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Extremely Bad Skin Problems - Multiple Possibilities

by Alice
(Little Rock, AR, USA)

Sammy Jean, a female black lab, has the worst skin condition/allergies of any dog I have ever seen. She itches her awful smelling skin (smells like dirty socks) all day to the point of hair loss and abrasions, and no vet can figure out what is wrong with her.

She has been on Prednisone most of her 4 year old life, and I know that it is killing her slowly. I recently replaced the Prednisone with Benadryl, and her condition is getting worse. I feed her a home-made diet of brown rice, hamburger, kidney beans, and mixed veggies every day; I have tried allergy shots, acupuncture, elimination diets...and everything else under the sun and she is still miserable. Please help me!!!!

Comments for Extremely Bad Skin Problems - Multiple Possibilities

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Jul 02, 2009
My Online Vet Response
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Alice,
Thanks for your question. Determining the cause to a skin problem can be very frustrating.

You did not say whether you have been to a vet dermatologist. Has your vet done skin scrapings to look for sarcoptic mange? Have there been fungal, bacterial and yeast cultures done?
You did mention allergy shots and elimination diets, but not what the allergy testing showed nor how long the elimination diets were tried.

Allergy tests determine what 'inhaled' allergen the dog is allergic to (molds, house dust, grasses, etc). If there are more than 3-5 items on the list showing high allergic levels, it is very unlikely that allergy shots will reduce the itching.
Inhaled allergies are typically exhibited by itching of the face, eyes, sides of the mouth, the ears, chewing like a corncob down the tops of the front legs and licking/chewing the tops of the feet.
If the itching is only on the lower portion of the body (bottom of feet, chest, abdomen, groin, inner thighs, etc.), then I would suspect a contact allergy - something she is laying on or in contact with (maybe even detergent used to wash bedding).
Food allergies will exhibit by itching, especially the flanks, the sides of the neck and on the head.

(continued below)

Jan 19, 2010
(continued from above)
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Food elimination diets should be explored (see link). Investigating raw food diets may also be worthwhile.
Also, don't ignore flea allergy problems, even if you do not see any fleas. It would show up on the allergy skin testing.
Bathing with an oatmeal shampoo could also be tried. Use cool water since the skin can be very hot and inflamed in these cases. Also, many dogs have had success with taking Rescue Remedy at night, both orally (diluted 10 drops to 2 oz of Spring water), and topically (20 drops to 4 oz of Spring water in a pump spray). Sometimes this can be followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse if there are yeast present.
A coconut oil massage before the bath and supplementing the diet with Omega 3 fish oils will moisten the skin if it is all dried out and scaly.
Above all, no more vaccinations until the dog is healthy!
As a next step, make an appointment with a holistic vet in your area to discuss my comments.

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

Feb 21, 2010
My lab lost of hair and skin rash due to Flea Pesticide
by: Sue Smith in Michigan w Chocolate Lab

My lab suffered with extreme skin rash and loss of hair for first 5 years of his life.

After paying for a blood test for allergies, we figured out that he was allergic to any flea pesticide, flea collar, flea-preventative ingested medication -- I felt so guilty that he went through this ... but just try it ... if you have a dog with skin condition ... stop the flea treatment.

There are natural ways to prevent your dog from fleas and ticks ... my boy has beautiful skin now except for various allergic conditions periodically - exhibited mostly in his ears (bacterial infections). He gets his ears cleaned with Qtips most every day.

Also, if your dog has chronic ear infections (water dogs often have ear infections) - you need to put the cleaning solution in the ears for more than 30 sections. Two minutes is needed to loosen the nasties - per the vet. No one told me this for years and now I am able to better keep the "boogies" from coming back. I swear my dog now knows what "two minutes" means and loves singing while I count it down.

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