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Dog skin rash in red patches and hair loss, back part of body

by Nathalie & Ben

First of all congratulation on your very informative and helpful website! Thanks for being out there. We hope you don’t mind receiving questions from a remote part of Zambia, but here we go.

Bob, our Rhodesian Ridgeback of 16 months old, and us are fortunate enough to live in a remote, wildlife rich area of Zambia. We are surrounded by indigenous bush and live amongst elephants, giraffes, baboons and other wildlife. Bob roams around our house, gardens and bush and his favorite activity is chasing the baboons off his patch or rolling around in the sand. Needless to mention he is an active dog, who gets plenty of exercise. With the ever changing seasons in the bush and the variety of wildlife and animal droppings, a heaven for sniffing and tracking by our friend Bob.

About a month ago we noticed small bumps under his coat, all over his back, sort of looking like chicken pox, without being red, troubling or itching him. We put this down to him lying in the grass and dust and maybe being bitten by the tiny ants found everywhere. When this persisted we noticed to be mixing tinned food containing liver with his dry dog food and thought this might be causing a slight reaction.

Over the weeks, however especially the groin area and inside his rear legs developed big round red patches and on other places white patches. Again this does not seem to bother him much, but over the past days he started licking the area more often. He never had much hair on the inside of his legs (both front and rear) but we do have a feeling definitely more hair has been lost on that rear area.

The patches are not oozing liquid as we can see it, but more look like being raw and slightly swollen. It may look like a blister of some sort, but does not contain liquid. On some areas where it seems to be healed, his skin shows white patches which maybe show a healed skin? On those healed areas we can see some hair starting to grow again.

Especially the patches are around his groin area and on his lower stomach, nowhere near the face or front area of his legs.
He is as sweet of a dog as always, still very active and in that respect has not changed his behavior. We most certainly check his gums for tick bite fever (he gets
a tick dip ever 1-2 weeks and any ticks on him are dead already and removed daily). Same brand since the beginning. Sleeping sickness (caused by Tsetse flies) is profound in this area and we are very aware of this. He is being treated with a repellent since he was a puppy and we know the signs of this disease, which is not it. With his irritation and it not being the season for flies we have held off with putting repellent on.

We have suspected food or different vegetation to be causing this skin irritation, but by writing you just wish to make sure. Unfortunately a veterinarian is not found within a 5 hours distance from where we live and the standards there are not comparing to Western World services.
Another problem in Zambia is the choice in food. We cannot always find the same dog food and mix the dry food to whatever brand is available. By doing research on your site, we noticed your remarks to only feed him dry food, mixed with a few spoons of tin food twice daily might not be sufficient. We sometimes give him chicken, a raw egg (stopped since reading your site) and a few drops of olive oil as well. Any off cuts of steak etc are mixed in. He loves chewing fresh cow bones bought at a butchery, nothing changed in there.

Would you kindly let us know your opinion? We are more aware now to combine dry food with tinned food and have started to search only for Pedigree pellets and stock up in bulk for him. This morning his legs look better then yesterday and it always seems to increase after feeding him. To change his diet and follow some tips already found with you, we gave him oatmeal with tinned food this morning which he loved. He is a good eater, finishes his bowl in 5 minutes and shows no loss of appetite or play.

So are we on the right track in thinking this is food related, or is there something more serious going on? Mange, ringworm or something else.
He is due his de-worming and yearly injections this month, so those cannot be causing the irritation. He was neutered last December. Any injections due are given by us after receiving your feedback.

Thanking you very much indeed and looking forward to your response.

Warm greetings from Zambia and a slobber from Bob.
Ben & Nathalie

Comments for Dog skin rash in red patches and hair loss, back part of body

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May 20, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Dog Skin Rash in red patches and hair loss, back part of Body
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Ben and Nathalie,
(and Bob!)

Thank you for your thorough background history on Bob, and the good photos. It does not look like a food allergy to me. In fact, if this problem were due to an allergy, he would be very itchy and scratching all of the time.

