Dear Dr Dolamore, My dog is very itchy. He scratches his neck and his ears, licks his belly, rubs his face and chews his feet. He has red ears with odor. He also smells very "doggy." What should I do?The most common causes of itching are parasites, infections and allergies and sometimes endocrine or even rarely skin cancer. Parasites include fleas, ticks and mange mites like Demodex and Scabies. Infections include bacteria, yeast and fungal infections. Allergic causes include food allergy, allergies to inhalant dust, pollens or mold, contact allergies and insect bite allergies.Symptoms may include scratching biting, licking, rubbing, odor, dandruff, scales or crusts, hair loss, red skin and obvious pain or discomfort.Have your dog evaluated by your veterinarian. For your dog your veterinarian will probably do the following: Get a medical history including duration, severity, exposure, food, etc; Do a thorough physical examination of all the body systems as well as the skin; Skin scrapings to rule out mange mites and other parasites, and check for yeast (malassezia) on the feet, check for fleas and ticks; Fungal cultures of hair check for dermatophytes (ringworm) and ear cytology (swab) to look for the cause or red ears.
The key to relief from itching is to identify and treat the underlying cause because symptoms may be relieved with medication but the itching often recurs after the medication is finished.Treatment may include some of the following :AntibioticsAnti fungal medicationsAntihistaminesHypo-allergenic diet-change to special food for 2 to 3 monthsMedicated shampoosCorticosteroidsAllergy testing Dr. Karen-Jo Dolamore is a Summit County veterinarian, and also a Real Estate Broker Associate at Omni Real Estate. Please send your pet health and wellness questions to email@example.com