Need ideas on why puppy may be itching

My boss has a new puppy, a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, that is about 15 weeks old at this point. She has had the dog for a few weeks now and ever since she got her, the puppy has had a problem with itching/scratching. She has already been to the vet about the problem but they weren’t able to find a cause. She has another appointment in a couple of weeks, but I’m really curious about what it could be. Hoping a Doper would come up with a suggestion to help narrow it down. Here is the info as I know it:

  • The itching does not seem to be in one area, but seemingly all over her body.

  • She bites/scratches suddenly, as if reacting to being bitten by something.

  • She has been given several baths to wash out any irritants that may have been in her coat, such as a shampoo from the breeder or something. Hasn’t helped.

  • Food allergy is our best guess, but vet says she is too young to have allergies. Is that true?

  • No fleas, or flea eggs found on her after a bath and combing.

  • Skin is not scaly, or dry. There are a few red bumps that the vet saw, but couldn’t tell if they were caused by the scratching.

  • Vet did a skin test (scraping the skin) to check for something, not sure what exactly, and didn’t find anything from that. Assuming this was to check for bacteria or parasites, but I don’t know.

I think that’s about it. Anyone have ideas on what the cause could be? My guess is food allergy, regardless of age. Unfortunately, the vet doesn’t want her changing foods just yet so it’s hard to know.

Our bichon does the “She bites/scratches suddenly, as if reacting to being bitten by something” thing too. Much more noticeably if she’s just been out in the rain. Both of these breeds are “hair” dogs that don’t shed.

Has it been raining a lot in the last few weeks where you are?

My dog just has skin allergies and they come and go.

I remember this year in particular that the day the snow melted was the day she started scratching. I am convinced she’s allergic to grass. We haven’t done any tests at the vet, but the vet gives us copious amounts of antihistamine and they work great. I think it’s Hydroxyzine HCL.

She also has a problem with baths. A huuuge problem with baths. If I don’t do everything right, starting around midnight on bath day she will end up in an uncontrollable itching mess that lasts a day or so. She will scratch herself to bleed, leave clumps of hair all over the house and end up in a panting daze.

She has to be washed in cool water, with EpiSoothe shampoo, with little to no towel drying (just patting), a post-bath spritz of Skin-So-Soft, no rawhide bone afterwards and no lying for prolonged periods in the grass, has to dry off outside (afraid of hair dryers) and absolutely no brushing while still wet.

If we do all this and the moon is in the right spot in the sky, we may end up being able to sleep after a bath. I’ve only just now perfected it.

Mine is a golden retriever, tho, not a terrier. But…they may be bathing her TOO much by now?

Dogs can itch for a ton of reasons. With puppies, it’s usually one of four things–fleas, mites, contact dermatitis, or puppy pyoderma. You have her on flea control and aren’t seeing any signs of fleas, so that seems unlikely. She’s been scraped for mites and was negative, so that seems exceedingly unlikely. She doesn’t have the scaly patches that are typical of pyoderma, so that seems even less likely. That leaves contact dermatitis as the most likely issue.

Yes, I know she’s been bathed multiple times–but how do you know she’s not sensitive to something in the shampoo they’ve used to bathe her? Or to the detergent they use for their laundry? Or to whatever they mop the floors with? Or to the soap/lotion they use on their hands before petting her? Or to any one of a million things she can come into contact with around their house? You have no idea, really. They can be allergic to damn near anything, same as us. We used to have one who had contact allergies to formalin–the only time she ever had any trouble with her skin was when hubby was in gross anatomy lab.

The other possibility would be inhalant allergies, but she’s crazy young for that. I’ve seen it happen in a pup her age, but only once in ten years of being a tech. The symptoms would seem to fit, especially if she seems to sneeze or cough or paw at her muzzle more than you’d expect.

I’ve also seen food allergies nearly that young (same dog as the inhalant allergies), but only the once and the history doesn’t seem to fit with that. Food allergies tend to manifest as the ears going to hell, the skin around the tail and paws breaking out/itching, and/or digestive upset. They almost never manifest as generalized itching like what you guys are seeing.

Thank you everyone for the replies so far!!!

I’d look into demodectic mange. Tiny mites that all dogs have (realted to the eyelash mites humans famously have) produce irritation in some puppies who have not yet developed a good immune response. Eventually it goes away as the dog matures, and there are treatments to reduce the suffering until then.

This is fairly common, not contagious (all dogs already have them, they just don’t suffer from them normally) and usually associated with new puppies.

Edit: if she was scraped for mites it could have been for sarcoptic mites, which are a nastier thing and contagious. Demodex they might not regard as unusual because all dogs have them.

My dog had the demodectic mange when I got her as a little pup. Got that treated and she hasn’t had a recurrence in ten years. She has had a lot of problems with dry itchy skin. Certain times of the year I give her two store brand Benedryl equivalents a day and that helps. She has a lot of trouble with leaf mold allergy but that doesn’t usually happen 'til the leaves start falling (and decomposing) in autumn.