To sum up all of the information you gave me, if Bob were in the USA instead of Africa, and you brought him in to the clinic here, I would diagnose superficial pyoderma, or dermatitis. This is inflammation of the hair follicles that starts as numerous small raised bumps that can be felt when you run your hand over the dog's back. It is caused by bacteria in the skin.

As time progresses, if the coat is too dry, the dog is on too much dry food, there are too many chemicals put on the skin, dirty environment, etc. the bacteria will proliferate and produce the red, raised circles or patches that you see. These will be especially severe in the areas where the hair is thin.

Bob fits all of the above. Of course, I am not that knowledgeable in African diseases, but I suspect if you started to correct the dryness in his coat and bathing his abdomen area with a cleansing shampoo, he would improve.

Try the following, and send me an update in about 2-3 weeks:

1. Add more 'tinned' or even raw meat to his diet, and decrease the dry food.
2. Instead of Olive oil, add Omega 3 fish oil for dogs about 1,000mg to 2,000mg daily to his food.
3. Space out the tick dips to every 4-6 weeks if possible. See if you can obtain Cedar Oil ( Wondercide, a cedar oil based product is a natural flea, tick, fly and mosquito repellent) to use in between the dips.
4.Use an antiseptic soap to clean his abdomen/groin area, rinse and shampoo with a conditioning shampoo. This may need to be done 2 times per week, because he is so active and gets into a lot of dust and dirt.

Continued in Part 2

May 20, 2011
My Onlinve Vet Response for Dog Skin rash in red patches and hair loss, back part of body Part 2
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Ben and Nathalie,
To continue with Bob's treatment:

5. BOOST his immune system. Do not give the vaccinations every year. Space out Rabies every 3 years and the same with the Distemper and Parvo. And do not give the Rabies in the same year as the other two vaccines. If he is only 16 months old now, he is not due for any vaccination this year. I am not familiar with Zambia's Rabies vaccination requirements in dogs. But if it is required by law to be given yearly, then see if if is possible to get an 'extension', until he is back to normal. Remind them that in every vaccine package there is a drug insert that says, 'to be given to healthy animals only.' Giving him raw meat (NO RAW PORK or RAW FISH) will provide him with Vitamin C. Dogs make their own Vitamin C, so it is not added to dog food. But in cases if the immune system is suppressed, he may not be making enough Vitamin C, and then he becomes more susceptible to a bacterial skin infection. Cooking meat (high heat) destroys the vitamin C.

There are numerous other supplements that can also be given, but I think that the overzealous application of chemicals and too much dry food, and over vaccination may have been what happened to Bob to cause this.

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

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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.

Related Pages:
- Dog Skin Conditions,
- Dog Itchy Skin,
- Dog Skin Rash,
- Dog Skin Allergies,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Skin Rashes, Marks, Spots, Lesions & Patches (including itchy skin and mange) Section,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Hair Loss Section

Jun 01, 2011
thank you
by: Nathalie

Hallo and thank you so much for your feedback.

We have not given Bob any injections in months.

We did however cut down on the tick dips and keep a close eye on him for those nasty animals. We have increased his "wet" food and that seems to help a bit.

We have been lucky with a Vet from South Africa coming on safari with us and we asked him to have look. He agreed food allergy was not causing this and most likely it was something in the soil, bushes or any other thing causing some reaction.

He also suggested to deworm him again, which we have done in the meantime. He warned us this could take months to clear, especially with his nature and living in our beautiful environment.

We wash him more regularly which seems to do him well. Symptoms definitely have not gotten worse and slowly seem to get a little better. It does though seem to spread to the front of the body more, whilst easing up on the rear.....

Shall keep you posted and again thank you very much for your help!

Warm regards from Zambia

Nov 01, 2011
Skin Allergies
by: Anonymous

I have the same condition with my female rhodesian. It is grass allergies.

Jul 12, 2014
Any updates?
by: Anonymous

Our 9 month old boy is having very similar issues.

Any updates on status?


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