The Norman Transcript

February 13, 2014

14-year-old Chihuahua terrier can’t stop scratching


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: We are at our wit’s end with our 14-year-old Chihuahua/rat terrier. He is having some sort of reaction and, according to our vet, is producing too much yeast.

We have been taking him to the vet for a monthly allergy shot, bathing him weekly with Pharmaseb Shampoo and feeding him Hill’s Prescription z/d food in addition to a small amount of homemade chicken and vegetables. His whole belly is like alligator skin, and he is losing hair on the top of his back.

Besides the expense of the monthly trip to the vet and the shot, the food is expensive, too. Now the vet is suggesting an allergy test that would cost $500, along with keeping my dog on a serum for the next several months, which would cost $325 every three months.

Is there anything else we can try? This poor little dog spends three-fourths of the day scratching. He even stops to scratch before going out for a pee in the backyard. His ears are also inflamed.

Do you have any suggestions?

— J.F., Palm Beach, Fla.

Dear J.F.: First, has mange, a skin parasite, been ruled out? Next, consider hypothyroidism, which in older dogs is often combined with Cushing’s disease.

The possibility of an underlying food ingredient allergy or intolerance remains, and one of the problems with these expensive prescription diets is that they often contain additives and other ingredients as well as contaminants.

I would put your dog on a “detox” diet of three parts boiled brown rice or quinoa; two parts ground lamb or white fish; and one part chopped green beans for three to five days. After that, transition him onto a boiled potato and white fish diet with a pediatric multimineral or multivitamin tablet and a few drops of fish oil mixed in.

Also, give your dog probiotics and a bath using Selsun Blue medicated shampoo, followed a week later with a soothing oatmeal and aloe vera or chamomile shampoo.

Dear Dr. Fox: My 7-year-old yellow Lab has a bad habit that is driving me crazy. When she is in the yard playing with a ball or stick, she stops playing and starts pulling out the grass with her teeth.

She does this when she is alone and when I am out there with her. When you try to correct her, she thinks it is a game, runs across the yard and does it again.

What can be done to correct this behavior? Do you think an electronic training collar would help, or might it do more damage to her mental state? Any recommendations would be appreciated.

— M.M.

Dear M.M.: Is your dog eating some of the grass? If she is eating some of the grass, you must know that is normal dog behavior.

Give her a small unmowed patch of couch grass to nibble on. This could be good for her digestive system and urinary tract. Dogs with some internal irritation or discomfort will often eat grass.

If this is more a redirected play behavior, throw her some sturdy squeaky toys and 18-inch ropes with a knot on both ends.

Never use a shock collar. For details, check my short article “Dominance Training” on my website.

Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.com.

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