Most Common Skin Problem in Pets: Allergies

Allergies are one of the most common causes for skin and coat problems in dogs and cats One of the more common reasons for veterinary exams (outside of wellness visits) involves some sort of skin or coat complaint. Many pets can develop excessive shedding, dull, dry, or greasy coats, as well as hair loss. Often times these complaints are accompanied by a history of excessive itching and secondary bacterial or yeast overgrowth on the skin.

Allergies are the most common causes of these varied symptoms, which can usually can be broken down into inhalant or contact allergies, food allergies, and/or flea bite allergies. All pets with skin disease should be on a good monthly flea control program such as with topical Advantage II or Frontline Plus.  For other pets, animal guardians can try antihistamines such as Diphenhydramine or Chlorpheniramine to see if itching can be eased. I also stress the importance of a healthy diet and recommend brands such as Halo or Nature’s Variety, along with proper nutritional supplementation.

Digestive tract enzymes such as NaturVet Enzymes should always be added to meals in allergic pets. Omega 3 fatty acids such as Super Pure Omega 3 or Nordic Naturals can help when used long-term. In addition, bathing once to twice weekly with a moisturizing pet shampoo can also help reduce severity of contact allergies by washing away allergens.

For pets with persistent skin problems or those that develop hair loss without excessive itching, a veterinary exam is recommended to conduct skin scraping and possibly fungal culture. This is to help rule out mange mites and ringworms.  Further allergy workup can involve skin and/or blood testing to find out what your pet may be allergic to so that allergy vaccines may be developed for long term use.

Do you have experience with a pet that has allergies? What have you found to help him or her?

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  2. I had doggy named Ricky. We always used to keep him clean and healthy.. But one day, he came in contact with other dogs of my area and its skin got infected… Slowly all his body hairs gone off.. n he died… At that day, I realized the importance of taking care of pets.. And you also guided me for same.. Thank you and keep posting..mole removal at home

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  5. Hi everybody, here every person is sharing these kinds of knowledge,
    thus it’s nice to read this weblog, and I used to go to see this blog every day.

  6. My cats Tuesday, a Domestic Shorthair, and Fudge, a Siamese mix, are both having a very hard time with flea allergies right now and both are losing excess hair on their backs and legs as well as a few other spots. Is there anything else I can do besides the Advantage II flea control and the Premise Flea Treatment Powder? They both eat Nine Lives cat food and before this flea season Tuesday never had a problem, though Fudge did last year. I am going to reapply the Advantage II once a month for the next 3-4 months faithfully and hope that will help them regrow their fur, but please let me know if you think a trip to the vet is in order for them. Thank you very much for the assitance as I really love my girls and am very upset to see them losing their beautiful once healthy coats.

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Once fleas brought under control, coat should improve. You could try antihistamine such as chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily to see if it can help and adding fatty acid to meals such as be well from 1800petmeds. DMG liquid also may help. See vet for cortisone injection possibly if itching/coat issues persist.

  8. My medium hair cat has started losing her fur. It started w/her ears, the fur would come off while petting her and I noticed that attached o the base of these small clumps of fur it looked like scab material but there was no wound on her skin. She lost all of the fur on both ears and once this happened the symptoms went away and the fur grew back. Now she is having this issue again except it is on her ears and also between her shoulder blades this time. She is an indoor cat, doesn’t have fleas, and has not had any change to her environment or diet. Any idea of what this could be, or how to get rid of it?

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Could still be inhalent/contact allergies, and or food allergies even if your cat has not had change in diet. OTher possibilities include hormonal issue, as well as parasites including ringworm and less likely mange mites. Best to have vet exam, skin scrape and evaluation to help sort all of these out.

  10. My golden Retriever has white flakes almost like sand or dandruff with a fine black dirt looking substance…..this is located ONLY from below shoulders all along top to tailbone were tail begins….what is this & what should I do…..millions of flakes but no hair loss. This is happening nowhere else on her body.

  11. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Could be flea bite allergies. Make sure on good flea prevention like oral comfortis or topical revolution. See vet for exam and evaluation if no improvement. Try oral fatty acids like be well from 1800petmeds, and shampooing with 1800petmeds aloe vera and oatmeal shampoo and conditioner.

  12. `My retriever has no fleas or ticks…I am always looking her over ….Also every month she is treated Frontline plus

  13. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 6, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Do you have a specific question? Sounds like you are treating her very well in preventative fashion.

