Species: Dog Breed: Pitbull/ Lab Mix Age: 2-5 years
I have a 4 year old pitbull/lab mix that has been scratching and biting at herself. She bites and scratches so hard that she has lost most of the hair on her sides and her back legs. Sometimes she even scratches to the point where she bleeds. Her hair has gotten extremely oily, yet it seems like her skin is flaky. We had her to the vet twice and I believe all they gave her were antibiotics. The first set of pills seemed to help her, but then when she went off of them the problem developed again. We assumed she just needed more medication so we took her back and I think they gave her the same pills again. This time the scratching did not stop and she did not seem to grow any of her hair back. Ive tried to switch her food, but it didn't help. Im not sure if there maybe is a certain brand of food that will help her the best or not. Currently we have been putting salmon oil in the food she is on now which is purina one. We started that a few days ago, but she just keeps biting. I don't know if the salmon oil is enough to be giving her. Often she will lick at her paws too. Ive had to take her collar off of her because it seems to irritate her neck or will cause her to lose the hair on the front of her neck. Red spots also appear on her chest and underneath her and sometimes look scabby. After she gets a bath it seems the next day the oily hair and dry skin is back. Any help will be very much appreciated!! Thanks!!!!
Dr. Marie replied:
Hi and thanks for your question!
Pitbulls often have skin problems. There can be many possible causes.
From what you have described she may have a skin infection that needs a longer course of antibiotics. Sometimes if we do a course of antibiotics that is not long enough then the infection comes back again. Some dogs need 6-8 weeks of consistent antibiotics in order to clear up a skin infection.
I have seen a number of pitbulls with generalized demodex which is a parasite that can contribute to skin infections. You may want to ask your vet about testing for demodex.
Is she on a good flea preventative? If I have a dog that is getting repeated skin infections I will always recommend a prescription strength flea product such as Frontline,Advantage, or Revolution. Some dogs are so sensitive to fleas that even one bite will set off skin problems and often we can't see the fleas.
Some dogs with serious skin problems have sarcoptic mange. Usually dogs with sarcoptic mange will be most affected behind the elbows and hocks and along the edges of their ears.
While allergies are possible, I don't think they are the only problem here. You may want to talk to your vet about prescribing a small dose of steroid to help with the itchiness along with the antibiotics.
My guess is though that she needs a longer course of antibiotics.
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Dr. 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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