View Full Version : Itchy Cavalier

1st September 2009, 05:38 PM
We have a 4 year old Tri and lately, ESPECIALLY at night, he is really itchy on his belly and back hind legs. Poor little guy :( We took him to the vet a couple weeks ago and he put him on a steroid for 5 days with an antihistimine. We have changed his food since then, his treats. Any ideas as to what can help?

1st September 2009, 06:49 PM
I think you need to look at a couple of things -- potentially allergies, and potentially something in the bedding like fleas, or flea allergy, but I think you also must look into the possibility of syringomyelia, and make sure your vet is both familiar with this problem and knows the high incidence in cavaliers. Needing to scratch more at night is one of the common signs amongst those of us with dogs with this unfortunate condition. You can read more and download several documents to bring to your vet here:


If your vet cannot find any other cause (and also if some other symptoms look famiilar, in particular) have your vet refer you to a neurologist, ideally one familiar with SM. There's a list on my SM site above and also on www.cavalierhealth.org.

Good luck with finding the cause of this problem.

Ps Steroids will help suppress signs of SM and make the dog appear better, but once off steroids the signs generally return fairly quickly. A difficulty in diagnosing SM is that it can have similar symptoms to many other conditions though soe signs, such as 'air scratching' are unique to SM. However, not all dogs with SM air scratch or scratch at all, though it is one of the most common symptoms.

1st September 2009, 07:35 PM
He is actually making contact with his belly, around the outside back legs too. he mostly licks it, the vet said it actually looked like he had hives? you can actually see it getting more reddish (his little belly) and its warm. i bought a natural aloe spray for dogs to help soothe him a bit and it seems to do the trick, that or a cool clothe on his belly. the vet said something about rag weed? BUT we haven't been up near that area in about a month, so i would think it would go away. he also was checked for flea allergies, and there were none. weird question though, if you have heard of this. the same weekend we were up north, it rained a lot and there were little frogs all over the place, NOW everyone thinks im crazy, BUT do you think that could of caused something with them all over the yard, peeing in the grass and weeds where he goes, what do you think? it started right after we got back from up there.

1st September 2009, 08:20 PM
If there are hives coming up then does your vet think this is allergy? He could be allergic to the material in his dog bed, to cleaning powders or fluids used in the house, to dust mites -- he might have a food allergy -- there are tons of things. Maybe frog urine (!!) but then it should have gone away after you left the area and hasn't. If your vet isn't very familiar with working on allergies or SM then I'd consider seeing a specialist who is. Vets schools generally have a specialist in this area.

I'd definitely check for other things first :thmbsup:, but you also do need to consider SM in the background-- SM dogs do make contact when they scratch -- unfortunately a couple of the breed club sites have repeated the misinformation that only dogs that scratch and do *not* make contact might be considered to be at risk of SM even though all the literature from specialists who deal with the problem indicates this isn;t true as does the experience of those with affected dogs. :( I have two with SM who almost always make body contact when scratching -- and one doesn't air scratch at all and never has. So just be aware and make sure your vet is aware that this isn't a sign that it can't be SM and if nothing else can be found it may be your next possibility to pursue. Both my SM dogs scratch at their belly and sides too. It is thought that, like humans with the condition, they feel skin crawling sensations or pain in various places and those may vary from dog to dog. Dogs are often described as feeling hot in different areas where they scratch. So it is just very hard to say and is going to take probably a long elimination process to try and figure out what is going on. It can be so frustrating dealing with things like this when they can't say what is happening.

There are just a lot of possibilities. I'd be working with a specialist or a vet who can work with you through various elimination trials perhaps?

1st September 2009, 11:20 PM
We have a 4 year old Tri and lately, ESPECIALLY at night, he is really itchy on his belly and back hind legs. Poor little guy :( We took him to the vet a couple weeks ago and he put him on a steroid for 5 days with an antihistimine. We have changed his food since then, his treats. Any ideas as to what can help?

This cream is brilliant, have seen a number of dogs with very red and inflammed skin, 1 week on this and the difference is remarkable.



PS Use the starter pack.

2nd September 2009, 07:37 AM
Aww poor guy. Hives really sound like allergies to me. My 1.5 year old tri has allergies to fleas AND grass... we suspect there is a food allergy compounding the rest, too but haven't done the food trials yet.

She scratched like mad and we were terrified about SM. We had her MRI'd and thank goodness she was clear, THEN we knew that her scratching was due to allergies. Other clues for allergies in her case: red red eyes, itchy muzzle and bright pink belly.

I am no expert on this but you may want to check for flea dander, little dark specks of dirt. Our animal derm said that fleas tend to really get dug in around the back quarters... If he's scratching at night, maybe wash his bedding - flea eggs can live on their beds... Also, Mags has gotten SO much relief from Epi-Soothe shampoo but it's not cheap - at $17 a bottle it costs more than my shampoo!

We had good luck reducing Mags' scratching with Atopica but it did take forever - we ran trials of every single antihistamine before that, and they *all* failed. Next it's the trials and no more snacks and chew bones for weeks. :eek:

good luck to you and your itchy hivey boy, I hope it clears up soon for him.

2nd September 2009, 10:22 AM
The strange thing is it is only and night and it started maybe a month ago. We have had him for 2 years now and he's never had this problem. I read the info on SM and pray that it isn't that.
We have this soothing spray stuff that when applied seems to help. His bedding is our bedding so it gets washed on a regular basis so I don't think it's that.
Well I guess it's time for a trip to the vet.

