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my dog who maltese/shitzu is constantly scratching. The vet gave us a special diet to try to determine what food is causing the itch, but he scratched with everything so we put it down to the grass, what can we do??????

Answered Saturday 12 September 2015

Hi Kerrill,

 thanks for your question however I will need a bit more information to properly answer it.

Firstly, where is your dog most itchy? The location of the itch gives us lots of clues ie If he is itchy at the base of his tail it is usually a flea allergy, if he has an itchy bottom it may be his anal glands, if he is licking his paws a lot it may be a contact allergy or an inhaled allergen (atopy - like hayfever in people however dogs get itchy feet and people sneeze and get ichy eyes and a runny nose).

Secondly, has he had any treatment and how did he respond to that treatment? If he has been treated with cortisone and did not respond well it may be a food allergy as they often respond poorly to cortisone therapy. 

Thirdly, has he had a skin scrape? You need to rule out mange mites as a cause of itchiness prior to extensive treatment as the treatment for mange is very specific and different to the treatment of other skin conditions.

If all of the above causes of itchiness can be ruled-out then a food allergy is possible. The incidence of food allergies is relatively low however and the allergy is usually due to the protein source in your dog's diet (preservatives and additives are often blamed however there is no evidence to suggest they cause allergies). 

In order to perform a food trial you need to feed your dog a novel protein meaning a protein source that he has never eaten before. Any slip-ups in this diet will set you back to square one and this can be very difficult as dogs will often scavenge food from the garden or the bin or be fed treats by family members. Dermatologists often prescribe diets consisting of kangaroo and sweet potato however if your dog has eaten kangaroo before then you will need to try something else ie rabbit, duck etc.

It is probably worth another visit to your vet and a bit more investigation,


good luck,




 Anthony and James.


Pet Experts

Dr Ant and Dr James

These two best mates share a love of animals and are the stars of Village Vets Australia.

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