My Dog Scratches – A LOT!

by Drs. Foster and Smith on September 3, 2010

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Dog-Allergies **Guest post from Ellen B.**

This summer I’ve experienced the worst allergies and unfortunately, my dog (Kobe) has developed allergies, too. He scratches and scratches. I feel so bad for him!

Since I knew very little about allergies in dogs, I took him to the veterinarian. The vet diagnosed a mild ear infection and prescribed Mometamax, which took care of the ear infection. However, the scratching continued. Kobe’s veterinarian felt strongly that my dog had allergies to pollens or other air allergens. The main indicators of allergies for Kobe were:

  • Licking or chewing on his paws. (His light-colored fur was even slightly stained on his paws, which I learned was from his saliva.)
  • Scratching – particularly his ears and under his front underarm areas

Treating Allergies in Dogs – Kobe’s veterinarian suggested a 2-part resolution:

    Omega-3-Fatty-Acids

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
    I did some research and found the Omega-3 fatty acids work in the skin to help reduce the amount and effects of histamine and other chemicals that are released in response to allergies. Most pets need to be on the Omega-3 fatty acids daily for several weeks to months to notice significant improvement. Omega-3 fatty acids are very safe and have very few side effects.
  • Over-the-counter antihistamines
    Each dog reacts differently to over-the-counter medications for allergies. Kobe’s veterinarian explained that finding one that works is somewhat of a trial-and-error type process. He stressed that proper dosage and consistent frequency was important for it to be effective.

    Aller-Chlor

    I first tried Benadryl, following our veterinarian’s instructions to give it to Kobe three times per day. My not being home around the noon hour posed a problem with administering that third dose each day. To get relief he needed all 3 doses, so I switched him to non-prescription Aller-chlor.  I double checked with one of our veterinarians on staff here at Drs. Foster and Smith, and he indicated that 2 doses per day would be appropriate for this medication. Although both products are antihistamines, they work very differently. Benadryl contains diphenhydramine, while Aller-chlor’s active ingredient is chlorpheniramine.
    .
    An excerpt written by one of our staff veterinarians explains antihistamines more thoroughly:

Antihistamines are widely used in both the human and animal medical fields. Most of the antihistamines used in veterinary medicine are antihistamines that were designed for and used primarily by humans. Antihistamines have been shown to be effective in controlling allergies in up to 30% of dogs and 70% of cats. When used as part of a treatment plan including fatty acids and avoidance, the percent of respondents goes much higher.

Every animal will respond differently to each of the different antihistamines. Therefore, several different antihistamines may have to be used before an effective one is found. Every antihistamine has a different dose and risk of side effects. Antihistamines should be used with veterinary guidance. Some common side effects include sedation, hyperactivity, constipation, dry mouth, and decreased appetite. The correct antihistamine given at the proper dose should not cause unwanted side effects. For severely itchy dogs, mild sedation may be a positive and desired side effect.

Itch Stop
I’m still in the trial-and-error phase, but it appears as if my dog is getting relief from his allergies. I also purchased some Itch Stop spray which seems to offer him some immediate, temporary relief. For more information on allergies in dogs (written by veterinarians), see Allergies & Atopy in Dogs.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Keri K. September 3, 2010 at 8:41 am

Mojito also has severe seasonal allergies. With no hair to cushion his skin, he was scratching and licking himself bloody and raw. After meeting with our vet we also have him on high Omega-3s and Benadryl three times a day, which has helped immensely — we can definitely tell when he’s missed a Benadryl. I also put Nail Caps on his back feet, which let him itch reasonably, without breaking the skin!

Rosemary September 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm

For the most part, I’ve been lucky and have had no real problems with my crew. In the past, I’ve had a few cats that started scratching and pulling their hair out if you so much as whispered the words “flea bite dermatitis”, but nothing major otherwise. Before all these wonderful new topical flea treatments, I would have to give them a bath and dip every couple of weeks. Ever bathed a cat who REALLY DIDN’T want to be bathed? Loads of fun. Of course, I will always have to keep an eye on Ilka because her demodectic mange could flare up again if her immune system gets stressed, but she doesn’t seem to have actual allergies.

Tamera Lott September 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

My dog has also been scraching alot due to allergies, we think it is from grass. My vet said benedryl twice a day it seems to help.

Val Heart September 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm

This is a recurrent issue with so many dogs nowadays! Thanks to articles like this everyone can be easily informed how to deal with it! Great post! Thanks!

Linda Griffin September 10, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Benedryl really did the trick on my Maltese who had year round allergies but not more as the Benegryl stop all her itching and I just can’t get over it as she has had the itchies for years but not more. Then she had tear stains from her eyes as she is all whilte so I use a diluted form of Peroxide with some lemon drops also and that seems to help her plus I wash her eyes every day with Bably Shampoo then when the problem is gone I use a damp Kleenex.

Ellen B. September 15, 2010 at 10:13 am

Thanks everyone for your comment and input. Allergies seem to affect many dogs. One of my friends on Twitter ( @OwnedByOzzy )sent me the following tip that I now do: “When Kobe comes in from outside, take a warm cloth & wipe feet, belly & face. Removes pollen – helps a lot with allergies!”

ira October 14, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Thanks Ellen.

My Poodle/Tibetan terrier Brenda is suffering badly from allergies this year. She also is licking and biting her paws/pads and scratching under her front legs.

You said you use Benedryl 3x per day. How much per dose? I have given Brenda half of a 25 mg tablet once per day. She weighs about 30 lbs. It doesn’t do much. Is that enough?

She has the same exact face as Kobe.

Ellen B. October 15, 2010 at 9:11 am

ira,

Sorry to hear about Brenda’s allergies. Since I’m not a veterinarian, I can’t give dosage advice. Her health history can play a role in the proper dosage. Brenda’s vet may very well give you recommended dosage via a telephone call. Good luck with getting her allergies under control. I feel for both you and Brenda, all that scratching has got to be tiring!

dog dry skin remedy July 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Another good trick to help soothe your dogs skin while waiting for the Benadryl to kick in is to bathe your dog with oatmeal shampoo.

Clement February 13, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Hi:

My 2 years Golden Retriever is pregnant now.
Can she take Aller-Chlor?
Thanks!

Clement

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