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Ask the Veterinarian/Scratching, Flaky Skin, Miserable


Hi there, Jana! I'm scared for my dog. He's just been miserable lately and I'm not sure what to do. I'm concerned about either Mites or Allergies, but in truth I'm not sure of the situation.

Here's the situation: He is a purebred toy poodle, age 6-7, and he's never had problems before besides a few minor flea issues. However, about three months ago he began scratching and picking at his paws. We've done minor things to try to get him to stop but within the last month its gotten so bad that he began tearing out fur and even skin, leaving blood and scars. Upon further inspection I noticed his skin was dry and flaky, his fur was thinning (which is very concerning due to the fact that poodles don't shed), he's been having a lot more accidents (Problem with his immune system??) and he smells absolutely awful.

Here's what I've done: Since he's had problems with fleas in the past we had assumed it was a bug problem so we gave him regular flea and tick baths, brushed him often (including giving him a shave). Well, he kept scratching to the point where we were concerned. So we thought it was a diet issue. We've changed his food out to a high quality brand without wheat or corn and nothings changed, we then tried another brand and it remained the same. Neither of those ideas seem to be the problem. So while I searched I tried to find things to ease his pain. I've been giving him oatmeal baths (read that they're very soothing). We got him a cone that doesn't really work (he scratches over it). And we've got a special antibiotic spray for dogs with injuries due to over scratching. However, nothing to help CURE the situation yet. :c I've searched online forever and narrowed it down to two possibilities- Seasonal Allergies or.. Mites. We recently moved up in the mountains and the pollen count is very very high in Spring. I sneeze simply by walking outside. And I read that poodles are very prone to allergies. So that's a possibility. But the one I fear it is is mites. Due to the fact that its so very bad and he does not stop scratching. Is there any way to tell? It'd be much easier if we knew the problem.

As of right now, he's torn out the fur and scratched his skin raw on his elbows, both ears, half of his face and he's now starting on the other, and a bit on his tail base and stomach and paws. He was such a beautiful dog and it almost brings me to tears seeing him now.

And I cannot bring him to a vet.. My family is too poor. I'm sure my dad is willing to buy an expensive product so long it works. But those vet bills.. We can't handle.

Is there anything I can do? His name is Shadow. He's the happiest dog in the world but he's been so miserable and anti-social lately. It breaks my heart. Any suggestions would help. A hundred thanks in advanced! <3

(I'd love to show a picture but it was so hard to have him stay still in light without him trying to get away and tuck himself up and some dark secluded place. I didn't wan't to push him)

And err.. Sorry for making this so detailed! Just wanted to give plenty of information for an accurate response. :) I care for him so much.

Hi Savannah,
I truly understand how miserable your dog is. What I don't understand is the unwillingness to take him to the vets.

Your dog needs veterinary care. His skin is going to get infected if it already hasn't. Once it does, it can become systemic and he can die from that. Sad face but true.

Poodles are dogs like any other and all dogs are prone to what is known as "atopic" allergies, that is, allergies from inhaling pollens, dust, dust mites, air pollution etc.

Once a dog starts having atopic allergies, they break out with symptoms all over their bodies, or in specific areas, such as the area above the tail, the back legs, the midline on the back, and/or their toes and legs. Some dogs develop severe ear infections from inhaled allergies.

True food allergies are very rare but many dogs have food intolerances. Changing foods often is not recommended unless you do an allergen testing trial. Since this doesn't sound like food issues, I won't go into that.

The deal is this: your dog is not going to get well until he sees a vet and gets the proper medication for these allergies. He needs an injection to get the worst of the itching and inflammation down in his skin.

Then he would most likely be sent home with some pills and hopefully some Atopica. The vet will suggest the best food for dogs with inhalant allergies if you ask. Cremes, shampoos, lotions, etc are not going to help this dog because the problem is from the inside, not the outside.

I know you love your dog, and just like we love our children, we take the responsibility of caring for their needs-medical, physical and emotional.

So call your vet and get him in to be seen as soon as you possibly can.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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