Is your dog’s scratching driving you mad?

November 11, 2012

Skin Cases


Allergy season is officially here. The warmer weather does not only bring with it the outdoor adventures but also the flea burden, risk of mites and/or tick infestation, and the unavoidable exposure to a multitude of pollen and grass.

It can be quite stressful watching your dog obsessively chewing his/her feet or scratching his/her flank.

If you have ever had to take your pet to a vet for a major skin issue, you would have been subjected to an intense interrogation process. The veterinarian would have asked you a range of questions some of which are included below in no particular order:

1. What do you feed your dog? Have you recently changed his/her diet?
2. Is your pet up to date with flea control? Yes, which one?
3. Do you live on a property? Any possible access to foxes or a range of plants/bushes?
4. Has your dog ever had any skin issues before?
5. Do you bathe your dog? How often? When did you do it last? What product did you use?

I always take a deep breath before embarking on a skin consult. My primary concern is overwhelming my clients with all my questioning. I do my best to explain why each and every question is relevant. It always seems easier handling a client with a dog that has had its first skin flareup. However, for those clients who are frequent flyers, some can be quite understandably fed up with the whole interrogation process.

I would really like to start by saying that a really good veterinarian will not offer you the quick fix solution.

That’s easy, they can give your dog or cat a cortisone injection and send you on your merry way with a 1-2 week oral course of cortisone. The itching will stop and you will feel instant relief. However, the underlying problem would not have been addressed. After the cessation of the cortisone, your pet will more often than not have a relapse and you are back to square one. You have to fork up money for another vet visit. I often wonder if owners are pre-warned about the significant side effects that cortisone can cause their much loved pets. Just like in people, cortisone leads to increased eating, drinking and retention of water. In dogs, it can also unleash aggression. The risk with cortisone is increased with prolonged and repeated dosing and can even cause iatrogenic cushings or diabetes which are serious medical conditions.

I don’t want to get on my soap box about cortisone being the enemy in treating skin issues. In reality, short term use of corticosteroids is definitely warranted in the early management of many skin cases like flea allergy dermatitis. Dogs that come in with self inflicted hair loss and thickening around the base of their tail combined with a flea burden will always need cortisone to dampen the overstimulated immune response. I often examine those flea allergy dermatitis cases after they have already been treated with appropriate flea control like Frontline, Revolution, Advantage or Advocate and they are still very itchy. These dogs are free of fleas but their body is still in a state of war against the previous exposure to a flea. Hence, the only solution is to cool off their immune system with some cortisone.

During these in-depth skin consultations, I often get unstuck when I get clients misunderstanding my intentions.

They think I just want to sell them flea control products or a new diet to make an extra buck.

I am secretly gratified when some of these clients are adamant their dogs don’t have fleas and I reveal to them a hidden stash of them on their pets. I often wonder if they actually think I planted these live fleas on their pets just to prove a point, hehehe. I personally have had to prescribe cortisone in many cases, some of which I wasn’t particularly happy about. The animal was clearly suffering from a severe itch and his/her owners could only afford the dirt cheap cortisone tablets.

Now I think it is crucial for me to point out and discuss very common misconceptions:

  • If your dog stops itching when you have asked him/her to, then maybe he is just doing it out of habit. Yes some pets can become obsessive compulsive about chewing themselves purely from a medical behavioural point of view but those cases are not as common as you may think! Before you can assume it is a compulsive disorder, a full skin workup must be done to rule out any underlying skin condition.
  • Food allergy isn’t always due to a sudden change in food. Your pet’s body may have been exposed to that particular allergen for some time and has suddenly developed a reaction to it. The most common age for dogs to develop food allergies is between 5 and 8 years of age. Veterinary dermatologists will ALWAYS ensure your pet has been on an appropriate food elimination diet (4-6 week duration) before they rule out food allergy as a possible cause  forpet’s skin issues.
  • We can’t always diagnose your pet’s skin condition in a single consultation especially if it has been long standing. Some cases can be quickly diagnosed in the consultation via a skin examination or skin scraping like flea or mite infestation. Others are often much more complicated and can be multifactorial and can take several weeks to months to definitively diagnose. Chaos below had a classical distribution of skin lesions indicating he was suffering from mange. We did some skin scrapings and were instantly able to diagnose him and start appropriate treatment.

