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Out of control dog scratching, hair loss, ear buildup & loss of hair

by CC
(Austin, TX, USA)

Simone's back

Simone's back

Simone's back
Simone's back 2
Simone's Ear
Simone's bottom and tail

My older dog is looking terrible - she scratches incessantly, is losing hair, has scabs and has developed a large lump on her belly.


I saved my beautiful Simone from a terrible plight about 5 years ago. She was living in a dog pen in Alabama where she had been since she was a puppy. She was never allowed out of that pen. They fed her over the top of it which had barbed wire over it... she rarely had water.

I have had her now for about 5 years, she was approximately 10 when I rescued her. She lives in the house, and I do pamper her.

We are on a horse farm, there are a lot of fleas, and my husband and I have taken to de-fleaing the cats and dogs by hand nearly every night.

I brush her regularly... she has tons of dry skin, and large scabs that come off with the flea comb. I also give them baths, but not a lot, and I clean their bedding using Clorox.

Her ears are full of greenish muck, which I thought to be mites. I got mite treatment and cleaned much of this gross stuff out of her very tender ears. Now she won't let me touch her ears at all. She has scratched and made her ears bleed - they are a bit crusty as well. She also has a little hair loss on back of her ear.

She is nearly bare on her tail and her back and itches constantly. Her skin looks like a rhino on her tail and rear end (caused by mites, I have read). My husband has gone to get "Happy Jack", a mange treatment.

I recently changed her diet because she and my Jack Russell (another rescue - pound) were constantly itching. The change in food does not seem to have helped at all. In fact, Simone is looking worse each day now.

Sometimes her nose drips. I believe this changed when we changed her food.

Lastly, she has also developed a large lump in her belly over the last 6 months.

I am so so so worried about my girl... in addition to all of the issues mentioned above, she seems to have lost weight recently. It has caused a lot of upset in our home.
This morning I gave her an antihistamine... she now seems a bit calmer.

No offense, but I dread vets. We are vegetarian and non-doctor oriented, but I am desperate... and hate to know that she is in pain.

Thank you for your time.
CC

Comments for Out of control dog scratching, hair loss, ear buildup & loss of hair

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Aug 27, 2010
My Online Vet Response for Out of Control Dog Scratching, hair loss, ear buildup and loss of hair
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi CC,
That is wonderful that you were able to rescue Simone from such a horrible existence! And from your dedication to her well being, you should be able to restore her to health.

First, she needs to be diagnosed for mange. The only way to diagnose Sarcoptic or Demodectic Mange is by a skin scraping.

Second, control of fleas is of paramount importance. See our page on Dog Flea Medicine, Treatment & Prevention. Using a product called Cedarcide by Wondercide is a natural method of flea control that would be safe for Simone and your other dogs.

Third, she needs a blood panel to check her for Hypothyroidism. A low thyroid hormone level, will cause the skin to prematurely age, turn black and thickened, lose hair, and become more susceptible to skin infections.

Also, see our page on dog ear problems. Ear mites will always produce a black coffee ground ear wax. 'Greenish muck' is usually caused by Pseudomonas bacteria, or a mixed infection with both yeast and bacteria. For Simone, the gentlest way to clean and restore her ears back to normal is to use green tea. And improving her overall health, will also help her ears to return to normal, since the ear canal is an extension of the skin.

Prepare some green tea using 2 tea bags to one cup of water. Let the tea cool to room temperature. Pour in 1 TBSP of green tea into each ear, and let her shake her head to remove the excess. This should be done two times per week, for about 6 weeks, then as needed. Green tea has astringent properties to help dry out the ear canal, also anti-oxidants to help heal the ear canal, and anti-inflammatory effects to decrease swelling and pain.

I would NOT recommend the 'Happy Jack' Mange treatment, unless she has been diagnosed with Mange. I am not that familiar with how effective this product will work, nor how safe it may be.

To help improve her dry skin, and make her more comfortable, I would suggest weekly oil soaks for her. Use coconut oil, and massage it into her skin all over her body. Let it soak in over 2-3 hours. Severely dry skin, will soak up the oil and she will not even be greasy after that length of time. (But you might want to keep her off the furniture while she is covered in coconut oil!)

If she is still greasy, use Dawn dish detergent to shampoo her to remove the oil (yes, the same detergent used to clean the birds in the Gulf covered with oil). Then shampoo her with an oatmeal shampoo. The oil soak/Oatmeal shampoos will need to be done one time per week, for 4-6 weeks while her skin is healing and being treated.

(Cont'd below)

Aug 27, 2010
Part 2 - My Online Vet Response to Out of Control Dog Scratching, hair loss, ear buildup and loss of hair (continued from above)
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

(continued from above)

You mentioned that you did change her diet, but not specifically what you were feeding her. A food allergy will respond to a hypoallergenic food within 3-6 weeks. See our page on 10 Best Dog Food Options. I usually recommend a raw diet, but that would depend on her blood test results, to make sure that her liver, kidneys, pancreas, blood glucose, cholesterol, etc. are ok to handle that type of a diet. It would also determine if she needed any liver/iron supplements, vitamins, or Omega 3 fish oils.

