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D2008-29

Dear Daisy Dog

Our Lhasa-Pekingese mix constantly scratches and bites herself. The veterinarian diagnosed allergies.

Neither brushing nor bathing with a non-lanolin dog shampoo helped. Benadryl wasn’t effective, and I don’t want to give her stronger medications because I’m concerned about side effects. What else can I do?

Daisy Responds

You have many options, besides prednisone, cyclosporin and other “stronger medications.”

First, omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help control allergies and minimize itching. Until Mom gave me fish oil capsules, I licked my legs and feet almost constantly.

Next, bathe your dog with an anti-itch shampoo that contains oatmeal and an antihistamine.

Consider acupuncture, which is quite safe and effective in allergic skin disease.

Even though Benadryl wasn’t effective, a different oral antihistamine might help. Ask your veterinarian about hydroxyzine, chlorpheniramine or another relatively safe antihistamine.

If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, prevent fleas from biting her by applying a flea repellant to her skin.

Ask your veterinarian to test your dog to determine what she’s allergic to, so you can give her immunotherapy injections. These “allergy shots” supply tiny doses of the substances that make her itch, to teach her body to tolerate them.

It’s also possible that your dog is allergic to some foods. If that’s the case, talk with your veterinarian about a prescription diet.

If none of these ideas work, ask your veterinarian to refer you to a veterinary dermatologist.

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