My poor Scottish Terrier is itchy, itchy, itchy

Update: Please see the Allergy Prevention page, which compiles all the suggestions readers have made to help itchy Terriers get relief.


Poor, poor sweet Bridget the Scottie dog. She is so itchy. It is worst around her hind legs and lower stomach. When she stands, she brings her leg up to scratch and when she sits or lies, she is constantly biting at herself.

She had a bout of this a year ago and it ended up being cured when the vet put her on antibiotics for kennel cough. Earlier this summer, when she started scratching again, I had the vet check her out, he didn’t find anything and suggested it was some kind of seasonal allergy. He also recommended a holistic treatment, but I’m not a big fan of such things unless I can get a good explanation of why it should work. Magic potion is not good enough.

I plan to return with Bridget to the vet and ask for antibiotics. I feel very strongly about antibiotic overuse and no one in the house has had them in almost a decade, but I just can’t stand to see my dog in such obvious discomfort.

If you have any solutions or suggestions including what I should ask the vet, please post a comment.

Update: Readers did indeed post lots of helpful advice in the comments. Click through or scroll on down.

76 thoughts on “My poor Scottish Terrier is itchy, itchy, itchy

  1. I wish I could help more, but Cambria is going through the exact same thing right now. She's been with my in-laws for the past week while we were honeymooning & now she's super itchy. Plus, she has sores on her back legs from chewing on herself 🙁

    She did get itchy about this time last year & a round of antibiotics & antihistamines cleared it up. Don't feel bad about treating her with antibiotics if that's what makes her feel better.

  2. Earlier this year I had the same problem with my Scottie. For a while he bit his hind legs so much he had bare spots, but this cleared after about a month. Later, however, he kept scratching his sides a lot, to the point of making himself bleed. When I took him to the vet they gave him a shot of steroids and shaved his sides to treat them. And gave him pills to make him sleep the first couple nights while the shot took effect so he wouldn't keep scratching.

    The vet said he most likely had atopy. Ever since then he has been on a diet that the vet sells called d/d which is largely made up of only duck and potatoes. This food is supposed to cut down on his need for steroids. Although I end up giving him other foods too, it has largely cut down on his scratching.

    One last thing I do so I have to postpone giving him a steroid pill until absolutely necessary is: when I notice he's been scratching a fair amount I put a dog shirt on him so he's not scratching directly on the skin, which if he did would cause lesions that would make him scratch even more.

  3. Hind legs and rawness near the rump are a sign of fleas. I know you see no fleas, but often they will ingest them, and chew them off.

    If it is allergies,then try to introduce a new food like Venison kibble. Royal Canin makes a good one that many vets use.

    Our oldest boy has allergies, and he has to stay on a strict diet of venison kibble. He only gets venison biscuit treats too.

    Gustavo is right Duck is another great kibble for allergies.

  4. My scottie was super itchy as well, and my groomer suggested it could be either a corn allergy, or chicken, since both cause that symptom and are common with scotties. I put him on a no-corn diet, and the itchies are gone!

  5. The first Scottie we had was diagnosed as 'atopic' and put on prednisone — for a long time. I finally educated myself about pred and switched to another vet. She put him on a better diet, weaned her off pred and the itchies never returned. However, you need to get this under control while you switch to a premium dog food. Prednisone is wonderful on a short term basis, along with antihistimines like benedryl or chlortrimeton. We've been feeding ours Avoderm Lamb & Rice Kibble (not the baked version!) I hope you're using an anti-flea product from the vet. Advantage is a good one. Not the supermarket ones, please!

  6. Really important to get the original itch under control, via a vet and possibly Prednisone. Once you get it controlled, make sure you are using a fleaproduct, Advatik ? is pretty good. STAY AWAY from piles of leaves, fleas seem to like the dark and damp. I have been through this many times, with many of our Scotties, really awful for everyone.

  7. Thank you everyone. I'm ashamed to admit the diet connection had never even occurred to me and I believe I did change Bridget's food at around the time of the two itching outbreaks.

    I will get one of your recommended products later today.

    Re fleas, I don't think it's them as the cat is fine and, in the past, when our animals have had fleas, I've seen them and been bitten myself.

  8. My scottie had the itching problem as well a few months back. I thought it was dry skin and I stared to find clumps of black hair. The vet mentioned it could be seasonal allergies but was not certain. So he provided these liquid capsules for one month which did the trick. The vet also gave me special shampoo for her skin. She feels great now and no longer scratches!

  9. Talk to your Vet about Cyclosporine. My Angus had intolerable itching. Antobiotic treatment has lots of hazards. Angus has taken a 100 mg capsule of Cyclosporine a day for years with no ill effects and NO scratching. I lost prior Scotties to all sorts of steroid and anitbiotic treatments. Cyclosporine may not be the answer for your Scottie but for Angus is was wonderful. I can send you a recent article about Angus and his Cyclosporine treatments. Send an email to for the article. Put Angus in the subject.

  10. We bathe Murray weekly in oatmeal-based shampoo for his skin and rub on some topical anti-itch cream (hydrocortisone) when he's really scratching up things a lot. Oatmeal shampoo is _supposed_ to not interfere with the effects of Frontline or other monthly flea-tick topical products.

    It seems to have helped a good deal, but summer flea season is tough on him even with all that.

  11. One of my little girls is literally pulling her hair out on her butt. Vet says it is an allergy which Scotties are prone too. Could be from just ONE flea bite.

    John Simpson

  12. Thank you again to everyone who contributed their valuable advice about how to cure poor Bridgets's ongoing itchiness. I changed her food the next day and, believe it or not, it seems to have helped. We also have a vet appointment scheduled for Friday so I'll have more information after that.

