Chronic Infections on the both sides of my dog's exterior lower mouth / muzzle
(North Carolina, USA)
Just over a year ago my dog (a 70 lb lab/Shepard/chow/pit, etc. mix) began suffering from a terrible infection on the outside of his lower mouth (both sides). It would scab over and bleed - causing him pain, itching & suffering. The more the infection spreads, the bigger the scabs become and the more he bleeds. The area becomes very raw.
Initially, I would put warm compresses on it for as long as he would allow (30 seconds on a good day), but that did not work. The infection spread around the lower portion of his muzzle area, and he would scratch the scabs off (which included the fur attached to them). He has a black mouth, so it is difficult for the vets to see it (he is not a cooperative dog), and it seems they tend to minimize the severity of it.
I brought him to 2 vets over the past year, and he has been on several rounds of Cephalexin(?) for various lengths of time (once for 2 months); however, the infection would come back almost as soon as he finished the course of antibiotic. I have also used an antiseptic wipe that he barely tolerates (and only does because I insisted, but that seems cruel).
One vet said he suffered from a condition (cannot recall or pronounce the name) that is common to Shepards and that he may have to be on antibiotics for his entire life (he is now 12 1/2 years old) and/or that a 'scraping' would have to be performed. The other vet said that the particular bacteria involved may become immune to the antibiotic and suggested I try an injection (again, cannot recall name) that I would have to administer.
All I know is that my dog is suffering, I do not know what is wrong with him, and I cannot get a clear answer as to how to at least manage (if not cure) this constantly recurring infection.
I feed him twice a day in a glass bowl. His food consists of about 1/4 cup good quality dry food mixed with cooked chicken, green beans and two balls of a mixture I made up for him: (canned salmon (and sometimes tuna), ground flax, carrots and whatever other vegetable I may have (zuccini, broccoli, green beans, sweet potatoes..), oatmeal, barley and (sometimes) rice. I use use a food processor and then scoop little balls and bake them until firm - then refrigerate what I'll use over a few days and freeze the rest to use as needed.
I do give him rawhide on occasion, and I generally give him half a 'Milk Bone' dog biscuit after his walks (at least 3 a day). I also give him the yolk from my hard boiled eggs in the morning - though I just read on your site that this may cause an allergic reaction in dogs (please advise on this).
In any event, I am hoping for a holistic solution to my dog's torment. Jack has always been a happy dog; however, he has not been this past year. I should also note that this began just before I had to euthanize his Mom last June when she became very, very ill. We both still miss her terribly.
Also, within 2 weeks of me having to euthanize Belle, Jack had to have emergency surgery for an obstruction after he ate aluminum foil someone cooked with & neglected to keep out of his reach. He had a splenectomy at the same time when the operating vet found a nodule during the surgery (though he had the mouth infection prior to that).
Jack also is prone to skin tags and has about 5. One is on his eyelid. He developed those over the past few years, but they do not seem to bother him. He also hates to be brushed (despises it) and will always try to get away from 'the brush'.
He sheds profusely (he always has), and lately I have noticed clumps of fur that I can just pick off him. I do not see any 'hot spots' or other such areas on his body, however. He does need a dental cleaning, but, at the moment, affordability is an issue.
Overall my concern is the infection around the outside of his lower mouth that he continues to suffer from. I do not want to keep him on antibiotics (beyond the cost factor) if that will only serve to make the bacteria become resistant to it. I would obviously prefer to find the cause of the infection and eliminate it in holistic manner.
I've uploaded a photo of Jack (above), but I cannot get a good picture of the infected area. First, he will not cooperate and, second, where it is just now beginning to return, it is not clearly visible (I can feel it before I can see it). The specific location is outside his lower 'lips' below the canines. It starts there and spreads quickly to the corners of his mouth and below - it then becomes raw and scabby with black scabs.
I am so thankful for this opportunity. I have spent countless hours on the Internet trying to find some information on this, but I have not been able to find much of anything at all.
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