  14. our westie is 5 years old he has no fleas but he is constantly chewing and biting on himself. I give him a bath every 2 weeks because his skin has a odor to it (it smells like old popcorn) what kind of itch relief medicine can I get to ease his itching and biting he’s starting to make sores on his skin

  15. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 13, 2013 at 11:43 am

    This breed commonly has underlying inhalent/contact allergies and secondary yeast and/or bacterial infections of the skin causing odor. Try bathing with ketochlor shampoo every few days from 1800petmeds. Oral benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound may help, as well as adding fatty acid like Be well to food. Best to see vet if oral antibiotic, etc needed.

  16. I have a shitzu andshe has awful problem licking and making her hair nasty all around the back area that she can reach! It’s like an obsession or something! I have had 2 vets telll me she might be allergic to flea dirt. I use advantix from you guys on her but after couple of weeks she has licked herself nasty again. I try to give her bath every week but sometimes can’t. Can you recommend anything to try for her? Thanks!

  17. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Could be other type of allergies such as inhalent/contact allergies and/or food allergies. Try antihistamine orally like benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. Add oral fatty acids like Be well dog to meals from 1800petmeds. Also consider natural supplement Yucca intensive by azmira.

  18. We have 2 cats, a Siamese and a short hair Tabby. Both got out of the house for a couple hours and since have been been twitching their ears, shaking their heads and trying to scratch their ears. Our vet clinic said allergies from outside and suggested Childrens Benedryl liquid. Needless to say they will not allow us to give it to them. We keep them bathed and don’t notice any irregular shedding. Any suggestions/thoughts?

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 17, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Try oral chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily which is alternative antihistamine. Also DMG liquid from 1800petmeds also may help.

  20. I have a cornish rex, he started to get black spots on his tail, they look like black heads.

  21. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    MAny possibilities including allergies or skin infection to clogged hair follicles. Best to have vet exam and evaluation to sort this out.

  22. Looking at all the various issues my little guy, a miniature Aussie, has had makes me wonder how neglected or homeless dogs can endure the same kinds of chronic health problems. Hard to think about this and not cry.

  23. What kind of probiotics do you suggest for a rabbit, & daily dosage?

  24. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    I would try jarrowdophilus from health food store and give 1 to 2 capsules twice daily in food.

  25. My cat had allergies that give her a rash on her ears and some times bumps on her chest. I have used a topical ointment called Tritop that when applied usually cleared the rash in a few days. The ointment is prescription. Is there something I can used over the counter instead of having to get a presciption?

  26. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 1, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    You can try topical 1% hydrocortisone cream.

  27. My dog will be 2 in a week. She has never had any allergies growing up but we moved to an island recently and ever since she is having skin problems/allergies. She wont eat her food which is the same as before, she has lettle bumps all around her face and under her chin. It got so bad and I started seeing bumps on her forehead, i took her to the vet and they gave me Cephalexin. I gave it to her for a week, it sort of went away for a couple of days and now it is back. It itches, i think she is having slight hair loss, definitely loss of appetite. I am worried she has never bumps all over her before and these symptoms started 2 months ago. I was going to stop using trifexis and change to frontline plus, use an anti fungal shampoo, and I have more antibiotics I can give her that the vet gave me. I wanted to get your opinion if this is the best way to go about this?

  28. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 23, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Several weeks of oral antibiotics are likely needed here. Also try bathing twice weekly with malaseb shampoo from 1800petmeds. Add fatty acids like be well to meals. Try home made diet as described on website

  29. Our yellow lab is allergic to several weeds and grasses. His skin is covered with red marks and he scratches/licks a lot. We tried the allergy shots for a year but they didn’t seem to help. He is much worse in the summer. Do you have any suggestions?

  30. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 13, 2013 at 5:51 am

    You could ask your vet about prescription atopica, as well as hydrolyzed protein diet. Oral fatty acids can sometimes help as well such as Be well from 1800petmeds. NAET is also a holistic allergy therapy that some vets can do. Learn more by googling this modality on line.

  31. My grand dog, started loosing his hair and itching all over. with bloody bumps in different places. I took him to the vet and she stated if I paid her 60.extra dollars she would tell me whats wrong with him…I paid for the rabies vaccination and left….I ask my friend he told me the dog has mange and I need to rub him down with old motor oil, 3 times a week. Im afraid to do that….I don’t know what to do….please help a grandmother with her grand dog
    Thank you

  32. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 17, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Mange cant be diagnosed without skin scrape done at veterinarian so I would not assume your dog has mange. Sounds like at least bacterial infection is present. See vet again as may need prescription antibiotic. Try shampooing with ketochlor shampoo or malaseb shampoo every few days from 1800petmeds. add be well fatty acid supplement to meals.

