Q: My dog's skin frequently breaks out in small red sores that often crust over and then flake off. He is very itchy, and we do find some fleas on him, especially since he is an outside dog. We bathe him with a flea shampoo, but he still has fleas afterward and still scratches. He will lose some of his hair from all of his chewing and scratching. My vet put him on prednisolone, which helped for a while, but I want to know if there is any other medicine that I can use. Should I use a different shampoo?
A: Skin allergies, especially those caused by fleas, require that the inflamed skin be treated to reduce the irritation and that the source of the irritation be removed or controlled. Your veterinarian used prednisolone, which is a corticosteroid, to relieve the pruritus or itchiness of the skin, which in turn, helped your dog stop the chewing and scratching. This drug is often very effective and, when used properly, safe to use over periods of time without serious side effects. There are several non-steroidal compounds that can be used, such as antihistamines, but their effectiveness varies greatly. Since you also noted some pustules on your dog's skin, an appropriate antibiotic should be used to help eliminate the infection. Medicated shampoos for skin infections will also benefit your dog.