ITCHING FOR MEDICATION MALPRACTICE
by Barbara (BJ) Andrews -TheDogPlace
The toy breed dog suffered from chronic, intense
itching. "He's scratching himself bloody" said the desperate
He said the Vet had “tried everything, meds, dips and flea
treatments” and now wanted to put the elderly dog on prednisone, a
powerful steroid. He had asked the vet about
steroid side effects, knowing it caused problems in people but the veterinarian assured him it
was “different” in dogs and not to worry about it!
dispense steroids without diagnosing the CAUSE of the ALLERGY (often the
heartworm prevention meds he prescribed), are incompetent or dishonest. Had the vet been honest, the owner might not have called
TheDogPlace. But he did and thankfully, a rational owner saved his 12 year
old dog's life.
An unsolved chronic condition clearly indicates misdiagnosis.
If the dog fails to improve - it proves
the treatments are inappropriate. Another tip-off: the vet did
no referral, i.e. he was too concerned about losing the client (money) or losing his license. Worse of all, he lied to the client regarding potential side effects of steroids.
He was already talking about euthanasia to cover his mistakes.
People sneeze when exposed to allergens but in dogs, itching is a typical reaction to inhaled, contact, or a systemic allergen.
Itching and scratching are rarely caused by fleas because a healthy
canine immune system
Compromising a dog's immune system with a barrage
of chemical flea dips, sprays, and continuing monthly heartworm
prevention medications which challenge the immune system and can and
WILL worsen the
I confirmed there were no environmental changes, new carpet, cleaning, yard pesticides or
dietary changes. Ref #1 It is summer time so the dog's itching and scratching isn't
caused by dry heat from winter heating system. The owner says his
wife complains of dry skin in the winter but that they never thought
about the forced air furnace. He makes a note to buy a humidifier
before winter. Smart guy.
Next in my checklist is the standard question “is he on heartworm preventative?”
“Yes.” Anything odd about the itching? “Well yeah, he chews and licks his feet
all the time.” Bingo!
What About Diet?
“The vet put him on this special allergy diet but it hasn’t helped.” Do you give him fresh foods, like meat, veggies, apples, grapes,
bananas? “Oh no, the vet said no table scraps and that grapes can kill him.”
In my humble opinion, this vet should be put to sleep! Dogs love seedless grapes, I’ve fed them for over forty years, but
raisins are not “just dried grapes.” I explain nitrates, sulfates, curing
process. He gets it. I tell him just type TheDogPlace/grapes and he'll
learn much more about ASAP...
standard questionnaire ends with a discussion on commercial food. Would you raise your
child on nothing but Total Cereal? “Of course not!” he replies. Then why would
you do that to your dog? Is any packaged food total nutrition? He laughed, “No,
I get your point.” I also explain that dog food is loaded with
chemicals, excitotoxins, and addictive flavor enhancers, any of all of which can
cause allergic reactions, i.e. itching, scratching, foot licking even chewing
We’ve gone far enough; this guy is intelligent, reasonable, and I’m ready to
advise him, but first, my standard caveat, “I’m not a vet but if this were my
dog, here’s what I would do…”
I explain that heartworm preventative is a systemic poison. Itching is a common
reaction, but chewing and licking the feet is particularly characteristic of
heartworm medication allergy. We discuss risks vs. advantages including; indoor
dog in upscale neighborhood, mode of heartworm transmission and little-known
facts about mosquitoes.
I advise him to stop commercial dog food for two weeks to allow the dog's system
to flush out any allergens. Feed cooked veggies, fish, poultry,
meat and small amount of carbs such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole grain noodles.
brown rice. Hard on the digestive system, highly overrated and pushed by
rice growers and dieticians who never eat it. He laughs, says he never eats
Explained advantages of raw poultry and meat, i.e. the canine digestive
system handles stuff that can sicken humans, pointing out only humans cook their
food. He chuckles. A balanced home diet is also cheaper than prepared foods. He
doesn’t care about cost but agrees.
Stop all flea dips, sprays, and chemical baths.
They are only effective for contact dermatitis
caused by fleas (which we have established is not the culprit) and
can actually exacerbate itching and scratching. Explained ph balance,
suggested quality pet shampoo followed by vinegar rinse to calm and disinfect skin
lesions. I point out that nature does not make a host "allergic" to its
natural parasites. No such thing as "flea allergy". He thoughtfully
This devoted owner is highly intelligent, a quick study. He is saddened by
the experience and inadequacy of the average veterinary practice. Me too.
He thanks me, then says "Thank God I refused to allow that vet to 'destroy the
evidence.'" He sighs, smiles verbally and exclaims "I just saved my dog's life!"
Most 12 year old toy breeds can expect good
health for a several more years so yes, this man saved his dog's life.
I’m confident this is another “case solved” especially as my final
recommendation was to find another vet!
Excerpts from the author's December 2008 AKC Gazette column