poor chaos

choas chest

choas hindleg

chaos skin

  • Flea collars and supermarket flea products don’t work effectively. Flea collars definitely stop fleas from jumping onto your pet’s head and neck. However, these cheeky fleas have learnt they can escape the collar’s potency if they chill out around your pet’s bottom end. Supermarket flea products are cheaper for a reason; the quality of the product pays the price. Please be careful not to use a supermarket dog applicant on your cat as it can kill your cat > read Poison is Poison about this issue.
  • The cheapest and best option for your pet’s skin allergy is not getting him/her onto cortisone as soon as the skin flares up. The only means to truly nipping it in the bud is trying to get to the crust of the problem! Yes this may cost more upfront with the workup: skin scrapings or even biopsies, culture of specific lesions, food elimination trial, introduction of a healthier diet that better supports your pet’s skin & so forth. However, if you tally up the all up costs of cortisone and frequency of visits to the vets with the full skin workup & in most cases the diagnosis and appropriate management of your pet’s specific condition, you will realise it would have always been cheaper to properly workup your pet.
  • If you bathe your dog enough, you can definitely rid him of that awful dog smell. That is so far from the truth! If anything, the more you bathe your dog, the more you rid him of his essential skin oils that support his skin barrier; this can make him/her prone to major skin flareups. You must always make sure to use a pet registered shampoo and keep in mind that your pet may potentially react to a specific shampoo. You shouldn’t bathe your dog more than once a fortnight or a month.

I have only touched on a fraction of the information I would like to share with you about skin issues in your pet.

Stay tuned for more in depth discussions about the intricacies of managing some skin disorders in pets.

Next time, I will be talking all about gorgeous Lucy (pictured above), a 5 year old female de-sexed golden retriever, with some nasty dermatological issues . I am currently fostering and managing Lucy’s skin issues and will be giving you insight from both a veterinary and client perspective!

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About Rayya

Hi I am Dr. Rayya. I created this site to take you on a journey of my life as a vet! I hope to inspire you, teach you, learn from you. Most importantly help pet owners and animals around the world by sharing pictures, videos and posts from my everyday experiences.

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56 Comments on “Is your dog’s scratching driving you mad?”

  1. wordsfromanneli Says:

    Hi Rayya,
    So glad to see that you’re back. Yes, I remember the incident where you did your best and posted the story (with the family’s permission), only to be shot down in flames. Don’t worry. We all know you were doing your best. Don’t let it bring you down. I look forward to your posts and have missed them while you were gone. There’s always good information for pet owners. I look forward to more postings.


  2. Jana Rade Says:

    Is it possible for a dog to be an allergies sufferer WITHOUT the scratching bit? That is my big question. Jasmine gets episodes of panting/pacing/distress which so far we were unable to find an answer for.

    Eventually, if the episode lasts long enough, she will lick and chew at her front feet. But the episode has to last 5 hours minimum. (duration random between 30 minutes to 36 hours). Her vet is quite convinced that this comes from allergies (histamine release leading to panting and increase in temperature, itching causing the pacing) but it does not match what we are seeing and how we understand allergies. Jasmine is not an itchy dog! She is the least itchy member of the household! So this has been a major dilemma for us.

    Here is a video of one of the episodes (not much of the feet licking caught at that time; also she will scratch towards her left side, whether it’s elbow or shoulder? Mild episodes will respond to massage of those areas)


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Jana. I apologize about the late reply but I found your message in my spam. Firstly,I am so sorry to hear about Jasmine’s panting episodes.In all honesty, I think allergy sufferers usually display obvious scratching or chewing episodes. They mostly develop skin lesions.
      I have a few questions: how old is Jasmine, is she desexed, how long has she developed these episodes, is there a pattern to them, is there a trigger, are they seasonal?
      She seems either painful or distressed in the video.
      Has you veterinarian done full bloods, chest and abdominal xrays?
      I would be fully working her up. She sounds like a very complex case but the answer is there somewhere. I hope this information is helpful.
      Please answer my questions and maybe get your veterinarian to send me her full medical history to my email


  3. Long Life Cats and Dogs Says:

    I’m so glad you are back. Sorry we had to miss out on two of your posts – I really find them extremely helpful and useful. You are doing such fantastic work and I truly appreciate the effort you put into each post.
    Looking forward to hearing all the updates on Lucy and hope she is getting better fast.


