Since we moved in last month, they both have been itching like crazy. We have given them Frontline, used flea sprays, even a dip – but nothing seems to work.
We contacted our apartment manager to see if maybe there were chemicals in the grass or from the carpet cleaning before we moved in. We were told they do not put any chemicals on the grass and the carpet was only given a basic cleaning.
If it isn’t the grass or the carpet, what could it be? We have not changed their food. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for your question.
Skin problems in dogs and cats can be somewhat challenging to work out due to the multifactorial nature of their potential underlying causes. What appears to be an environment or food allergy may also have an infectious component, such as bacteria, yeast, parasites (mange), etc.
Additionally, there can be underlying metabolic abnormalities (glandular issues like hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, etc.) that affect overall health and leave the skin compromised and susceptible to secondary problems. Finally, there are the pesky ectoparasites, like fleas, which have very allergenic saliva that can cause itching all over the body.
Needless to say, the skin is our pets’ largest organ and there are so many underlying reasons why you may see itching, scratching, redness, lesions, etc.
Your dog’s skin issues may be caused by allergies, but if things are not adequately improving, I would start looking deeper. Have their skin lesions evaluated via scraping, impression smear or even biopsy. Diagnostic testing on your dogs’ blood and urine can also lend some perspective as to if there are underlying illnesses that need to be addressed.
Food elimination trials (six weeks of feeding them a new protein/carbohydrate food while excluding all other foods) can help to figure out if there is a food allergy.
Bathing is a great means of addressing skin issues. The best shampoo for your dogs’ condition should be recommended by your vet. Additionally, omega fatty acids (like fish oil) can provide beneficial and natural anti-inflammatory factors to boost the skin’s normal phospholipid membrane barrier.
If their skin does not improve after you’ve taken these steps, then pursue a consultation with a veterinary dermatologist (your vet can recommend one for you).
Patrick Mahaney, VMD, CVA
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