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Chronic Dog Ear Infections & Skin Problems

by Lisa
(St. Paul, MN )

leg

leg

leg
arm pit
under back legs

My mother's dog Wicket (Shih Tzu) has struggled with skin and ear problems for quite some time. He itches all the time, chews on his feet, has persistent ear infections and his skin is very very pink with black patches.

For at least a year now, it has been a major problem. When my mom bought him as a puppy, the only issue we noticed was the fact that he had one ear that smelled really bad, and his skin seemed to be somewhat crusty, yellowish and flaky. He was treated for an ear infection at that time.

He continued to have ear infections in the one ear. His ear became very black at one point. The vet continued to prescribe ear drops for him.

He also continued to have the yellow crusty skin. So we put him on a different dog food thinking maybe he had a food allergy. He was put on Natural Balance duck and potato, which he likes. He seemed to do well on that particular dog food. We ended up switching him to a different dog food because we thought he should really be eating hard dog food instead.

We tried a few different kinds because he seemed to be a very picky eater. He didn't like any of the hard dog foods for some reason. This is when his skin trouble started to become an issue. He would scratch and itch all the time. His ear infections never seemed to clear up either.

His itching became so severe that the vet put him on a low dose of prednisone. His itching seemed to get better for a while, but that's when his skin trouble took a turn for the worst. He was all red and spotty on his belly. He would chew on his feet all the time. He would shake his head a lot, as if his ears were bothering him.

We finally took him into a dermatologist vet. He tested his skin and said it was not a bacterial issue. He made notes about how Wicket had skin issues on his belly, in between his toes, under his arm pits, neck. It seemed to be everywhere.

He gave a few recommendations as to what we could do. We decided to put him on Atopica. He was on the medicine for some time, and it really seemed to clear up all the spots he had all over his body. The spots looked like reddish specks all over.

The derm vet also prescribed him a shampoo called Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo. He said to bathe him about every three days.

Wicket seems to get so oily within a day or too. And then his itching gets even worse. After some time, it seemed as though Wicket became immune to the Atopica. It didn't seem to really be doing anything more for him. He would still itch and chew on his feet. The spots and blotchy dark patches on his skin seemed to improve, but the itching and chewing didn't.

We decided to stop using Atopica and now he is taking Skin-Eze, a natural herbal treatment I found online. He takes 5 tabs twice a day. Plus, we have been giving him 1/4 of a pill of Benadryl which was recommended for the itching. He still gets drops in his ears for the persistent ear infection.



I have recently noticed a very dark crusty black patch under his chin as well. The patch is hard and crusty. I have been putting a gel on it called Silver Sol. It seems to be a little better, but it is not like anything he has had before.

Overall, his skin is very bright pink. For the most part, it is more noticeable on his belly, legs and chin. It is very black under his arm pits and under his back legs. The black seems to be in the areas where he is able to lick.

He feels very hot to the touch most of the time. It's almost like he has hot flashes.

He chews and licks on his feet a lot as well. We end up putting shirt on him most of the time, so he stops scratching himself. Otherwise he scratches until it bleeds and scabs.

Wicket is a very sweet dog. He loves people. He always seems very happy. He gets along with the few dogs that he has been introduced to before. If it is a dog he doesn't know, he isn't as friendly. He has a lot of energy.

He likes to bury himself under blankets. My mother says that he likes to in the air conditioning during the summer. He doesn't like to get hot. I have noticed that he does reverse sneeze from time to time. (My Shih Tzu does this as well).

He has a flatulence issue sometimes as well.

He also tends to have an issue with anxiety. He does not like loud noises at all. He gets startled and jumps at the slightest noise. I feel that he gets stressed very easily. He licks the air a lot, which I had heard might be related to anxiety.

I have also noticed that he drinks a lot of water. I'm not sure if this is because of the Benadryl or not, but it seem like a lot more than my Shih Tzu drinks.

I feel like we have tried everything to help Wicket, and nothing seems to be working. We have switched him back to Natural Balance duck and potato dog food, which he really likes. But I feel like this is way more than an allergy issue.

Wicket does get his yearly vaccinations. When he started having major skin issues, we didn't put any Frontline on him last summer, for fear that it would make his skin worse. But then he ended up getting fleas that summer.

