Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on July 24, 2005

Question

Would you please write an article on summer eczema, also known as itchy dry skin? For the last three years my dog has had this.The first vet I took her to said it was fleas, and my dog was treated for this, but it didn''t do any good. The next vet said the fleas were under the skin and treated my dog for that, but the itching didn''t stop.I was looking in my "Sergeant''s Dog Book" and saw an article on summer eczema. I think this may be the problem, not fleas.

G.C., Mason, MI Jul 24, 2005

Answer

"Summer eczema" is a generic term for seasonal dermatitis in dogs. It is often misdiagnosed as being caused by fleas, hence the widespread but hazardous misapplication of spot-on flea drops, dips and pills.Many dogs develop itchy skin and red eruptions -- often with secondary bacterial infections -- as a result of being allergic to various flowers, grass and tree pollen. Antihistamine medication (and steroids in severe cases) should be given. Flea medicines might make such pollen allergy problems worse by disrupting the dogs'' immune systems.Pollen-allergy eczema can also be misdiagnosed as mange (caused by skin-burrowing mites), which a routine skin-scraping may not reveal. So a careful diagnosis is called for -- not more flea-killing poisons!

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