  4. victoriaaphotography Says:

    Wonderful shot of Lucy – wet doggies do not always make good photo subjects, but Lucy’s portrait is a good one.


  5. becomingcliche Says:

    Two posts in one day! It’s the best day ever!

    Owners these days may not know how lucky they are. There are so many great products for treating and preventing fleas, there are hypo-allergenic diets, there are effective medications. Skin issues make such a difference in the quality of life! I can’t imagine spending every single day itching like mad. I agree that the quick approach isn’t necessarily the best one.


    • Rayya Says:

      Heather you make a great point. There are a range of products now available that weren’t a few years back to help support you pet’s skin. Scratching non-stop is a form of suffering for your pet and must be addressed.


      • becomingcliche Says:

        We lost a much loved dog to skin issues many years ago. She was badly allergic to fleas, and we tried everything available at the time, including dusting the yard with pesticides. She was allergy tested at the university and had specially formulated allergy shots, but one flea bite was all it took. A few years after her death, truly effective flea control came on the market. Had it come out earlier, it could have saved her life. We are so lucky now!

      • Rayya Says:

        Hey Heather. It is very sad that you had to lose your dog. It is just unbearable to watch them struggling with a severe itch.

  6. Donkey Whisperer Farm Says:

    Hi Dr. Rayya,

    Wonderful to have you back to blogging. Great post… We had a lab he is long gone now but he suffered from horrific allergies I cooked rice and hamburger, carrots, vacummed packed last 2 years of his life. Took a long time to find out what he was allergic to corn, wheat, lamb and chicken were huge triggers.


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Melody. I’m glad to be back. :-)
      Thanks for sharing you personal experience with your labrador. It is definitely not easy to determine the food triggers and can be quite a long process. Some dogs’ skin issues can be very challenging to workup especially if they have not been addressed in the early stages or are food related.


  7. barb19 Says:

    My Lhasa Apso suffered terribly from a skin condition and it took us a long time to find a vet to actually diagnose her. By that time she had hardly any fur left and had weeping lesions all over her body (secondary infections). Apparently she had demodex mites and her immune system was not working properly to cope with them. My vet treated her with Ivomec over a period of a few months, going back for skin scrapings, etc., but it did the trick. She made a full recovery.
    I will be very interested to read your further posts on skin problems Rayya – the information will be helpful to so many pet owners dealing with this.


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Barb
      Thanks for talking about your dog’s condition and highlighting the challenges you faced in her diagnosis. I wonder why the first vet didn’t do a skin scraping. Did she have sarcoptic or demodectic mange? With sarcoptes, if you don’t find a mite on the skin scraping, it doesn’t mean you have ruled it out as opposed to demodectic mange.
      We often get skin consults referred to our clinic. We definitely make sure to address all the issues and often book a minimum of half an hour consult period. This allows us sufficient time to appropriately workup any challenging skin cases. We often require regular revisits in the initial period to ensure our patient is responding to our treatment. I will definitely endeavor to tackle the skin discussion pretty well.


      • barb19 Says:

        Penny had demodectic mange, Rayya and none of the vets we took her to did a skin scraping until we found a vet called Willeke who was as caring and thorough as you are (she reminds me of you).
        She treated Penny for months until she got on top of the problem, doing regular skin scrapings, etc., so we became quite close and will be forever grateful to her; sadly for us, she is no longer a vet – she went on to become a human doctor.

  8. lisa@notesfromafrica Says:

    Thanks for such an informative article!


  9. sassybrat1904 Says:

    Is the reason for asking about Foxes because of Mange? When Midnight my Pit mix first came to live with me in a rural area where there are many Foxes she was diagnosed with Sarcoptic Mange. ( Midnight is from Manhattan , NY) BabyGirl did not show signs of the Mange but we treated both dogs with Revolution as Vet said BabyGirl could be a carrier. Midnight also has allergies and I bath her 1 a week with Medicated shampoo, Recently I was told to start bathing her 2 x a week. I have kept both girls on Revolution because of all the protections it provides and because of where I live . BabyGirl has allergies also and I was looking at some pictures of her when she was younger and she looked then as Midnight does now. BabyGirl doesn’t get all the hair loss like she use to. She doesn’t itch all the time but her paws get red and sore looking. This to has gotten quite better than it use to be. Allergies are so confusing when it comes to our pets.