I am hoping you can point us in the right direction. He is such a wonderful dog that still seems to be so happy, even though he is itching all the time. Please tell me what we can to to make Wicket's skin healthy again.

Regards,

Lisa

Comments for Chronic Dog Ear Infections & Skin Problems

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Mar 31, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Chronic Dog Ear Infections & Skin Problems
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Lisa,
From the photos you submitted, and the great detailed history you wrote, I can definitely get you started in the right direction to help Wicket.

Shih Tzu breeds are susceptible to allergic skin conditions, flea allergies, contact allergies, and inhaled allergies. Since he started with an ear problem as a puppy, and also had unhealthy skin, he may have been on too much dry food, topical flea/tick products that were too toxic for him and too many vaccinations at a young age for him to heal on his own.

Then he was started on some powerful drugs (since puppyhood) that have suppressed his own healing response. The drops for his ears, the prednisone and the Atopica, are all suppressive. The annual dog vaccinations have also created a burden on his immune system which he does not need at this time.

Since all vaccines come with a package insert that says, 'To be administered to healthy animals only', I would advise NO more vaccinations for Wicket until he is completely healthy. And even then, I would be very worried that if he received another vaccine it may cause him to relapse!! You can have a holistic veterinarian write an exemption form for the Rabies vaccine. Also, check out Current Veterinary Therapy XI, the section on 'Annual Vaccinations'. This text was published in 1992, states that annual vaccinations are obsolete, and there is no valid reason for them to be given.

Food:
First, diet should be moist! NO DRY DOG FOOD. You can continue the Natural Balance Duck and Potato if it is canned. You might also want to check our page on 10 Best Dog Food Options and read about the benefits of a raw diet for Wicket. Dr Richard Pitcairn's book, Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats advises owners to feed a raw meat diet, with "as many fresh and high quality ingredients as possible. This healthier diet will supply needed nutrients and help to rebuild damaged tissue."

Some ingredients that are especially useful for healthy skin, are: nutritional yeast, and granular lecithin, , cold-pressed unsaturated vegetable oil (like peanut oil), add about 1/4 tsp per day, of each of the above ingredients to his food, and Vit E or wheat germ capsules (about 1/4 a human dose).

(cont'd below)

Mar 31, 2011
Part 2-My Online Vet Response for Chronic Dog Ear Infections & Skin Problems
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

You should also add 5 mg of chelated Zinc and buffered Vitamin C for dogs - about 500 mg per day to the food.

For his skin:
Clip his hair so it is shorter under his neck, his armpits, feet, and underside, to make it easier to bathe him and clean those areas. Clean with a mild shampoo like baby shampoo 1 to 2 times per week and apply aloe vera to the red inflamed areas to help decrease redness. Or 'paint' on Calendula tincture for areas that he must scratch until it bleeds. Between the toes and in the skin folds you can apply apple cider vinegar to help decrease the yeasty smell. Making him wear a T-shirt is a good idea to prevent self-trauma.

For his ears:
Use green tea (make 2 bags to one cup of water), let cool and pour in about 1-2 tsp per ear, 2 times per week. Just let him shake his head, then clean off any discharge, wax or debris that comes out. You do not have to 'dig' into his ear, it will be too painful. Or sweet almond oil, 1/2 tsp per ear, if the ears are crusty, dry and swollen, also 2 times per week.

Supplements:
The Skin-Eze is a combination of Chinese herbs that may interfere with homeopathic remedies if your holistic veterinarian wants to use homeopathy. In the meantime, it would be ok to continue them if he seems to be doing better.

Stop the Benedryl and try the supplement Antronex by Standard Process. It's a liver supplement that helps the liver pull histamine out of the tissues. So it acts like an antihistamine without the side effects. Give Wicket 1/2 tablet by mouth or in his food 2 times daily.

Use Rescue Remedy both orally to calm his anxiety. It also can be used topically to calm down the skin. It must be diluted since it comes concentrated in alcohol. Add 2 drops to his drinking water daily or 10 drops in 2 oz dropper bottle to give him by mouth. You can also add 10 drops to a 3 oz pump spray bottle and fill with spring water to spray on all irritated areas.

For Fleas:
Read Dog Flea Medicine to learn how to protect Wicket from fleas and ticks.

Click here find a holistic veterinarian in your area.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: The above advice should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian.

