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A Veterinary Dermatologist Can Help Your Itchy Pets

Cat and Dog with Allergies Scratching Themselves

This week, we’re responding to a few questions about skin conditions and allergies, which we’ve combined under one post. Our guest expert this week is Dr. Duclos, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.

1. I actually have several questions about my dog. He is seven years old and has never had allergies in the past,, but this year he has been battling itchy, raw skin and ear problems. Could this be allergies? Why hasn’t he had this problem before? What should I do to make him more comfortable?

Dr. Duclos: Yes, this could be allergies. In dogs and cats allergies usually show up as skin and ear problems. Allergies develop over time, so it is very common for them to have mild signs earlier in life. Then, over time, the symptoms become more severe. When seeking treatment it is best to see a veterinary dermatologist. These are veterinarians who have 3 years of specialized training in skin diseases. General practice veterinarians get at most one or two weeks of training specifically in skin disease treatment.

2. My cat has allergies. Does she need to be on a special diet? She is on an antihistamine, but it doesn’t seem to help much and she is outside a lot. What can I do for her?

Dr. Duclos: Cats with allergies need to be seen by a veterinary dermatologist. These are skin allergy specialists who can determine what kind of allergy (food and/or environmental) and the best course of treatment to pursue. Allergy treatment is usually a life-long endeavor, as there is no complete cure, but the skin problems can be controlled with treatment. There are numerous factors to consider in determining how to best control the disease.

3. My dog’s skin has developed a weird odor and he is chewing his feet a lot? Are these connected, and what is causing the odor? (It sort of smells like old beer or bread dough, but sickly sweet).

Dr. Duclos:         Odor on the skin is caused by infection with bacteria or yeast, while chewing of the feet usually means the dog has allergies. Allergy in a dog causes multiple things to happen, one of which is itchiness and the other is infection. Bathing them frequently is one thing that is needed, along with allergy testing and treatment of their specific allergies.

4. Will bathing my dog more often reduce his itchiness or make it worse? Is there anything else I can do to keep him clean without causing an allergy to flare up?

Dr. Duclos:          Bathing frequently with shampoos that are specially designed for dogs with skin diseases will actually help to remove allergens from the skin and restore skin health. When your dog is experiencing excessive itchiness it is also a good idea to see a veterinary dermatologist to see what else may be needed.

Lori: To read more about how we treat Soldier’s allergies when they flare up, please check out our article, “Seasonal Pet Allergies Flare in the Fall and Spring.”


Dr. David Duclos, a veterinary dermatologist, treats skin allergies in pets.

Dr. David Duclos

Dr. Duclos founded the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic, near Mill Creek, Washington in 1991. In addition to his duties as a specialist in the dermatology practice, Dr. Duclos has also contributed to the advancement of the specialty of veterinary dermatology by writing many articles, book chapters, and scientific papers on various subjects in the specialty of veterinary dermatology. He also gives continuing education lectures to veterinarians and their staff in the local Northwest region, as well as in other areas of the United States, Canada, and Europe. Dr. Duclos is well-known in the veterinary dermatology specialty for his expertise in C02 laser surgery and for his interest in clinical photography. Many veterinary dermatologists use his photographs in their lectures and publications. (Taken with permission from the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.)

1 Comment

  1. Sam Li

    January 7, 2019 11:55 pm

    I appreciate what you said about skin odors and how it is usually caused by some kind of infection. Seeing an experienced dermatologist is the best way to help your animal receive the help it needs. My father has horses, so I’ll recommend he locate a veterinary dermatologist in the event that he notices any skin issues.

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