What's causing my dog's itchy skin?

(Q) My Beagle, Louis, got a skin infection recently, and the vet prescribed anti-inflammatory corticosteroid cream and some steroids.

Although Louis stopped scratching, the fur still hasn't grown back and he's since had another bout. The vet has now said this could be due to allergies. Are there any skin conditions Beagles are prone to?

(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: It is impossible to determine what is causing your dog's itchy skin and patches of hair loss, as a number of diseases could be involved.

Consider further investigation into Louis' problem, as only when you know the cause will you be able to determine the best way to treat it.

You could try him on a hypo-allergenic diet from your vet for four to six weeks (nothing else other than water should pass his lips) and see if this improves things.

If a food allergy trial makes no difference, then blood or skin allergy testing may be helpful, as there may be specific allergens in the environment which are causing these skin problems.

Failing that, it might be worth having a biopsy sample taken from an affected area and examined microscopically.