Apr 14, 2011
Update on Wicket
by: Lisa Larrive

Dr. Tillman,

Thank you for the suggestions on how to help Wicket with his skin issues. So far we have added the items to his food that you have suggested.

We have taken him off Benedryl and he no longer takes Skin-Eze. He still seems to lick his back legs a lot. As you can see in the picture under his legs it is very black. We were told that was due to his licking. And he still likes to chew on his front feet a lot. I know we are not out of the woods yet.

We stopped putting the medicated drops in his ears, and put the green tea in his ears. His ears seemed to be fine for about 10 days and then the one ear he has had issues with became very crusty and smelled very bad. I'm pretty sure the yeast came back again. So we had to put the medicated drops in again, and now it is starting to clear.

I don't like the idea of using the drops in his ears all the time. But we don't know what else to do because that seems to be the only way his ears clear up.

So all in all, we have not resolved the ear issue as of yet. One ear seems to be fine, and the color of it looks healthy. His bad ear is very dark in color compared to the other one. Do you have any other suggestions for what we can do besides using green tea?

As for his skin, he still likes to chew on his paws. He has times where he wants to scratch, so we have to put a t-shirt on him. He licks his back legs a lot too. The positive things are that we no longer give him Benedryl and Skin-Eze. I don't feel like he is a lot better, but his skin doesn't seem to look at red underneath. Do you have any other suggestions at this point?

Should we be doing anything else?

Flea and tick season is around the corner and I am concerned about using Frontline with all of his skin issues. What can we do for preventing fleas and ticks?

We still have him on Natural Balance duck and potato. We are giving him the duck and potato hard treats as well. Are these ok treats to give him?

Thanks for all of you help so far. I hope we see some better improvements soon.

Lisa

Apr 14, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Chronic Dog Ear Infections and Skin Problems
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Lisa,
Sounds like you have made a little progress with Wicket. The MAIN treatment plan should be homeopathic remedies. Now that you have stopped the Benadryl and the Skin-Eze (with the Chinese herbs, it will be ok to start homeopathic remedies. You need to find a holistic veterinarian knowledgeable in homeopathy to prescribe a homeopathic remedy to help Wicket.

Considering that Wicket's disease (meaning the inhaled allergies/allergic otitis(ear problems)), are so chronic and suppressed, it will take 6 months to one year to start seeing an improvement. Ear problems are usually the last to clear up, as usually they were the first problem that appeared. And the longer the symptoms are 'suppressed' with the conventional drops, the HARDER it will be to treat the problem and get her cured. In the meantime, applying some sweet almond oil into each ear (or the 'bad' ear) may help soothe his tissues.

In my last response, all of my suggestions are not the cure, a homeopathic remedy will be the cure or at least the path to improving his condition. In some breeds of dogs that have inherited or genetic tendencies to skin/allergy problems it can be a long road to getting them better. Using holistic methods are much healthier than conventional drugs for chronic treatment.

You wrote,
----------------------------------------------
We still have him on Natural Balance duck and potato. We are giving him the duck and potato hard treats as well. Are these ok treats to give him?
------------------------------------------------

Is this the Natural Balance duck and potato? He should not be on dry food.

Instead of the 'hard' treats, unless they are tartar control, I would substitute fruit and vegetables for treats. See if he would like baby carrots, pieces of apple or cantaloupe. It would be ok to feed him tartar-control treats for his teeth.

In response to your question about what to do about the upcoming flea season, read our page on Natural flea treatments and consider using Wondercide, to protect Wicket from fleas and ticks.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Jan 09, 2012
It works, but it takes time!
by: Anonymous

My Lhasa had recurrent hot spot, with chronic itching and licking. I adopted him at age 5 and put him on a raw food diet with fish oil. Over time, the frequency of hot spots gradually decreased, and by a couple years later, he had stopped getting them altogether.
My relatively new pit bull, age 5, has worse allergy-related skin problems. (He was turned into a shelter when his previous owners could no longer handle the vet bills.) With a raw diet, supplements, herbs, and regular baths, we're slowly making progress. (I've had him about 9 months.) Thanks so much for the recommendation for an alternative to benedryl. He was on it when I got him, I gradually stopped it, but restarted it when he had a recent flare-up.

