ryl.

Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. It is best to find out the cause of the problem rather than just treating the symptoms so that it can have proper treatment. I recommend booking an appointment with your vet for some investigation work.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced pet care professionals :

Environmental allergies, like contact dermatitis or reactions to something on the ground like fertilizer, cleaning products, poison ivy, or other irritants, flea allergy dermatitis, and food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerance can lead to itchy bumps and rashes.
If your dog is experiencing any of the allergy symptoms below, Benadryl can surely help with your dog`s health: Hives. Itchy skin. Facial swelling and inflammation.
Other over-the-counter medications safe to use on canine skin include Neosporin—an antibiotic ointment—and Benadryl cream, a topical pain reliever.
Dogs who keep itching but don`t have fleas or mites are more likely to have a skin infection. These infections may be bacterial or might be fungal. Yeast infections may also be a culprit for some itching in dogs.
What can you give a dog for severe itching? If your pet has severe itching, it is time to get them to the vet. However, for mild cases, giving them a soothing bath, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and an effective next-generation flea medication can all be a good place to start.
The most common antihistamine for dogs is diphenhydramine (brand name Benadryl). Also found in ProSense Dog Itch & Allergy Solutions Tablets, diphenhydramine is safe in most dogs if given in the recommended dosage of 1 mg of diphenhydramine per pound of body weight given by mouth.
Antihistamines with the active ingredients of diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, cetirizine, clemastine or loratadine are usually safe for most healthy adult dogs. Hydroxyzine is another dog-safe antihistamine and one of the most effective available, but it`s only available on prescription.
Flea allergy dermatitis, seasonal allergies or atopy, food allergies, contact dermatitis (e.g., soaps and perfumes), and sarcoptic mange (mites) are some of the most common causes of pruritus in dogs. “Pruritus due to skin disease is one of the most common reasons dog owners seek veterinary care.”
These factors include fleas, staph (bacteria) or yeast (fungal) infections, and food allergies. If you`re noticing an increase in your dog`s scratching, they may have developed one or more of these flare factors that are pushing them over their “itch threshold” despite being on anti-itch medication.
When dog scratching gets out of hand, it is often the result of allergies to food or environmental triggers, including mold and pollen. Dogs may also develop a skin irritation called contact dermatitis when they encounter substances like pesticides or soap. Boredom or anxiety.
Mites are tiny spider-like creatures that can typically only be seen with a microscope, but sometimes they may be visible as tiny orange, black or white dots moving on your dog`s skin.
Plain Sugar-Free Yogurt: Feeding your dog plain yogurt might also offer relief from itchy skin. If your pup happens to have a food allergy, then plain yogurt can help soothe their digestive system and stem the scratching.
The resounding answer is YES, olive oil offers many benefits for dogs. Similar to us, dogs also suffer from dry, flaky skin. Olive oil contains phytonutrients, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your dog`s skin moisturized and well-nourished.
Topical Benefits – It`s been known to help skin conditions like hot spots, bites, stings, or itchy, dry skin. Shampoos made with organic oils such as coconut oil can improve damaged skin and reduce allergens. Some pet owners have even made a DIY paw balm with coconut oil as one of the ingredients.
Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs to eat in small amounts or have applied to their skin or fur. When it comes to selecting a brand, virgin coconut oil is best, as most of coconut oil`s benefits have been observed with this type.
Treating Dog Allergies

Your doctor might recommend: Antihistamines, which block the effects of a chemical that triggers dog allergy symptoms; they`re sold over the counter — like cetirizine (Zyrtec), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin) — or by prescription.

