Got an Itch? Don't just Scratch

Got an Itch? Don't just Scratch

Do you wake up at night and hear your dog chewing on his feet. You know that snorfly sound that drives you bananas? What can you do to stop this waking nightmare?

It's funny you should ask (maybe not funny). Historically, many pets have gotten an "Allergy shot" from their veterinarian when the itching and scratching got to be unbearable. This is usually a dose of long-acting steroids. And often it worked, at least one time for a while. These also have some pretty ugly side-effects that create problems in the long run. 

There are much, much better ways to deal with itchy skin. We practice a completely integrative approach here. 


This integrative approach has 3 gears to it. 

  1. Veterinary Medicine
  2. Acupuncture and Herbal Medications
  3. Food Therapy

These all work together to get your pet healthy!

We have a really interesting case right now. Meet Dakota, she came to us last fall, her owners had been working to get a handle on her skin problems. It wasn't working very well. (This photo doesn't really do her any favors! She is a perky, sweet girl in real life!)


When Dakota came, her owners had been doing many things for her. They just weren't getting her over the initial cause. She was literally a RED, HOT MESS. Her ears were very red and painful from the infection that was raging in them. This infection had been going on for months. Medicine would work for 1 or 2 treatments, then back to square 1 or worse. She was red and hot from her chinny chin chin down her chest, her tummy and between her rear legs. She was chewing her feet all the time. She was so miserable she wasn't able to stand or sit still. She was constantly moving. And her skin was super smelly, even though her people had just given her a bath. Poor Dakota!

Her regular veterinarian had done allergy testing. Dakota is allergic to most types of protein except eggs and she can have chicken sometimes. She is also very allergic to many environmental things like tree & grass pollen and dust mites. Her regular veterinarian had also done some skin testing to see what kinds of bacteria were involved and what medicine would treat it. And her thyroid had been tested and was normal. She was also taking a prescription medication called Apoquel. This works to stop the itch and usually works really well. Not for poor Dakota though, she was so itchy!. All the things her regular veterinarian did are good things. There was still a missing piece of the puzzle.  

On Dakota's first appointment, we found a raging ear infection and she didn't want her ears even touched. She had bacteria and yeast in her ears and all over her body.

Using the #2 gear, the Acupuncture, and herbal medications, her pattern was damp heat. In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), whenever there is moist skin or ears, that is a damp pattern. All allergies are a wind invasion pattern. I placed needles in points that would draw the heat and the damp down and out of the body. I sent her home with a prescription for damp heat. 

She came back a week later, she was looking better and not so itchy! It's always so much fun to see these guys when things start to work! We continued to use acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Now, the owner was ready to add in some of the parts of #3 gear. The owner was very familiar with bone broth for people. I recommended that she make some for Dakota. Most dogs with allergies also have pretty severe leaky gut syndrome. This increases the inflammatory process and makes the allergies worse. She said she would try to get some made for her. 

By Dakota's fourth visit to us, she looked like a completely different dog! She was more friendly and comfortable around people. She wasn't running around the exam area as much as before. She was actually greeting us when she came in! Her hair coat was thick and soft. We hadn't had to treat her ears for about 1 week and this had been a constant battle for her people for a long time. Her owner made the decision to feed Dakota only meals she had cooked. This really helped to "drain the damp" from her body and allow her ears to heal up. 

Fast forward a few months: Dakota is doing better than she ever has in the summer. We see her every 4-5 weeks for acupuncture. She is on a Chinese herb for allergies. We haven't had to put any medicine in her ears for 2-3 months. She is very happy! Her people report that she is bouncing around and acting like a lab should act.

Our goal for these severe allergy patients is always to get them to their best quality of life. These skin patients often take 5-6 months to stabilize. It's the steady progress that gets us to this point we're at with Dakota. It's also a team effort for all of us.

Is your pet keeping you up at night? Are her ears so smelly that you can't stand to cuddle with her? Do you have a pet with known or unknown allergies and regular therapies aren't helping much? Call us today. Let's change up your therapy options with Integrative Veterinary Care. 


Office Hours

Saturdays and Sundays Emergencies only: Call the clinic # 605-246-2854


8:30 AM-5:00 PM


8:30 AM-5:00 PM


8:30 AM-5:00 PM


8:30 AM-5:00 PM


8:30 AM-5:00 PM