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Itchy dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Beagle
Age: 1-2 years
This is a follow on of a question past #2740.

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. His itch isn't severe and I would say it is more of a habit than an itch. I have seen him scratching with his back leg and not touching any skin anywhere and he has never broken the skin scratching nor did he lose any hair or get any hot spots. He scratches the back of his front legs, then chews on the front of his rear legs and sometimes around his tail and licks his front feet. I am told front feed licking is a food allergy. I just keep 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. My vet said she had had people tell her the vinegar wash helped their dog. I have yet to do this.

Anyway, on the 21 of this month Choo Choo got a REAL bad case of itch and was chewing at his rump. This time and for the first time it was severe. He made both sides on his upper rear 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 sent me home with 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 effects beyond increased appetite and urination, which I can handle. Should I wait to see if the betasone injection helped or go on the spray program without waiting. Thanks for your valued opinion.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question! For quick reference, here is your previous question: Itchy Dog.

Your situation really does sound frustrating!

Something is not adding up for me here. I rarely use steroid sprays, unless it is used as an added bit of itch relief on top of some other program. What steroids do is slow down the immune response for a bit so that an animal is not itchy. But it does nothing to treat the initial cause.

You mentioned in your previous question that Choo Choo had initially had issues with fleas. This may be hard to convince you of, but I am guessing that there may still be a flea issue.

Any time a dog is chewing at his rump (i.e. the top of the base of the tail), 99.9% of the time it is an allergy to fleas. Soem dogs are so allergic to fleas that even one flea bite can set them off with itchiness. Often, you can't see any sign of fleas until there are hundreds of fleas there. So, even if I didn't see fleas I would be recommending a serious flea program. As mentioned before, Frontline may be ok, but in some parts of the world Frontline is becoming less effective than it once was. It is super important to follow these rules when treating for fleas:

-You need to treat for 3 months in a row (at least).
-You need to make sure the treatments are no more than a month apart (otherwise flea eggs have a chance to hatch into adult fleas and start the cycle all over again.)
-You need to make sure every single animal that comes in the house is treated for three months in a row as well.

This problem is so common that I wrote an article on it:

Article about fleas.

If fleas are not the issue (but I would be surprised) then there are other possibilities. Sarcoptic mange is possible. Mange usually shows little response to steroids. It can be hard to diagnose. If I am suspecting mange I will use a medication called Revolution which is meant for fleas and heartworm but also treats mange.

Allergies are a possibility as well. Most dogs with allergies need oral steroids, not just sprays. A shot may work for some time, but not forever.

The spray is not likely to be hard on his heart. I just fear that it is not enough for him.

One thing you may want to consider is to ask your vet for a referral to a veterinary dermatologist if there is one in your area. It will cost a little bit more but you are much more likely to get down to a diagnosis and treatment that will work.

I hope things are better soon!

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:

My vet suspected fleas so she sprayed him with some spray and said "if he had fleas they would be dropping off in a minute or two." None dropped off. He is on Heartgard (which seemed to keep the fleas off my previous beagle) I may change to Revolution and see if that will work better than the Advantage II and Heartgard.

Since the shot 5 days ago he has not scratched hardly at all. Maybe only once or twice have I seen him scratch. As opposed to before the shot and when not on the spray he would be almost constantly scratching or chewing and licking his feet.

I am going to start him on the spray tomorrow as I would guess the shot is about to wear off. That program will last one month and then in the mean time I am changing to the fish and sweet potato diet. After the spray program is over I will see what happens. Thanks for your advice.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This all seems quite strange to me. What country are you in? I don't know any vets who use a spray for fleas any more. Most flea sprays are not effective in the long run.

I hope things look up soon!

Customer reply:

I hope I didn't confuse you when I said I was going to start the spray tomorrow. The spray I am referring to is the solution of 0.015% Triamcinolone Acetonnide spray not a flea spray. I live in South Texas where there are a lot of fleas but also there are a lot of fire ants which eat the fleas but are a bad biting ant, hence the name fire ant. The flea spray was something that my vet used in the office to detect fleas. She prescribes Advantage II. For the past 5 days now Choo Choo has been content, no itch and sleeping very well at night, just the way a dog should live. I hope thinks look up in the future too. Thanks, Ralph

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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.