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Q:  My dog Zoe is a two year old Havanese and she’s wonderful but she always scratches and I have read that Havanese tend to have dry skin.  I bought her at a breeder two years ago and she has always scratched behind her ears but never breaks the skin.  I brought her to my vet and then to a dermatologist and they said her coat and skin are fine.  Perhaps it’s either boredom or has become a habit?  I give her an antihistamine morning and night (at the suggestion of my vet) but this doesn’t seem to help as she scratches throughout the day.  I wonder if you had any suggestions.

A:  It is normal for dogs to scratch occasionally. In general, lesions will develop on the skin if a dog is scratching more than what is considered normal. If your dog has been examined by 2 veterinarians and neither found any lesions (redness, hair loss, etc), it is likely that her amount of scratching is normal.  However, it is still possible that Zoe has allergies that are causing her to itch (although not severe enough to cause damage to her skin).

Medicated baths with products that contain oatmeal or hydrocortisone may help. Omega 3 fatty acids are often helpful for dogs with mild allergies. Antihistamines can be effective for allergies in some dogs- you may have to try several different ones to find one that helps her the most. I would recommend speaking to your veterinarian for the appropriate doses for Zoe.

While it is upsetting to see her scratching, unless she causes damage to her skin I would not be too concerned. I would continue to watch her because allergies can worsen and further diagnostics and treatments might become necessary.

Laura Bucklan