Evaluation of peripheral and serum biomarkers of neuropathic pruritus in dogs

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is currently recruiting dogs with chronic localized pruritus. 

Enrollment Status: Currently Enrolling 

Inclusion Criteria: Dogs affected by chronic localized pruritus of more than six weeks in duration and unresponsive to traditional anti-pruritic therapy, being seen by University of Florida Veterinary Hospital clinicians or referral clinicians are eligible to be enrolled.  

  • No restriction related to breed, weight, or sex 
  • The dog must be between one and 10 years of age  
  • The dog should have not received topical, systemic, and depot glucocorticoids or lokivetmab for at least 2, 4, and 8 weeks (about 2 months) respectively 
  • Systemic or topical calcineurin inhibitors should be suspended for at least 4 weeks 
  • Systemic or topical antibiotic or antifungal medications or oclacitinib should be suspended for at least 2 weeks 

Exclusion Criteria:  

  • Dogs with a known diagnosis of environmental or food allergy  
  • Dogs receiving topical or systemic glucocorticoids, antibiotic or antifungal medications at the time of screening  
  • Evidence of superficial or deep bacterial or Malassezia spp. infection

Treatment: The dog will be gently restrained, and the sensitivity of the affected skin area will be assessed using a non-invasive instrument (blunt-tipped pressure algometer). The probe pressure will be gently increased until a response, indicative of a conscious perception of the stimulus, is recognized (e.g., limb withdrawal, head turn towards the probe or vocalization). Blood and skin samples will be obtained. During the visit, owners will be asked to complete a questionnaire to assess the quality of life of their dog. Dogs will be provided with a therapeutic plan, and the owner will be responsible for following the written instructions. Re-evaluations will be performed 8 weeks (about 2 months) after the beginning of the treatment. 

Cost: The study will cover the cost of each visit, consultation with a pain specialist, skin biopsy and blood collection. No other costs will be covered. 

Contacts: You can contact our Small Animal Hospital at (352) 392-2235, or complete the Study Interest Form to see if your dog qualifies. 

Study Investigators: Dr. Ludovica Chiavaccini and Dr. Domenico Santoro 

Background: Itch is the uncomfortable sensation underlying the desire to scratch. A neuropathic itch is a localized chronic itch caused by damage to the central nervous system or nerve fibers. In people, the chronic neuropathic itch is very difficult to treat, and it can significantly lower the quality of life. Unfortunately, with a few breed-specific exceptions, the neuropathic itch runs mostly undetected in dogs. Our goal is to identify peripheral skin and serum biomarkers specific to chronic neuropathic itch in dogs with the long-term goal of finding a targeted therapy for these cases. Moreover, we want to quantify how much the chronic itch affects the quality of life of these canine patients. 


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