Q: Why is my puppy scratching herself to the point of developing bumps on her skin and how should this be treated?

Original Question: "Ohana is a 15-month-old German Shepherd and she has had allergies since she was a pup. We have tried vet kibble, raw food, Apoquel, bathing twice a week, skin scraping, blood tests, mite tests …and I can’t remember what else. She scratches all of the time and she has big bumps where she scratches a lot. Do you have any advice?!?" - Kelsey

Vet Certified Answer | Answered: November 29, 2017

Hi Kelsey,

Thanks for your question.

My first instinct is to question the diagnosis. It is actually uncommon for a puppy to develop allergies. We usually see allergies develop in dogs around the age of 3-5 years old. So it's not impossible, but certainly unusual for this to be allergies.

There are a few more tests that I would recommend before you can be certain it's allergies. A skin culture and sensitivity would be a good idea to see if there is a chronic, resistant bacteria present on the skin which is much more common to develop in puppies than allergies. I noticed that you didn't mention antibiotics in your list of treatments. This is certainly a consideration, but if you isolate a resistant bacteria, you may need to treat it with daily shampoos.

I would consider a repeat of the skin scraping and have them perform a tape prep at the same time. It helps look for yeast which is another infection they can have chronically and can be mistaken for allergies.

There are more treatments you can try which aren't listed in your treatment attempts. But again, I would confirm the diagnosis before proceeding.

A strong suggestion I have for you is to consider visiting a veterinary dermatologist. They will certainly get you further along than a general practitioner in most cases.

I hope this helps! 

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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