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Itchy dogs with no rash or redness - not fleas

October 4th, 2007, 01:36 AM

I am new here but have done tons of research on why my dogs could be so itchy. I haven't yet found any relevant information and am hoping anyone here can help me out.

I have 3 dogs. One 10 year old German Shorthaired Pointer (Oskar) and 2 one year old havanese (Walter and Harriet). All my dogs are on the B.A.R.F. diet and none have ever been the proud owner a flea (I do not do a preventative treatment). All my dogs are healthy and active. The havanese are groomed roughly every 6 to 7 weeks by a lady in her home.

At the end of July we drove from Vancouver BC (near where we live) up to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Oskar and Harriet are very calm, peaceful dogs but Walter is quite emotional. Two days into our 4 day trip (northern Alberta) Walter started to pant and scratch in his kennel while we were traveling. At night I would let the dogs sleep loose in the hotels since they travel during the day in kennels. Along the way they were exercised in fields or parks by hotels or rivers/lakes.

Initially his scratching was fairly mild and once we arrived in Yellowknife I bathed him. This did not stop the scratching. I checked and re-checked him for fleas and never found any evidence (he is an all white dog, so it would be very easy to see the flea dirt). I chalked his itchiness up to upheaval in his life and him reacting emotionally and physically.

We returned to our home near Vancouver BC at the end of August. Since then his itchiness has gotten out of control.

1) If you pet his lower back his hind legs give out and they start scratching.
2) There is no redness, dryness or rash on his skin whatsoever
3) The itchiness is largely on his lower back but does extend up his back even up on top of his head
4) He is on a raw food diet with no grains whatsoever and I regularly supplement him with an appropriate amount of a balanced oil, kelp and multivitamin.
5) Over the course of the past 2 months I continually check for fleas and have never found any evidence
6) My vet put him on a trial regiment of an antihistamine for 1 week and it worked. Then when he went off the pills within 1 to 2 weeks he was just as bad
7) Just within the last week my second havanese, Harriet, has started getting itchy on her lower back, also with no other symptoms.
8) Walter and Harriet sometimes share kennels
9) Oskar is not itchy and does not sleep in the same areas as my other two

Does anyone have any suggestions? I don't just want to treat for fleas with no evidence whatsoever. I also don't like the idea of medicating to stop the itching rather than trying to solve the issue.

Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.


October 4th, 2007, 02:34 AM
Hmmm, is it possible that he picked up some bed bugs?

I am not a big fan of flea treatment products either but I would be tempted to do at least one flea treatment on all the dogs to see if that makes a difference. Make sure you use on of the vet products and probably advantage is the one to use as it kills the larvae plus the adults (i think that is the one).

I would definately also wash any bedding in hot water (by the way have you had a recent change in the bedding or the laundry soap you use?). Often it can be difficult to see the signs of fleas. They say that by the time you actually can see a flea you often are in full infestation mode.

October 4th, 2007, 10:52 PM
Hm. If it's not parasites, it could be an allergy, or because of them sweating possibly.

A friend of mine has a small dog, his name is Monty. Randomly, he began getting very itchy. No signs of any parasites, no redness, and no flaky, dry skin. He'd just be super itchy and even roll around on the floor because he couldn't satisfy the itch alone with just a scratch of the paw.

They later found out that it was because of the recent weather. He has a little hut that he likes to spend time in. It's a triangular shaped small dog house, made of material, it's a cat house, but he likes to sleep in there a lot with blankets and pillows. Doing that, plus the heat, caused his skin to get itchy and irritated.

It got cooler out, and he was fine.

October 5th, 2007, 01:41 AM

Thanks for your replies. Last night I was thinking that I might just treat them for fleas to see if it makes a difference and spent the morning washing bedding and cleaning kennels. I threw away my big dog's bed and got him a new one. I had purchased Advantage from the vet and did use it this morning. So it was so nice to turn on my computer and get confirmation that it was a good idea to do it.

I checked out the bed bugs link and with that information I think I can eliminate that as a possibility. Every night one of my kids slept on the floor and they never got any bites on their bodies.

As far as heat is concerned... that may actually be a possibility, at least initially. Walter is very fluffy and his travel kennel is pretty enclosed. It was quite warm when we traveled. Then it was actually hot when we were in YK. But it is cool here now and he seems to still be quite bothered. He does get so itchy he rolls all over the floor to scratch himself. Havanese are from Cuba so shouldn't they be pretty tolerant of heat?

I started him again on the antihistamine on Tuesday night and last night was the first night where he didn't wake up in the middle of the night panting and bothered. My Harriet seems to be a bit less itchy today too. I'll am going to keep a close eye on them in the next few days. If they continue to improve I'll chalk it up to sneaky fleas.

Thanks again. I would still love any insight from other posters!

July 9th, 2008, 04:05 PM

It's been a long time since I've been here but I was very happy to finally find the cause of Walter's itching.

I turns out he is sensitive to the raw carrots in his food. Took away the carrots, itchiness stopped. This was quite surprising because this food issue did not follow the normal path. A chatty vet tech let me in on the fact that they have been discovering this sensitivity at a surprising level. She saved me $500 on testing too. The other big sensitivity that they were detecting was chicken but.... this was on dog food fed dogs.

Another note. My other havanese had one stinky, hot ear but one ear only and no other symptoms. For her it was wheat. She was getting a few treats a day with wheat. Took those away and her ear is as clean as a whistle.

These dogs are my first foray into the arena of little dogs and I can not believe how much more delicate their constitutions are:)


July 9th, 2008, 07:43 PM
I'm so glad you finally figured out what was causing the itchiness in your dog. :thumbs up Thank you for the update!

So, any chance you could start a picture thread starring Oskar, Walter, and Harriet? :D We'd love to see them!

July 9th, 2008, 09:32 PM
Carrots eh? Good to know...if I ever discovered a food sensitivity I don't think I would have ever thought about that. Always learning new things on here...

Glad your dogs are feelig less itchy! :)

July 10th, 2008, 02:57 AM
I never would have suspected carrots either. Glad to hear you finally found out what was causing your dogs to itch. :)