Dogs produce multiple allergens, or proteins that can cause allergy. These allergens are found in dog hair, dander, saliva and urine. All dogs produce allergens; studies have not shown that dogs can be hypoallergenic (not cause allergy).
Benadryl. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is the strongest and most effective first-generation antihistamine, says Roberto Garcia-Ibáñez, M.D., a board-certified allergist and immunologist at The Allergi Group in Tampa, Florida. It`s often administered in the emergency room to treat an allergic reaction, he adds.
One tablespoon of olive oil a few times a week should help your dog`s skin and coat. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for getting rid of dry skin. Another option for DIY itchy skin relief is with fish oil. Apply fish oil directly to the skin and coat, or put a bit of the oil in your dog`s food once or twice a week.
If available, apply a small amount of antiseptic wound cream such as Savlon or Germolene to prevent infection. Do this just prior to a walk or feeding to distract your pet from licking it off.
Zyrtec is an over-the-counter human allergy medication sometimes given to dogs with atopic dermatitis or mild to moderate environmental allergies. Vets may recommend Zyrtec for dogs who scratch excessively, are sensitive to insect bites, or have dermatitis.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the safe dosage is 2-4 milligrams of medication per kilogram of weight, or 0.9 to 1.8 milligrams per pound. This amount can be administered two to three times daily, depending on your dog`s symptoms.
Apple cider vinegar has a lot of uses for not only humans but also pets. If your pet has itchy skin, this concoction of 50/50 water and ACV spray can help relieve your pet`s skin allergies or irritation. This home remedy can also be used in a bath format.
Coconut Oil for Itchy Dogs

The best oils for dogs are those that offer the kind of viscous protection needed to create a natural barrier between angry skin and the environment. For this reason, coconut oil is among the best oils for canine skin, which is why so many products for pups use it as a key ingredient.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. My cat is excessively scrstching herself., to the point she has sores. She is strictly an indoor cat. Did have flees been treated for 2 months
ANSWER : A. For every flea you see on your pet, there are 100 more in the environment. Get your pet on a good topical or oral flea control through your vet. In flea control, you get what you pay for. Consider asking your vet for a dose of Capstar. It helps get the problem under control by killing the fleas on the pet starting in five minutes but only lasts for 24 hours.

You need to treat your home environment. If you use a pest control service, tell them you are having a flea problem and they can adjust their treatment. Use a premise spray that also contains an IGR, insect growth regulator. This keeps eggs and larvae from maturing into adults and helps break the life cycle. Also, vacuum EVERY DAY, throwing out the bag or emptying the canister every time into an outside receptacle and spraying the contents with insecticide to kill the fleas you’ve vacuumed up.

Treat your yard too, since fleas are opportunistic and will hop a ride into your home on your pant leg without you knowing it. Concentrate on areas under bushes, in the shade. Fleas are less likely to be located in open sunny areas where it gets hot.

If chemicals are a problem, you can use borax. Sprinkle it into rugs, into corners and under furniture, use a broom to work it into the fibers and let it sit for hours, days even. It won’t hurt you or your pet to have it present. Then vacuum it up, reapply as needed. Food grade diatomaceous earth can be gotten from a health food store and worked into the rugs and corners in the same way as borax. These treatments aren’t as fast and effective as chemical insecticides but they can help.

You might want to consider boarding your pet for the day at your vet, to give you the opportunity to flea bomb your house without having to worry about your pet being exposed. They can bathe your pet and give a dose of Capstar while you treat your home.

Be patient, you may have to repeat these steps multiple times 10-14 days apart to help break the flea life cycle.

Skin problems can have a variety of causes, sometimes more than one. It is important to have the problem checked by your vet to determine if there is a medical cause for your pet’s skin issues and treat accordingly.

In pets of all ages, fleas, food allergies and exposure to chemical irritants such as cleaners and soaps can be a cause. Any one of these may not be enough to trigger the breakouts, depending on how sensitive your pet is, but a combination can be enough to start the itch-scratch cycle. Finding out the cause and eliminating it is the best course of action. With flea allergies, if your pet is sensitive enough, a single bite can cause them to break out scratch enough to tear their skin.

Check for fleas with a flea comb. Look for fleas and/or tiny black granules, like coarse black pepper. This is flea feces, consisting of digested, dried blood. You may find tiny white particles, like salt, which are the flea eggs. Applying a good topical monthly flea treatment and aggressively treating your house and yard will help break the flea life cycle.

If you use plastic bowls, this is a possible cause for hair loss, though this tends to be on the chin, where their skin touches the bowl while they eat. If you suspect this to be the culprit, try changing the bowls to glass, metal or ceramic.

