Itchy (Pruritic) Dogs
Some dogs actually seem to enjoy scratching. I doubt they do, but some of them do it alot.
You see them rubbing against shrubs and trees, and under the coffee table, and rolling around on their backs in the yard.
But sometimes scratching gets ugly.
They’ll scratch all night long, and cry while they’re doing it. Eventually; sometimes within hours, they’ll raise large, wet, red whelps under their ears or on their rumps (Hot spots or Moist Excema). Their tail may become hairless for all their digging.
The majority of these cases are allergic conditions where a flea may have bitten the dog, causing an itchy reaction in the skin.
But many such dogs are also “allergic” to house dust, pollens, and molds. (They call that “Atopy” which was once believed to be “inhaled” allergies. New information supports that it’s a contact allergy as well)
Rainy weather triggers some cases by spawning mold growth in leaf litter, however; dry weather and wintertime low-humidity triggers yet others. Some dogs are even allergic to their own food! New information suggests that some dogs have “carbohydrate intolerance” and their skin erupts the way some people’s skin erupts in response to milk/dairy. I hold that this is a COMMON cause of itching in dogs and switching to low-carb feeding helps the majority of cases.
Food allergy is comparatively rare. Among dogs, only one out of fifteen HUNDRED of them will be food allergic. However, there are MANY dogs which are intolerant of certain grains and fillers, much the same way people can be INTOLERANT of lactose, not allergic to it. When an animal eats a food it doesn’t digest effectively, diarrhea or soft stool may results, however, the colon can restore a LOT of normalcy to the stool, but the effects of the food intolerance can be indirect and serious.
When I look at your dog for itchy skin, it will be an exam to see whether the condition appears to be mange. Mange scrapes are a very reasonably priced diagnostic test. The results are available within minutes. While some vets DO scrape every single itchy dog that come$ into the clinic, I don’t automatically scrape every dog for mange, unless there’s a question that it could be mange.
If the skin appears to be infected with Ringworm fungus, then I might recommend that some hairs be pulled out and cultured for the fungus. This test takes a little longer, but can provide valuable information.
In the majority of cases, I can tell by a careful examination, and through a line of careful questions, that a condition is allergic/atopic or not, and then will discuss the treatment or diagnostic options available. Usually, the most practical treatment for allergies, with the highest success rate, is the use of cortisone, by injection.
Other treatments which may be recommended are Atopica (I don’t like it), Apoquel (Causes cancer I hate it) and Cytopoint (Hold a lot of promise but cancer statistics are unavailable now).
In some cases, there is also infection in the skin as evidenced by pus exuding from wounds. In those cases, an antibiotic is also sent home for you to give to your companion.
The majority of “itchy-dog-skin” cases can be seen and treated for well under a hundred dollars. Later, once the diagnosis is established, subsequent visits may sometimes involve a re-examination charge plus the cost of the treatment. That depends entirely on your vet of course but it’s not an unfair question to ask.
At Johnson Veterinary Services, we welcome discussions about your bill, and if you ask me, I’ll help you estimate the costs that may be involved, up front, so there will be no unpleasant surprises, and you’ll usually have money left in your pocket. I never exceed estimate without consent.
Allergies are usually *chronic* and are difficult to totally “cure”. In other words, the allergic symptom of itching usually returns when control of the allergic cause is relaxed. (For example, if the fleas are allowed to remain on the pet, or in the environment.)
In some instances, the best desired result could be the longest possible control of symptoms for the comfort of the pet; with the least amount of pharmacological influence. That’s by diet, skin conditioners, medications, raw honey, and other adjunctive care.
Frequently administered cortisone may have adverse effects, in some cases of extreme abuse. I can clarify and avoid these circumstances.