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Dog won't stop chewing his back

This is a discussion on Dog won't stop chewing his back within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Originally Posted by lzrddr Few comments about above comments: 1) when fleas leave, their itch can remain for weeks or longer, particularly if the pet ...

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Old 09-29-2016, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by lzrddr View Post
Few comments about above comments:
1) when fleas leave, their itch can remain for weeks or longer, particularly if the pet chews on him/herself. Flea saliva can cause an allergic reaction very similar to how poison oak causes on allergic reaction in us. Once the saliva is in the skin, the itching can last quite a long time, even when the fleas are taken care of. The allergy is now its own disease, fleas or no. Of course, as mentioned above, not all dogs react the same to flea saliva- some are severely allergic, some mildly and many not at all.

2) fleas are generally NOT all over the dog's body, and far prefer the rump to anywhere else. Most flea allergy dogs have sores, hairloss, scabs and inflammation exactly where that photo shows the hair loss on that westie above. In fact, one of the ways we diagnose flea allergy versus other skin allergies is where on the body the problem is. On the rump only- almost always fleas! Everywhere on the dog- COULD be fleas but probably not. On the belly and feet only- NEVER fleas. On the face only, rarely if ever only fleas. This does not mean that every rash or scabby rump is due to fleas, but certainly highly suspicious of them. As mentioned, there are a lot of other things than can make a dog's rear end itch, but generally those are NOT on the dorsal rump, but more under the tail (which is also a common flea allergy area).

Cats are not dogs, though still fleas prefer cat rumps... however, fleas do tend to run all over a cat's body, far more often they do on a dog's. Finding fleas on a dog or cats face is not rare, but finding a flea allergy there is less common.

3) in this situation, the problem could certainly have been fleas some time ago, but if enough damage was done to the skin, left over dermatitis/damaged skin can attract a dog's attention for long periods (years even) if not stopped or treated somehow. So many times we see dogs that had a flea allergy at one time and the pets are STILL chewing their rump even if the fleas have been gone for weeks to months. Dogs often chew anything that itches, and skin rashes, sores, scabs and infections itch.

4) as for seeing a dermatologist that is ALWAYS a good idea, but there are few tests that are reliable that show whether an allergy is due to fleas or not... that one is more a diagnosis of finding the fleas, flea dirt (poop) or the location (rump).
Wow thanks for the insightful response that's very informative, you sound like a vet from the way you talk?

I never knew dogs could react for such long periods of time to fleas or wounds from a long time ago, but it makes a lot of sense considering what our pup is going through. It sounds as if he is doing exactly what you mention. The issue seems to be solely located on or near his rump area. He does not itch or chew any other area of his body. When we visited the vet there was obvious signs of fleas but now there are no signs at all so I do not think he has any, but I guess he may still be reacting to the wound area or the fleas from a while ago.

In this case what would you advise to do? Is allergy testing worthwhile? I believe it's an expensive process but I guess it would be quite definitive. If it provides lifelong information for diagnosing issues it's probably useful to get done anyway, but if he can become allergic to things later in life then perhaps not.

I somewhat feel we are maybe jumping the gun by returning to the vet so soon now you imply it's likely still the fleas from a couple of weeks ago, or the wounded area.
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Old 09-29-2016, 02:06 PM
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Seeing your Vet now would be a good idea, he or she can help provide relief for the itching. Izrddr is absolutely correct when he says the itching can last for a long time after the flea issue itself has been resolved. Fleas are really nasty little ##[email protected]@!!'s and can really cause havoc for some dogs. Our dog, Samantha is quite allergic to fleas, so I am careful to keep her current on anti-flea meds. I learned, if she has fleas even for a day or two, and I then medicate her, she itches for a good week to 10 days after, even though there are no longer active fleas present. In my case, when she suffers, I suffer right along with her.
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Old 09-30-2016, 11:12 AM
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So as a follow up we went to the vet yesterday (a different vet than the one that diagnosed fleas) and he was basically in agreement with this thread. He thinks it might still be effects from the fleas, or that George has sensitive, itchy skin in general, making him want to bite himself.

He said he wouldn't go as far as testing for allergies just yet. He actually said food allergy testing is so inaccurate it's almost worthless, and environment allergy testing might be worthwhile eventually, but even then most of the time there isn't much you can do about environment if he is allergic to something that is prominent everywhere. His opinion was it is easier to treat the dogs symptoms than it is to change the environment (which is a bit debatable, I'd rather find out why a dog is biting himself than just trying to prevent it).

Anyway, for now he is treating George with an anti itch shampoo (Douxo shampoo I believe?) and Apoquel (some sort of allergy medication).

Going forward though I hope this is a short-term thing and in a few weeks he will be over the fleas. The meds cost $80 for 2 weeks worth! I can't be spending that every two weeks to prevent him biting. We haven't fully explored over the counter itching/allergy products so if it comes to it I guess we will go down that road. I'm sure there are plenty of anti itch shampoos we can use that don't cost a fortune, and medication/sprays to stop the biting. I read Vet's Best has some good products (and reviews) for their hot spot sprays to prevent biting, could try that.
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