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My dog has a skin condition or allergy that is causing him to scratch and nibble at himself quite often. I know it's normal for a dog to occasionally scratch himself or lick certain areas, but his skin around the areas he favors is bright red and I'm worried he could be causing more damage to himself. He's on a daily treatment for his allergy (nothing specific), but the only thing that has alleviated his scratching was when he was prescribed steroids. Neither the vet nor I want to keep him on steroids for any extended period of time, but his daily treatment doesn't seem to be helping.

Is this purely a medical issue or is there a way I can get him to scratch himself less? I am hoping that if he scratches himself less it'll allow his skin to heal and bother him less. I try to call his name or give him a command like sit when I see him start to scratch, but it doesn't seem to be working and of course isn't going to help when I'm not home.

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I had a dog with a similar condition. A couple of things come to mind: 1) food allergies. What are you feeding him? You should be feeding a high quality (expensive) dog food -- the cheap stuff at walmart is cheap for a reason.

Switch to a grain-free product like NutriSource (what I feed). Try that and see if it gets better.

2) I had a dog that was red on his chest and losing hair. My vet diagnosed a bacterial infection. We bathed him every other day in a special shampoo from the vet, and gave antibiotics for 3 weeks, and that cleared him up -- stopped itching, no more red skin, and hair started to come back. Talk to your vet about this possibility.

3) Could be skin mites; too small to see without a magnifying glass. Your vet should be able to spot these.

4) Could be internal parasites. Worms esp. can rob essential nutrients, which can make the dog ill. This could present as skin irritation.

  • I actually have been feeding him a grain-free diet (Diamond naturals) since I adopted him, but I bought a different flavor today to see if it's something in his food. He did have a parasite a couple months ago, but his latest fecal test turned up clean. – raumkrieger Jan 20 '15 at 23:20
  • If all else fails, you could try a raw diet however I suggest you do your research before implementing – Huangism Jan 21 '15 at 15:14

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