A blood test may also determine dog cancer, anemia, or dog diabetes, which are diseases that can cause weight loss.

How do her teeth look? Chronic dog dental disease will also cause weight loss.

I do not know what the lump on her abdomen would be. You may not like doctors, but a visit to a holistic vet would be the best advice I could give you to help Simone. To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click here:
find a holistic veterinarian in your area

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

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 27, 2010
Simone/hair loss/ear buildup
by: CC

Dear Dr. Tillman,

Thank you so much for your speedy and most wonderful response. I will make a point of using the non-destructive flea control that you have mentioned.

I do believe that for a 15 year old dog, Simone is quite healthy. She is not and has not lost any weight. Thank goodness. But since she spent such a long time in a kennel for all those years with no proper food (they fed her cornbread by throwing it over the fence in a pan), that has contributed to habits she has.

Now, I think that fleas are one of the major problems.

Her teeth and mouth look very good. I have just changed their food again, because this other, while it looks good and comes from our organic store, is not good for them. I have also discovered through your wonderful site that they need wet food as well. So I am introducing the food (recommended from the site) dry and canned into their diet.

I forgot to mention that Simone's stool has been consistently loose. Not diarrhea, but not normal, which makes me think now that her diet has and is what is causing all this - along with her age - she is 15 now (although she acts so young).

Am taking care of this flea problem and too will tell the woman who owns our place about it for her pets as well.

We did not use Happy Jack...unfortunately did already use a product for the fleas(SORRY). ON the beds too(OOHH NO).

But I am going to switch. Simone is not a social dog and I have to keep her from everybody, she loves only me (she is a cross between a rottweiler/hybrid wolf)... so taking her to a vet is extremely hard on her and ME. I get high anxiety from it all.

So, I don't understand how she could possibly contract mange....as she is not anywhere near other dogs unless we go in the car to a place where she can walk around (always on a leash).

Thank you so much for your invaluable service, I am deeply grateful to you. Did the photos help?

I did have a dog (rescue) that we returned to health from terrible mange inside and out...he was incredibly beautiful. Sadly, we shared him with the owner who was extremely poor and he was hit by a car. It was a terrible tragedy for us.

Again, I am hoping that this is not mange. I would like to find a holistic vet here in Austin.

Thank you. Love, CC

Aug 28, 2010
My Online Vet Response for Out of Control Dog Scratching, hair loss, ear buildup and loss of hair
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Simone,
Yes, your photos were very helpful, and still are suggestive of a hypothyroid condition.

I would see how she responds to an improved diet, (food allergy or a deficiency will take about 3-6 weeks to see a response), and to controlling the fleas. Flea control must be in the house and yard, not just on the pet.

So, if her skin and hair coat are improved, then it would not hypothyroidism!

For the loose stool, you will need to start adding in probiotics to each meal, such as PB8 (ProBiotic, 8 strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus), to help replenish the bacteria she is losing with her loose stool. Yogurt contains acidophilus, but it is a dairy product, and some dogs may have lactose intolerance, so it is best to just stick to the supplements in capsule form to side step the dairy issue altogether. She could take the 'regular' adult human dose, you cannot overdose her with the acidophilus.

Hopefully the acidophilus will help firm up her stool a little, then you can take in a stool sample to a vet to have it checked for parasites. I do not know if they will need to see her first or not, to establish a 'client/patient/doctor relationship. But if they could run the fecal it may show she has parasites, such as Girardia, hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, coccidia, etc. Then you will need to treat ALL of your dogs, since they are all in the same yard, or are in contact with each others stool.

Glad to be of help.
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

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 29, 2010
Acidiphilous
by: Simone

Thank you Doctor for your advice.

We are amping up the work on ridding fleas indoor and outdoors. We bought diatomaceous earth and sprinkled it outdoors. We gently powdered the girls(dogs) to make sure they did not breath in the powder.

We used the flea comb and instead of setting the fleas free (did not want to kill them)....took your advice here and they went down the sink.
Today we are going to try the yogurt.

Can they take the human supplement?

There are so many wonderful natural remedies for the fleas.. last night we tried the light above a bowl of soapy water and caught a few fleas!
I am also going to try the recommended lemon wash along with the homemade shampoos from this incredible site. I have been pouring through it!

The dogs and cats are combed every day for fleas.
But more...and we are now emphasizing indoor AND outdoor flea control.

Their diet is now the one from this site recommended for dogs with food allergy.
Very excited... thank you again for your kind service.

Aug 30, 2010
My Online Vet Response for Out of Control Dog Scratching, hair loss, ear buildup and loss of hair
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Simone,
It sounds like you have been busy! Hopefully, CC will start to improve soon.

Just a word of caution, you are NOT supposed to put the diatomaceous earth ON the dog or cat. Use Dawn dish detergent to bathe them to get rid of the fleas. Then bathe with the oatmeal shampoo. Cedarcide by Wondercide, a cedar oil based product, has a liquid that you can apply to the dogs that is a safe, all natural flea repellent.

