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Itchy St Bernard

Q: Itchy St Bernard PetPlanet Vets PPAdmin pettalk@petplanet.co.uk Hello, I have a 18 month old St. Bernard - Simba who seems to spend all his time itching, scratching and biting himself. I spoke to my vet who advised that I Frontline him every month. Despite this treatment he is itching more than ever. Yesterday I found a little sore where he'd been chewing his leg. He has dandruff. I recently shampooed him with a dandruff and scurf shampoo - his itching was better for a day and now he's back to itching etc. Please advise. Could it be that he has too much salt in his diet. Thanks. Trish

A:Itchy St Bernard PetPlanet Vets PPAdmin pettalk@petplanet.co.uk Dear Trish, You say you've spoken to your vet, but have you actually taken Simba to see him? There may be many reasons for the itching, but too much salt is not one of them! He needs a thorough examination, skin scrapes checked for parasites (yes even despite the Frontline, which must cost a fortune for a St Bernard!), possibly allergen tests in case of atopy (inhaled allergens such as house dust mite) or food sensitivity, maybe even a skin biopsy to sort it out. He may need a hypoallergenic diet, desensitising to an allergen or just a better parasiticide. Avoid corticosteroids, they stop the itching but they do not cure anything, only hide it for a while, so ask your vet what he's going to give him. If it turns out to be an allergy or just to help reduce the itch generally, the essential fatty acids in evening primrose oil, flax seed oil and borage oil have an anti-inflammatory action. Proanthocyanidin complex, also called bioflavinoids, extracts of grape seeds and pine bark, suppress allergic responses, dose 200mg daily (only human products available). Dimethylglycine (DMG) improves immune response and decreases inflammation, dose 250mg daily. And finally Vitamin C at 6000mg daily (increase the dose gradually as can cause diarrhoea). Will be slower acting than the steroids but much safer. A shampoo with Tea Tree oil or Aloe Vera will be soothing to the skin. Another course is to seek a vet who uses holistic medicines, but then I'm biased. Anyway diagnosis is first priority, then you can work on treatment, but please avoid the steroids or Simba could be on them for life. I realise other vets will disagree but you can make your own mind up. Yours June Third-Carter B.V.M.S., M.R.C.V.S., Vet.M.F.Hom. (PetPlanet Vet)

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