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Weird Itching/Scratching


diane allen
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Just wondering if any of you with older dogs have experienced this one....

 

Lucy turned 15 in February; had liver/spleen surgery in June 2009, recovered splendidly; has developed mild kidney disease, seemingly stabilized for about 8 months now; arthritic feet and probably some spondylosis in her back. Had a vestibular episode about a year ago, pretty much recovered from that. Beginning to lose some rear end muscle control (wobbling, unable to jump much; no incontinence). Her mentation is definitely diminished - though not extreme (doesn't "get lost" in the house, etc.); she is also mostly deaf, so it's hard to tell how much of the "confusion" is just not being able to track (me, the other dog, etc.).

 

About a month ago, she started scratching - mostly her flanks. I thought she might need a bath (though she doesn't get them often), so we did an oatmeal shampoo, left it on awhile, thorough rinse. No change. I've had her in to my regular vet, who didn't see any sign of any external cause (no redness, no fleas/ticks, etc.). Tried a baking soda rinse (the vet's suggestion) - no change.

 

I haven't changed her food, laundry soap, etc. etc. She doesn't pull out hair or cause any damage to herself - but it's like she just cannot stop the itching. She'll be walking, get the "signal" to scratch, try to pick up a back leg, and well, it ain't pretty. She is now scratching top of head, under chin, ears (no, they're clean...), flanks, top of front legs, and belly. Something she'll bite at herself for up to a full minute, and evenings, it just goes on and on. There is absolutely NO sign of anything on her skin or coat. Thankfully, she does seem to sleep through the night fairly well.

 

My thought is that this is mental somehow - either her brain is telling her that there is something to be scratched, or there is something else going on, there actually *is* an itch, but who knows why.

 

I have an appt. with a vet neurologist (that she's seen before) in a few weeks (is every vet in the country on vacation this month??), but really don't hold much hope that he'll come up with anything.

 

She's never been OCD-ish, except when it came to toys; but many things have changed in her old age.

 

Anyone ever experienced this?? Any solutions?

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You mentioned "mild kidney disease." I think in humans itching can be one of the symptoms of kidney disease. Also, a friend who's been waiting for a kidney/liver transplant for years has a lot of itching that the doctors attribute to the loss of kidney function. Just a thought.

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Yep, thyroid was checked about six months ago, sent to Jean Dodds - all totally normal. If anything, her coat is thicker than ever!

 

And yes, she gets good supplements - her coat has always been shiny and soft (and still is, in spite of all this).

 

I will ask about the kidney disease relevance...my regular vet mentioned it, but said what he recalled (never having seen it) was that it resulted in pruritis (red, scabby) and tended to be localized - whereas hers is definitely disperse. I did have a question in to her internal medicine vet, but he's on vacation (as are several other vets I know....). The sub that called back mentioned mites....don't think so on that one.

 

Thanks for your ideas - keep 'em coming!

 

diane

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You could check with Marina Zacharias at www.naturalrearing.com about whether or not it could be tied to the kidneys, and see what she has to offer. A Detox might be something to consider to help cleanse the entire body' systems since her kidney function is compromised and they have some good kidney support stuff,if you are into holistic/homeopathic remedies.

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Did another "regular" vet check today...she's just being driven crazy (as am I....) by the itching. Last night I timed 25 scratches/bites in one hour! (Then she totally zonked out...exhausted, I'm sure.) He didn't think much about the kidney connection, as there is NOTHING visible on her skin. He's recommending Science Diet J/D which is actually a joint diet - very high in Omega 3s. She's had raw and homemade diets for 10 years, so I guess at this point, I'm willing to try it - maybe after a month or so, she can go back to her "good" food. He also mentioned prednisone, but we're not willing to try that just yet.

 

I can't believe this food.....YUCK! Ground corn, chicken by-product meal (don't even think about what that means), pork fat, cellulose....can dogs really LIVE on this stuff? OTOH, I've talked with 2 friends with allergy dogs, and they are doing great on it. So, we'll give it a try. Sigh.

 

Neuro vet appt is Aug. 2 - paws crossed he comes up with something good and different!

 

diane

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Info just for the record....saw the neurologist today. His first comment was "What? Itching? I'm a neurologist!" Not said jokingly, but I think sincerely....as in, what the heck do I know about this? Then he proceeded to ask all the right questions (food, shampoo, laundry soap change, etc.); gave me the lecture on causes of itching (food, environment, inhalation) and solutions, including "what he would do if it was his dog" (and he does have border collies). I opted for the predisone injection and antibiotics, but declined the topical flea junk. (If she got bit by one flea, that then proceeded to jump off, and she has a flea allergy...well, I guess we'll find that out when this other stuff doesn't work. I never saw a flea on our travels, the other dog is much more likely to have gotten one (does a dog EVER get just ONE flea?) and doesn't, and I have searched her skin and coat for ANY sign of anything....to no avail.)

 

Guess we'll find out in a week or so, if this is doing any good.....

Sigh. Poor girlie.

 

diane

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but declined the topical flea junk. (If she got bit by one flea, that then proceeded to jump off, and she has a flea allergy...well, I guess we'll find that out when this other stuff doesn't work. I never saw a flea on our travels, the other dog is much more likely to have gotten one (does a dog EVER get just ONE flea?) and doesn't, and I have searched her skin and coat for ANY sign of anything....to no avail.)

 

 

Yes, sometimes they get just one flea and it can wreck havoc. Last winter Missy was having some major issues with allergies. Finally seemed to get them in check and she started biting/itching again. I checked her skin. Nothing. And this is the middle of January in Michigan, no issues with fleas throughout the year. I went to put some topical benedryl creme on her one night when she was itching again and happened to see a flea. Just one and I'd seen no other signs. Treated all the dogs for fleas and the itching went away.

 

As far as diet goes, What finally seemed to help Missy's allergy itching this past winter (after a couple of rounds of prednisone) was adding The Honest Kitchen food to her raw diet. About 3 weeks on that and her itching subsided. The variety we used was Embark.

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