Our two all-American mutts own us. One is a terrier type with medium-length black hair and has definite herding instincts. The other is a hyperactive Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix.Since the beginning of the cold weather (and what has turned out to be a monsoon season), the black one has been itching like crazy, but neither dog has fleas. Recently, the Chihuahua mix has started scratching, too.In a recent column, you mentioned the effect of sunlight on a dog's skin. In view of the lack of sunlight this season, is it all right to give them vitamin D in pill form (used as a supplement)?They already get a combination of flaxseed and cod-liver oil every day and are fed a regular diet of brown rice, canned green beans and cooked ground beef (or chicken or turkey, whatever is available).Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
N.E.K., Neptune, NJ Nov 27, 2005
Assuming no one smokes in your home (that can make dogs itch), you are challenged to sleuth out what allergen is making your dogs so uncomfortable. The allergen (or a number of allergens that may be inhaled, absorbed by skin contact or ingested internally) releases histamine in your dog's skin and that makes it itch.Have your veterinarian prescribe an antihistamine medication. Thoroughly flea-comb the dogs -- just one flea can trigger hypersensitivity and intense scratching. Also, have your dogs checked for mange. If you have a new carpet or other new surface (like a sofa where the dogs lie), cover it with a thick cotton sheet and see if that helps after shampooing both dogs. Lastly, try not feeding them any beef for two to three weeks, and then test other ingredients similarly.Good detective work is nine-tenths the cure.HELP STILL NEEDED FOR KATRINA'S ANIMAL VICTIMSThousands of dogs, cats and other animals still need to be rescued from the worst natural disaster to strike the United States, and thousands of
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