  33. Our Problem is, we have a dog, she is a mixed breed – pom and terrior- small dog. We did get her from a lady that sales stray dogs. Ever since we got her she want you to pet her all the time, none stop. She sheds all the time. Just look on the floor or furniture and you will know where she has been. I don’ t know what to do. I keep reading on this problem and it says if they a scratching but she does not but she wants us to constantly pet her which could be the same, maybe, as her scratching. Help us.

  34. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 3, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Change to low carb, low grain diet like wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds. Also add naturevet enzymes to meals from 1800petmeds as well as consider natural calming agent Be serene.

  35. We have a four year old Chow and she is itching and biting herself. What can we do or give her to help, please! She is a great pup and needs help
    Thank you

  36. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I would try an antihistamine like benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily or chlorphenirimine at dose of 6 mg twice daily. You can also add fatty acids like super pure omega from 1800petmeds which may help when used long term. The antioxidant proanthozone also may help. Consider low carb, low grain diet like wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds.

  37. We have a Shitzu male, and for the last six months or more, he has been going through excessive itching, scratching, until all the hair on his back from tail attachment to body as far as he can reach has lost all his hair. He also, licks hisself an extreme amount and cannot keep hi s hair long, we treat every month with the top listed flea meds Frontline, etc, and then read that rub raw orange on his back will promote hair regrowth. Which started working hair started growing again buut very sparsely and has done nothing to remedy itching, we are fearing for his life, if we cannot find cure. Vets are so expensive and we are on limited income, so trying everything we can find first, including you here. Can you help the poor little guy???

  38. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 22, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I would ask your vet about prescription drug called atopica which is excellent for chronic allergies. Also consider adding fatty acids like be well to meals from 1800petmeds, as well as proanthozone and yucca intensive.

  39. We have a 4yr old Choc. Lab (80lbs) who can’t stop chewing his paws and I think he has trouble with his ears too.. His diet is Natural Balance sweetpotato & fish, gets fish oil 2x daily. our vet gave us prescription allergy pills which just makes him sleep most of the day.. so not much chewing when he’s asleep.. but that doesn’t seem much of a life for him.

    I was reading about the Malaseb Shampoo and I was wondering since he’s not chewing all over that would help. Would there be any thing that I could just wash his paws with that would contain similar ingredients. or any other ideas I could try?
    Feeling pretty sad for my best friend

  40. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 24, 2013 at 9:01 am

    You can use malaseb shampoo topically to feet, however systemic treatment for allergies is also likely needed. Ask your vet about prescription atopica which you can get from 1800petmeds.

  41. ny son had a dog that got little pimple like things all around his mouth and didnt want to eat, we found out it was his plastic food bowl, he changed to a metal one and in 3 days it was cleared up

  42. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing.

  43. I have a @year old Yorky (Sassy) about 2 months ago she started scratching and biting her self. I have tried diff things ! diff bathing . 2 Tea tree oil spray 3 XS a day. what else can i try. She eats food with all the nutrition and vit that she needs.(Royal Cane) is the name of her food She gets some table scrapes. Her treats that she likes all have some kind of chicken in it. She sometimes eats some of the cats food also . Can you suggest any thing else that I can do . Thank you Cindy ( again thank you bye

  44. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 14, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Hi CIndy. This breed very prone to inhalent/contact allergies. Perhaps ask your vet about prescription drug called atopica or cyclosporine which can sometimes help long term. Also adding fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 from 1800petmeds can help as well. Yucca intensive by azmira is another great product.

  45. My dog has itching and biting and losing fur on her legs. She had an allergy test and we were told to change her diet to canned dog food as the dry food we fed her had dust mytes and this was the cause of her discomfort At the same time she was on Temaril – P. She got a bit better but still itched and smelled bad. We went back to dry dog food and canned food didn’t work. Then we did a keta chlor shampoo, that helped a little. Seven years later she is no better than she was before. She is still on temaril-P and now I am going to try Malapet shampoo to see if that helps and try to wean her off temaril-P and replace with an antihistamine (chlorpheniramine maleate). Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

  46. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I would ask vet about prescription atopica which can help also with inhalent/contact allergies long term. Also yucca intensive from 1800petmeds has natural sterol type effects for inflammation.

  47. dr. i have a 12 yo miniature pomeranian and he has had a skin problem for 3-4 yrs. i’ve tried everything my vet has recommended w/o success. Butch is now on anti-itch med., heart med., cough med., and allergy med. i bath him in a special shampoo from the vet 1 to 2 times per week. i’ve taken him off of beef treats because i believe this has contributed to his problem. bt he continues to lose large areas of fur. i hate to see him in such a state, but am at a loss as to what else to try.

