Oh, my. So many dogs with skin problems.
I have been lucky enough to be able to take my dog to the university vet clinic to see the dermatologist (and unlucky enough to have to pay the bills).
Dogs have different reactions to allergens than people do. People get the rashes, itchy eyes, snot, etc. Dogs become susceptible to microorganisms via the skin. Thus, they get itchy from a secondary infection, typically yeast. They can get bacterial infections as well, but that's not usually as itchy.
So the first thing to do is figure out what the dog is allergic to:
Food: Can be genetically linked to certain breeds and even the color of certain breeds. Start a food trial by eliminating all treats, people food, vitamins, etc. Start with foods that have one protein (meat) source and one carbohydrate (grain) source. You have to feed it for a month for any old allergens to wash out. If no improvement, move on to another one. Keep a list of ingredients and what seem to not work. BTW, Science Diet is not a good food. Some to try are California Natural, Wellness, Innova, Canidae. You may also need to try grain-free.
Fleas: Some dogs are allergic to flea waste. An easy way to prevent this is use a flea and tick preventative! Depends where you live, but if it is above freezing, you need to be using it. The dermatologist told me that Advantix is the best for dogs with sensitive skin, but the regular vet said he has seen cases where it did not prevent heartworm as it states, so use Heartguard too.
Environment: My dog has seasonal environmental allergies. Basically, he is allergic to the outside. We decided to skip the allergy testing since he is only a wreck for half the year, we can manage his symptoms during that time. Benadryl does nothing, He could eat 6 benadryl a day with no relief. The derm said he can have Zyrtec, and it does the trick. Baths every 2-3 days helps to get the pollen off, and quick wipe-downs after being outside is also helpful during the worst time of year.
Treat the microorganisms: All of the previous things can result in bacteria and yeast infections, separately and together. Skin tapes and scrapes at the vet can tell you which, and pills can be used to treat. In the meantime, there are other ways to stop the licking and scratching. Baths: Malaseb is an antifungal and antibacterial soap. Nizoral is a people shampoo for dandruff, has an ketaconazole which is an antifungal agent. They are both about $15. Spray: If they dog has really bad hot spots (raw spots on feet) you may need topical steroids to help it recover. Over the counter corticosteroids may not be strong enough.
Finally, take your dog to the vet or at least call before doing anything, even some of the over the counter or home-remedy things. You certainly don't want to make your dog worse or create new problems.
Whew! As you can see, allergy dogs do not have an easy fix, but they are not lost causes either. Everyone with an itchy dog needs to do some research and be prepared to ask your vet questions. If they don't know what to do, go to another vet. Not all vets are very familiar with allergies, the younger ones seem to have gotten more of it in vet school. Ask about this if looking for a new vet. It can be a lot of maintenance, but having a happy, healthy, non-itchy dog is worth all the hassle!