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 Post subject: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:21 pm 
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So Harley, our poof-a-loof, occasionally does this thing where she will basically dig a hole in her head. No one ever sees her scratching the top of her head, she'll just suddenly have a bloody spot or a scab. A huge scab, like the size of my thumb easily. Only on the top of her head, not behind her ears or on her neck, where dogs usually scratch. It's not fleas, and she did this when she lived with my father-in-law before but she does it so randomly that we never pinned down the issue. She didn't do it at all for the first few months she came to live with us forever, but in the past month she's done it 3-4 times. So my father-in-law asked his son-in-law about it and he told him that they never got an exact reason either, but it went away when they fed her specialized food. When my father-in-law brought her home she came with grain free food and I asked if she had an allergy then, but he said their other two dogs had the issue and they just fed them all the same thing, so we slowly switched her to our food (mixing in more and more) with no real issues. She doesn't make gross poops or have any other signs of constant misery other than the scratching a hole in her head (Hilariously, my father-in-law suggested she had a parasite. Like a flesh eating parasite that only attacks randomly and in a single, quarter-sized patch at a time.)

So today we went out and bought her some fancy-pants, expensive grain-free food, which I don't think they make vegetarian and grain-free, but ugh. We also got her some grain-free treats. My plan is to try and just mix it in with our normal dog food for her since she eats so much, to help keep the costs down. Is it pointless to mix it, does it have to be completely grain-free? Does anyone else's dog dig a hole in their head? I haven't hit up the googles yet, I should go do that now.

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:31 pm 
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Bring her to a vet just incase it is something simple like an infection. My cat had 2 bald patches appear a week or so after I got him and he was itching them a bit. Turned out it was ring worm. Yuk! Luckily the dog or I caught it from him.

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:55 pm 
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Usually when a dog has food allergies the issue is bigger than just a scab on the head. They are very itchy all over and can get scabby but they also usually constantly lick paws, and can also have anal gland issues. Grain free food helps but you have to know what they are allergic to before you can really see a difference w/ food. For instance, if they are allergic to beef but if you're feeding grain free food w/ beef in it, a grain free diet won't really help. Like Daisychain said, It could be some kind of skin infection or it could just be skin allergies from something blooming this time of year. You can get them allergy tested @ a vet but it's pretty pricey. It sounds like something you need to talk to a Dr. about. They can do a skin scrape if it's just localized to one spot and see if there is some skin parasite that is causing the issue.


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:00 pm 
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Also, if it is food allergies, it is totally pointless to mix regular and grain free food together because they are still eating at least some of what they are allergic to. It has to be the good stuff all the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:10 pm 
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The food we normal feed is corn and beef free (vegetarian), and this is chicken. I figured mixing might help a little if it's not a serious allergy (like I said, she's not having any other symptoms of her food bothering her) because it's reducing the amount of wheat she's getting. It's definitely not ring worm. She acts like it's no big deal, never whines or cries. The only time I see her scratching is normal behind the ear stuff, and these scabs are above that. She does lick her paws sometimes but they never look irritated, like she's licked them way too much.

I know the answer is always 'go to a vet' but I had an issue with my vet so i'd have to find a new vet first, so i'm hoping someone can chime in with a 'yeah me too' story.

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:40 pm 
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Could she just have itchy skin? Our springer had some skin issues sometimes (apparently a breed thing; his were on his hind legs I think). And, oh god, the ears. The smelly, smelly ears. <shudder> Poor guy.

Maybe try a soothing bath (not sure what would be soothing to use on dog skin) and see if it helps. It might ease the symptoms until you can get her to a vet.

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:43 pm 
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Ok, I don't know if this is coincidence but I totally have an itchy patch of skin behind my ear since reading this thread. I don't want to inspect it too much though because I hate the feel of skull.

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:59 pm 
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crazy itching can definitely be a sign of a food allergy but it doesnt always necessarily mean that. i think food allergies dont present themselves in one solitary spot. usually it's all over (i think)

one of our dogs does something similar. for reasons we have never figured out he will just lick the shiitake out of like his thigh or something until it is raw and scabby. he does this from time to time and just obsessively licks at it.
if he gets a small scrape or cut he will lick at that until it turns into a giant raw scab pile.
there's nothing wrong with him physically. he does not have allergies that we are aware of and the vet actually checked out one of these raw spots once for bugs or what not and there was no bugs. he has several screws loose in his head for sure though so im thinking he's just nuts.

i think for him it may also be partially boredom. he is insanely high energy and we cant always give him 100% of the activity he probably needs. right now he is laying on the floor licking the carpet like crazy for no reason. he's just nuts.

can you pinpoint anything specific related to when it happens like a stressful time period or a certain season?
this year the above mentioned dog seemed to have some sort of fall allergy. for like a week or two he just continually was biting at his back. it was the only place he seemed to be itchy but he would furiously bite at his back and if you itched it for him he went off into some like euphoria zone.
then it just went away so we think it was allergies. it was when all the rag weed was out i think.

it's certainly worth getting checked out but if it's happening randomly it made just be an idiosyncratic weird dog thing.
our other dog eats his paws constantly. they are just weird

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:31 pm 
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LisaPunk, my dog had very similar symptoms to yours, with going after patches on his thigh. It was so bad, he had bare patches on either side last winter where he had ripped out his fur.
I think my dog's symptoms were related to a food allergy. I never had him tested for allergies by the vet, but when we put him on a novel protein food, it cleared up.


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:45 pm 
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My cat would do something like this, a huge hole out of nowhere, usually on the same area of her side. We tried special foods with no affect. Turned out to be a crazy flea allergy. One flea and she'd lose her damn mind and rip her side off. We flea-treated but you can't catch every single flea with our dog going in and out Of the house bringing them in. So we ended up having to take her to the vet a few times a year when it happened for steroid shots. Cost a friggin fortune.

Hope Harley's issue turns out to be easy and cheap!

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs scratching = food allergies?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:53 pm 
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Months ago I totally thought something was trying to eating my dog's left eye because there was fur missing and it looked all jacked up. The vet pointed out that her paws were also pink and balding from her licking them after scratching and he thought it was a food allergy so I could only give her the dog food and no treats. We did that for a while and it was still happening. But this time he noticed all four of her paws were irritated and it might be a contact allergy, great! There are these bushes near our house where she usually does her business, so after keeping her out of there it seemed to get a lot better. Right now she is a little aggravated again but I think it's just the change of season and everything blowing around. So instead of going to the vet again, I am keeping her out of the area and have the cone on so she can't scratch/lick. I clean her face a few times a day with a wet towel to get rid of her eye boogers. Probably not helpful at all, just wanted to share the allergy agony. I hope you get it sorted out soon.

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