  13. We have had an ongoing battle with allergies for the past two years. Our boy seemed to develop them when he hit three. After trying all the different antihistamines, our vet introduced us to Atopica. Wow… wonder drug. However, they aren't sure of the long-term effects. Oh, and it's pretty expensive. Because of that, and because we had exhausted all other measures (including food allergy testing), our vet suggested allergy testing. It turns out that Pip is allergic to most anything… dust, pollen, mold, grass, certain trees, dander. So, now we give him one shot every fourteen days. These shots introduce all of the allergens in small doses, building up his immunity to them. So, it's safe and based on what I've researched, really improves their itching.
    The initial expense was hard to take, but in the long run, it's much cheaper than anything else. ESPECIALLY the Atopica. Which, he still takes about every three days, but that is a huge improvement over a daily dose. Our dermatologist, yes… dermatology for animals… said that this is not a quick fix. It could take up to a year to see major improvements. And, once they show signs of improvement doesn't mean you can quit. It could just be that the current season is not as bad as another.

  14. My Tobik has an allergy to something. I can't detect what the allergen is =(
    But any ointments that contain hydrocortisone help to reduce itching and heal the skin.

  15. We have a Cairn currently on Atopica and – expense aside – I greatly prefer it to Prednisone. It has far fewer side effects. It is worth the cost to have Pip's happy, playful personality back – which the Pred zapped right out of him.

  16. Hi There!
    My scottie had the same problem for years. I got rid of all the carpets in my house plus put her onto food that had no additives or preservatives and finally no more itch. I think it was the food more than anything that made the difference.

  17. I am just beginning to have the same problem with my Milligan. Recently her hind legs have lost alot of hair, her skin is dry and flaky, and she bites until she has welts all over her legs. I am thinking that allergies may be the cause and am scheduling her for a vet appointment. As far as her diet is concerned, she eats and all natural lamb and rice dry food from canidae…I hope that her diet is ok. I'm getting a little worried hearing about so many vets prescribing prednisone. I'm not a fan of that drug because of all of the side effects. I'll let everyone know how this turns out.

  18. Charles is 15 months old and has been to the vet twice in the past few weeks for itching. He has lost the hair under his front legs. We've tried antihistamine, fish oil and vitamin E. Started Atopica yesterday and hope this will do it.

  19. Never underestimate the power of a really good bath. See the link just above your comment. It cured Bridget.
    Good luck with Charles. It's so awful to see itchy doggies.

  20. We had the same problem with our Porter starting at about 9 months we had always had him on high quality food but it was a mixture of protein sources. After a few Vet visits we eventually switched him onto a no wheat/rice/corn and almost strictly salmon diet with salmon oil and I don't know if it's the salmon or all the good oils but that has done the trick he hardly ever itches now even into allergy season.

    1. Dear Amanda,
      I know its something to do with her diet because I have switched her and seen when it did make a difference. I am going to try the salmon from a can. My poor Frankie is making me so sad because of her itching and hair pulling. We have no fleas, and with that eliminated it must be the food. I was concentrating on the high protein, I think it must be the wheat/rice/corn because they are present.

      Can you give me any suggests to how much she should have of the salmon daily. She weighs 23 pounds and is 2. She gets 1/2 cup in the morning and 1 cup after 5pm. She is my first scottie and I feel bad that i can’t figure this out.

      Also she is quick to use the bathroom in the house –IMMEDIATELY after eating, and now is forming a bad behavior poor potty training habits. Would you have any suggesting for repotty training her. She was do so well before we had problems with her diet and itching.

      Thank you for your time and trouble we are in Michigan

      Sandy and Frankie-Girl

  21. My scottie had a itchy problem . After putting him on a food that had no preservatives or additives plus it is allery free he hardly scratches at all.

  22. Thanks so much for thi website! My male scottie, Rocky, has had this problem ongoing for 5yrs, he will be 11 next August 1st. It started out one year with him getting the most awlful dandruff on both hind quarters and on his back near his tail, but no where else on his body. Everyday I would comb him spending a lot of time trying to comb all this out. It was there daily no matter how much I combed, down to the skin. He was just miserable. I just assumed it was dandruff as we live in Arizona and our climate even in the mountains is quite dry. I bathed him in oatmeal and any other medicated soap anyone suggested. The vet tested him for mites and all sorts of skin diseases and infections, all negative. So the vet said to keep up with the medicated baths and gave him and antibiotic and predisone and it seemed to slowly go away and my Rockefeller was back to his ole self. He went through the winter season that year and all was normal, but when May came around, and in the years since we know this to be the starting point, it all came back with a vengence. So back to the vet, and again with the antibiotics and predisone, but the vet then thinks it is an allergy to the cedar and other trees in our yard. When he was a young man the house we lived in did not have cedar and pine trees, so thus the thought of allergy. The second year of antibiotics and predisone was not as successful, about a month after he finished the prescrip, the itches came back and my poor fella was in agony again. This is when we really started investigating the allergy angle. Rocky’s companion, Sage scottie, who is 11yrs old has never had any such problem. Rocky is such a trooper and never complains and when he feels bad he is still willing to give you hugs and kisses. But this was scaring me to death, sometimes he would rub his belly on carpet and wimper. I have had all his hair groomed down to almost naked, but leave his manly beard. In the last 3-4 yrs this is our routine to keep him comfortable. Keep his hair short, bathe him with medicated shampoo, brush him everytime I get the chance several times a day, it seems to keep his skin oiler, besides that he loves to be combed and loves the blow dryer after his bath. Make sure he has ongoing flea protection and we have changed all of both scotties diet including treats, NO corn, NO wheat, NO preservatives, they only eat lamb, seafood, vinison with rice or potatoes. This hasn’t been the cure, totally, but with these changes and sticking to them has helped tremendously. Even when they go for grooming I take their own treats and instruct the groomers under no circumstances to give them anything else. Also depending on your scotties age you need to monitor their portein intake, too much can be as harmful as not enough, and when you switch to a no preservative diet just be careful how you balance their food. I welcome all ideas or suggestions as in a few months spring will return and I am not looking forward to Rocky having another bad year, he is getting too old for this. Thanks!