Jul 01, 2012
allergies
by: Kim

We've had a HUGE allergy war this last year with our 4 yr. old male basenji. Last June he was given a Lepto shot in June during an allergy flare that we now know after allergy testing with a dermatology vet is from corn pollen. A week after this shot, all his hair on both sides fell out. He weighs 28 lbs. He was VERY paranoid on pred and had no relief taking up to 75 mg. Benadryl daily. I have a photo of my female with her back covered with welts. After spending $1,200 over two appointments with the dermatologist for testing, immunotherapy injections at home (every 3 days) and skin punches it occurred to me that maybe I could find an answer from the enzyme product my husband uses for digestion issues. The company is ENZYMEDICA. These enzymes are aimed for people, but they have a product for pet digestion. I went on their site and saw they have a product for allergies called allerase. I contacted Enzymedica to ask if this could be given to animals. YES. I started with mixing the powder from 1 capsule with just enough gravy from their food to soak up the enzyme.it worked until the afternoon and then I gave them another. It worked until morning. They love it and it WORKS! I give them each 2 in the am and him 2 more in the pm. She (female basenji, 24 lbs.) seems to be fine with just the 2 in the morning. No Benadryl, no pred, no shots. If I forget, they're licking feet, etc. His hair has grown back, except for just a spot or two. If he has itching, he comes to find me to make it stop. We are SO relieved.

Jul 01, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Chronic Dog Ear Infections & Skin Problems
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Kim,
That is wonderful that you have found some help with the enzyme product called Allerase, containing amylase, protease, invertase and a few other enzymes.

Rather than continue to give a product that may be 'suppressing' their symptoms or merely providing palliation, (since you mentioned that you must give it two times daily, and if you miss a dose they relapse back to itching again), you might consider a raw diet. Raw dog food diets are much easier for dogs to digest, and provide the moisture their skin, and other organs need to be healthy. Check out Primal, BRAVO!, or Aunt Jeni's, for some raw dog food brands. Just a suggestion!

See our page on 10 Best Dog Food Options.

You might also consider a supplement called Missing Link, if the raw diet does not help completely.

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us
by clicking the like button at the top of the left
margin
. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Aug 28, 2012
Itchy dog, pink/hot belly & armpits, chronic ear issues
by: Anonymous

Our dog was found to have thyroid issues and yeast issues. She was put on Ketokanazole and & thyroxyn (sp?) and her skin completely cleared up. We use a special shampoo also.

Nov 13, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Chronic Dog Ear Infections & Skin Problems
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Dear Anonymous,
You wrote,
"Our dog was found to have thyroid issues and yeast issues. She was put on Ketokanazole and & thyroxyn (sp?) and her skin completely cleared up. We use a special shampoo also."

This is a conventional solution that will suppress the symptoms, without treating the whole patient.

By giving thyroxine (thyroid hormone) the thyroid gland does not have to do anything, and may begin to atrophy. Since the pituitary gland registers a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone in circulation, (the 'external' source), it will not stimulate the thyroid gland to make any thyroid hormone. Therefore, it is essential to help support the thyroid gland during this time.

Ketoconazole is a VERY potent anti-fungal medicine, that can have serious side effects. And since yeast, and fungal infections, are opportunistic, they will clear up if the host regains optimal health and has a strong immune system. Providing immune supplements, a healthy diet, decrease stress, MINIMAL OR NO vaccinations, and homeopathic remedies, would be the HOLISTIC way of treating these chronic diseases.

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us
by clicking the like button at the top of the left
margin
. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.



Jan 29, 2013
laudry soap
by: just jill

My dog sleeps in the bed with or without me. He also has allergy issues. I found by using dye-free, fragrance-free, sensitive skin laundry soap a lot of his itching stopped. Also, I stopped using the spray on fabric and carpet refreshers too. Can't hurt, maybe worth a try even if your dog doesn't sleep in your bed.

Jan 30, 2013
My Online Vet Response for: Chronic Dog Ear Infections & Skin Problems
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Jill,
Thank you for your comments on allergies to fragrances, laundry detergents, and soaps. It is not uncommon to find dogs allergic to the laundry detergent used to wash their dog bed, or in your case, the sheets on your bed, since that is where your dog sleeps!

Good to remember environmental conditions that can contribute to allergies in our pets, (and in humans also!) And if that fails, then seek the help of a holistic veterinarian in your area.

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us
by clicking the like button at the top of the left
margin
. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.






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