Does Your Dog Itch and Scratch, All Night Long?

Here’s a dialogue I had with my friend, Rose.  She had tried everything from diet, special baths, exercise and training but could not get her dog, “Dutch”  to stop itching and scratching.  She gave me permission to share this exchange with you:

Rose: I forgot to tell you that I’m now beginning the third cycle of Revolution on Dutch and it has solved the problem of incessant scratching.  It got me to thinking of all those people that have been convinced their dogs had psychological problems that caused that (probably because they were using something like Frontline or Advantage and never saw hot spots, etc. on their dogs).  So, good lesson learned.

Adam replies: That’s interesting.  So– he didn’t have fleas, he had hot spots?  And you think the Advantage was causing the hot spots? Where did you get the Revolution?  Pet catalog, or do you need a script?

Rose: No, he never had fleas or hot spots.  That’s my point.  There was just incessant scratching with no “visible” signs of irritation and he had been on Frontline for years.  So I kept wondering if there wasn’t some other problem.  I had heard of dogs having emotional type problems that caused certain behaviors, one of which was scratching, but Dutch has had a good life so I didn’t think it was that kind of behavioral problem.  That’s when I asked his breeder about it and she told me that often veterinarians did not diagnose sarcoptic mange properly.  They just missed it because they didn’t see anything.  When I brought it up to Dutch’s vet, all she did was run a flea comb through his coat and that was that.  I asked her to prescribe Revolution (as the breeder suggested) and she did without question.  It solved not only the problem of the itching, but also ear mites (and, of course, potential fleas and ticks).  It also addresess heartworm.  So in one prescription, many types of problems are addressed simultaneously.  I suspect that many dog owners are experiencing similar problems and have no clue how to deal with it.  When I look back, we had the same problem with China too, but her breeder wasn’t quite as bright.

Adam: Okay, bare with me… because I want to make sure I’m understanding what you’re saying: You think he DID have mange, and the Revolution fixed it?

Rose: I think he may have had a low-grade case of sarcoptic mange (microscopic stage) with no visible signs of irritation.  Often dogs are misdiagnosed with some sort of dermatitis (just like people) and it’s difficult to pinpoint what is causing it.  It could be contact dermatitis with soap/shampoo or a plant, etc.  I suspect that dogs are quite often diagnosed in the same way and treated with antibiotics unnecessarily.  I’m just speculating here.  The point is that sarcoptic mange should not be ruled out just because a dog’s hair isn’t falling out or because it’s not full of visible irritation.  The dog owner should probably have their dog tested for it when a visual inspection by the vet doesn’t produce results. Dutch’s scratching was going on for months and we couldn’t figure out what the problem was.  We switched shampoos, food, etc. looking for the cause and came up empty.  That’s when I finally just asked the breeder.

She also recommended keeping him on California Natural dry dog food and nothing else.  Dutch quit eating so many times I couldn’t tell if he was just bored with all the different foods (mostly high-end dog food) or what the problem was.  Finally, I just cut him down to one meal a day and that worked out great.  I feed him about 3/4 of the daily recommended amount for his weight in the morning (so he has time to work it off) and then at night, I give him some of those tartar fighting dog biscuits or a natural treat of some sort to tide him over until morning.  He’s doing really well now.

Adam: So, again: The Revolution got rid of the mange?

Rose: Yup.  My point is that we would have never known what it was and the vet didn’t diagnose it either, even after repeated office visits.  Dog owners need to be proactive.  Dutch would scratch all night long and we weren’t getting any sleep listening to him.  When you don’t see sores or irritation in a dog, you tend to let it slide thinking he’s “just being a dog.”