If you want a magic treatment that you are going
to use once and the skin will be good from then on,
you are going to be disappointed.
Many chronic skin conditions in dogs are
life-long, get worse as the dog gets older and
are reoccurring. You might see scratching,
licking feet or even sore ears.
Some itchy skins are genetically based (allergies)
so you can only ‘control’ the relapses by making
them less severe and less frequent but not stop them
Some conditons are due to your dog being
‘allergic’ to something that they either touch,
breath-in or eat. Finding out what the allergen
is (the thing your dog is allergic to) usually
requires trying to work out what sets off a
relapse e.g. dust mites, moulds, a certain
food (but it needs to be a food that your dog
has had before, not a new food), plants in your
garden, types of grasses, pollens that your dog inhales,
chemicals etc. This is usually hard to work out.
It may even require special testing by a Veterinary
There is also flare-ups caused by the skin being
irritated by something that the skin touchs (e.g.
something you wash the floor with, dried-up pool
water containing strong chlorine, salts, long grass
seeds, plants they walk over or lie in, types of
bedding etc). These are called ‘contact irritants’
and usually occur underneath the dog on sparsely
haired areas of skin where the skin becomes red
or a rash develops. This is different to allergies
(which is when the immune system
overreacts to contact with an ‘allergen’)
In some dogs, when the skin flares up, the ears
flare up too. This is because the lining of the ears
is skin, so the two can occur together.
Approximately 85% of ear infections in dogs have
an underlying allergy cause. Sore ears are often
treated with eardrops and steroids
to reduce the pain, inflammation and allergic response.
When an allergen causes a ‘flare up’,
the skin/ears becomes inflammed. They
become red, hot, moist, swollen and painful.
Bacteria and yeasts find these ideal conditions
to multiply in. Therefore infection soon follows
inflammation of the skin and ears. Some
infections are painful, some are itchy so a
vicious cycle of inflammation/infection/itchiness/
self trauma/more inflammation and infection occurs.
At this point, the underlying allergic response and
the infection must be treated – if we control the
allergies, we can then reduce the
number and severity of ear and skin infections.
Treating the infections:
Your vet may perform a swab test and do
cytology on the ear discharge to determine
which bacteria or yeast have overgrown
or they may prescribe antibiotics for the
skin or recommend a medicated shampoo.
We recommend ‘Malaseb’ or ‘Sebizole’
medicated shampoos are they treat both
bacteria and yeasts. They must be left on
the skin for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off.
To further protect the skin, apply
‘Aloveen’ conditioner in the coat and
under the belly and front legs or where
there is not much hair to protect the skin.
The conditioner rehydrates the skin and forms a
barrier to protect the skin from allergens
or irritants. It reduces flare-ups and extends the
time between required shampoos.
(Malaseb, Sebizole and Aloveen
can be purchased over the counter at
Gold City Vets. Our staff will help you with its
When you have a flare-up, use the medicated
shampoo twice weekly for three weeks then
go on a maintenance plan of once a week or fortnight.
Treating the underlying allergies:
- Research has shown that certain oils in
different proportions can be anti-inflammatory
and help with itchy skin and help to restore the oils in
the skin barrier to protect against allergens.
- Omega 3’s and Omega 6’ can help in mild cases or
be used with other treatments.
- Prescription skin foods by Hills or Royal
Canin have been developed to reduce itchiness
and inflammation and restore the skin barrier.
These foods are more expensive than
supermarket brands but can work out much cheaper
than adding things to your dogs diet.
Premium food has many other advantages,
such as not needing to feed so much, less
faeces and it is easier to pick up, no
flactulence as the food is digested well and
doesn’t just ferment or pass through partially-
digested, hence the excessive amount of sloppy,
- Prescription tablets– Steroids, ‘Atopica’,
‘Apoquel’. All of these products can be
used when the infections are controlled.
They reduce the ‘overreaction’ of the
immune system, hence reducing the
inflammatory response. Some dogs need
a short course of these tablets, others need
long courses to control severe symptoms.
- Long-acting steroid injections – not
recommended as they last for 4-6 weeks,
hence a high incidence of side effects as the
dose can not be altered as it can be with
steroid tablets. Steroid tablets used at the
correct dose and frequency have
few side effects and in most cases are
very effective for itchy skin
- New ‘Cytopoint’ injections. This is a new way
of treating itchy dogs. Do you have
difficulty tableting your dog everyday or would
just rather a long-acting injection?. The
drug does not dampen down the immune
response but is a new non –pharmaceutical,
biological therapy. Engineered antibodies
specifically target and neutralize one of the
main proteins that send itch signals to the dogs
brain, hence reducing the itchiness and
The injections may last 1-2 months.
Any ongoing skin infections must also be
controlled e.g. antibiotics, antifungals or
medicated shampoos. We are getting very
good results with this new treatment.
Phone the clinic for an appointment to see
if these injections will be suitable for your dog