I am at a complete loss and I would love some input.
Background: My parents have a 7 yr old wheaten terrier who has suffered from food allergies and suspected environmental allergies. Through grain-free food and keeping his paws clipped we have controlled his itching over the years.
Earlier this week my mom called and said he was itching at his ears and crying but his ears were clear. Went into vet and the vet swabbed them and they both came back negative for yeast, mites, etc. and were not red or inflamed.
The itching now seems to be generalized and occurs only at night. He itches, cries, and then starts stress panting.
His skin looks totally normal and although he has never had a flea on him we went ahead and capstarred and gave him an oatmeal bath just in case. No signs of a hot spot, skin funk, redness, irritation, or even dandruff.
I am starting to fear that this might be something neuro which tricks his body into thinking he is itchy?
Has anyone experienced anything like this?
Possibly related: we refinished the steps and he took a bad slip down the last 3 steps. He was tender on a back leg for several days but is now 100% and running around. Could he have pinched something that is causing neuro itching weirdness?
Am I crazy for pursuing this? Any alternative theories?
I'd assume that he is suffering from itching even if there's no physical signs. Does the dog go to an allergist? My regular vet's very good but the examination she gives my dog is nothing like what the allergist does - he does a thorough ear exam, scrutinizes the skin, checks the toes, etc. I just point to where the dog's been scratching or biting lately, and he's all over it.
Dog's allergies have never been severe enough to warrant it. Keeping him grain-free (including treats) and clipping the hair between his toes was enough to keep him from trapping pollen in the spring but of course it is possible that he has developed a new allergy.
I am a vet tech assistant and I am very comfortable looking for irritation, redness, broken skin, flea dirt, etc, etc, etc. Parent's vet (my boss) is also an acupuncturist and does a lot of work with allergies. She is meticulous when she goes through a coat. No quick "glance at the ears and run the hair in front of the tail backwards" business.
On top of her examination, this evening I went through his coat in one inch squares from nose to tail (solid 30 minutes). No unusual eye drainage, no matting or staining to indicate chewing, no warm areas, and ears are clean clean clean. I've groomed this dog since puppyhood so I am intimately familiar with his skin and coat. Nothing looks abnormal which makes everything that much more weird.
Kachina: great thought. I think she scraped for mange but there is a chance that she didn't. I will call in the morning to confirm. If it was mange I would be afraid about some sort of immune thing going on since he externally appears to be a healthy, active dog in good condition which isn't the normal suspect.
I think the scrape for mange is often negative, even when they have it.
Twice my dogs have had mange and both times different vets were reluctant to think about it let alone treat it. I don't know why, maybe it is rarer than I think? Anyway, with the second dog, I *saw* him pick up a mangey fox in his mouth, and then developed itchy ears. The vet didn't want to believe it was mange even when I pointed out the dog responded to the first treatment (Ivermectin) (the vet was being reluctant over the second dose of Ivermectin).
If you aren't able to find the problem and the dog is still miserable I'd be inclined to just treat and see if the dog responds, but I'm not a vet, obviously.