  48. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 13, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Perhaps try a different approach like consulting with a constitutional veterinary homeopath, as well as feeding a raw diet or home made diet. To learn more about how to do this, see book Dr Pitcairns Guide To Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard Pitcairn, dvm, phd. Also my friend can help you as well Chef Loreen Playford at Use my name as a referral. To find a good homeopath in your area, go to

  49. I have a shih Tzu and in July this year his skin problem started.My doctor put him predisone and on anhistamines. It clears up but after awhile it comes back he said it is allergies.He doesn’t have them in the winter.They are red and roundish like an eraser on a pencil.He has one on his neck and the rest are mostly on his belly.The doctor told me to put neosporine and hydrocortzone on him.He is on no meds now and his belly is sort of redish and I put the two creames on him and he seems to clear up in the morning and by night one or two will be out on him.And visa versa.It seems like a never ending thing in the winter when it snows he is cleared up.Please help me I am besides myself trying to help something to cure it.

  50. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I would try not to go crazy curing these type of inhalent/contact allergies known as atopy, which is nearly impossible to cure in dogs. Allergy management may be needed during certain seasons. Low dose pred/antihistamine drugs like temaril p are often quite effective in low dose every other day therapy in most pets. Other options include prescription atopica as well as stronger antihistamines like zyrtec at dose of 5 mg once daily. Add fatty acid like be well to meals from 1800petmeds.

  51. Our mini schnauzer has what looks like dandruff and itchs in multiple spots. Also she gets these bumps on her skin that become scabs sometimes. Help!

  52. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 21, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Sounds like she has bacterial infection of skin. Try shampooing with malaseb shampoo every few days from 1800petmeds, as well as use antihistamine like chlorphenirimine at dose of 4 mg twice daily. Add fatty acid like missing link to meals. See vet if signs persist or worsen

  53. Mine is an English Bulldog and she has hair loss on her sides of her body..she eats purina One smart blend, beef and rice. could this be food, allergy or thyroid problem?? please send me an answer

  54. My 9-year-old basset hound is strong and healthy, but she is apparently allergic to shampoo, and it’s getting worse. I’ve given up on groomers, even with their special “mild” or medicated shampoos and instructions for extra thorough rinsing and no perfumes. I’ve tried oatmeal, medicated, and hydrocortisone shampoos, but unless I use much less than what would produce even a minimal lather, they all send her into a scratching frenzy for 5 days or more, and sometimes a trip to the vet for a shot of prednisone. Any suggestions?

  55. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 11, 2013 at 1:28 am

    I would have her treated by a veterinary homeopath who can help treat this constitutional weakness. The homeopathic remedy sulphur given in 30c potency 2 pellots one time only may help initially. To learn more about homeopathy go to as well as my website Many homeopathic vets do offer phone consults. Other option is to try giving her an antihistamine 1 hour before bathing such as zyrtec at dose of one half mg per pound.

  56. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 11, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Food allergy, inhalent/contact allergy, flea bite allergy, hormonal issue like low thyroid, adrenal gland issue, etc are all possible. Need workup at vet to sort out and best treatment plan.

  57. My yellow lab has hair loss on face,neck,hind quarters, and toes. The toes are raw due to him chewing and licking. I s this some sort of allergy ? What kind of medicine will stop the itching and let the hair grow back ? I tried salves and nothing seems to help. Any help would be appreciated. Cyndy

  58. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Most likely due to inhalent/contact allergies and/or food allergies. Try antihistamine like benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. Also add fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 from 1800petmeds. See vet for allergy workup should signs persist or worsen. Also a holistic vet consult should help

  59. my 8 year old Dachhound licks a lot. His feet, bed sheets, people, etc. His diet consist of Purina moist and meaty soft food in morning and 1 can of Cesars at night.
    Any suggestions ?/

  60. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 15, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    This is most commonly an OCD problem in dogs. If excessive you can talk to your vet about prescription meds like clomiprimine or amitrptylline

  61. About twice a year, My aby cat scratches around ears and stomach , and gets all red and bleeds, what can I do to prevent it from happening.

  62. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 9, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Sounds like seasonal allergy. Try antihistamine like zyrtec at dose of 5 mg once daily or chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily. Add DMG liquid and missing link fatty acid supplement to meals from 1800petmeds

  63. My dog has severe allergies. She is constantly itching and licking at her paws, legs, and tummy. I have tried many different remedies which include: steroid shot, antibiotics, benedryl, benedryl shampoo. I’ve been leaving the cone on her while I am not at home, but she seems miserable. Do you have any advice for me? I can’t keep affording to take her to the vet to get the same results.

