Hi all. My 8 month old lab/sheltie has been itching a good deal the past month or two. At first we figured it just had to do with him shedding, getting ready for winter. He's not shedding as much now, but he's still itching, so I think it may be time to look a little further into it.
Before I start, he's not scratching off patches of hair or anything like that, but I'm sure it's an annoyance for him. He sleeps just fine during naps and overnight, but when he wakes up in the morning, he usually itches for 20 seconds or so before he'll run outside with me. He doesn't itch in a certain spot over and over, just randomly at different spots of his body. He never itches/bites his paws.
When we first got him, he itched occasionally, but no more than most dogs would. He had a slight limp in his front left leg, and the vet recommended Coseqin and fish oil. Thankfully, the Cosequin has done wonders for his leg, and he walks and runs around like a happy puppy now. Unfortunately, the itching started a week or so after starting these supplements. The problem is that he was still a new puppy for us, so we were introducing a lot of other things at the same time - different foods, different paths on walks, different beds, etc.
When thinking of the possible causes for the itching originally, we took him off the fish oil thinking he may have been having an allergic reaction to it. This was probably 6 weeks ago, and that didn't help. I made the decision this morning to start him back up on fish oil in case it was just a simple dry skin problem.
We've been trying to find kibble that he likes, and we've been using fairly high quality foods, introducing them appropriately. He hasn't had any stomach problems, so switching the food isn't an issue in that department. Despite the different foods we've tried, it doesn't seem like any are solving the itching problem.
Since he is mixed with a sheltie, he has long hair...which is black. As you can imagine, it's tough to get a good look at his skin, but we've never seen any fleas/ticks or spots that look raw. I feel bad waiting this long to take more action on this, but it's not something that he's incessant about...but he's definitely more itchy than a normal pup.
Now for the questions:
1 - Is it time for me to get him to a vet to try to figure this out, or should I keep trying different things on my own? I don't mind the vet bill, but I've read quite a few stories about vets not really providing much insight on this situation.
2 - Assuming it isn't urgent to get him to the vet, what should I try by myself? Any special foods to try that I may not have tried yet? Should I continue with the fish oil, or is that just wishful thinking on my part?
3 - I've read a couple places that certain blanket materials can cause dogs to itch. We've made him a bed out of a fleece-like fabric. Is it worth a shot to get him a different bed?
Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to get as much initial info into this as possible. Thanks in advance!
I know what you are going through. Our Sophie is an allergic dog. She was even losing hair and it was so thin in places that she was almost bald. Especially inside her thighs and on her flanks. Since you have a longer haired dog yours might have lost more hair than you have been able to notice. Does he get ear infections? Sophie didn't exhibit ear symptoms to notice, but the inside of her ear flaps would be red and bumpy looking. That is a sign of an allergic dog. Do you notice any dandruffy white flakes that indicate dry skin? Have you used a flea comb to be certain there are no fleas hiding in all that fur? Dogs with flea allergies don't have to be flea infested to have an allergic reaction. One flea bite can set off a dematitis in sensative dogs. We have Sophie on Comfortis. It has been great! She never has fleas now. Another thing is food allergy. Our vet had us put Sophie on a food that she had never had before. He wanted us to find a kibble that had all new-to-her ingredients, and was grain free. He also said she had to be on that food of at least 6 weeks, and to give her nothing else. He said that often in allergic dogs, chicken, lamb and grain are the culprit. We put Sophie on Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream about 6 weeks ago. The difference has been amazing. Within a week her coat was more glossy and her hair was growing back. I also notice that her energy level was better. She has even filled out more than she was. We bought the kibble and the canned to match, so she gets a treat. She never did lick her paws and stuff that allergic dogs often do. Now, after 6 weeks, she is beautiful! Her coat is thick and glossy. I swear by this food, and will never give her grains again! Good luck, if I can help just let me know.
PS-be sure to brush him every day, it helps distribute the oils in the skin. Also, if you are using a topical flea treatment, that can cause allergic problems too. That is why we use Comfortis.
Last edited by Sophiesmama; 10-20-2011 at 10:10 PM.
Sophie DOB 04/13/2011 6 mo
Sophie 15 months, with Skye
Thanks Pam! I think Taste of the Wild is actually one of the foods we used, but I believe it was a chicken or beef based one. We'll have to give the Pacific Stream a shot. I don't think it has to do with the topical flea stuff we're using, since he was on that from the get-go.
Brushing him every day is a good idea. We haven't been doing that - just a couple times per week when he gets leaves or something all over him. Will start doing that.
Any insight from anybody else?
The food we give is salmon based with sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas and berries. Be sure to leave him on it 6 weeks at least to see if you notice a change. I asked the vet why, when the breeder had her on a chicken and grain based food and we continued it, would she all of a sudden be allergic to it. He told us that their bodies change as they get older. Our problems started when she was bout 4 months. We also give cod liver oil caplets. One in the morning and one at night. She loves them. She will eat them out of my hand and pops them with her teeth. We had been using K-9 advantix and the vet said that it is distributed through the oil in the skin, and since Sophie's skin was dry, it would not distribute properly. He also said that just because she wasn't allergic to it in the begining, doesn't mean she isn't now. That is why he took her off and put her on Comfortis, and completely changed her food. We were hoping to get the culprit! We did, she is doing great! She manages to counter or trash surf and gets something she is not supposed to have, but so far it hasn't been enough to cause problems. We give her apples, we might as well, she strips them off our tree! I sometimes mix green beans or peas or left over potatoes in her kibble. She feels like its a treat, but it is actually what is in her food already. Do you have some pictures to post of your boy?
Sophie DOB 04/13/2011 6 mo
Sophie 15 months, with Skye