2nd September 2009, 12:15 PM
Has anyone ever had issues with any kind of worm? He was after his paw (heel) late last night and i noticed a little sore there? I think he also may have thrown up last night, the blanket he uses was stained, it's was yellowish, but did not smell of urine, so im assuming it was vomit. I read up on ring worm? I think I will call my vet today, have a sample done of his stuff and see if that is the case. We really are hoping it's not SM, he just doesn't seem to fit the 'model' of that. BUT, we will talk to our vet about this as well. We are very worried about this with our little guy. Im hoping its as simple as worms or allergies. Also anohter thought we had was his glands? He seriously only licks the area around his belly, private area? BUT more toward the tail and back hind legs. He's not sensitive.

2nd September 2009, 03:24 PM
Do you have foxes around? It's possible it could be sarcoptic mange.

2nd September 2009, 03:33 PM
The licking may not really have anything to do with the itching -- some of mine seem to be lickers and others do not. Mange def. could be a possible issue. Ringworm isn't actually a worm, despite its name -- it is a fungal infection and also is easily checked for. Has your vet done any kind of skin scrape? That would be one of the first things to do on his hindquarters. Anal glands won't really cause itching. If they are infected or impacted they could cause a dog to bite at its hindquarters.

Any of these things require further checking by your vet so I'd get him back in for some further investigations.

2nd September 2009, 03:44 PM
thats weird that you are talking about the foxes. YES we do. We take him with us up North and lately around our cottage and the lake, there have been many foxes, actually a litter was born in the Spring. Im going to go look up that mange you mentioned. We have an apt in tomorrow morning early, so we hope to get this soothed for him.

2nd September 2009, 06:59 PM
Our pup Sophie has been an itchy dog since the day we brought her home six months ago. She scratches at her ears occasionally, but mainly "below the waist": sides, legs, private areas below the waist, and base of tail. She is sometimes biting at something to the point of madness.

A couple months ago she couldn't reach the flat spot on top of her rump, right at the base of the spine before the tail, so she pulled her hair out and was almost bald. That's when I brought her to the vet and she was put on Temaril-P. I believe her itches are from allergies. There are often red bumps & tiny spots in the middle (looks like a large 'hive') - like a flea bite or something bit her - when she bites at herself. I have no clue how long it takes for a flea bite to stop irritating a dog.

I've found a few fleas on her over the summer, so the Frontline Plus isn't working on her. Two weeks ago, I switched to K9Advantix and we'll see how it goes. No fleas, but she's still biting.

A week ago I noticed she had some nasty eczema-like patches on her flank/hip area, so I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with a staph infection on her skin, and is on antibiotics. That happens with lots of dogs in our area for some reason.

I figure it's grass or flea allergy, or allergy to all the chemicals put on lawns in our neighborhood. Least likely is food, since the Temaril-P helps a lot. She's been off beef for three weeks and on Orijen "fish" flavor, so I doubt it is a beef allergy.

I really doubt it is SM because of the biting and spots and staph infection on her skin, unless I've overlooked some vital information on all Karlin's linked information.

2nd September 2009, 10:57 PM
any dog with a break in their skin could get a staph infection... some SM dogs scratch themselves raw and then any open cut can be infected. a dog biting at itself for any cause, allergies, SM / neurological problems, a yeast infection, could open the skin and a staph infection could occur.

all that aside, poor Sophie! i am no vet but i agree that her symptoms seem like signs of allergies.

frontline plus completely stopped working for us. we started mags on comfortis (a pill every three months) and i haven't seen any more flea dander. there are other options out there but you might have to talk to a specialist for them. the comfortis was a recommendation from our animal derm...

good luck to you and i hope your poor baby feels better soon.

3rd September 2009, 04:45 AM
frontline plus completely stopped working for us. we started mags on comfortis (a pill every three months) and i haven't seen any more flea dander.

Our vet carries the Comfortis and also Sentinel (along with K9Advantix). I have not seen a flea on Sophie since going to K9Advantix, so I want to give it a chance. We really need the tick control aspect of K9A that Comfortis & Sentinel don't have.
Our last and worst option would be oral Sentinel or Comfortis and topical K9A at the same time, but I really hate the thought of putting all those chemicals on my sweet little dog. :cry*ing:
I'll have to have visual proof that the K9A isn't working before I do that. Ugh.....

3rd September 2009, 11:55 AM
Everyone has been so imformative. We appreciate all the input and we will let you know what the outcome is. I have also learned alot about these little guys too. Roscoe is our first and we just love him! We will definetly get another one some day. Wish us luck today!!!

3rd September 2009, 12:13 PM
Good luck with the vet visit and hope one of those options proves to be the problem so that you can help her. It sounds like an allergy to something or a skin problem. Mange often has them biting at hindquarters like that so that might be it.

7th September 2009, 09:46 PM
Well, we went to the vet last Thursday then headed up North. It does appear to be allergies, so we were relieived. Roscoe is on an antiinflamatory med and and antihistimine and they are working wonderful, he's sleeping good and everything. So hopefully we have kicked the 'itch'.

16th September 2009, 04:09 PM
A friend of mine who's a science researcher, found that many dogs are sensitive to flax. If you look through the ingredients lists of almost all dog food -- wet and dry, you'll find flaxseed, usually toward the end.

I've had this with my young Cavalier. She was itchy all over and driving me (and herself) crazy with scratching. I looked at the ingredients of the wet food I was using as a flavour additive to her kibble and sure enough, there was flaxseed in it.
I switched to cooked squash for flavouring and the itching stopped instantly and mostly.
I suspect there's flaxseed in the dry food, too, which is what's causing the remaining mild itch. But most foods don't list their full ingredient list on their websites. I'll have to check the ingredients on the bag when I go to the food shop. (I decant the food into airtight containers and discard the bags.)

Now I have to find a food without flaxseed.