  23. Too much prednisone, over too long a time can lead to serious illness. Prednisone is for the symptoms but is not the solution.

    1. Please advise of what you did to help the itchy Scottie. My poor Scottie drives himself and us crazy with the itching. He’s only 9 months old and has been scratching since he was a puppy.

    2. Responding to email on itchie Scottie. What did you find that works? My Scottie Murphy is a little itchie right now, in the last couple months. never has he been that way before. I don’t think it’s fleas because I would be bitten and I’m not. I do not want to put him on Prednisone. I had to use that for my big dog and I just don’t want to do that. Please advise.


    3. Please Help I have a for year old scottie shz mix. We rescuded him two years ago. Axl is his name and my poor baby has had the diet change, hydroquartizone, lotions etc.. nothing helps. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    4. My black male scottie Wallace scratches at his undercarriage incessantly until he gets scabs and cries all the time. What can I do?

      1. Hi! Have you considered making your own food? Also maybe something in the envomironmment? What do you think of Wcusick websites about breed specific dog diets?

  24. Hello, Please tell me how you have cured this problem. Scout, our 13 week old Scott is scratching and biting on himself way too much. I have tried medicated baths, Salmon oil, tuna added to his food, and several different foods. He has Advantix for ticks and fleas on, so it’s not that. I’ll be looking forward to your cure. Thanks!

    1. Mary, as it’s allergy season and awful to see an itchy dog, I am going to do a post on this. Please stay tuned.

      1. Please post more suggestions Ann! My scotty and I are desperate in Florida….ITCHY, ITCHY, ITCHY!!!!

  25. Ann,

    My Scottie, Jack Thomas, is about 4 years old and has a chronic licking and scratching problem. We have taken him to the vet and he has been put on Atopica, various topical sprays and creams, and recently steroids. The steroids worked amazingly, no licking or scratching until he came off of the meds. The vet thought he might have a food allergy and after the meds wore off, the food has not changed the scratching and licking. my wife and I are at a loss right now. We have thought about a possible allergy he may have with our cat but not sure. I have read about benadry but are not sure. Any advice?

    1. Craig,

      Tell your wife I understand her pain with “Jack Thomas” and his chronic licking and scratching. I have spent more money on my 3 year old scottie “Mackensie” than I care to admit. The poor girl developed allergies at the age of 1. She has “pet insurance”, but of course allergies are a pre-existing condition. We have had allergy testing, she has been on special food at $68 a bag (Royal Canine Rabbit & Potato), Atopica daily, Benedryl (morning and night) and one Claritin daily. She is still licking, and itching. I am at a loss…. I have bought shampoos, medicated pads, tried booties for her feet, saw a dermatologist, etc….. No success. At this point we feel that she has seasonal allegies and she has a grass allergy? Her allergy testing was a waste of $$ as it didnt really tell us what she was allergic to? I live in Florida and the weather has been super hot and rainy. It seems that she is worse when it rains and the grass is wet? As a side note, my uncle is a vet in Chicago and he does not recommend steroid treatment. Some vets feel that is the solution; however it has longterm side affects and can shorten life span. I dont really know if I want to continue the Atopica at $100 a month either when I dont see it working…. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone else out there……. We need more solutions for itchy, miserable, scottish terriers!!!!

  26. Apparently even one or two fleas can set off the allergies in my dogs. I used to use spot-on but it finally after years quit working altogether. I tried everything and still had the problem. Even when I got rid of most of the fleas, my house had new hatches all the time, and poor puppies were miserable. One of them even became very ill. Then I tried Comfortis and it worked, and there are no more miserable dogs here. As soon as one flea hatches out and gets on a dog IT DIES IMMEDIATELY! I was hesitant to try this because of possible side effects, but I watched them closely and they tolerate it well. It lasts a month. Now I buy one tablet for a very large dog, crush it and divide it according to weight–it’s much more affordable that way. It’s wonderful to have three scotties that sleep and play w/o that horrible constant itching and allergy bumps, not to mention the serious illness that my Bairie had because of the flea bit allergy.

  27. I could write a book about Scotty skin issues!

    Our Scotty began having skin, itching and biting issues last year. Since then, we have seen three different vets and all of them stated that they are seeing a “higher incidence” of skin issues.

    After parasite tests (negative) and foods changes, we did some research which led me to ask a Vet to test for yeast infections and high bacteria count (bad bacteria), which can lead to skin conditions. Our dog tested positive for both and was prescribed antibiotics, a special dry and wet food–and steroids and benedryl (which are harsh on a dog’s liver).

    High bacteria counts and yeast infections can lead to immune deficiencies and skin disorders and it must be dealt with. However, once the meds were finished, the skin issues returned a few weeks later. Bacteria/yeast/candida problems are persistent and can take up to eight months to remedy.

    I felt uncomfortable with our vet’s continuing treatment of poisoning our dog with more antibiotics and steroids. In addition, the “special” dog food had no real nutritional value and one cancer causing agent in it.

    Thus, I finally decided to work with a holistic vet.