Food allergies are often caused by sensitivity to a protein in the food. Hill’s Science Diet offers some non-prescription options for sensitive skin as well as prescription hypoallergenic foods for more severe cases. Royal Canin carries limited protein diets that may also offer some relief. Your vet can recommend a specific diet that will help.

If there is no relief or not enough, consider getting your pet checked by a veterinary dermatologist and having allergy testing done.

Q. My dog itchs all the time a codozon shot helps but don’t cure it after a bath she turns red and still itchs I changed dog food that didn’t help no fle
ANSWER : A. Do you live in a region where fleas are prevalent. Where I live the fleas are truly horrible, and I see many animals developing a flea allergy. This usually presents as relentless itching especially at the base of the tail, although it can be all over the body. Often on exam I won’t find a single flea, just red bumps, hair loss and itching. In response, I will start animals on an oral steroid such as prednisone (I think your doctor has administered an injectable steroid), while at the same time bathing the animal and starting on an oral flea preventative such as Comforts which I then re dose at 3 weeks instead of 4. Additionally, the environment needs to be decontaminated- flea bombing the house, vacuuming often and washing bedding on hot. The flea life cycle is short, however, so this needs to be one frequently as they will just continue to hatch in your home. Most importantly, I tell my clients, that any steroid (oral or injectable) does not fix the problem, but rather suppress your dogs reaction to it thereby making them more comfortable. Just the steroid alone changes nothing except giving them a brief break from their symptoms.

Now that I have spoken in depth about flea allergy, there is a potential that it is something else. Food allergies are slow to develop, and slow to change. If you wanted to eliminate a potential food allergy I would switch to a novel protein, limited ingredient diet. For example, lamb as the protein source if your previous food was always chicken or beef, and in a formula with very limited ingredients such as lamb, rice and veggies. A pet store should be able to help you with this. While on this diet they cannot have any additional treats for 1 month, to see if you have eliminated the allergy. From an Eastern Medical perspective, I also recommend novel proteins that are “cool”, such as fish, lamb, or duck while avoiding “warm” foods such as beef, chicken, pork.

Finally, all animals with allergies should be on an Omega 3 supplement. Given regularly, this can help reduce overall inflammation in the body both in the skin, joints, and other tissues. Good for allergies, arthritis and overall health. My dogs are on fish oils, but one of my dogs who is allergic to fish gets flax oil instead. I would be happy to consult with you further, but I hope this helps to some degree.

Q. How do I determine how much my overweight pet should weigh?
ANSWER : A. There are many tools to determine overweight and obesity levels in pets. A new tool, morphometric measurements and body fat index, are available to accurately determine a pet’s ideal weight; this will allow an accurate determination of the amount of food a pet should receive to achieve weight loss. Feeding the correct amount will lead to greater weight loss success.

There are many weight loss food options to help pets reach their ideal weight. Your veterinarian can help make a ideal weight recommendation. Here are some tips to help your dog lose weight in a healthy and safe way:

1. Diet: Providing a healthy and well balanced diet is essential to your pet’s overall health. Finding the right food for your dog can be a challenging process. For those overweight animals many commercial dog companies offer weight loss diets, but it is important to evaluate food labels for adequate nutritional content.

You want to ensure you are not missing other essential vitamin or mineral content. Volume of food is also important and the amount of food that works for one breed of dog may not be the same for another breed of dog. Portion control as opposed to free-choice feeding can help your dog to drop a few unnecessary pounds.

There are also prescription weight loss foods designed by veterinary nutritionists, such as Hill’s r/d (http://bit.ly/1AoENSd). Some pet owners find that home cooking is the best option for helping to provide a well-balanced and realistic diet plan. There are websites such as balanceit.com that offers recipes to fit your dog’s specific needs. Consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to find the appropriate diet is a great way to help your dog be as healthy as possible.

2. Exercise: Another great tactic for weight loss for your dog is exercise. Whether this is through running, walking or playing with a favorite toy all of these are wonderful types of exercise to help keep your dog at a lean and healthy weight.

For those pet owners with busy schedules utilizing professional dog walking services or playtime through dog daycare services is another option. It has been shown that those pet owners that exercise regularly with their pets generally live a healthier lifestyle.

