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Question
My shiz tsu is 4 yrs old and has severe skin problems. We did a commercial allergy test and found a long list of food allergies. We have been trying to avoid these but she continues to have dry flaky skin, redness all over from face to feet, and licks her paws constantly. I don't know if they irritate her or she's bored. She thus has a mildew like odor that doesn't go completely away with bathing. My parents have taken to bathing her almost twice weekly to get rid of the smell but I think this makes the dry skin and itching worse. We have benedeyl and use it when necessary. She has lost all her hair on her neck and frequently stratched it til it bleeds and has had hot spots frequently. We aren't sure what to do for her and I don't know if our vet has been that helpful. Is there any home treatments we can do to help with the dry skin, itching and smell? Any suggestions for the best way to take care of a shiz tsu skin and hair needs, including helpful shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers?  anything we can add to her food or give her to help? We typically leave her with a puppy cut as she had more curly hair than long.

Answer
Tests for food allergies are useless.  They have never shown correlation with food trials with things the dog has not been determined to be allergic to.  If you think the sog is food allergic, then a 6 week trial with a food called Hill's z/d diet and nothing else will tell you if that is the problem.  If the dog is constantly scratching and licking the feet, she needs to be on steroid medications to calm down the itching.  If she smells bad, she may have a bacterial or a yeast infection that needs to be treated.  Antibacterial shampoos help, but stronger medications are needed initially to stop the reaction in the skin.  You might want to get  second opinion from a different vet.

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Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf

Expertise

Dermatology and ear diseases of dogs and cats

Experience

I am the author of "Small Animal Ear Diseases; An Illustrated Guide" published by W.B. Saunders. I have over 25 years of clinical experience with a special interest in dermatologic conditions and ear diseases.

Organizations
American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology

Publications
Veterinary Forum
Veterinary Medicine
Waltham Focus

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