Your Pet Question
My 6-year-old black lab cross is chronically itchy and scratches until he gets bad sores and his skin becomes bare. I’ve already tried many changes in diet including giving him a daily fish oil capsule and extra vitamin D and niacin. That helped briefly, but now his condition has returned and he’s scratching like crazy again. What can be causing this?
Merrilee Chambers, Haines Junction
The Expert Says:
Itchy dogs can be as challenging for veterinarians as they are frustrating for pet owners. The cause can be bacterial or fungal infection, parasitism, allergy, or nutritional. Some of these causes can be cured, while others can only be managed or controlled. Therefore, it’s essential that you obtain an accurate diagnosis so that appropriate therapy can be instituted and realistic expectations met. After performing a physical examination of your dog, the veterinarian will likely recommend skin scrapings, biopsies, cultures, and/or allergy testing to uncover the cause and help design an appropriate treatment plan. A chronically itchy dog is a miserable dog, so prompt attention to this condition is important.
Rick Healey is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and co-owner of the Paris Veterinary Clinic in Paris, Ontario.