3. Physical therapy: As animals age pet owners offer encounter their favorite canine having more difficulty walking and have a dwindling desire to play with toys. Physical therapy, specifically hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to help older and arthritic animals gain more mobility and lose weight. Hydrotherapy has been proven to have several therapeutic effects on the body including, muscle strengthening, relief of swelling, decreased joint pain, less stiffness in limbs, improved circulation, weight loss, and increased tissue healing to name a few. For more information on the benefits of hydrotherapy:
http://bit.ly/1w1qqoy

4. Veterinary visit and blood work: Weight gain can also be related to underlying health concerns such as hypothyroidism or other endocrine disorders. Scheduling a veterinary evaluation and routine blood work can be another important component in increasing the longevity of your dog’s life. Conditions such as hypothyroidism that predispose dogs to gain weight can be treated with a daily medication to improve hormonal balance. If feel that your dog is unnecessarily overweight there can be an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.

5. Healthy treats: Pet owners love the chance to reward their favorite canine companion with treats and most dogs jump at the chance to consume these delicious products. The problem is many treats, which can include commercial dog treats or table scrapes can add many unnecessary calories to your dog’s daily intake. Reading labels and making note of the calories in these treats is an important component of understanding your dog’s overall health. Treats should not exceed more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calories. There are healthier treats that can be offered to your pet to keep calories lower yet provide a fuller sensation. A pet owner can add steamed or pureed vegetables, such as carrots, green beans or sweet potato to add more fiber and thus a fuller feeling for your dog.

Q. My dog has no fleas, but is scratching and licking continually. He has been through a round of prednisone and it hasn’t helped. What can I do?
ANSWER : A. Itching can be caused by more than just external parasites, and if your dog is already on a flea medication, then it is possibly not the case. Itching can indicate anything from allergies to even minor skin infections causing problems. If your dog has been treated with prednisone (a steroid that inhibits the immune system) and it did not help, then looking at other options may help.

Food allergies are very common in dogs and can present with itching and licking all over the body rather than on just one spot. Common food allergens include ingredients such as wheat, corn and soy products, however dogs can be allergic to almost anything! Starting a food trial of an allergen-friendly diet from your vet or pet store that avoids these common ingredients may help. The food should be switched over a period of 7-9 days and then given about a month to decide if it is helping.

Small skin infections or yeast in the skin can also cause itching, however this itching is often more specific to a certain area of the body (such as the toes, or base of the tail). Your vet can perform a skin scraping of the area to be cultured at a lab to look for any yeast or bacteria. If they are present, a medication given either orally or placed on the affected area can clear up the infection.

In some cases, licking and chewing can actually be due to a boredom or anxiety behavior. Dogs may lick one spot obsessively to the point of creating sores or wounds in the area. Stopping your dog from licking and chewing either through the use of dog booties, no lick strips, T-shirts or even Elizabethan collars can break the habit and give the area time to heal. Licking and chewing can also cause the spread of bacterial infections so should be deterred even if not behaviorally caused.

Q. How should I interpret my cat’s tail movements?
ANSWER : A. Our feline friends express themselves in many different ways, including through the use of their tails. Most pet owners pay close attention to a happy or excited dog, but they are sometimes less attentive to the posture and movement of their cat. Here are some of the most common cat tail behaviors, and the underlying emotion behind each action:

A flicking tail: Many anxious, nervous or stressed cats will hold their tail in a low position and flick it quickly back and forth. This is often referred to as angry tail, and a pet owner or veterinarian should be on guard for any possible aggressive or defensive activity. If a cat is moving their tail slowly, and not exhibiting the flicking motion, then this cat is at a much calmer state.

Vertical position: Most of the time when a cat is holding their tail in a straight, vertical position this is indicating curiosity and a playful mood. A cat chasing after a laser pointer or playing toys will often have their tails in a vertical position showing their enjoyment. This position also helps with balanced movements. In contrast, if the tail is in the vertical position and the cat’s back is arched with pinned back ears then this could demonstrate a feeling of being threatened and thus result in defensive or aggressive behaviors.