  64. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 12, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Alison. Ask your vet about new and exciting prescription drug I am having great results with for chronic itching and allergies known as apoquel. HAve been very impressed with this drug thus far

  65. My cairn is a female and I want to know if blue chicken dog food is a good option for skin allergies. Thanks Joan

  66. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 19, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I prefer more novel protein sources like duck or rabbit or venison or buffalo

  67. Help! My 13 year shih Tzu has been said to have seborrhea. I have had her to the vet several times. I am bathing her every 4 days with shampoo from the vet, using aantifungal and antimicrobial spray, feed her grain free food, and giving her natural supplement Omega 3 with her food. She scratches and licks a lot and I am desperate. The vet suggested liquid Vit A. She weighs 13 lbs. Can you give me any other suggestions?

  68. After seeing Dr. Dym’s response re: allergies on 2/11 about apoquel I asked my vet about it and thus far my Jug (jack russell/ pug) has had great results (previously tried steroids, antihistamines, shampoos). However I am now concerned about long term side effects. Would hate to give my little guy something that could harm him down the road. Has anyone heard about apoquel and long term consequences?

  69. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 6, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Hi Alexis. I have not heard of any long term side effects as of yet, but thus far this holistic oriented veterinarian has been very impressed with this product.

  70. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 6, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I would ask your vet about new wonder drug called Apoquel, which has been like a God send to veterinary practice for itchy dogs.

  71. I have a Terrier mix who’s skin has recently turned dark, almost dirty like on her belly only with some licking and biting on her front paws. The trainer says it’s natural and comes with age. She also scoots and the vet dismissed it by saying it could be allergies and recommended Benadryl which didn’t do anything. If it is allergies shouldn’t the vet have told me to what? Her food was changed around the time of skin discoloration. I think she may be allergic to her food, mainly protien. She was taking Blue Buffalo but changed it because she didn’t like it. She is currently eating Merrick’s chicken & sweet potatoe. Should I address it with the vet?

  72. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 7, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    This is most commonly due to chronic inhalent/contact allergies known as atopy. Low dose cortisone, antihistamines and atopica may help. Also great new drug now on market called Apoquel without much side effects. Atopy is genetic issue so I doubt foods involved here. The dark discoloration can be pigment change and/or yeast/bacterial involvement. See local vet for assessment of this

  73. My Min Pins ears are losing hair and the tips are rotting off- what can I do

  74. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Best to see vet for exam and evaluation, as may need topical and/or oral antibiotic for this

  75. have a mixed chocolate lab female about 10 yrs old; she is being treated with valuim for seizures and she licks her feet, bed sheets, floor and people all the time even before taking the medication. She is terrified of storms. What is causing her to lick all the time?

  76. I don’t know if my last post went through so I am re-posting. I have a 10 yr old mixed female chocolate lab who licks her feet, bed sheets, floor and people all the time. She takes valiuum for seizures but had this behavior before she was put on this medication. Can you tell me why she does this and what can be done about it?

  77. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    This is obsessive, compulsive disorder that may need other meds like phenobarbitol or clomiprimine. See your vet.

  78. My daughter has a 4 yrs old Chihuahua. He is about 5 lbs and has always had flaking problems and he fur falling out on his head. It comes back but this time it is really worse he has patches on his body where the fur is gone and really dry skin where the fur was and his head the skin is dry and cracking. It looks like what cradle cap would be on a baby. Have taken him to the vet and tried one vitamin when he was little. Have given him fish oil but does not seem to help. He has always had a yeasty order to his body. Do you think a skin and hair vitamin would help. Have had his skin scrapped when he was younger but nothing really came up with it.

  79. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Hard to answer this one briefly here. Consider PROPER home made diet as described in book Dr PItcairn’s guide to natural health for dogs and cats by Richard Pitcairn, dvm, phd Also see recipes on Consider adding 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil to meals which can also be used topically on skin lesions. Consider consulting with holistic vet. To find one in your area, see the referral list on Also maybe consider traditional vet exam as may need antibiotics, special shampoo therapies, etc

  80. I have a long haired mini daushand. She gets really hot in the summer so I get her clipped when she starts panting a lot an looking miserable. Year round she has dots on her belly that the vet said were blackheads—and they squeeze just like blackheads. She also gets sticky black stuff at the base of her arms and legs. The groomer says it is a yeast infection. What can I do to get rid of it? The vet has given her an antibiotic (don’t remember what) and it clears up til she runs out of meds. My husband is going through cancer treatments now and I don’t have the money to take her back to the vet. What can I do?? Please help

  81. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Your pet needs a full allergy workup for inhalent/contact allergies known as atopy as well as food allergies as well, or infections and itchiness will increase on skin. Try feeding proper home made diet as described on website I would also consider shampooing with malaseb shampoo twice weekly from 1800petmeds, and adding fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 fatty acid to meals for long term health of skin.

