question is how harmful is this spray to his heart? I was told to begin the spray in 5 days after the shot (start on 26th). I would like your second opinion on the spray program. I want to use it but I would like to know the side effect beyond increased appetite and urination, which I can handle. And once again if I should have started a new question and pay new fees please let me know. I value your opinion and certainly will pay for it. Thanks for your valued opinion.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Ralph...this is Penny responding from Ask A Vet Question. It has been several months since you asked your original question. If you don't mind, it really would be best to open a new question.

Thanks so much!

You can find the question page here: Ask A Vet".

Customer reply:

Okay I can open a new question and don't mind doing that. Only problem is losing all the info I had sent before. Is there a way to reference the first question?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Just let Dr. Marie know that your question was question #2470 and she can easily reference it and link to it from her answer. Thanks!


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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.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.