Allergy & Skin Conditions

Does your Westie scratch, lick their feet, legs or bellies constantly? Most likely they have some type of allergy. The range of allergy problems vary widely. It could be grass, weeds, tree pollens, mold, dust mites, food or a host of other things. One flea bite can set off a scratching/biting frenzy in a dog who is allergic to fleas. Other insect bites, such as bee stings, can cause serious problems if your dog has an allergy. 

Mild allergies that are seasonal can be treated with antihistamines given by your Vet. Your vet will give you instructions on frequency of use.

If your Westie has really bad allergies, which may include constant scratching, biting or licking with hair loss, a new drug is available called Apoquel.  Read more about Apoquel in the article linked below (Skin issues).   This drug has proven to be so effective that a shortage was experienced within weeks of coming on the market.  By mid-2014 it should be more widely available.

Another slower approach is to have them allergy tested to find out what exactly is causing the problem. They will then be put on allergen injections to build up their immunity gradually in hopes that the problem will be eliminated. For some dogs this is the solution and for others, it doesn’t work at all.

Food can be another source of allergies. Most Westie owners have learned to avoid foods or treats that have corn, wheat or soy in them. Any protein source can potentially cause allergy problems in any given dog.

If the Westie’s skin is black, thick and may include hair loss and a bad smell, your Westie may have a yeast type infection called Malassezia. You can read articles on these types of skin issues at WESTIE MED and WESTIE FOUNDATION. The Westie Foundation site includes an article on a drug called Atopica (Cyclosporine). CLICK HERE to see Lily. She was treated with this new drug when nothing else worked.  (That was before Apoquel became available.)

Our Club has an article available called SKIN ISSUES, THEN AND NOW of the steps we take to help these dogs; or go to the Medical section for a list of several medical sites that will help you research allergies. Another article which may help is THYROID

The dog shown on this page was treated in a fairly simple manner. He saw the vet, was given a single steroid shot to stop the immediate itching and then we took him home and began daily baths in a medicated shampoo. We gave him a good quality food and some supplements. And he wore baby pjs to bed and t-shirts during the day, to stop the skin damage. He quickly improved. His itching stopped, his skin lost that inflamed look and his hair grew back in. He found a new home and isn’t recognizable as the same dog! (This was years before new drugs were found to treat allergies.)

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