    • Rayya Says:

      You are right. We ask about foxes because dogs mostly contract it from direct contact with a live/dead fox or even fox urine or stools. It is usually highly contagious to other dogs and can even be transmitted to humans.
      Sorry to hear about Midnight’s experience with Mange and hope you are managing her current skin issues well with the regular bathing. Is there a specific reason she is regularly bathed with the medicate shampoo? Is it pyohex for a dermatitis? Glad to hear Baby girl’s skin seems to be going okay.
      Yes allergies can be quite frustrating especially if your pet is highly sensitive. Keep up the great work with managing your babies’s skin issues.


      • sassybrat1904 Says:

        Midnight gets the baths because of the Dermatitis. It is just a medicated shampoo from the Pet supply store. The vet said it was working well and to keep it up. Midnight gets the Blisters and the hair loss. The scratching has gotten a lot better as long as I give her regular baths. She has been on prednisolone a couple of times and I have a supply for treatment on hand if she needs it. I try to limit how often I give it to her. She used to scratch so much she was getting open sores ad now she doesn’t scratch so intensely now and no open sores.She also likes Baths so that helps a lot.

  10. ruthrawls Says:

    At one time I worked for an older vet who gave allergy injections as often as every 3 – 4 weeks. One day we had a substitute vet who was much younger, and she refused to give a steroid injection to a dog that had received one 3 weeks prior. She used a different medical protocol which, over time, was safer for the dog. The owner wasn’t very happy that her dog couldn’t receive the injection, and it was hard to make her understand why. Interestingly enough, the owner said at the beginning of the consultation that she wanted her dog to have an allergy injection even though “the last one didn’t work”. The dog had received so many injections that they were becoming ineffective.
    There’s no quick fix for allergies, is there?


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Ruth.

      Back in the day, veterinarians only had access to very few products and so cortisone was one of the only things available to help relieve pets with allergies. We have come a long way from there and we can definitely help support the skin better. If your pet is appropriately worked up, sometimes you can have great results. However, other times it is an ongoing battle but you have manage your pet quite well.
      Cortisone is definitely not the long term solution. It is only a quick fix for a very short period.
      I will be discussing skin allergies more in my next post :-)


  11. Sherri Maddick Says:

    Let me also say – I am SO glad you are back – began to wonder about you!! Glad all is well with you and I did liekt he FB page! I was thrilled to read this article as Joy has nothing on her skin – she is clean as can be and yet she still itches mostly in the morning upon waking…I know mites exist everywhere even if your house is immaculate like ours, but I wonder if that could be it – she is much better after she eats breakfast and moves on with the day. I was interested in your comment about the “memory” of fleas. When she was still in the rescue I was told she had fleas, but Dr. Summers, the owner of the rescue, did everything wholistically – i keep thinking it’s behaviour – it’s not the food. She also is on a no corn/wheat/soy protocol. It does make me wary to see her scratching! Again, welcome back! :)


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Sherri. Yes it is great to be back. Thanks for caring enough and noticing my absence :-).
      With regards to Joy, fleas can live in the dirt and their eggs can also live in the carpet and with enough stirring, they hatch and the vicious cycle begins. The best thing to do is to use revolution spot on to protect Joy from any flea or mite infestation.
      With regards to her recurrent itching, it can be a lengthy process and you have already excluded a few potential causes with her corn/wheat/soy exclusion diet. The distribution of her skin lesions may be relevant. If you want to rule out her itching as being due to a compulsive behaviour, then you should trial her on cortavance spray. It is pretty straight forward, if she stops itching when you use the product then you know she is itching because she is in fact itchy. Hope this information helps. Goodluck!


  12. Alison Says:

    Hi Rayya, As you know, I was in the situation you describe around giving cortisone and treating the symptoms not the problem and it was actually a relief to get a panallergic diagnosis to confirm my suspicions so we could work on the actual problem. Thanks for working with Saffy and myself to hopefully make another furbaby more comfortable and I look forward to any future posts on allergies in pets :)


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Alison,

      Thanks for sharing your own experience with skin issues. I mean you had it even tougher since Saffy developed her allergies quite early and was only a puppy.

