Dr Platzhund gives advise to an owner who is concerned about an on-going itch the dog has even after its had its had injections.
Q: We recently got a 4-month-old Jack Russell puppy. She’s had all her injections, but has on-going itching. Our vet has already given her two cortisone injections and prescribed Prednisolone (half a tablet every second day). We’ve also tried rubbing Rooibos and aloe-vera cream without much success, and are now attempting Miracle Comfrey Ointment, after being warned not to feed her cooked meals from the table as this may contribute to the problem. Speaking to other Jack Russell owners, they have told us that the scratching is common to the breed. Is there any advice you can offer?
A: It’s a fact that this hunting dog has become one of the itchiest in the country. The condition is better known as atopy – the most common cause of the tingle being kikuyu grass; however, other grasses contribute significantly, while certain types of ground cover (carpets, blankets, floor polish and household tile re-agents) also contribute a great deal to the problem. Don’t rule out food allergies as they aggravate the condition, so a veterinary hypoallergenic diet is highly recommended. No tidbits and scraps from the table – ever!
The only cure is to avoid the areas that cause the itch. If the dog is allergic to grass, keep her on sand, concrete, paving or untreated tiles. If the dog can’t be kept off grass, then let her wear a tightly-fitted cotton jacket to reduce contact. It’s a tragedy and irony that a breed initially designed to hunt in grass is allergic to this environment.
Cortisone is the only form of itch control, which must be arranged with your veterinarian. Antihistamines are ineffective, but may complement the effects of cortisone. The condition is incurable as long as your dog is in contact with what she’s allergic to – bearing in mind that the itch is controllable under veterinary supervision.