Keep working on the house and yard to get rid of the flea eggs and larvae. Flea Busters is a great service using all natural products to treat your house.

Yes, you can use the human acidophilus, about 1/2 the human dose. Yogurt may cause the loose stool to be worse, I mentioned in the previous e-mail to avoid the yogurt and just use the acidophilus in capsule form so you can open the capsule and sprinkle it into the food, for each meal.

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

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 30, 2010
My Online Vet Response for Out of Control Dog Scratching, hair loss, ear buildup and loss of hair
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi CC,
Just an apology for addressing the last 2 e-mails to your dog, Simone!!

Dr. Tillman

(I had a cat named CC, so I guess that is why I made the mistake!)

Sep 13, 2010
About Simone
by: CC

Thank you Doctor, I actually have been giving Simone a tablespoon of the acidiphilous yogurt...not only does she absolutely love it, but the effects were immediate. She has regular bowel movements now.

The diatomaceous earth is working well too! Someone suggested using it on the animals. So this information you say is not at all recommended, why is that?

I have written down a recipe from the site for an all natural powder for the dogs and will abide by that. There is a significant flea reduction, diatomaceous earth really is helping a lot!

We have been on the new diet for a couple of weeks and are mixing wet canned food (recommended here for allergy dogs), this is the first time my dogs have eaten any kind of wet or raw food, so I anticipate a healthier Simone. Simone LOVES the food. She is also good about me pouring the green tea solution in her ears...and she actually is hearing again like before. I thought she'd gone deaf.

THANK YOU!!!
She responded in one day, and could hear me. I almost cried.

Things are very very good. Everybody is so much happier. Hopefully will see hair growth again on her.

Thank you for writing to Simone, I thought it very sweet.

Cannot thank you enough . CC

Sep 15, 2010
My Online Vet Response for out of Control Dog Scratching, hair loss, ear buildup and loss of hair
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi CC,
That is wonderful news that Simone has responded so nicely. Hopefully, she will feel much more comfortable as her skin starts to heal.

Regarding the diatomaceous earth, I was taught in Veterinary School, at the University of Florida (flea capital of the world), that when applying diatomaceous earth to large areas such as a pet's sleeping area, a dust mask and goggles are recommended. If diatomaceous earth is applied directly to the animal, care should be taken to avoid any mucous membranes (eyes, ears, nose) that may become irritated.

Personally, I think that is still a bit risky, and I would not want to expose them to anything where they still might inhale the substance off of their fur. But that's just my opinion!

I am very glad to hear she is doing better.

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

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.

Sep 15, 2010
Diatomaceous Earth
by: CC

Yes, that is what I had heard... so I made sure to be very careful about that. I sprinkled it on the inside of their beds and placed them outside on the fence for the day then shook them out.

I covered little Eddie's face and head with a towel, so she would not breath in the dust.

Now I am concerned about if I have to protect them from this then I cannot use it again on them. So, I will go back to the all natural powder recommended on this site, and know that it won't hurt them.
You're the best!

My Best,
CC

May 28, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Out of Control Dog Scratching, hair loss, ear buildup& loss of hair
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi CC,
Thank you for the support! As an alternative to the diatomaceous earth, you might consider a product that contains Cedar Oil to control the fleas. Check out Wondercide. It is NOT harmful to animals or humans, but will kill fleas, ticks, flies, mosquitoes,ants, roaches, and black spot disease on plants!

I am glad that Simone is responding to an improved diet, and her stool is more normal. Regarding her skin, if she continues to have the same darkened and thickened skin, perhaps a supplement called Thytrophin, a glandular supplement, might be needed to help her thyroid. This product does NOT contain any thyroid hormone. It is a supplement to provide support for her thyroid gland, to make its own thyroid hormone.

If it were possible to take her in for a blood test, you could confirm if her thyroid hormone level was below normal. Either way, the supplement will not cause her to become 'hyper' thyroid.

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: 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 Ear Problems Section

Mar 18, 2012
yeast infection
by: Anonymous

It sounds like she has a severe yeast infection. Coconut oil works wonders for this as it explodes the nucleus of yeast cells. I use it both topically and orally.

Mar 19, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Out of control dog scratching, hair loss, ear buildup & loss of hair
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Dear Anonymous,
Thanks for your comment. Your suggestion of using coconut oil is a good one, as I have also recommended its use both orally and topically.
I am not aware of its ability to 'explode the nucleus of yeast cells', but as coconut oil is composed of Medium Chain Triglycerides, (MCT), it is absorbed readily into the GI tract, thereby acting as an internal lubricant to a dog with very dry skin. This aids in strengthening the skin to help it repel yeast and bacteria.

FYI we only accept new questions from subscribers (the original question above was from a subscriber).
Please click here to sign up and submit your question and photos. I'll then get back to you right away at the bottom of your newly created web page.
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman



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