    The theory among holistic vets (research the internet too), is that dogs are being given too many and unnecessary shots/immunizations—which are triggering immune deficiencies and skin problems.

    Both my dog and a friend’s dog were fine up until a year and half ago—when coincidentally, both received their “shots.”

    Our holistic vet first checked for food allergies, modified our dog’s diet, and then began treating bacteria and candida issues. They also provided a parasite treatment to be sure it wasn’t an issue.

    Our Scotty is now showing great improvements.

    The first step is food. You need an allergy test to know which specific foods your dog can NOT eat. You also need to know what foods are common allergens—including: Beef, Raw eggs, Kelp, Peas, Peanuts, Yeast; and Grains: Alfalfa, Corn, Oats, Soy. Carrots are NOT good for dogs and new evidence shows White Potato is bad too.

    Commercial dog food is loaded with allergens–and too much starch (starch = sugar = candida/yeast infections). Read the label and go online to learn what is really in commercial dog food. I found only one independent who has a decent line of food at: (holistic vet approved).

    Yes, it’s a pain, but in order to boost our dog’s immune system, we cook fresh chicken and feed him spinach and/or squash with it. Dog’s are carnivores and must have a fresh protein source.

    For the most part, dog’s don’t eat veggies in the wild, but small portions aid in digestion, add fiber and provide other nutrition. Dogs can eat Asparagus, Broccoli, Chard, Green beans, Squash, Spinach, Apples, Beet pulp, Cranberries, Papaya. However, you must pulverize veggies as dog’s can’t digest them like humans.

    Most dogs have no problem with: Skinless Chicken, Boneless Fish, Lean ground turkey, Mutton, Rabbit, Lamb, Venison, Sardines (in water), Pink salmon, Tuna and Herring.

    The second step of our dog’s treatment is with natural medications (holistic vet will prescribe), which can cost as much as $200 a month, and includes Probiotics, digestive enzymes, fish oils and some natural antibiotics.

    I have read many posts on the internet about dogs suffering from skin issues (and their owners) and felt I had to share my experience. Ask your vet for an allergy test and a bacteria, yeast/candida test to start and good luck.

  28. I have been through all this, and I still am struggling, my scottie girl and I both cry about it… we have done the food trials, blood testing/skin scrapes… she has been through Ivemectin treatments when I first got her at 6 weeks for problems with her ears, and since then its constant treatments for her ears, she will itch them raw (half dollar size bloody spots) or lick her paws incessantly to where she limps. We tried the specially mixed serum injections for her allergies which didin’t work (some of her allergy counts, espc. flea, were so high that the testing company told my vet that they actually tested their machines because they had never seen quant. counts that high), and now Atopica (for about 8 months, at the 50 mg. dose daily) which still doesnt work very well (and she has a minor allergic reaction to that, it’s like watching a scottie dog on crack about an hour after she takes it.) Of course, we have been through Prednisone, steroids, ear drops, Benadryl, everything… I just don’t know what to do, all the vets are stumped so now we are resorting to setting up appointments at University vet hospitals…. any suggestions/help?!

  29. I have a Scottish Terrier “Sky” and “Molly” a Cairn Terrier.

    Molly did fine, then all of a sudden (June) the itches started in. I changed from Science diet to Taste of The Wild and she did a bit better. We started using T-gel shampoo after the other 8 dog shampoos failed to give her relief..The itching stopped..

    (Sept.) The itching started again, she rubs on any surface low enough to get under, her favorite place rubbing the underside of the dresser and coffee table. The worst spot is where her tail meets her body and just before it..

    My mom came to visit and brought her little dog, and by the time she went home, her dog was itching too. It’s not fleas as both dogs were given the pill that kills them in 3 hours. I knew it, but hey, I had to try. We now do cortisone cream and that calms it a bit for a few days. But she can’t do without it.

    Into the picture comes Sky (March) and before long she too is itching in the same place, where her tail meets her body, and, the back of the legs and all her feet. Cortisone helps her too, but she itches so much I think she eats more than stays on. It gets worse every day, the Vet is done with the pills and creams and at a loss.

    Sky is wheaten color almost white. Sky came strolling in the door the other day with purple all around her mouth, as well as in it. It scared the heck out of me. I called for Molly and sure enough-purple. Out in the yard I went to see what our fenced-in yard held. Nothing. 3 of us looked-nothing. And me in bare feet. I stepped on it, a tiny vine. Turns out it’s blackberry vine trails. I joined the dogs in the itching and scratching. Beside the house growing from the neighbors side is where the dogs were eating blackberries. The whole yard is full of the tiniest trails..

    I have to wonder could that be our problem, and a few of yours? Those vines were tiny itty bitty, a few inches long.. and the thorns very fine..They are growing all over the yard. We found a few other pricklies in the yard as well. The next project is to pull up the yard. In the mean time, I weed whacked to the ground, salt watered the vines to kill them, and the grass (oops) and raked them up a few days later. (The neighbors ok’ed it) And did the ones we could find on our side.

    Molly is now scratching less, more on her rib cage now. Skys back legs are starting to heal..We are headed to the vets for anothe flea pill, cause, well, I gotta see why the itching changed spots on Molly, now that I see Sky scratching the same area. But, both dogs are doing remarkably better though..the hair is growing back and Skys skin isn’t so dark anymore where she was itching and biting.

    I’m thinking with the way these two play and run, it’s those tiny thorns from the vines and other plants ..

    It’s an idea that I didn’t see posted here, and it would be interesting if you would all walk the yard and see if you have them too..The other plant was short,spread wide and leafy- and covered in pricklies. I’m sorry I can’t do better than that, I’m new to the state and am not familiar with the plants here..

