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I Need Your Help . . . My Pooch Won't Stop Scratching!

I Need Your Help . . . My Pooch Won't Stop Scratching!

Thanks so much for helping out – and sharing stories – about those lonely puppies (and kitties). Next up, do you think we can work together to help rushka313 with her aptly-named pooch, Bella? Seems this pretty lass is very scratchy – see the details and share your advice when you


I have a 3.5-year-old American Cocker Spaniel. Because I live in Arizona, I keep her coat short in more of a "puppy-cut." She is constantly scratching . . . to the point that she has made her skin raw! Typically she is scratching the back of her front legs, her neck/ear area, and then she "bites/chews" her leg area. She doesn't have fleas, and I've bathed her in both an oatmeal bath (for dogs) and a sensitive skin shampoo. I have her on Science Diet's Sensitive Skin formula food, and give her an Omega-3 fatty acid vitamin daily. It has slightly subsided, but she is still scratching quite a bit. The vet's recommendation is steroids, but I am really not comfortable with putting my little pup on them. Has anyone else had similar problems? It's just breaking my heart to see my little princess with raw skin – any suggestions?

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cgates cgates 9 years
Rushka313, Please be very careful about taking advice without consulting a veterinarian. I went to vet school for 3 years before deciding that research and diagnostics were more my cup of tea, but I've had most of the formal education associated with Vet School. It is true that Science Diet does a great deal of vet student wooing, but most vets do not sell Science Diet for that reason. It is generally a good product with many options. There are many good pet foods out there, but not all foods are nutritionally balanced, so be careful to ensure they are before switching. In regards to vaccinations, it is true that some problems exist, but I can tell you from experience that vaccinations have saved huge numbers of pets lives. I currently work at a major veterinary school diagnostic lab. One in which I, along with my collegues perform the titers mentioned in an earlier comment. These titers are great information to get, but you need to know that those titers are a snapshot of the antibodies present in your dog at that time, and are not a guarantee that she will be protected from the major canine diseases for any specific time period. I would definitely not go over a year between testing those titers. Different animals have different production of antibodies from year to year. And I can tell you from experience, that diseases such as distemper (one of the major components of the DHLPPC vaccine) and rabies are present everywhere in wildlife. On a near daily basis I perform diagnostics on skunks and raccoons that demonstrate both rabies and distemper infections. Distemper and rabies are terrible diseases and their effects on animals is horrible. I'm not trying to frighten you, just keep you informed. I know vaccinations are getting a very bad wrap right now, but without these veterinary vaccinations a staggering number of animals would have suffered from a wide variety of diseases, many with deadly consequences. Vaccinations have their problems, just don't eliminate them completely without consulting a vet. I think the best suggestion listed here was to visit a Veterinary Dermatologist. Food allergies, environmental allergies, bacterial allergies, are all possibilities. With the advice of a Dermatologist, you can start to eliminate causes and get to a solution that takes into account the overall health of Bella. I took my own precious Gertie to a Dermatologist, and we came up with a solution that stopped her skin problems for good. Best of luck!
ecl ecl 9 years
Hello, In Utah there is a big pet rescue sanctuary. One of the stories that I saw on television highlighting this place was about a dog that was allergic to virtually everything. If I am not mistaken they were able to get the allergies under control for this poor dog. See if you contact them and see if they have any suggestions. If you have a diagnosis from your vet, perhaps it will be enough information for them. Good Luck
Schaianne Schaianne 9 years
Food allergies most likely like everyone else says - I switched my Sasha over to Nature's Recipe Vegetarian food and she's almost all better! I think she chews herself now out of habit - but the scratching and ear infections have just about disappeared, yay!
ladyr ladyr 9 years
I came across this website the other day and thought I'd share: Some interesting stuff here. I would like to read the book. I currently feed my large dog Solid Gold Wolf King and my small dogs eats Solid Gold Just a Wee Bit. I have been happy with Solid Gold products, and I mix high quality wet food with it. The raw food diet discussion is pretty interesting too, and there is some good info. about it on the above website. My large dog has severe seasonal allergies, just like me, and it is very hard to manage. My vet did put him on steroids for a very short period as a means of leading him into a stronger regimen of antihistamines. The steroids gave him instant relief, but he is having some nasty itching again now that he is back to antihistamines (although not as bad as before). I have found that bathing him fairly frequently (once a week at least) with a very mild shampoo and conditioner (prescribed by my vet) has helped some with his itching and has also helped with dandruff. Also, just like for people, itching is worse when it is hot, so it is important to try and keep your pups cool. If you can, it is good to wet your dog when it's hot out. You don't have to bathe your pet ever time you wet them down, and it shouldn't dry their skin out (especially if they are a water loving breed). It will make them feel soooo much better, even if it's only temporary.
