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10 Year-Old Weimaraner Needs Alternative to Steriods

by Reed A.
(Massachusetts, USA)

Weimaraner Foreleg Rash

Weimaraner Foreleg Rash

Weimaraner Foreleg Rash
Weimaraner Eye Rash
Weimaraner Neck Rash

We have a 10 year-old Weimaraner that developed an intense itching problem about two months ago. He never had problems like this before, and we can't identify anything significant that changed in his environment, eating or daily exercise routine.

Since the itching started he has scratched or nibbled off his hair in several places and his skin is red and swollen across his ears, belly, forelegs and part of his flanks (see 3 pictures above).

Our vet initially diagnosed an "environmental allergy" and put him on a light dose of steroid (prednisone) and benedryl for a couple of weeks. This did not seem to have much effect. The vet then put him on a higher dose of steroids -- which he is now on continuously -- but he still scratches a lot, is always hungry and thirsty, and is starting to have issues with his bowels.

I seem to recall that prolonged steroid use has negative side effects. We'd like to try something else. What do you recommend?


-Reed A.

Comments for 10 Year-Old Weimaraner Needs Alternative to Steriods

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Nov 19, 2010
My Online Vet Response for 10 year old Weimeraner needs Alternative to Steroids
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Reed,
You are absolutely correct that long term steroid use can be detrimental to your dog's (and human) health. Since the itching has had no improvement with anti-inflammatory drug use, the diagnosis of environmental allergy is incorrect.

It usually indicates a food allergy, although it would be best to be sure by having some skin scrapings and fungus cultures done, and also a blood panel to check thyroid levels. The blood panel would also help to monitor if the liver is ok after taking the steroids.

You made no mention of what diet your dog is on, or if this itching started after a diet change. Other 'triggers' to a sudden onset of itching could be a vaccination.

The locations of where your dog is scratching is very suspicious of Sarcoptic mange. This mite, once into the skin, does cause intense itching, and steroids would not clear it up. It is also contagious to humans. Check if anyone else in the household has a rash and itching.

Seeking out the help of a local holistic veterinarian to guide you along, weaning your dog off the steroids and providing support for the liver (I would suggest starting milk thistle at 8mg per lb two times daily to help the liver while you are weaning him off of the steriods) would all be good ideas to consider.

In the meantime, adding some Omega 3 fish oil for dogs to his diet, about 500mg twice a day, and transitioning him to a raw dog food diet may help to moisturize the skin from the inside.

And NO more vaccinations until this problem is solved and his immune system is back to normal. Even then, if a vaccination is what triggered this problem, I would be VERY cautious about repeating any vaccination in the future. See Dr. Pitcairn's Natural Health for Dogs and Cats and the section on "Harmful Effects of Vaccinations".

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Related Pages:
- Dog Skin Conditions,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Skin Rashes, Marks, Spots, Lesions & Patches (including itchy skin and mange) Section

Dec 04, 2010
Dr. Tillman Was Correct!!!
by: Reed A.

Dear Dr. Tillman.

Thank you for your assistance. Following your diagnosis we took our dog back to the vet and, after further testing, the vet determined that the dog was indeed suffering from sarcoptic mange, as you suspected.

There is a lesson in this, I believe, that veterinarians may be just as easily prone to prescribing the steroid "quick fix" for animals as they are for humans!

Best regards,

-Reed A.

Dec 05, 2010
My Online Vet Response for 10 Year-Old Weimaraner Needs Alternative to Steroids
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Reed,
I am so glad you were able to get the correct diagnosis, and the help that your dog needs!

Thank you for letting us know!

Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Nov 25, 2011
Re:10 year old weim needs alternative to steroids
by: Anonymous

Hello! I have a 7 year old weim who started getting the same type of rash on her neck.. It turns out she became allergic to the metal on her choke collar!! She has had allergies to food ( diary and corn) and as she gets older her sensitivities seem to change.. Hope this helps!MG

Jul 01, 2012
looks like pyloderma
by: Anonymous

look into pyloderma .ethiderm shampoo is perfect for your dog.i did a ton of reading and research about weims and sterriods are your research please

Jul 01, 2012
My Online Vet Resposne for: 10 Year-Old Weimaraner Needs Alternative to Steroids
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Dear Anonymous,
The product you are referring to is called 'EtiDerm' made by Virbac. The skin condition is PYODERMA, not PYLODERMA, which means an infection or 'pus' in the skin.

Virbac description of the product--"Etiderm shampoo gentle anti-septic and keratoplastic pet shampoo for use in dogs and cats of any age. Uses spherulites and chitosanide to reinforce the anti-septic and keratoplastic properties. Spherulites provide slow release of ingredients long after the shampoo is rinsed. Chitanoside creates a protective film on the skin and hair."

In my opinion, I find that the EPI-SOOTHE oatmeal shampoo by Virbac is far superior to the EtiDerm shampoo for relief of itching and helping to heal the skin. Use this in conjunction with improving the diet, supplements and homeopathic remedies to work 'internally' for the body to heal is the best way. As we both agree, the continuing use of steroids, and other pharmaceuticals that merely suppress the problem, is NOT the answer to good health for dogs OR people!

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us
by clicking the like button at the top of the left
. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Mar 18, 2014
Scratching, Biting, bad odor, oily skin
by: BKH

I have a 11 year old Boston Terrior he started scratching excessively in August of 2013, I took him to the vet they put him on steroids which worked very well and once he was off the steroids he started scratching even worse so they put him back on steroids (which is not good for him). I have googled and googled and purchase vitamins and powders to put in his moist dog food, nothing seem to help, took him to another vet and they gave him a blood test that says he is allergic to dust mites, rag weed and bayberry tree so they put him on allergenic extract two drops a day twice a day he has been taking this since January 13th 2014 and it has not helped so they told me to take him off of it for a week which I did and nothing has helped him. Can someone please help me he is miserable and cant sleep and he cries while he is scratching?????? I have tried everything I know...

Mar 19, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: 10 Year-Old Weimarener Needs Alternative to Steriods
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

March 18, 2014

Dear BKH,

Thanks for your question. I'm happy to help, but we only accept new questions from subscribers (the original question above was from a subscriber).
Please click here to sign up and submit your question and photos. I'll then get back to you right away at the bottom of your newly created web page.
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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