    I called mom and sure enough she’s got black berries growing up in her yard too..

    It couldn’t be that easy..could it?

  30. Well in my case, its not blackberry vines but her biggest issue is environmental allergies (when they did the blood serum draw to determine her allergies/get allergy injection serum made by Allercept, her flea irritant count was one of the highest the company had seen, and basically anything outside she is allergic too.)

    We actually just finished our first sesssion at a college vet hospital…. for anyone that uses Atopica, I learned alot. Dolly is going to have to come back several more times to get more information, but she has had several yeast infections a year in her ears…. when they did several skin scrapes yesterday they found yeast infections all over her body, which of course itch her. my vet had always treated the yeast infectrions as a secondary issue related to the allergies, but the vet staff that worked with dolly yesterday said that many dogs with allergies struggle with keeping the correct, healthy balance of yeast in their body, so the yeast infections are a related, but seperate issue. Since Atopica is an immunosuppressant, it can actually make a dog that already has a low tolerance and low ability to balance the yeast in their body struggle even more with keeping an appropriate yeast balance. And of course Dolly has narrow ear canals which makes her ears harder to drain and a better environment for the yeast. The licking of the paws was actually because she has a yeast infection on her paws and in between the nails on her paws!!!! So this month is a medicated shampoo, medicated wipes, antibiotic ear drops, medicated ear cleaner to get the yeast levels back to normal and clear the infections, plus her normal daily dose of Atopica and benadryl as needed. Once the yeast infections clear, I come back in a month and the same 2 vets+grad.student in vet medicine see her again to re-evaluate the allergies and create a yeast treatment plan.
    Not perfect, but finally feel like I am making progress with getting Dolly to feel good…it was expensive (over $200 just for her to be seen by the derm. specialists and the skin tests) but for those terrier owners out there who have been through the allergy shots, tests, and Atopica drill know, nothing about getting these poor, itchy puppies back to normal is cheap and its so worth it! I am glad I finally switched from a normal, general practitioner vet (who I will keep for all my dogs for normal doggie issues) to a derm,/specialty realted place to deal with these issues and get dolly feeling good.
    Hope some of this information helps! Anyone been through this route before, any guidance? I will keep all updated with how this treatment works out!

  31. Some 30 years ago we had a male and female Scotties who were not related. The male developed what the vet called ” summer eczema. The only treatment given was injections of steroids or antihistamines. We now have Mac who you may have seen getting his teeth brushed in a video we sent to the Scottie News. When Mac started to itch and scratch it was reminiscent of the misery the other Scottie endured years before. We took him straight away to the vet who suggested allergy testing. It wasn’t cheap, but we believe that it was well worth the cost. He now gets two hydroxzine capsules daily with his meals and receives antigen injections monthly. The vet showed me how to do the injections, but I felt that I was hurting him. Since he is so good about other handlings ( haircuts, nails, teeth ) I didn’t want to take the chance that getting the injections from me would undo any of that great behavior. The vet(s) offered to do the injections gratis. We spent $500 for the testing and from time to time we have to buy the antigen, and we went to a food combination ( kibble and cooked meat ) to work around the food allergies. All has been well. However, there is some basis for comparison. Mac’s brother lives next door. He has not been allergy tested and has been experiencing significant skin problems. When I mentioned this to the vet the response was that since they are not twins, it does not necessarily follow that they would have the same allergies. But, there is a pretty good chance that the allergens that affect one would affect the other.
    An additional step that I take is to keep his feet super clean. I wipe them with a clean wet cloth after EVERY trip out to the yard and when we return from our two-a-day walks I put him in the laundry tub and wash his ” undercarriage. ” I also wipe him all over with a wet, then a dry cloth. I use fresh cloths EVERY time! My thinking is that if he scratches with dirty feet, much like a human scratching with dirty fingernails, he will certainly get into trouble. It’s some extra work, but well worth it to keep my little boy from getting the ” itches. ”
    Good Luck—-Russ ( )

  32. Bairie gets those horrible itchies if only one flea bites him. In the extremely hot weather we are having this summer it seems like frequent bathing and brushing helps. I guess with all that hair it’s just too much. Also I keep them in puppy cuts (not shaved on top, just short all over) and that seems to help some. I know they tell you that the double coat keeps them warm or cool as needed, but with temps in the 100’s that just seems like too much coat to me!

  33. I am writing a follow up to my posting one year ago under “James November 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm”

    After a year and a half of torturous “itchy Scotty” syndrome, I can confidently say that our Scotty Edison appears to be “cured”. His skin condition cleared up, he does not bite or scratch himself raw anymore, and he has been healthy since March 2012.

    We tried everything and spent lots of money to figure this problem out and I hope to save all of you money by detailing our experience.

    It is my opinion, that what many itchy Scotties are experiencing, is yeast and bacterial growth in their intestines–not allergies.

    After seeing three vets, one holistic, we finally spent the money and went to a doggy dermatologist…there are only two in our area of Fairfield County, CT. She was highly competent and upon testing his skin scrapings–which were positive for a type of bacterial growth that resides in the intestine–she prescribed a routine of meds and diet.

    If you have tried everything like we did and your Scotty’s skin condition is persistent, he probably doesn’t have an allergy. Yeast and bacterial infections are persistent and it can take up to six months to correct it. It took us five months and three rounds of meds and diet–but Edison is happy and healthy now.

    Most vets don’t test for bacterial overgrowth, you must ask, but even so, you may still have to see a dermatologist in order to get the proper treatment (as we had to do).

