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Constant Itching of our 4 dogs for months!

by Olga
(Costa Rica)

underbelly of Golden

underbelly of Golden

underbelly of Golden
stomach of Kasino
elbow of Kasino

In August of 2011, we went on a month long trip to Europe and left our puppies in the care of a close friend. When we returned, all 4 dogs were scratching like mad.

Nothing had changed about their environment during our trip - they stayed in the same house, were fed the same diet, and taken for walks in the same park.

In September 2011, we moved to a new house, and thought maybe they would stop if it was an allergy to something in that house. Since then - 6 months now - we have not been able to find the problem. After hundreds in vet bills, scrapes, tests, treatments, nothing seems to work.

Here's more about each dog:

- a year and a half old Golden Retriever male "Aiko"
- a 3 year old black Labrador male "Kasino"
- an 11 year old black Labrador male "Rino"
- a 10 and a half year old black Labrador male "Dino"

All unrelated, except Dino is a half-brother of Rino.

All 4 dogs scratch the belly, elbows, armpits, and ears. All except Dino have lost at least 10% of their body weight. They all fiercely nibble at their front and back paws, and all the Labs have developed bald spots on their butts from gnawing.

They often wake at night to scratch, and when they start they will scratch for minutes at a time. All the Labs have also lost quite a bit of hair, mostly on the belly, inner thighs, and butt. The oldest has a bald spot on his tail and Kasino has bald spots on his ears and a couple on his face. They have sores on their belly and inner thighs that often scab and bleed. They have often have severe dandruff that you can see flaking on their backs.

Over the course of the
past 6 months, we have taken all at various times to several vets. All scrapes came up negative for bacteria, worms, mange. They do not have fleas or tics. One scrape in November showed positive for fungus. We treated them all with Unifungin for 10 days. At the end of the 10 day period, the fungus was gone but the scratching never let up.

They are all on ProPlan Lamb and Rice diet, and have all eaten the same food for their entire life. They have never had any skin problems except Rino (the oldest) who often had dry skin and was easily irritated. Rino is also prone to ear infections and has arthritis.

In February 2012, a vet gave them all cortisol shots (2 shots over the course of 1 month - one every 14 days). This is the only thing that has stopped the itching, and got rid of the sores, but now that 18 days have passed since their last shot they are scratching wildly again and the sores are coming back. We don't want to continue them with steroid injections for fear of side effects, and the fact that Aiko has a heart murmur (and enlarged heart).

We give them fish oil capsules daily. Rino gets 1 Osteo-3 supplement for his arthritis. We have been bathing them once a week with antibacterial antiseptic shampoo, and for the past month have switched to Lupol, which is iodine based, leaving it on for 5 minutes before rinsing.

We have changed our floor cleaning products, changed/removed their dog beds, tried taking them out of their current environment (going to the beach for 1 week and taking them in the ocean), with no results. They all get walked twice daily and like to eat grass. We have a pool, but they drink from their bowls as far as we have seen.

Comments for Constant Itching of our 4 dogs for months!

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Mar 23, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Constant Itching of our 4 dogs for months!
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Olga,
Interesting that all 4 dogs have the same symptoms! Perhaps your absence last August triggered some emotional effect in all of them (fear of abandonment?) and made them more susceptible to this 'itching' problem. You did not mention vaccinations, which is also a big stress on the immune system and can trigger a lot of chronic illness.

From your history, it sounds like you have ruled out some problems: mange, fleas, bacteria, and even food allergy (You said that they responded to the cortisone injection. If they had a food allergy, the cortisone would not have helped).

In my opinion, from the photos, I am still VERY suspicious of inhaled allergies mixed with sarcoptic mange.

Scabies mites live very deep in the skin, below the level of the hair follicles, and in some cases a skin biopsy is needed to find them. A skin scraping is usually too superficial to get deep enough. Plus scabies is contagious to other dogs, and to people too! (Although, in the majority of cases I have not seen the owners have a skin problem when the dog has scabies.)

Before rushing back to have the dogs checked for scabies via skin biopsy, there are some other basic items that should be corrected.

ProPlan Lamb and Rice Diet
Is this a DRY Dog food? To help them heal, whatever the underlying problem may be, you should feed either a canned or RAW diet. Check our page on the 10 Best Dog food options. Dogs need to have moisture in the diet, not just adding water, to have a healthy skin, heart, joints, etc.