  82. I have a female shepherd/husky mix. She has seen over 6 vets including the vets at Texas A & M. To no avail, she again has skin allergies, rashes on the skin, swollen feet, loss of hair, extensive chewing and scratching. She has had steroid shots with a terrible reaction. She has taken vet prescribed allergy medicine with no long lasting results. Vet prescribed spray for the skin and feet. Most everything works for a short term and then stops working all together. This has gone on for at least 5 years. We have tried a variety of dog foods. Nothing is working long term.

  83. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 22, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Sounds like you have exhausted lots. May want to be under care of a veterinary dermatologist you trust as well as asking about new allergy wonder drug called apoquel. Also consider alternative approach like homeopathy See the booklet on website as well as referral list of homeopathic vets on I would try different approach like homeopathy

  84. Hello,

    I am the proud Mommy of a 7 months mix breed. I got her when she was 11 weeks, to this day she has not stopped itching and scrathing. She is and has been on flea and tick control ever since. She has some hair loss on her side and back legs, red rushes between her back paws and now (since yesterday) she has bumps with yellowish pus like!. She has been on antibiotics for over 4 months, she has been on steroids, she gets bathe every other day with Chlorhexidine 4% and she gets sprayed with a solution of water and Pavodine iodine twice a day. I have switch her food more times than I can count. Now I am cooking for her. NOTHING seems to work! We do weekly trip at the vet. She has had done 4 skin scrapes and nothing aside from a little bacteria. I am at the point where I have no Idea what to do. Last nigh she vomited several times, water, grass and pork. She is just a little girl and she has not had a break from itching and scratching her back legs feel always warm. Any Suggestion would be great.

  85. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 27, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I would look for vet skilled in NAET therapy in your area, which is excellent allergy option for pets. You can google this. Also consider asking your vet about drug like apoquel which is wonderful for allergies as well.

  86. My dog is a 10 to 11 year old Korgi and Chihuahua mix ( I think…?) For the last few years he has developed occassional sores on his back and legs, and they were never really a problem, unless he tried to bite them off…
    Lately, however, for the past couple of years, he has developed severe skin allergies that give him large, crusty patched on his skin and particularly in his ears. I have taken him to several different vets hoping to find some relief for him, but none seem willing to tell me how to help him. The last vet did put him on Prescription Diet DD and provided me with Rx shampoo (to be used every 5 days) and drops for his ears (Synotic); he also discovered a problem with his thyroid gland, so Skeeter is now taking that twice a day.
    I wish I could follow through with this vet more but unfortunately his prices make it impossible for me to continue seeing him.
    I now have noticed that Skeeter has a deep hacking cough that occurs very often, maybe even hourly.
    Is there anything that you could tell me that might help him get through this coughing and skin problems…??

  87. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 8, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Nothing I would recommend over the counter for this type of cough in a pet this age as could be heart valve issue or collapsing trachea. Full vet exam and evaluation needed to sort out and best treatment plan

  88. I have a 3 year old male cat who has developed an area on his forehead, between his eye and ear, where he’s loosing hair and his skin feels dry and scabby and is itchy. The area isn’t touching his eye, just above it. Is there something I can I use that won’t hurt his eye?

  89. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Sounds lie possible inhalent/contact allergies. Try oral chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily from 1800petmeds, and DMG liquid as well to boost immune system. Nordic naturals cod liver oil added to food also may help

  90. my stray cat (friendly) has fur missing from his backside, with bumps that feel like large dry pimples. he also has chunks of fur missing with bloody spots on his back legs. i give him a flea treatment every three weeks. anything else i can do, taking him to a vet may be hard. this has been an off and on condition for a while. he is most likely old, with missing teeth and a back leg that cracks when he walks, though he is still active and eats well

  91. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 26, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    You could try the topical revolution from 1800petmeds which can help with ear mites, some types of skin mites and fleas. Also consider oral chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily, which may help ease itching or allergies. Also give DMG liquid from 1800petmeds.

  92. I have a gorgeous little 5 year old black and white Lhasa Apso.
    This summer he has developed white flakes that come off in a shower along his back up to the tail. This only happens when I groom him. There is no fur loss or lesions that I can see so do you think i need to take him to the vet ? I am adding omega 3 to his diet.

  93. I took my Sugar to the dermatologist, she suspects it’s food allergy. However, I am not a fan of the treatment she was given. I read about Yucca essentials supposedly, has the same effect of steroids minus the side effects. Has anyone used it?

  94. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Yucca can help in some cases of allergies so certainly worth a shot.

