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Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on July 11, 2004

Question

We have a shih tzu who has very sensitive skin. Our veterinarian has given her prednisone (5 milligrams), but this doesn''t seem to help. Someone suggested we give her Benadryl. Please help. She''s 4 years old.

F.F., Winston-Salem, NC Jul 11, 2004

Answer

Prednisone treatment for sensitive, itchy skin can give dogs immediate relief. But this medicine only treats the symptoms and can have harmful side effects if used for more than a few days. A cheaper and safer alternative is an antihistamine like Benadryl, but this will not provide much relief with severe skin conditions.You need to do some detective work to find out what makes your dog itch -- it could be an ingredient in her diet, a particular floor cleaner or chair cover (such as wool), or grass or other pollen outdoors.A weekly oatmeal-based shampoo will be soothing for your dog, and a teaspoon of flaxseed oil plus one pediatric (infant) multivitamin and multimineral tablet daily may help improve her condition. Hers is a widespread problem, since I get many letters like yours.

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