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Is there a medication or something other than steroid shots which would alleviate the itching/scratching in my dog?

Q: I have a 14 month old Golden Retriever who developed itching problems approximately 3-4 months ago. He had a steroid shot in early May which the Vet said should ease the symptons and provide relief for 3-4 weeks. The itching was curtailed significantly until approximately 3 weeks ago. Is there a medication or something other than steroid shots which would alleviate the itching/scratching? I hate to think I have to pay $50 every 4-6 weeks to effectively deal with this issue.

A: I am sorry to hear your puppy is itching. Pruritis (Itching) can be a very complex problem to deal with because there are many causes. Itching may be caused by fleas and other external parasites such as mites and ticks. Some of these may not be able to be seen with the naked eye and may require additional skin testing to identify. Itching can also be caused by food or enviromental allergies. Did you recently change your pets diet or bathe him with a new shampoo? Be ready to identify anything “new” your pet may be exposed to, diet currently eaten and any current medications as your veterinarian may ask specific questions to narrow down the causes of itching in your puppy.  I would be very happy to speak with you directly to help you further, simply call me at 813-885-4477, Dr. Alison Adler.

Many times steroids or antihistamines may be prescribed to alleviate the discomfort associated with itching but other tests may be needed to determine which of these underlying causes may be at work in your pet and treat it effectively. Checking the skin for bacterial or yeast infections or  parasites, dietary changes, allergy testing or medications may be necessary. Finding the cause of itching can be long process, however if the underlying cause is not identified the itching with likely return. See your veterinarian to evaluate the skin and discuss your puppy’s recent medical history for a definitive diagnosis.

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