    Scotties will eat or chew on anything that falls on the floor, as well as what they find in your yard (in Edison’s case wild rabbit poop, dead animals, etc.). Thus, their intestinal tracts end up with all kinds of nasty stuff inside.

    There were some concerns by vets we spoke with, that something is currently affecting many dog’s immune systems, which in turn affects their ability to eliminate the nasties on their own (several we spoke with said certain vaccinations and getting them too often.)

    In addition to meds, the dermatologist worked with us to find a food solution (kibble and home cooked) and a bathing ritual. Here is Edison’s routine:

    A bath with Ketochlor shampoo. We started with twice a week for about six weeks and worked it down to once a month.

    Two small meals a day:
    One ½ cup of Doctor’s Finest kibble; with
    ½ cup of cooked chicken or pork (carnivores need real meat); and,
    One teaspoon of cooked spinach (with one meal only).
    We alternate with a teaspoon of canned organic pumpkin or cooked green beans (with one meal only). You must pulverize the veggies…dogs can’t digest them efficiently unless you do.

    Every so often he gets a tablespoon of organic, plain unsweetened yogurt (full of live Probiotics– the Doctor’s Finest kibble has some Probiotics too)…and Halo Dreamcoat Oil for healthy skin once a week.

    Occasionally, Edison gets bad diarrehea. We then substitute kibble with cooked brown rice, along with pumpkin and his meat.

    That’s it…! A little work involved in preparation, but we hope to save a lot of money on vet bills–and best of all…our 13 year-old Scotty is behaving like a puppy…increased energy and a lot more kisses/licks for us.

    Regards, James

  34. I think my situation may be a bit different but maybe it will help some others looking for answers. My Scotty, Siobhan, is a rescue puppy and has a moderate case of Scottish Cramp. She itched all the time, chewed herself bloody and bald on her back and sides and eventually developed oozing sores from all the chewing. Her high anxiety also led to her being very destructive (self and otherwise) when I was out of the house or our routine changed in even the smallest ways. I know people looked at me and my poor little ragamuffin and wondered what the hell I was doing to my furbaby but I truly was at the end of my rope on what to do about it. I finally found a vet that not only knew what it was but had a very successful way of treating it with Prozac and small lifestyle changes that went a long way to helping her with her anxiety and her compulsive chewing. Siobhan is now on a very strict schedule. When we get up, when we go out, when she eats, when she gets her doggy dose of happy pills and when we go to bed. I have two jobs, am single with no kids and play roller derby. This was a big lifestyle change for me too! I sucked it up, and though I am capable of living on my own, moved in with a single friend who also has a rescue dog so Siobhan would have a buddy to play with. If I am held up, my roommate helps keep her on her schedule. No more chewing and sores and bald patches! No more pulling down door frames and eating them while I am at work, no more getting on top of the stove (she climbs better than most two year olds I know) and no more dragging trash through the house. My vet says high anxiety is a common problem for Scotty’s, especially those with Scottish Cramp. In my case we are treating the cause, not the symptoms and it has worked remarkably well.

    1. Thanks for adding this information. It’s valuable information and could help put some readers on the right track.

    2. This comment was sent to me via email:


      You are doing the right thing. Certainly, the veterinary profession has benefited and expanded at least in part due to pet owners becoming more aware of treatment options for afflictions previously thought of as being simply inherent and unavoidable. The same can be said about human medical treatment. Ailments once thought unavoidable and without remedy are now often cured or at least managed successfully. I’m glad that my dentist hasn’t taken that archaic attitude. Otherwise, without some root canals and crowns I might be snacking on Gerbers while responding to this.

      Russ, owned by Mac

  35. I cannot believe all the drugs, excessive shampooing and foods that are being used in the pursuit of the healthy scottie – it’s frightening. Think of how these tough little dogs lived hundreds of years ago – NO VETS therefore NO DRUGS, certainly NO SHAMPOOS and NO SPECIAL MANUFACTURED FOODS. I personally believe that dogs today develop allergies because of modern life and all that goes with it. Further problems can develop when dogs are expected to fit in with people’s busy lives and are left at home for long periods. These are intelligent animals and need plenty of stimulation throughout the day – both EXERCISE AND PLAY. They may get pampered to the enth degree but a dog is a DOG and has very simple needs.

    1. I agree with you that drug-free is better when possible, And also, yes indeed, lots of exercise is needed. But here our paths diverge.

      I think bad breeding — inbreeding to be clear — has played a huge role in many breeds’ health problems including skin problems.

      And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops for Scottie-type dogs back in the 19th century highlands of Scotland. I’d be willing to bet quite a few of them had skin problems.

      1. I can agree that medication should only be used when necessary, and that high quality food and quality time and interaction are imperative in having a happy and healthy dog. And yes, “modern life” has surely given dogs, as well as humans, increased medical issues in some areas. However, I will give my dog medication/medicated shampoos when necessary, and when all other options have been explored, to ensure that she is happy and healthy. Surely you take medication when you are sick and your body is not successfully recuperating? I wont refuse medical treatment that can improve the quality of life for myself or my dog just because they didn’t have it 100 years ago in the highlands.Yes she is a dog, and in a burning building with my dogs and a person I would have to make the heartbreaking decision to leave my dogs-but barring a situation such as that, I will give them the highest quality care in every possible way that I can…because she is my dog.

