Q. We have a rescued female PitBull about 55lbs, who is always licking,biting or scratching herself raw. Most times it gets very bloody.How can I help?
A. These are common signs of allergies, but other causes such as fleas, mites or infection should be ruled out. Allergies can be frustrating to diagnose since they can develop at any time and have multiple causes (inhaled, food, contact). Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an exam and diagnostics (blood work, skin scrapes, cultures, etc). If the skin is broken or bloody, she is at risk for infection and requires antibiotics. Your vet can also prescribe a short course of steroids to break the itch cycle then can dispense or recommend an antihistamine to prevent the itchiness from returning. Some antihistamines work better than others in different dogs, so you will need to find the one that works best. A pet approved colloidal oatmeal bath can also soothe itchy, red skin. Consider adding an essential fatty acid supplement (usually a fish oil) to her diet to promote healthy skin. EFAs may also decrease inflammation. Search www.pet360.com for fish oil supplements. If she is diagnosed with allergies, your task is to try to determine what she is allergic to and decrease or eliminate it. Discuss food elimination trials and allergy testing with your vet.