I am NOT knowledgeable regarding vaccination requirements for Costa Rica, but for ALL vaccines that I am aware of, they come with an insert in the box which says, 'To be administered to healthy animals ONLY.' Therefore, if any of the dogs are due for a vaccination, WAIT until NEXT year or as long as you can until they are ALL healthy.

Rino--prone to ear infections, dry skin, and arthritis plus severe itching
Aiko--heart murmur and enlarged heart and severe itching
Kasino and Dino--severe itching!

Fish oil capsules--all should have at least 1,000-2,000 mg TWO times daily

Osteo-3 supplement for Rino, good supplement, and contains a negligible amount of Omega 3 fish oil, so it would not hurt to give Rino some extra fish oil capsules too.

Immuplex by Standard Process--to boost the immune system. (available on Give 1 capsule- in food two times daily to all dogs.

OrthoMolecular Specialties, Mega C Powder - 1/4 tsp in food two times daily

Missing Link powder for dogs - 1/3-1/2 tsp in food two times daily


Mar 23, 2012
My Online Vet Response For: Constant Itching of our 4 dogs for months! (PART TWO)
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Olga,
Here is the rest of my response.

The Lupol, iodine shampoo will be too drying for them. Switch to an oatmeal shampoo and bathe them 1-2 times per week in cool water, to help cool down their HOT itchy skin.

BEFORE the shampoo, massage all dogs with coconut oil, and let it soak into their skin for 2-3 hours. You may need to shampoo with Dawn Dish detergent to get the oil off if they are still 'greasy' after 3 hours, followed by the Oatmeal shampoo. If they are not greasy, then just use the oatmeal shampoo.

NOW, it would ALSO be best to seek the help of a holistic veterinarian to treat with homeopathic remedies. There are remedies/nosodes that are indicated for scabies. But it may be possible that with just some diet changes, and supplements that they will start to have some relief.

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is

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: 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 28, 2012
how to treat mange
by: Anonymous

Thank you for all the advice. What would be the best method of treatment for sarcoptic mange? Since the scrape results came back negative, our vet is certain that it can't be it, but I've read all over that it is very hard to confirm with a scraping. Could you please provide me with some possible treatment options that we could try?

Mar 28, 2012
My Online Vet Repsonse for: Constant Itching of our 4 dogs for months!
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Olga,
Usually, for treatment of sarcoptic mange I will advise Lime Sulphur dips, one time per week for the first two weeks, then every two weeks for 3 more dips. The sarcoptic mite eggs can take 2-3 weeks to hatch, so the baths need to continue until all possible mites/eggs are gone.

It is best to have your veterinarian advise you on dilution of the dip and making sure you do NOT wear any jewelry when giving the dip. And taking precautions not to get it in your dogs' eyes or ears.

The smell is absolutely atrocious! Have ALL windows open, and a fan blowing!

Most clients prefer to have it done at the vet clinic.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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

Apr 03, 2012
sarcoptic mange already treated for
by: Olga


I visited our vet once more and asked him about treatment for sarcoptic mange. He said that he tried treating them for this, albeit it was through oral pills Endovet. This treatment was performed after their steroid injections, and although their itching subsided, it's right back after going without steroid treatment for 30 days.

One strange thing that I had neglected to mention, is that when my boyfriend touches the dogs - and only on the underbelly area - when he picks them up or plays with them, he instantly gets an irritation on his skin and feels itchy. It goes away after several minutes without contact. But I thought I would mention that and show you a picture. He does not get a similar reaction from petting them on the head.

Does this give any new insight? We're desperate!

Apr 06, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Constant Itching of our 4 dogs for months!
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Olga,
It sounds like your veterinarian did not continue for a long enough treatment plan. I am not familiar with the Endovet medication. From an online search, I believe it does contain some Ivermectin, which is a 'conventional' treatment for Sarcoptic mites.

Since the mites burrow deep into the skin, the eggs are also deep under the skin. It may take the eggs 4-6 weeks to hatch, therefore ANY scabies treatment plan must continue for LONGER than that. It is not unusual when treating more than one animal to continue for 3-4 months with treatment. Since one animal may clear up, and another animal still have some mites, and will give it back to the first animal!

The photo of your friend's arm is quite dramatic with acute allergic hives! I am not knowledgeable in human dermatology, but I would be very suspicious that he may be reacting to the scabies mites.

So, you can choose to use the lime and sulfur dips for 3-4 months or the Ivermectin/Endovet medication. Which is not holistic, but is only for a temporary time, to give the dogs some 'quick' relief while you work on the diet, immune support, etc.

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 margin. 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.

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

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