Albuquerque Journal

Cause of pup’s constant itching not easy to detect

- Dr. Jeff Nichol

Q: I have a 7-month-old puppy who scratches herself constantly anywhere she can reach. I have taken her to my veterinari­an twice and, after checking her over, I was told that her skin and coat looked healthy, and they didn’t see a problem. A groomer used a special shampoo for dry skin — that hasn’t helped either. I’ve also been feeding her dog food that contains salmon hoping that might help — again, it hasn’t. She hasn’t been around any animals. I hate to see her so miserable and don’t know what else to try.

Dr. Nichol: I’m sorry that your puppy is so uncomforta­ble and, no, you are not imagining all that scratching. The two of you have endured way too much. It’s time for a diagnosis and targeted treatment.

There are several possible causes. Allergies are common. Airborne particles such as pollens, house dust and molds — the same triggers that affect many people — can lead to generalize­d itching in dogs. Food allergies may cause similar symptoms. And, despite no exposure to other dogs, your pupster could be suffering from an occult mange infection.

By calling microscopi­c mange mites occult, we’re not suggesting that they are magic, but your puppy may be keeping them a secret; the telltale skin lesions just aren’t obvious. Beyond a visual exam of this kiddo’s skin, she’s in need of some diagnostic sleuthing. Skin scrapings, impression smears and possibly a trial treatment for mange may provide answers.

Allergies are a different challenge. Testing can be helpful. A diet trial with prescripti­on food may reveal the truth. I advise against casting about with different commercial diets; these often provide good nutrition, but they may contain traces of protein sources that would muddy the diagnostic waters.

Many general practicing veterinari­ans do a fine job of ferreting out obscure diagnoses and turning itchy pets around.

If your girl needs the help of a skin specialist, you can contact the office of Dr. Rebecca Mount, board certified in veterinary dermatolog­y (505-881-7205). She’ll hit the mark.

ZOOM HELP: For help with behavior problems, you can sign up for a Zoom group conference on my website, drjeffnich­

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behavioris­t. He provides consultati­ons in person and in groups via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnich­ol. com. Post pet questions on drjeffnich­ol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerqu­e, NM, 87109.

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