carmellawa carmellawa 9 years
I've been wondering if vaccinations have been my dog's problem all along. He has always been allergic to fleas, but for the last couple of years I just can't get him completely better. My vet and dog trainer have been suggesting food all along. I have tried various foods. Most recently I am feeding him Natural Balance Venison and Sweet Potato. He loves it! Haven't seen him that excited about food in eons, but the odd thing is how much he is pooping now. I don't think it is the transition to a different food because his stool isn't soft. It's what I would call ideal poop. Did I really say that? Anyway it makes me feel good about what's in it. I've found other posts where people have talked about how solid the poop is. Odd! But back to the vaccinations. I'm realizing that the last two major breakouts have been after having his vaccinations. I can't remember before that. Plus this last flare up is the one that just will not get better...the worst ever. Well his last vaccination was a three year rabies shot plus the others. I remember when he was just a pup I read a lot about the cons of vaccinations. If you find the book. I would like to know the name. I've got to releive his itching and don't want to use steriods if there are other options.
rushka313 rushka313 9 years
georginc: thanks for all your help :) i have already started weaning her off the sd. hopefully this one will do the trick. as i was going through this week i was doing some further research on the breed, etc and i read about over-vaccinating dogs and how that can cause allergies as well. there is a great book out there that talks about exactly that...i'll have to find it and put a link in her for those who are interested.
sing2day sing2day 9 years
My two bichons scratched constantly at night and would get ear infections, turned out they were allergic to wheat.
georginc georginc 9 years
Jaycee - good point regarding vaccinations. I stopped giving both my girls the DHLPP vaccines at 5 years (they still get their rabies shots). I give them Heartguard Plus every 6 weeks instead of 4, and I only apply Frontline once or twice (max) during the summer instead of year round. Rushka, make sure you switch over to the new food slowly. Start with a mix of 25% new food/75% old food the first week, 50/50 the second, 75/25 the third, etc. Also, you may end up trying a couple different types of dog foods before finding the one that works for your furkid. I actually tried Innova, then Wellness, then Solid Gold before I found one that worked for my two dogs.
jaycee2 jaycee2 9 years
These are all wonderful suggestions although in many cases these allergies are from vaccinations. If you have tried everything and they are still itching talk to your vet about waiving some vaccines. Don't allow vaccine cocktails at one visit. Have them given in two week intervals, so their systems can adjust to the toxins. Have a titer done to see what they have build up an immunity to. Steroids are not good for their liver and can cause other issues. It is only a last resort to find relief. If they have been put on antibiotics for the secondary skin infections, give them yogurt or probiotics to replace the good flora in their gut.It may be a yeast overgrowth. There is a yeast kit I recommend at . I also feed an organic food like Natural Balance Organic. There are no pesticides , chemicals or food allergens in the mix. Eagel Pack is also a wonderful food. For crusty bumps use Selsun Blue shampoo. Keep your dogs hair short and in a T shirt. It helps ! When one of mine developed severe allergies to flea saliva in his older age, I took him off grass , no more vaccines and he had some relief from the itches. These are just some suggestions from another long time pet owner though. Talk to a holistic vet if you can find one.
rushka313 rushka313 9 years
I did it! I went out and purchased a bag of Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken :) The woman at the pet store said it was a phenomenal food. I loved site; that was also extremely helpful. Definitely glad that I am not alone in all of this; and hope that this has helped other people's pups as well :)
Petthebull Petthebull 9 years
I have to agree with many of the comments here. Definitely sounds like a food allergy. My dog had the exact same symptoms yours does, and I've tried a bunch of different brands, and finally settled on a Premium holistic dog food brand. Science diet is crap food. It's not a whole lot better than, say Purina, except without added dyes and such. A lot of Vets, breeders, etc. recommend it and feed it because they get really good deals. Even a lot of Animal Shelters use it because they get really good deals on a large volume of food. But it is just a bad food. A lot of dogs have skin sensitivity issues with it. MY dog broke out in complete hives when I switched her to it when I was first experimenting with different foods to figure out what she was allergic to. The food I feed my girl is Nutro Natural Ultra weight management, although I'm not saying that's what would work for your dog. It really just depends what she may be allergic to. Oh, and about the steroids, I would say go with it only as a management for really bad outbreaks. It can really help and make them feel a whole lot better. I wouldn't keep her on anything too long though since (as your vet should inform you), most steroids, especially Prednisone, which is commonly prescribed for this kind of thing, can lead to organ malfunction over time, not to mention causing the dog to become incontinent. Good luck.
