Question: Reader Question: How Can I Help My Itchy Dog?
I have a small half Shih Tzu and Poodle, about 12 pounds. He is 4 years old. He has itchy skin and scratches most of the time. I have been using olive oil in his food. Is there any tick and flea medication that I can use that will be better than the Frontline? The Frontline makes him worse. Also, what kind of shampoo do you recommend?
Skin problems in dogs are all too common, and it is so difficult to watch our companions suffer. Remember, talk to your veterinarian about your dog's health conditions. Meanwhile, here are my feelings about managing skin issues in dogs (coming from personal AND professional experience):
- Flea control is a must ALL YEAR. A dermatologist I know recommends Revolution because it covers much more than just fleas (but unfortunately not ticks). From what I have heard and seen the product works. Frontline does not work for my dog for fleas or ticks, but many dog owners swear by it. Oral flea preventatives tend to be less effective, as the flea may need to bite your dog for the product to work. As much as I love natural remedies, they just don't seem to cut it when it comes to fleas. Personally, my dog does best on Advantage. She has severe flea allergies and never has trouble when she is on it. It does not irritate her skin, but the smell is mildly unpleasant for a day or two (this I can live with). You can try Advantix if you are worried about ticks, too. Also, this may seem "old school," but the Preventic collar keeps ticks off my dog (I only use it when we go hiking or camping -- ticks are not a huge problem in my area). The bottom line: every dog does differently on each product, so you may need to try a few and see how it goes.
- Diet plays a huge role in the condition of your dog's skin. The olive oil may help, but fish oil may be even better. More important: feed a high quality, natural/holistic food and see if it helps. If you are already feeding a diet like this, consider changing to one of equal quality. Give it a few weeks and watch. If your dog is still itchy, you may need to try a hypoallergenic diet. Food allergies account for a very large percentage of skin issues in dogs.
- Frequent bathing is VERY important. My dog also has seasonal allergies, and when they flare up I bathe her once a week in medicated shampoo. For a natural option, try an oatmeal shampoo. If it does not help, ask your vet to bring out the big guns. I use Etiderm® by Virbac, and I love it for the times when the natural shampoos just don't cut it (plus it smells great). There are lots of other great products, including cortisone conditioner for the itchiest of dogs (I try to lay off the steroids unless the itching is really severe). Definitely ask your vet about the options.