      She is one lucky terrier to have landed you as her owner. You have gone over and beyond for your precious Saffooni :-)


  13. Donkey Whisperer Farm Says:

    I have nominated you for the 2012 Blog Of The Year Award – Go to my blog to pick up your award and add to your blog.


  14. Mignon Prime Says:

    i take allergy shots from time to time because i have chronic rhinitis.^

    My personal online site


  15. Kelly Says:

    So I’ve always had my dog get itchy after kennel stays about 4 times a year. This time is super bad and so she got a cortisone shot one week. She is always on advantage monthly. She obviously is getting flea bites there and reacting but this time the cortisone did absolutely nothing. She kept itching. A week later another shot and an antibiotic. Vet suggests changing to revolution but I just gave a second dose of advantage so can’t give revolution until next month according to the vet so basically she will keep getting flea bites and responding with the shots giving no relief and we will start this over with her next kennel stay in two weeks:(.


    • Rayya Says:

      Dear Kelly,

      Sorry to hear about your pooch’s recurrent skin flare ups. Firstly, I think it is important that the kennel your dog stays at only accepts dogs that are flea treated as they obviously have a flea burden on the premises. Have you discussed your dog’s recurrent flare ups post kenneling with them?
      Secondly if spot ons like advantage or revolution aren’t doing the trick then maybe you should consider an oral form of flea control like Sentinel.
      Does your dog have seasonal itch or allergies, does it lick specific areas like its paws or scratch its ears regularly?
      It is important to support your dog’s skin with supplements like flax seed oil/omega oil or change her diet (consider vets all natural allergy food).
      Cortisone has lots of side effects and it doesn’t make sense to keep using it as a first line. It has its place and definitely is indicated when the skin is out of control. However, it doesn’t seem like the underlying issues are being totally addressed. Best of luck.


      • Kelly Says:

        Thank you Rayya:

        Sadly I got upset and even brought it up to the kennel and the girl at the front desk seemed completely unconcerned with the fact that she got fleas originally there and now has bites every visit. Back easy our standard was to inspect boarders and treat if necessary. I was tempted to take her out recently and try a new place but she is such a high stress, anxious chichiahaha that putting her in a new place before I leave her for two and half weeks seemed a poor choice. I guess the results though aren’t worth it either so after this trip I won’t keep her there.
        Thanks again.

  16. Tim Napier-Raikes Says:

    We have a West Highland Terrier which is a breed prone to skin complaints
    If the skin starts to itch we give her Piriton and add Olive Oil and Garlic to her food

    This seems to do the job and a couple of friends have tried it in their dogs and it has also helped


    • Rayya Says:

      Hello Tim,

      Yes West Highland Terriers are super prone to skin issues. Glad to hear you have found a combination that helps manage her flareups.
      Thanks for sharing.


  17. Irma Says:

    So I’m from California and my senior dog Herbie has been scratching himself intensively that he now has multiple scars on the back oh his front legs and his whole face is losing hair. His left ear is full of crust and it is passing in to his right ear. The part just on top of his nose is completely bare aswell. Recently I have noticed the hair above his eyes to be reducing. He would not stop trying to scratch his face so I bought him a head cone to prevent himself from harming himself more than was already done. I am afraid that whatever he has might be passing on to my two other dogs which have also been scratching and have several sacra on their bodies and one of them has two scars on her face one on each side. The one with the serious issue is Herbie but it doesn’t really seem to bother him as much as it seems it would but the smell is horrible and no matter what I do i can’t seem to make it go away. I have tried everything to stop him from scratching but it is just beyond my power. I would really appreciate your help to try to figure out any possibilities of what this might be. Thank you!


