Itchy Chow Chow – Itching and Scratching Series

An adverse reaction due to food allergy can cause itchy skin. Every itchy Chow Chow needs an elimination food trial. It is important to do this properly to make a diagnosis. Skin problems due to food allergy is common in the Chow Chow and needs to be ruled out as a cause of pruritis. Adverse reactions due to a food allergy can cause severe allergic skin disease, hot spots and chronic infections.

Skin problems are common in the Chow Chow. The itchy skin can be caused by allergies due to canine atopic dermatitis and food allergy. The Chow Chow breed also gets hypothyroidism quite commonly. A blood test to check the thyroid function is recommended for dogs with chronic skin and ear problems or recurrent hot spots. Hypothyroidism causes thickening and wrinkling of the skin which predisposes to pyoderma or skin infection. Pyoderma may also be triggered by biting insects such as fleas, mosquitos and midges. The biting insects’ can cause a localised pruritis that the dog scratches causing self mutilation. The skin is traumatised and starts weeping. The exudate sticks the hair to the skin and infection spreads like wild fire under the hair. The infection causes pain and pruritis so the dog scratches and rubs even more thus potentiating the reaction and inflammation. Infection of the skin complicates this process and the dog starts mutilating itself by scratching.

It is difficult to differentiate food allergy from canine atopic dermatitis. The symptoms are very similar. Age of onset can help as food allergy often starts in very young dogs. It is rare for atopic dermatitis to start in the first year of life.

There have been recent breakthroughs in the understanding of canine atopic dermatitis. There are some natural treatments that really do work.

Rebecca R. Ammons

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