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Itchy legs.

Species: Dog
Breed: Wired haired Fox Ter
Age: 8-11 years
Kirsty was diagnosed with a skin allergey just after one year which has been successvily treated with Atopica for the last nine years. Over the last couple of years she had sycits apear on her lower legs which she began to chew.We had them removed but she went straight back to chewing these areas. We have tried various creams and sprays and she is absolutly misreable with a collar on. Is there anything you can suggest that might help in terms of protecting these areas with a kind of guard during the day and we could use the collar only at night so as to allow air into these areas during the night.Apart from this she is a very healthy and happy eleven year old dog and we dont want to make her old age misserable with permanant use of a collar.

Best Regards


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

How frustrating. I am never happy with seeing a dog who has to wear a collar every day. To me this is not acceptable. Sure, the collar stops her from doing damage to herself, but the itch is still there. It has to be extremely frustrating for her! Similarly, just covering the area is not going to stop the itch either.

But I can understand as well that it must be difficult for you guys and also your vets. It sounds like everyone is working really hard to fix this problem.

The best thing that I can suggest is to ask your vet for a referral to a veterinary dermatologist. All that these vets do is deal with really frustrating and difficult to solve skin problems. They see the unusual things and they usually can find a solution.

I have a few thoughts that you can mention to your vet and ask if they are a possibility. First of all, is she still on Atopica? If so, is it possible that she needs her dosage changed?

Is she on a prescription hypoallergenic food? If so, sometimes dogs can develop allergies even to this after a couple of years. Sometimes a change to a new one can help. If she isn't then it is a good idea to ask your vet about trying one. It is important to use a prescription one. Many OTC foods claim to be hypoallergenic but there is much more research put into the prescription foods you can get at the vet's office.

You could ask your vet to test for yeast. Sometimes I will see a dog that is allergic to yeast and even a small amount of yeast infection can be extremely itchy. Often these dogs can be cured with a course of oral antifungal medication.

Has she been tested or treated for sarcoptic mange? These tiny mites can be hard to pick up on tests. Any time I see an itchiness that doesn't respond to normal allergy treatments I do a treatment for mange just to be sure.

One final thought would be to have your vet biopsy the areas to see if there is any sort of unusual skin disease. If so, knowing what the disease is will help us know what medication to use.

I wish I had THE answer for you. In almost every one of these frustrating cases that I have seen, though, there is an answer that will stop the itch. The problem is that often, coming to this answer can be expensive.

Please let me know if you have more questions and I hope that Kirsty gets some relief 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:

Hi Dr Marie,

Thanks for your speedy response.Kirsty was refered to a dermatologist when she was first diagnosed and proved negative to all 57 allergies tested for. I think we have the skin under control and this biteing of the leg/paw is a result of her condition over the years and is more of a bad habbit than anything else and we fear these self made wounds may become infected and were looking for advice on how best to manage them.Would the use of a mussle for example be an idea during the night or when we are out.Or is something robust engough we could cover these areas with?

Best Regard


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Is Kirsty biting at one or a couple of spots on her leg consistently? If so, then she could have something called a lick granuloma. There are lots of ways to treat these, but the treatment usually involves keeping her away from licking it.

*If* you were to use a muzzle, then it would need to be a cage muzzle and not the cloth type that wraps around her nose. The cloth type is meant for very short term use as it doesn't allow a dog to pant.

If it is not a specific spot on the leg then I really feel like it is not fair to put a muzzle or a bandage on as something that is this itchy really does have to have some type of medical reason. There is a small chance that it is a psychological behavior and if this is the case then a short term of medication such as Reconcile (which is prozac for dogs) could really help.

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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.