    • Rayya Says:

      Hello Irma,

      Sorry to hear about Herbie’s escalating skin condition. Given the history that your other dogs have also become symptomatic, it is concerning that a contagious disease is occurring.
      Have you taken your dogs to the vets to get them thoroughly examined. As you would have appreciated in my post about itching dogs, you must go through a huge process of determine the possible causes and trying to eliminate each cause one at a time!
      I highly recommend Herbie is taken to a vet to get a skin scraping. Based on the distribution of his lesions and the other 2 dogs also becoming itchy, I highly suspect they may be suffering from a mite infestation. They may have sarcoptic mange. Treatment for that includes treating all in contact animals at your household with revolution spot on therapy. For treatment of sarcoptic mange, we suggest applying revolution once fortnightly instead of monthly for 2 or 3 consecutive treatments and that should cure them against mange. Unfortunately, I can’t really give you much more information as I am not examining your dogs, don’t have their medical history and it is impossible to workup a skin case over the internet. In saying so, I highly recommend you get them all checked out by your local vet. Best of luck. Let me know how you go. Cheers, Rayya


      • Irma Says:

        Thank you!
        I took Herbie to the vet today to get a skin scrape and we found out that he has sarcoptic mange. We began a treatment with ivermectin vaccinations every two weeks. Now we can finally focus on the real issue that was going on all along. It’s too bad I’m not allowed to really pet any of my dogs for now since it is contagious to humans aswell but if all goes well they should be clear in about 2 months. Thank you very much for your help and information!

      • Rayya Says:

        Hello Irma. You are most welcome. So glad I could be of help and that all your pooches are getting the treatment they require. Do let me know how they get on. Cheers, Rayya

  18. Mandy Says:

    Hi, i have a 9 week old puppy diagnosed with sarcoptic mange, he had his first treatment with advocat 5 days ago, on the 3rd day the itching decreased, but now on the 5 th day the itching has returned to the normal frantic chewing and scratching, my question is, is this normal, can i expect decreased and increased itching until cured, he was positively diagnosed by luck really as the vet pulled a few hairs from his very wet chewed on foot, under the microscope you could clearly see a mite. He does not have any thickened skin at the moment so scraping wasnt an option, im just glad a diagnosis could be made. Thank you


    • Rayya Says:

      Dear Mandy,
      Glad to hear your puppy has started treatment as sarcoptic mange can be very irritating.
      I am not surprised he is still very itchy as he has still not been cured from his mange infestation. The mites must be moving around. Best to keep in touch with the vet treating your puppy to ensure treatment is effective. Goodluck.


  19. Kayla Says:

    I have a Maltese x shi tzu male dog aged 8 years old and he has a horrible chewing habit which I assume is caused by some type of nervousness, which I have heard happens quite a lot in small dogs. He chews his paws constantly and his lower back until they are red raw and bleeding. I bathe him in hypo allergenic shampoos and conditioners and have tried oat meal type shampoos and various other treatments. I have taken him to get cortisone treatments before but they only last a few weeks and I cannot keep on affording it. I have even tried frontline and advocate and tablets for fleas which works, but he rarely ever has fleas. I try and distract him from scratching which only works for a period of time. I am know trying to get opinions and suggestions to help my dogs condition. Does anyone know any ways to help my dogs nervousness and anxiousness and relief for his skin? I hate seeing him suffering and I want him to be at ease now.


    • Rayya Says:

      Dear Kayla,
      Sorry to hear about your dog’s constant itching.
      Based on the history you mentioned, it doesn’t sound like your dog has anxiety. I don’t recommend you assume he does without effectively ruling out underlying allergies. Given he has responded to flea control, he may be suffering from flea allergy dermatitis which means he doesn’t have to be riddled with fleas, just one flea can cause him to have a massive reaction. He should be maintained on regular flea control. Did the cortisone injections help stop him itching completely? If the answer is yes, then that again indicates he suffers from a true itch and isn’t just chewing because of stress. Sometimes dogs that itch constantly due to unresolved skin issues can develop a psychological obsession with itching.
      Hope this information helps.
      Rayya The Vet


  20. leslie Says:

    my dog is itching so hard..that he cried while scratching…we visited the vet and injected ivermectin…my other dog has recovered bt EVO hasn’t.. wen i got him1st he has fowl smell…we go to the vet and put revolution…the smell goes he is 4 yrs old..stil have the same issue…he always scratch..his hair are falling…his skin s very very dry..h has a lot of flakes.. im so worried about him..because he is such a sweet dog. thanks for your reply.


    • Rayya Says:

      Dear Leslie. Sorry about the late reply but I’m currently overseas. With regards to your dog, if has recurrent issues with his skin, you need to go through am am intensive elimination process with your vet. He will need to be regularly maintained on revolution including all other pets. Based on the brief history, you haven’t ruled out food allergy, contact allergy, atopy and so much more. I highly recommend you follow up with your regular vet and hopefully you get to the bottom of it or at least find out the best way to manage the skin flare ups. Good luck and please let me know how you go.


