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My 12-year-old Australian Shepherd/Greyhound mix has had a serious skin ailment for almost a year now, somewhat similar to this post:

  • red rash on various parts of his body (at different times, on his underbelly, back, snout, ears, and under his front legs)
  • yellow flakes, sometimes in areas with the rash, sometimes elsewhere
  • hair loss where the flakes are worst
  • major itchiness

The problems began around September of last year, two or three weeks after I took my dog with me on a visit to my parents. Within about a month, my mom noticed that one of her dogs had the exact same symptoms. (Her other dog died not long after of unrelated causes, but never had the same skin issues.)

Since then, both dogs have been to the vet several times. They've been given steroids and antibiotics, which only work to reduce the symptoms for a few weeks at a time. Both my vet and my mom's vet say this is probably caused by allergies, but I'm skeptical. The timing is just too suspicious.

More details:

  • Neither dog has had allergy issues in the past (one dog is 12, the other 16)
  • Both dogs were on the same diet (Beneful) until around April of last year. Now they are on entirely different diets. My dog has to eat Royal Canin Urinary SO for the rest of his life to prevent a recurrence of bladder stones
  • They live 150 miles apart and only meet once every few months
  • Both dogs had skin scrapings taken and no mites were found
  • Neither dog has fleas
  • My parents got a younger dog in November, but that dog has shown no skin problems, even after eight months of being around the older dog

It's clearly not contagious, but I also have a hard time believing that two dogs with no history of allergies, who live over a hundred miles apart and eat different food, would suddenly start having allergies within a month of each other.

Is there anything else that could cause this besides allergies?

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Sadly its impossible to diagnose skin issues online, it needs to be seen in person.

Hot spots (bacterial), fungal, allergies, parasites. Maybe they both came in contact with a chemical. Sometimes you need a longer course of antibiotics than average (you said it was helping but would come back).

Can always try getting a second opinion or ideally go to a veterinary dermatologist.

As for your last statement, if the protein source is the same in both foods it doesn't matter what brand it is. If your pet is allergic to chicken and both foods have chicken you will still get a reaction.

  • Thanks. I didn't expect a diagnosis, just some other possibilities. Going to a dermatologist is a good idea. It seems unlikely that a food allergy would start more than four months after changing diets, but what do I know? – ThisSuitIsBlackNot Jul 7 '16 at 14:11
  • It can happen fast although most areas of the body that you will see affected by food/environmental allergies are the paws, muzzle and ears (chronic yeast infections). An animal can be on the same food it's entire life and then all of a sudden become allergic to something in the food. Pet food companies who sell to pet stores or grocery stores can also change an ingredient in their food and not have to update the packaging for 6 months where as veterinary diets CANNOT do this. (note this is in Canada). – Rebecca RVT Jul 7 '16 at 15:07
  • We had a greyhound come in a few weeks ago with red plaques all over his face and a swollen eyelid. We did the antibiotics and it was helping however once he completed his course they would come back. We ended up doing a biopsy and it came back bacterial, we just weren't treating long enough. The dog is fine now, minus the cyst beneath his eye which will need a specialist to remove. – Rebecca RVT Jul 7 '16 at 15:07

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