Q. My dog has an itch that I can't seem to cure, he has had it for years, the vet gives him a steriod that kind of helps, but I have to keep him on pills

A. Chronic pruritis (itching) can be a common sign of allergies. Allergies can be frustrating to diagnose since they can have multiple causes (inhaled, food, contact). Since it has been so long, you may want to schedule a consult with a veterinary dermatologist. Infection (yeast or bacterial) as well as skin parasites should be ruled out if they haven't been. Steroids break the itch cycle but can have negative side effects if used long term. Your vet can dispense or recommend an antihistamine to prevent the itchiness from returning after a steroid injection. 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 soothe itchy skin. Consider adding an essential fatty acid supplement (usually a fish oil) to his diet to promote healthy skin. Search for fish oil supplements. If your vet or dermatologist diagnoses allergies, your task is to try to determine what he is allergic to and decrease or eliminate it. Discuss food elimination trials and allergy testing with either doctor.

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