The Tucked Tail: Similar to a dog, a tucked tail often indicates submission or fear. Your cat is conveying upset feelings and should most likely be left alone. This tucked tail appearance can also make a cat look smaller and less threatening to an aggressive cat.

The Tail Twine: Cats will often hook their tail around another cat’s tail, owner’s legs or other objects to show a friendly and affectionate nature. They are also trying to indicate whether they want to receive affection from their owners, be fed or have playtime.

The next time you are home with your feline companion take note on how they express themselves through their tail movements, their ears, body posture and vocalization. You can start to better understand their needs and wants, in addition to what makes them uncomfortable or happy. Cats will surprise you with their array of emotions and varied expressions they can express.

Q. Rescued a dog almost two weeks ago, and now that her kennel cough is gone her personality shines!! No previous training, how should I start?
ANSWER : A. POST FOUR:

After your dog is familiar with the behavior you lured from scratch, and taught to your dog, you can start to use the “no-reward marker” I talked about. What you do is ask the dog to perform the behavior, and if the dog does not perform the behavior, you simply say your no-reward marker (choose one: eh-eh, hey, uh-oh, oops) show them the treat, put it behind your back, and BRIEFLY ignore your dog. Just turn your back for a second or two, before turning back to your dog and saying, “let’s try that again.” When you’re ready to start over with your dog, make sure you move around. If you are repeating the same cue while in the same position, while your dog is in the same position, you are likely to receive the same results. The more you move around, and start fresh, the better your chances are of having your dog listen to your cue the second time around. BIG rewards when they dog it successfully! Lots of praise and treats.

My no-reward marker is “hey.” When my dog does something wrong I say, “hey” and she immediately understands that she needs to offer a different behavior. This is clear to her. I don’t have to say it in a mean way, I simply say, “hey” in a normal tone of voice and she understands what the word means.

Once you’ve built up that connection and communication with your new dog, you can work on all kinds of fun behaviors! I personally enjoy the more zen-like behaviors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruy9UMcuGh8

I like to teach my dog fun tricks that offer her a “job” to do of sorts like object retrieval: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4iertZSva8

(object retrieval training completed; what it looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx0Dml28FGY)

Scent-games are fun too! Very confidence building. Hide a REALLY smelly treat in a box, and place that box in a line of boxes. Let your dog go in the room while saying something like “search!” or “find it!” and watch them hunt for that smelly treat! Lots of rewards when they find it!

Q. My dog licks his feet and legs and they are turning brown. He is a white dog. Can you help?
ANSWER : A. Licking the feet and legs can be caused by a number of things in dogs including allergies, illness or even stress behaviors. Allergies are the most common in dogs, with yeast infections coming in second. Allergies can cause the area to become red and itching, making your dog want to lick and chew on them. Over time, the area may become stained from saliva, especially in lighter or white-coated dogs. Yeast infections are also common between the toes, and may cause a smelly “corn chip” smell to appear near your dog’s feet. Again, dogs will attempt to lick and chew to relieve the itch. Keeping the feet clean and dry can help relieve both allergies and infections and pet wipes or a baby wipe of all paws when your dog comes in from outdoors may also help. Keeping your dog from licking the space with either dog booties or an Elizabethan collar is also good as it will prevent secondary infection and staining of the paws and legs. If your dog is determined to keep licking and keeping the feet clean and dry do not help, then your vet can help by providing a medication to treat any infection or provide relief of allergies.

Q. Whenever I take my dog on walks he always barks at people and others dogs in my neighborhood. What should I do to resolve the problem
ANSWER : A. The very first thing to do is to make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good, happy dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.

Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.

Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to, don’t touch, or even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat. To be successful with this method, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. Yelling at him is the equivalent of barking with him.

Get your dog accustomed to whatever causes him to bark. Start with whatever makes him bark at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.

Teach your dog the ‘quiet’ command. Oddly, the first step is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.” Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.

As in all training, always end training on a good note, even if it is just for obeying something very simple, like the ‘sit’ command. If you dog regresses in training, go back to the last thing he did successfully and reinforce that before moving on again. Keep sessions short, 15-20 minutes max, and do this several times a day.