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Itchy dog, would changing foods help?
Posted on 07.19.11 | Ask Dr. Tim
Hi, I have a 3 years old maltesse and bichon puppie and she seems to have very itchy skin always. The vet said it might be that she’s allergic to something, maybe the food. She suggested prescribed special food but we have another 2 dogs and they are going to be boarded for 3 weeks (we’re going overseas), so she won’t be watch. I wonder if you could offer me some advice, maybe one of your formulas that might be recommended for allergies? Please let me know.
When I look at itchy dogs, we need to get a very good history of all the facts. First, where is the dog itching on the body? Second, is the itch something that happens year round or just certain times of the year. Third is whether there are any lesions on the skin such as flakes, bumps, pimples, rashes. Fourth, what age did this start and did it begin all of a sudden. Fifth is how the dog responded to any medicines or food changes in attempts to fix the issue. Sixth is whether other dogs in the house have itching issues. The list continues, but these are the big questions to answer.
So, in a quick reply, the seasonality of the itch makes a huge difference as to whether it might be food based allergies; these will be year round. Other year round itchy dog causes are hypothyroidism, allergies to the dogs own skin inhabitants(yeast and bacteria) and parasites. Seasonal itchy dogs are primarily due to pollen with different plants blooming at different times.
With your dogs, I would recommend trying a food with a different protein ingredient profile than what you have been feeding to start. Extra omega 3 fatty acids from cold water ocean fish would also be added, about 1 capsule of the typical fish oil capsule you can buy over the counter. Eliminate all treats except vegetables and give this 6 weeks to see if any improvement. They also can do blood allergy tests to see what foods she could be allergic to and then you can streamline her diet much quicker than a food trial.
Timothy A. Hunt, DVM