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Ask the Veterinarian/Dog persistent scratching


Dr Gotthelf,

A friend of mine has a beagle mix that can't seem to stop scratching.  She took the dog to a local Vet and he told her the itching was likely caused by an allergy, or allergies, that could not be fully determined unless allergy testing can be done.  These tests, and the subsequent treatments, were going to be very expensive, so my friend decided to look for other options.  This is why I am writing to you.  She does not have computer access.  

She has been giving her dog vitamins as well as Fish Oil capsules, and these were recommended by a nurse at the Vet's office.  In your experience, is Fish Oil effective in treating skin irritations/itching, or is there another over the counter product available that may help?  Can you suggest some topical products that may help?  Her dog's scratching is so frequent the poor little thing can barely sleep or rest comfortably.  What would you suggest?  

Thank you.

Persistent scratching could be allergies or it could be a skin parasite like sarcoptic mites or even from a skin infection with bacteria or yeasts.  For allergies, steroids are prescribed and for external skin parasites, insecticidal dippings are used.  Antibiotics and antifungal medication and shampoos are used for skin infections. She can ask the vet to try some steroids without going through all of the allergy testing. Fish oil can help decrease some itching, especially if there is dry skin, but it takes 30-45 days to work.  Rarely are any of the over the counter antihistamines, like Benadryl, helpful, but they can be tried.

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Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf


Dermatology and ear diseases of dogs and cats


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.

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