How To Cure Your Dog's Excessive Scratching
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How To Cure Your Dog's Excessive Scratching

What are the possible reasons your dog itches so much.

Does your dog scratch and bite excessively, beyond what should be normal? There are many possibilities that can cause this and it can take a long time to actually find out the exact cause.

When we got our dog a year ago from an animal shelter, she would scratch and bite herself excessively. I thought of all the possibilities it could be. Was it something in her new yard or house that she might be allergic to? Was it her food? Was it pollen or dust? Was it a disease? Could it be fleas or mites? Was it something she got at the animal shelter? Was it nerves?

She was getting worse as time went on, scratching and biting herself more and more and her eyes would get red as if she was really allergic to something. She actually scratched certain areas known as hot spots to the point the skin became hot and red. She got a bath and that didn’t help. We changed her dog food to foods that didn’t have any corn it in, to food that didn’t have any wheat. We read all of the web sites that rate dog food and gave her only meat based food and when that didn’t work we changed to foods that didn’t have beet pulp in it. With all the different foods we changed to, it didn’t help her excessive scratching but it did upset her stomach.

We finally took her to the veterinarian and the vet asked some questions about home and her diet. The veterinarian took a blood sample to check for diabetes or any other disease that could be causing this. The blood test came back fine, no illness that would account for her excessive scratching. The veterinarian said that like humans it could take a long time to find out what if anything the dog was allergic to. The veterinarian labeled it as just an environmental allergy and that it probably was not related to her food.

The vet recommended a course of steroids to heal the dog’s immune system. Since an allergy is the immune system overreacting to something, the steroids could stop this, heal the immune system and get her immune system back to normal.

The steroid was Prednisone and we were to give it to the dog over a period of 12 days in a certain scheduled way. On the final four days of this schedule we were to also give her Benadryl (Diphenhydramine hydrochloride).

The Prescribed Schedule Was:

· The first four days we were to give her ½ tablet of Prednisone twice a day.

· The next four days we gave her ½ tablet of Prednisone once per day.

· The final four days we gave the dog ½ Prednisone tablet every other day. On the days we didn’t give her the steroid, we were to give her 25 mg of the Benadryl twice per day.

I didn’t like giving her so much Benadryl but it seemed to be working. At first it didn’t seem like there was any change in the dog’s scratching, but after time she went entire days without scratching or biting herself until it finally went away. Her immune system was healed. She no longer scratches excessively or bites herself. This is not say she doesn’t scratch, but its like a normal dog would.

If your dog has the problem of excessive itching and scratching and you have tried everything from baths, the flea collars to trying every dog food on the market, talk to your veterinarian about trying steroids with an allergy medicine like Benadryl. I was skeptical at first, but was willing to try almost anything. And giving the dog a series of allergy tests was pretty much ruled out. Now eight months later the dog hasn’t resumed excessive scratching and biting herself. The steroids and Benadryl healed her immune system and got it back to normal and she acts and looks much healthier and happy.

Since there are many possible reasons for this, make sure you do this with your veterinarian. The Benadryl we used was the 25 mg generic Diphenhydramine hydrochloride Kroger brand.

© 2009 Sam Montana

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Comments (8)

excellent article thank you

Outstanding pointers and tips here!!!

Ranked #21 in Dogs

Another great article, Sam. Prednisone is good stuff but can be dangerous if administered wrong or given for too long a period. It's a steroid used for humans too for many different purposes. I had to take it veryday for months when a real bad bout with the flu left by joints so inflamed that I could hardly walk.

Ranked #10 in Dogs

The vet said that they don’t like to give dogs these steroids and that it couldn’t be something done for long. Maybe a shot like your vet prescribed Clairsie, sort of like a booster shot if this comes back again.

Thanks I will try and give to my dog...


I've gone thru the same thing with our rescue dog. The vet basically gave her the same meds. However it has been 4 years now and we go thru the same thing every summer. This year and after the meds she is still scratching excessively. I was wondering if the problem ever returns for your dog?

Ranked #10 in Dogs

Hi Jen. The itching was gone with my dog this summer and now it is coming back. It is not as bad as it was though. Now as we get into late summer into fall, the scratching is getting a little worse. Seems it is always worse in the winter. Fewer baths seems to help sometimes and using an oatmeal based shampoo helps. We also changed her food to IAMS and that seemed to help. Also, we give her just a little bit of olive oil in her food and that could have helped. But there is something about going into late summer and fall that makes her itch and scratch more.

Ranked #54 in Dogs

Thaks for this advice. We are going through a similar problem.