  95. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I think adding omega 3 fatty acids to diet is great. Make sure a good source like nordic naturals pet omega 3 from 1800petmeds. Also consider bathing with natural shampoo like 1800petmeds aloe vera and oatmeal shampoo and conditioner If no help, see vet for assessment

  96. We have a 2 year old golden retriever, who gets skin infections quite often. Vet has prescribed Cefpodoxime in the past. Seems to work, but then a few months out, he has it again. He likes to swim in the lake, but I shampoo him afterwards with a antibacterial shampoo. Any suggestions to prevent the reoccurrence.

  97. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    He most likely has underlying inhalent/contact allergies known as atopy, very common in this breed, and which can cause recurrent staph infections. Try an antihistamine like zyrtec at dose of one half mg per pound once daily, as well as add fatty acid to meals like nordic naturals pet omega 3 from 1800petmeds .

  98. I have a 6 year old male cat who began itching and scratching about 1 1/2 months ago. I noticed that he had lost fur in some spots on his inner thigh, between his shoulder blades and on his lateral thorax near his shoulder. The areas of his skin were very red (not bleeding). I took him to the vet and he had a skin biopsy of three of the areas (cost over $1000). It took 3 weeks for the dermatology “specialist” to provide results and all that came back was “Severe allergic reaction.” Bugsy was given a steroid injection and sent home with prednisone to take 1/2 pill every day. Now he is down to 1/2 a pill every other day but the symptoms are returning. He is not obsessed with itching and scratching but I am noticing new spots popping up on him and he seems to spend a lot of time licking his tail as well. The initial areas began healing after the steroid injection (almost immediately) and they then became thickly scabbed with a scaly texture but still haven’t healed completely (almost 4 weeks later) and he is not scratching those areas this time around. I don’t know if I should try another vet (because I’m not thrilled with the one I’m going to—For over $1000 I would expect more than a diagnosis of “Severe allergic reaction” and a $14 supply of prednisone.). I read some of the previous posts and would like to try something at home, I’m just not sure where to begin (food supplement, topical creams, antihistimine???). Any thoughts or guidance would be AMAZINGLY appreciated!

  99. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 26, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    HI Trish. Thanks for your detailed question. Many options for you. You could try an antihistamine like chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily. also adding fatty acid like BE well from 1800petmeds may help as well. Changing diet to low allergy, novel protein diet also can help if food involved. Other traditional prescription drug options besides prednisone include atopica or cyclosporine. Some clients will opt for consultation with veterinary dermatologist and consider allergy testing. My own personal preference to approach these is more homeopathically. To learn more about homeopathy, see the booklet on the website as well as my website Many homeopathic vets like myself offer phone consultations, which I do nationwide.

  100. I have a 5 yr old mix breed dog named Nala she is 10lbs…we recently had her to the vet because her skin was red and had a hard time breathing..he put her on temaril and a antihistamine he said it was an allergy..we have her on frontline plus for fleas and again the skin is red…anything we can do to help ease the redness…..

  101. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Most likely chronic allergies to inhalent/contact allergens. Temaril p is an option or you could try low dose antihistamines like Zyrtec at dose of 1/2 mg per pound once to twice daily. Add fatty acid like be well to meals from 1800petmeds. Yucca intensive and proanthozone also may be helpful

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  104. Hi,
    I have an 11 year old lab/shepherd/who knows mix weighing in at about 60lbs. He developed itchy skin around the last of October this year. It about drives him and us to distraction. I purchased Yucca Intensive from 1800petmeds and have used it for about 3 weeks with absolutely no change. I mix it with cottage cheese, I started out with 12 drops because I was told to double it if I mix it with food. He is now up to 20 drops and it seems to make no difference. We have taken him off his old dog food that was full of grains and put him on Rachael Ray Nutrish with turkey as the protein and he’s been eating it exclusively (except for the cottage cheese and cheddar cheese) for 2 weeks. We have been giving him Excel Allergy Relief 25 mg, 2 tabs twice a day since Friday (12/5) evening. That more or less just puts him to sleep.
    I’d rather not do prednisone, and at this point, we don’t have the money to take him to the vet. Do you have any advice? I’m getting a bit desperate.
    Thank you,

  105. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 25, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Get book DR Pitcairn’s guide to natural health for dogs and cats by Richard Pitcairn, DVM phd and try some of natural and/or dietary suggestions in there. You could also try zyrtec at dose of one half mg per pound once to twice daily.

  106. I cant believe you didn’t take him to the vet. Maybe you are too young of very poor, but to let the dogs hair fall out and not get him checked for Mange! An awful horrible way to go. I dont want to hurt you further but to love a dog is a life long commitment and if that were you itching to the point of DEATH! I would hope someone would take you to see a professional to find out why your hair is falling out. or wasn’t he worth it to you?. There are vets that will help you make payments. I feel so bad for that dog & you for not understanding the seriousness of the situation. That is suffering unnecessarily! LOVE all animals, L.A.