georginc georginc 9 years
Oops, just realized I said "Solid Gold" instead of "Gold Bond" powder. Obviously I don't sprinkle Solid Gold on my furkid's hot spot :)
ufshutterbabe ufshutterbabe 9 years
I feel like we need to start a support group for dogs with allergies :-) I think it is actually much more common than people realize. Wanted to add this to the discussion: They sell dehydrated sweet potato treats for dogs. That's what the Vet Dermatologist we go to uses for dog treats - according to the doc, there's never been a dog that is allergic to sweet potato, so they won't cause any reactions. Also - if the problem is food allergies, be aware that the "meat flavoring" of nylabones and other dog chew toys can be enough to set off a reaction. We found this out about 3 months too late - just didn't occur to our dermatologist to tell us this for some reason.
georginc georginc 9 years
Sorry for not getting back to you earlier about Solid Gold - it's been a busy work day. I'm not sure where your hot spot is but I sprinkle on the powder and then wrap with gauze. My girl and one on her foot (about the size of a nickel and it was really raw) and the gold bond cleared it right up. Regarding dog food brands, there are many brands that are "premium" so just try and pick one that is corn, soy, wheat and gluten free. If possible, visit your local "mom and pop" pet food store as they are generally more knowledgeable about ingredients. Here's a good dog food comparison chart from Flint River: Start with Flint River or Solid Gold as your ingredient reference then compare against the others. Personally, I'd stay away from the steroids (i.e. prednisone) as their side effects can be much worse than what they're curing. Good luck!
j4everlasting j4everlasting 9 years
Hello, I haven't read through everything, but I did read a couple posts about foods. Solid Gold is a GREAT choice, as well as Timberwolf (what both my guys are on). I personally don't recommend Nutro, because I have been hearing controversial things about them lately.
SugarKim4203 SugarKim4203 9 years
I'm a big fan of Nutro brand products. They have an organic line, but I forget what it's called. I've been able to find Nutro at all large pet stores. My parents insist on feeding their dogs crappy grocery store food and you can see the difference in my dog's coat and crap! Serious!! :)
wakeupandora wakeupandora 9 years
lizkiernan lizkiernan 9 years
A lot of dogs have a gluten allergy. My pit has it, now we use canned food called 'EVO' That has helped him stop scratching.
jubyju jubyju 9 years
I would personally recommend looking into California Naturals if you are going to try a new food. You can most likely find it at a smaller high-end pet store in your area. Supposedly it is "hypoallergenic" because it has very few ingredients and no extra preservatives. I feed it to both of my dogs, one dog who has had skin allergies in the past and this food seems to work really well with her.
ufshutterbabe ufshutterbabe 9 years
I can't read through all the responses right now, but I just wanted to say you might need to see a vet dermatologist. Our regular vet just said "prednisone" (sp?) when we came in with our dog. Thats about all a general practice vet knows to do. When that didn't help, we went to the vet. dermatology practice at UPenn - they're much more educated about animal skin issues (duh!). We had to do a blood test for environmental allergens (he's allergic to just about everything) and food trials. You have to switch to a food with a novel protein (something the dog has never been exposed to before - usually fish or venison works) because it is more likely to be the cause of a food allergy. I love Wellness brand dogfood - all human grade ingredients - we feed the fish and sweet potato. Just be aware too - if the dog is breaking open the skin from scratching, that could lead to a bacterial infection (from bacteria that is normally present but not usually a problem). We also have to use a prescribed anti-bacterial shampoo on our pooch to keep everything in check.
rushka313 rushka313 9 years
Thank you all so much for these wonderful tips! She will definitely be changing from SD (gradually) right away! And a big thanks to Petsugar for posting this for all to see and help:)
lovelipgloss lovelipgloss 9 years
I've been looking into this a lot lately. My dog Lulu has been itching and chewing at her front legs so much that she has 2 bald spots. I took her to the vet and now she's on 3V fish oil supplement, takes an allergy pill, and I bought her new shampoo (a colloidal oatmeal formula called "Comfy Dog" by Happytails Spa). Each night I've also been giving her troubled spots a light spray of "Skin Repair and Dander Care" by Shea Pet which is safe for licking. I've noticed her itching less but it has only been about a week so far. Recently I bought a dog health book that talks about infrequent baths being a myth. This was confirmed when my vet suggested bathing my dog several times a week with the appropriate shampoo. If Lulu's allergies end up being food related I've hunted down two kinds that look good to try. One is California Natural (limited ingredients) and Wellness Allergy formulas. Currently she's on Innova Puppy.
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