  36. Thank you Ann. While I understand that it seems strange I would give my dog medications to keep her anxiety down, Scottish Cramp is a legitimate physiological disorder brought on by poor breeding. I knew my baby was a puppy mill puppy when I rescued her and at the time I only had one job so I did not have any problems dealing with her chronic ear infections, high anxiety and odd walking and “wheelbarrowing” behaviors when she got too excited. When my job was downsized and I was forced to take two lower paying jobs to keep renting a house that would allow pets and cover her medications, I did so. I loved her and she was worth it. When I moved into a friends house in order to cut out a job and give my Scotty a better situation, I did so (even though I have not had a roommate since college and it has been quite an adjustment for both of us). Yes she is just a DOG but Siobhan is worth the extra time and money required even if she is special needs.

  37. For scotties itching try horse oil. ~ my scottie was scratching & got a bald patch, but an old friend who was a retired vet put it on her & in a few weeks the patch had gone & she had a great coat

  38. Our house has a long history of allergies for our terriers, and especially scotties. As many have stated, we tried different food–it made no difference, though certainly I know if that’s the issue, “duck kibble” is a magic cure. We spent a fortune for a dermatologist to test and then craft the serum. (Personally, I thought that was the worst because of hurting Fergus with the shots). It made no difference for him at all. Atopica (100mg) was an absolute miracle when we discovered it with our vet–yes, expensive, but the first time ever he’d been out of scratchy misery. I was so happy to see his fur grow in thick! Interestingly, we moved to Australia with our lads, and then our current vet dramatically decreased his Atopica dosage, which upset me because initially, he had terrible tummy aches and malaise with the dose decreased. But that went away in a few weeks so I’m glad we listened; he’s currently taking it only twice a week–and only one dose a week in winter. I keep prednisone on hand for flare ups. And, the Aussie vet tuned into the problems with yeast–as others above have written. For Leroy, that’s been key, and he’s stayed off Atopica altogether. I use Malaseb shampoo once a week, or more often as it isn’t too drying. For itchy paws, I either use Malaseb wipes, or just do a foot bath for them–they actually love “bath time” which makes it easy. I think Advantix has protected them much better than Frontline, and here, tick paralysis can kill them outright, so we’ve been very careful to keep it current and tick check daily. The only sad thing is that I finally did have their groomer take off their full skirts–too risky for ticks, but it’s practical for the climate and they are very happy in “leotard” outfits in summer. I think it’s a tough trial and error, but I do swear by Atopica and Malaseb because they’ve improved my boys’ quality of life so much! Hope others have the same good fortune, no matter what method works!

    1. Through some trial-and-observation, we seem to find that keeping their paws meticulously clean pays dividends. Like with people, scratching oneself with dirty fingernails can lead to a Pandora’s box of problems. We clean paws after EVERY trip outside. The neighbor, who has Mac’s brother, had not been doing that, but recently started. I simply use a wet washcloth while he uses a type of baby-wipe. He reports significantly less scratching and outbreaks.

  39. My scottie, Brewster, was covered with these tiny scabs,vet called them crusties.
    Treated him with steroids and now he is on fish oil. The vet said this is a allergy. We have bathed him with betadine and oatmeal, and he is just about clearted up.
    Has anyone out there come across the same symptoms with these bumps?
    Thank you any input.

  40. Try this: dilute 10% providone providone iodine iodine to the color of tea, apply to Scottie daily. Oh, don’t forget to bathe dog and clip the infected area to keep it dry. Find complete instructions on YouTube, search for ‘infected skin and iodine’

  41. My friends dog was going through the same thing and she put her Jake on Rachel Ray dry dog food with zero percent grain in it and he is doing wonderfully. We also only use oatmeal shampoo for bathing our 2 Cairin Terriers.

  42. My wee Scottie is just 13 wks old and has been scratching since i got him – hind legs and his ears look a wee bit baldy… but the vet said his skin is itcht and stretching as he is growing! I had been worried about fleas but the vet said no… On a good diet and otherwise healthy – he hasn’t broken the skin… is it just a dog thing or something i should be worried about?

  43. I have a westie Geordie who has had itches changing his diet to white meat only with fish oil even his treats seems to help also meidicated shampoo and ocassionally predisorone we live in the bush so allergic reaction to plants could be a cause we try to keep him flea free with advantage and put garlic in his food he is nerly nine he seems to drink a lot of water but is not diabetic thanks for all the information I will try anything for my precious boy.

  44. My Scottie Max, has the same ichies and crusties, what is the best food to feed hom, can anyone advice me please, Thank you.

  45. My scottie has been biting herself on her hind quarters. She has no fleas. Has been on Frontline for 8 yrs. I’ve had her on a prescription called hydroxyzine. It hasn’t helped. Vet said try OTC Benedryl 25 mg. Nothing works. Her diet has been Natures Valley chicken and brown Rice her whole life. I’m stumped. Help.

    1. That is where my two were biting. I took them to the Vet and he said the fleas are getting use to the meds out there and they are becoming less effective. I ended up giving mine the pill form and after about 3 days the biting lessened, after a month the biting was gone. I now only dose them about every other month, they just don’t seem to need it.. Maybe try it? Be careful!! make sure the frontline is out of their system-well over the 30 days before giving the pill. And don’t give anything else within a week ( I wait 2 weeks) like the heart worm meds!

  46. Hi
    Sadly we have just lost our Scottie Jock he was 12 Years and 9 Months,he had same complaint for over 4 years,we tried all different shampoo`s Malaseb etc,he had to have anti biotics many times without much luck,we went on holiday and it really flared up,i got desperate as nothing we tried was working,we gave him a shower we put 2 cap fulls of vinegar into 1 litre of water and soaked him in this and only left it on for a minute or two,he never got any itching dry skin or crusts again.
    Since he passed away we have been looking for reasons for this complaint and main reason is Annual booster injections.

