Diagnostic Approach for an Dog Skin Itch

by Carrie

Reader Question on Dog Itchy Skin

Within the last month our 10 month old beagle pup has started chewing and scratching like crazy...he has been treated for fleas as well as the home, given oatmeal baths and put on medicine by the vet and nothing is helping....we recently starting storing his food in a plastic container to keep other critters out.

Could he have an allergy to plastic? He has been on the same food since we bought him, his glass bowl. It breaks my heart watching him itch and there is nothing I can do to help...any suggestions

Vet Suggestion

Hi Carrie,

I do not know what types of diagnostic tests your veterinarian has already run, so let me tell you how I would approach your dog’s case if I had never seen him before.

I would start the diagnostic process with a physical exam, and then, unless the answer was obvious (for example a flea infestation), I’d move on to a skin scraping to look for mange mites, skin cytology to check for bacterial and yeast infections, and a fungal culture for ringworm.

The test for ringworm can take two or three weeks to complete, so while we were waiting for those results I would treat for anything that I diagnosed with the other tests, perhaps prescribe a broad spectrum parasiticide like Revolution to deal with some of the mites that can be hard to find on skin scrapings, and pursue any other leads that I might have.

If the fungal culture came back negative and your dog was still not better, we’d have to consider additional diagnostic tests like skin biopsies, a hypoallergenic food trial to rule out food allergies, or environmental allergy testing. If you are not getting the answers you need from general practice veterinarians, an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist may be the quickest, and in the end least expensive, way to go.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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