  107. I can’t see how these comments are helpful.

  108. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 7, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Thanks for your contribution on this discussion. Points well taken.

  109. Hi,

    I’ve wrote a few times on this blog especially when I was desperate with my Pet Allergies. I think NEAT is the best option however, for those of us who cannot afford it yet love our pets and want nothing but the best for them, I would like to share what has helped my lil puppy. She is a year now, and I cannot stress enough she has had itchy skin since I got her last year. We went to the vet every week for almost a year, we have seen dermatologist and so forth. NOTHING! A friend suggests an holistic allergy assessment, it’s simple you do it at home in return they will send you an email with all that may trigger your pet allergy. it’s about $ 80. I buy the Yucca intensive, it helps, but I also use tea tree oil, quercetin , immune system booster and many other supplemental and she eats a homemade diet,. I hope this helps as many of you as possible.

  110. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 16, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Thank you for sharing.

  111. My nine year old choc lab has always had \hot spots\ which his vet would treat with 5mgs of prednisone. Over the past 1-2 years he formed a circle spot half way up his tail that looked like a hot spot but eventually got very scaly and his fur fell out throughout the circle spot. Now, within the last few weeks we noticed a lot of itching mostly near his back and now has almost the same exact thing on his back, upper tailbone area. I started giving him a 5mg prednisone every other day and that seemed to help with the itching but his hair fell out in that area too which concerns me. Any suggestions on what this could be or how to treat it? Also, I am a little worried about putting his topical flea med on since it’s in the same area where spot is located??

  112. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 25, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    From where you are describing the location of the itching on lower half of body near tail, I suspect there may be some type of flea bite allergy, so I would flea comb him closely and inspect closely for fleas and/or flea dirt. Look in groin area as well for fleas. If no fleas, could be inhalent/contact allergies so pred may be helpful but you should be under care of local vet. Also put him on good omega 3 fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 from 1800petmeds. I would recommend flea control. If you not like the topicals, then consider oral meds like comfortis or nexguard from 1800petmeds.

  113. Hi I have a pittbull puppy named Nova she is 8 months old weighs 50 pounds we started noticing her digging and itching a lot also shedding a lot and she is a short haired dog she has really pink skin ive been giving her allergy meds bathing her in oatmeal puppy bath mixed with tea tree oil and spraying her with dog hydrocordizone still yet shes loosing her hair and miserable its mostly on her hips under her mouth on her neck and on the higher part of her back in the middle I started to think it was fleas even though I couldn’t see them so I treated her right after I did she broke out with bumps everywhere I was advised to give her antihistamine not sure why no steroids but I cant seem to make her better and I feel terrible for her shes miserable and on top of that her ears are running really bad and the wax is almost black Im using ear wash put the very next day the are yucky again please help me im running out of ideas 🙁

  114. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 9, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Sounds like she needs prescription for antibiotic, which your vet can write.

  115. I have a very small dachshund mix that was about 5 weeks old that was given to me to take care of because the mother passed away. He is now 7 weeks old and was doing really great until the other day. I had him outside in the yard playing and apparently he got bite by some ants. One on his tummy and the other was on the upper side of his tummy. Well I have been making sure to keep them cleaned until they were healed and the one on his lower tummy healed fine. The one on the upper side is a different story. The next day I went to get him out of his crate and the hair was matted to his skin when the bite apparently busted. Well I tried keeping it clean and kept him from being outside too long hoping it would heal up. It didn’t happen as planned because now his hair is just hanging on in the spot so it shows nothing but his bare skin. Then today I noticed his little face is peeling. It seriously looks like craddle cap on a baby. At first I thought maybe the dog shampoo I was using was the cause but I haven’t bathed him in a week and now his tiny little face looks so pitiful and dry. What am I doing wrong and is this something that is more serious and needs further care? I don’t want my baby sick….

  116. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I would take him to vet for proper diagnosis of skin condition and appropriate antibiotic therapy, as may be infection.

  117. Have a 5 year old Cock-a-poo About 2-3 years ago he started chewing on his feet. One vet told us it was probably an allergy to grass or something outside. Another vet told us to change his food and we started him on Science Diet DD then ZD which is pretty pricey…but nothing is too much when it comes to the fur babies. He was doing great until we moved to a new house. then we could not get things under control. antihistamines helped but only temporary relief. Along comes APOQUEL – AMAZING !! He has marked and considerable relief. He his happy and not chewing his feet anymore. FINALLY

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