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Extreme Dog Itching, Scabbing & Hair Loss

by Sandy

underbelly/leg with red spots

underbelly/leg with red spots

underbelly/leg with red spots
example of scabbing under fur
bald patch near tail

My dog developed itching and hair loss in mid-July during a very hot, humid spell. Her itching was intense, and she was pulling out her fur in patches near her tail/hind end.

The skin underneath was raw, red, and had small open sores that would crust over, then heal. The itching seemed to be mainly her hind quarters, belly, and inner elbows/front legs.

We tried Benadryl, but a low dose (only 25 mg), and a natural antihistamine (Histablock) for short periods, but since they didn’t help, we discontinued.

We tried a homemade oatmeal/baking soda bath. Didn’t really help.

Tried coconut oil on the itchy hind end spots – no help.

Things seemed to improve by early-mid August, and she started growing back fur in the bald spots, but the itching continued, just at a much lower level. Then it seemed to ramp up again, and for the past few weeks the itching is very intense on her underbelly.

She scratches everywhere, but mainly her belly, hind end (but less than before), and her front legs/elbows. She scratches her head/face, but that fur looks normal. If she is awake, she is scratching.

As I check her over, every day I seem to find new spots where there are scabs under the fur, then she loses that fur, scabs seem to heal.

She is also shedding more than normal, and her fur seems to be thinning and not as shiny. I have just noticed her skin under the fur is looking dry and flaky, which it wasn’t when this started.

She has had severe itching in the summer for the past couple of years, but nothing like this.

In early August, I gave her Heartgard for the first time in a few months (see history below), then in mid-August I gave her Frontline, which she hadn’t had for 2/3 months. I was afraid that even though I couldn’t find any fleas on her, fleas were her issue.

Throughout July and August, there were the usual fluctuations in temp, but as I look back, she seems to get worse when it is hot and humid. Air conditioning? Heat/humidity? Flea allergy dermatitis?

Two weeks ago I called my conventional vet, who prescribed cefpodoximine proxetil, 200 mg for 14 days, which doesn’t seem to have helped. I have tried Vetericyn
wound spray on the open sores, not much help. I have tried bathing her with herbal shampoo, just rinsing her with water, and rinsing her with a betadyne/water solution. Nothing helps.


Lucky is a 75-lb, 7 year-old (ish) black mixed breed (flat coat retriever or collie/newfie?) female.

Back in April of this year she was diagnosed with vestibular disease. About 5 weeks later, she hadn’t improved much, so she was prescribed Prednisone, tapered dose, for 21 days. She did finally improve but head tilt is still noticeable at times.

She hasn’t had any vaccines since April 2012, but I had given her Interceptor and Frontline pretty consistently until her vestibular disease in April, except usually gave the Frontline every 2 months. I then stopped those until the Heartgard and Frontline in August.

(I am going to switch to a natural flea repellent. Also, do I really have to give her heartworm meds? I hate all these poisons.)

The other thing to note about Lucky is that when going to the vet for any procedure, even blood draws, she gets anesthesia/sedation due to anxiety/aggression. I am against it, but my vet thinks it is better for her anxiety than people holding her down. So she has had that probably once a year for the past few years.

She was eating Back to Basics turkey dry food, supplemented with Honest Kitchen Embark. I did briefly try to switch dry dog foods back in June, but switched back after the itching started as I was afraid it was the new dry food.

In the past week, I have had her only on the Honest Kitchen Embark, and have been giving her the Histablock twice a day, as well as BetaThym twice a day, an essential fatty acid oil by Flying Bassett organics, and Kali Sulph once a day, at the recommendation of the woman at the holistic pet supply. So far, no change.

The only other thing I can think of to note is that she has two very small cyst-type round growths that have just shown up in the past year, one on her leg above the front paw, and one on her back close to her tail. We haven’t had them looked at. She doesn’t pay them much attention.
Appetite, energy, and everything else are normal.

Comments for Extreme Dog Itching, Scabbing & Hair Loss

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Sep 10, 2013
My Online Vet Response for: Extreme Dog Itching, Scabbing & Hair Loss
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

September 10, 2013

Hi Sandy,
For Lucky, from your history and the photos of her skin, I am very suspicious that she has a flea allergy dermatitis. As she has had vaccinations over the years, culminating in the Vestibular incident in April 2013, (which DID NOT resolve until she was suppressed with Prednisone, and even then she has a residual head tilt). And her 'anxiety/aggressive' personality that requires sedation and/or anesthesia to control her at the veterinary office, will require more in-depth workup than what I am able to provide in a quick internet response.

You should take her to see a holistic veterinarian, or better yet, one that does housecalls! Perhaps she will not need any sedation if the veterinarian comes to her! Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is

In the meantime, I would like to guide you along with some suggestions.

The Kali-sulph remedy is a good one for psoriasis/eczema, and is applicable to later stages of inflammation. But it has no relation to vertigo or vestibular problems, nor is it listed for vaccinosis.

Working up her case on the amount of information you have provided,
1. Vertigo
2. Skin itching/must scratch/intense itching
3. Tendency to anger/irascible/irritable
4. Problems after vaccination
5. Cystic Growths
The top remedies are Sulphur, Silicea, Arsenicum, and Hepar Sulph.

Of these, Hepar Sulph has the most intense itching, and anger than the rest. I suggest you start with Hepar Sulph 12C one pellet TWO times daily for 3 weeks.

DIET: Continue with the Honest Kitchen Embark, prepare as directed and add in some RAW Turkey meat 2-3 heaping TBSP per meal. Her skin requires extra protein to heal. And the raw meat has amino acids and Vitamin C to help her immune system.

NO MORE vaccinations. A holistic veterinarian will be able to write an exemption form for you.

FLEA control-see our page on Dog Flea Treatment, And check out, for EVOLV, made from cedar oil for fleas.

Just for your information, Frontline works fairly well for ticks but does NOT work as well as Advantage for fleas. Even though it is marketed as a flea AND tick product. And since it is absorbed into the tissues, it is more toxic than Advantage. (Advantage only adheres to the oil layer of the skin. But works far better for fleas.)

Yes, I think it wise to continue to use the Heartgard, but only give it to her every 45 days. It will still provide enough protection against heartworm, but at a lower dose.

SHAMPOO: Virbac Epi-Soothe Oatmeal shampoo is a good one to use for bathing one to two times per week, without drying her skin. Or just use Baby Shampoo, which might be easier to find.

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

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

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