      • leslie Says:

        what do you mean by contact allergy and atopy? anyway, so far we have 4 dogs in the they are n very good condition..they doesn’t itch like him…they also dont have foul smell..we have 4 months intensive medication with the vet..still the same…his falling hair wil heal,den later it wil recur agin. just ds week..some spot of his skin is wet nd slimy…wen it dries up it becomes very big flakes…im so worried.. we don’t want to go the vet anymore bcoz we almost run out of money..and still his condition doesn’t improve..we try eliminating food that would possibly cause of his allergy…but still the same…we tried all home remedy..still it my improved then later comes back agin… bt now we will try revoultion agin.. by the way.. how many months will we give him revolution? thank you soo much for your reply.

      • Rayya Says:

        Hello Leslie. Contact allergy is when your dog is getting into direct contact with the allergen causing him to itch. Common contact allergy is to grass. Atopy on the other hand is allergy to both inhaled allergens and ones directly contacted and is much more difficult to manage. It can be quite costly managing a pet with skin allergies but unfortunately there is not always a single cure and generally complicated skin cases require ongoing veterinary care. In theory, he should be on revolution on going unless he reacts to the product. I highly recommend you read all the related skin articles I have written about Lucy.

  21. Aditi Says:

    Hello Dr. Raya – I am generally someone who looks at health holistically and am not a fan of broad spectrum products especially when dealing with skin issues. Over the many years of rescuing and fostering street dogs in India I have seen a lot of skin issues in dogs and really appreciate it when vets take the time to run through the list of questions to make a diagnosis. Even with strays where accurate medical and lifestyle histories are hard to obtain. However, it has been my experience, here in India, that many vets are very reluctant to do skin scrapping and cultures, even with pet dogs, and I simply cannot understand why they sometimes categorically refuse to do such a basic diagnostic test that is easy and painless. Especially when it can help rule out things and provide targeted treatment. Am I missing something here? I was hoping you could shed some light on this.


    • Rayya Says:

      Dear Aditi. Good on you for all the work you do with rescuing and rehabilitating strays. You are not missing anything at all. You are absolutely right, your vets should be offering a range of tests when working up any skin case. If they aren’t, it goes to show they aren’t experienced enough and are too old school in their treatment methods. Hope you can find a vet that’s graduated more recently and has the new skills needed for diagnosing, treating and managing a skin case.


  22. Rose Morley Says:

    I hope you can help my Lucky boy who has not been so lucky lately. Lucky is 8 year old male beagle, he recently was on put on pain medication for back pain and while he was taking them started to scratch every day during the day. He has never had fleas or does he now, he scratches so hard he puts sores on his back ankles because we have wood floors. He was put on allergy and antibiotic medicine and it was helping into he ran out and our vet said not something he can take forever. We are at a lost what to do for him, can you please give us your advice. Thank you Rose


    • Rayya Says:

      Dear Rose. Sorry to hear about Lucky boy’s recent skin issues. Unfortunately based on the information you have provided, I really can’t give you much advise. I’m not clear on what your vet has diagnosed him with. There is no skin condition that requires daily antibiotics for life. Sometime they require repeat courses when the skin flares-up… I honestly doubt an 8 year old dog suddenly develps major skin issues. They would usually start much earlier. So definitely worth ruling out parasites like fleas or mites using a proper product like revolution spot on used fortnightly for 3 consecutive treatments (that is off label use). It’s important for you to discuss all your concerns directly with your vet. You need to be confident in what he/she is saying and understand the diagnosis. Otherwise, find a new vet that you can trust and feel comfortable with. Hope this information helps. Please let me know how Lucky Boy gets on.


  23. tim Says:

    hello Dr. Rayya, my 8 months old Doberman was given a one month cortisone course back when he was 6 months old. now he is the shortest among his litter-mates! my question is; does cortisone stunt growth in puppies? Thanking you in advance and wishing you well



  1. Fostering a special needs dog | Dr Rayya's Online Veterinary Journal - November 19, 2012

    […] Is your dog’s scratching driving you mad? ( […]

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