  47. Dear Shela, I don’t know what kind of food to recommend, but your veterinary will. What I do know about is a wonderful crème that solves itch, rash, hot spots and licking dogs. It is called Kets and I purchase it at a health food store. It is wonderful for dogs and humans too.

  48. I will say, at least here in the midwest, this weather has been AWFUL for allergies. I have a westie and a scottie, and my scottie babe has struggled with the itchies since I got her (though apparently unlike most scotties, nothing in any blood test/food trial/etc. has been food based allergy, purely extremely environmental allergies, which is great for a dog that loves being outside, rolling and everything, and as gross as it is, loves to eat poop) but my westie has never had allergies-until this year.

    You think you have seen it all until you walk out of a vets office with a westie that has a bald butt and is shaved two inches up on her tail, try explaining that to the neighbors! Hydrocortisone spray, applied liberally and frequently, I think has helped with her more than any meds/injections. Its so specific to each dog. For those that have talked about garlic, watch out, as that can be toxic to dogs.

    Malaseb shampoos, and the related wipes/sprays you can get have been an absolute LIFESAVER for my scottie. And you cant underestimate letting the malseb sit- my technique (because we all know how much these guys LOOOVE water, right?) is to use a bland shampoo quickly to get the crud off, really scrub the malseb in, plop her out on the bathroom floor onto towels where she pouts about bathtime for 10 minutes, then terrorize her by putting her back in the tub again to rinse the malseb off and use a good, thick oatmeal/non frangranced conditioner to scrub in and sit for a few minutes before I do the final rinse.

    I then try to keep all my appendages intact, and all the teeth in her mouth, as she attacks the blowdryer on low-cool setting to dry her (I have the groomer style kennel mounted dryer-I used it once, and never again, as she was so incensed at me that I had to disassemble the kennel to get her out afterwards). When I follow that, she really needs no maintenance at all for a good 2 weeks, its amazing, no itching or licking, which is good because it takes me two weeks to recover.

    For us, I have also chosen to be very judicious about how bad it gets for her baseline “good” as to when I will give her benadryl, etc., as from 6weeks on she has spent most of her life on some sort of steroid, immunosuppresant, and the benadryl-sometimes all at the same time- so I use her baseline “good” to medicate her due to my concerns about her kidneys.

    Bless their scottie hearts.. they are high maintenance, and mine can be a real butthead sometime, but I love her for weirdness. Hearing the aroo makes it worth it!
    Basically, there is no one cure all- find a good vet that you trust, read everything you can, try what you feel comfortable with, and watch your scottie and what they indicate. Atopica can be a lifesaver, I know, but I will never forgive myself for keeping her on it for so long based on the vet I had been seeing, and my scottie ended up being one of the “one in a million” that had ongoing reactions to an immunosuppresant- I knew it wasnt working, and I knew my scottie didn’t itch, but acted nuts/scared/cracked out/etc when it hit her, but I was foolish enough to not educate myself and just trusted the vet I had been seeing.

  49. Trust me on this one,our Scottie had itch and licking scaly skin,we tried every shampoo from all over the World with little success this condition used to drive our Scottie mad,could not relax for the itching and licking.
    We found a cure for this problem,it is so simple just put one capfull of vinegar into one litre of water,soak your dog and put vinegar mix on,you only have to leave on for a minute or two we put this on our Scottie and it totally cleared his skin he never scratched or licked again,what a relief it was to see our Scottie free from this complaint.
    Although Vets will deny that it is the annual booster jab that creates this problem,we have read up on this,and the booster jabs are not required every year,they are just a source of income for Vets and do more harm than good for your Pet.
    Scottie`s are prone to skin complaints,but usually not until they reach 7-8 years of age,this is when they have been over dosed with booster jabs.

  50. We have had luck with Seamus using 1cup of white vinegar one half cup of peroxide on 2quarts of water. You wipe this with several clean washclothes chaging them frequently then dunking all 4 feet into this solution and letting him air dry. This is repeated when he starts to scratch again.

  51. Charlie Ewen refers to an annual booster. Does anyone know exactly what kind of booster this is? Our guy ( Mac ) gets an antigen injection monthly and so-far-so-good.
    His brother lives next door and has significant skin issues. He does not receive the antigen shots. Thanks in advance. RgN

  52. We have a 9 year old westie who had horrible allergies (brown peeling skin and scratching and biting herself with no fleas), the first 3 years of her life. We put her on organic salmon oil with ZiwiPeak semi dry fish & venison diet, no grains or starches at all. We have since added Orijen 6 Fish kibble dogfood with human food grade chicken breast jerky from Kona, and Colorado Naturals Fish & Bison Jerky. She occasionally gets small bits of homemade sprouted bread I make at home with raw apples and carrots, and shrimp & fish I grill natural at home before seasoning it. Most of her allergies can now be controlled by the occasional small dose human benedryal. She has weekly baths with Kenric Emu oil shampoo and conditioner from Amazon and a cut every 6-8 wks. during the summer. We live in the country, an hour north of New Orleans, LA USA, so pretty long hot summers and she’s doing terrific the vet said at Benefield hospital on her last checkup. Not over or under weight either. Maybe this diet/grooming supplies would help some of your dogs allergy problems.

  53. Hi Everyone! We also use a old fashioned flea & tick collar and a electromagnetic tags for fleas and ticks called shoo-fly. It works better than frontline. You just take it off when you bath your dog, and it’s a lot less toxic. Here in southern Mississippi we have a lot of fleas and ticks, and when we travel to Florida, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan or Oregon ECT… visiting family she still doesn’t get fleas and ticks. They last about 3-4 months and we keep it on her year around. They must be flea free when you put it on them as it takes a few weeks for it to start working.

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