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Skin issue of french bulldog

by Ronald Robertson
(Seattle, Wa USA)

brown on skin and bump close up

brown on skin and bump close up

brown on skin and bump close up
side view

My dog has a chain of small bumps (that ooze when scratched) from her righ paw, up her leg, across her chest and neck and up to one ear. The bumps are followed by "brown stuff" where she scratches that won't wash away.

She is a 3 year old fawn french bull dog that has been on Levothyroxin for about 2 years. I got her 4 months ago with a file folder of vet records.

I understood that she had health issues and familiarized myself with her needs. The change of environment from central Texas to Seattle, Washington was an adventure for her health.

She has food allergies that are known from observation, such as chicken. Having given her the wrong foods in our first month I saw directly how she reacts: hot red skin that is very itchy.

When I got her she also had some ear and groin yeast, which got significantly worse after her reaction to foods and a consequent period of being on Temeril-P and benadryl for the allergic reaction.

Fortunately, she is fawn-colored and skin issues are fairly easy to spot as they happen even if I don't know what is going on.

The rash and hives from a combination of yeast and allergens left her quite itchy. She would scratch at her neck and chest and sides of her head, and she would drag her belly on the carpet to scratch herself, leading to inflamed skin and irritated teets.

At that point I had begun giving her the Temeril-p that came from her previous home, since they had already established what would happen with the dog's allergies and thyroid condition.

Before the skin got bad I took her to the vet for her ears, which I cleaned regularly with "mad about organics" "Fresh Ear" rinse alternated with aloe juice, using a rolled up cotton pads. Went from loads of brown guck to nearly clear, but I coudn't get it all.

The vet told me to continue Temeril-P and to use banadryl for the itchiness. He gave me Gentizole for the brown smelly yeast in the ears and a keticonozole shampoo and leave on lotion for her body. At that time he said the yeast could spread from ears to underbelly.

I was diligent about the ears and got them clear, but as my vet said the dark brown went to her underbelly.

I couldn't get the groin yeast to clear up. There were brown flakes on her groin folds that wouldn't wash off, blistering around the brown flakes and increase in the brown coating on the hair and follicles at the groin. This led me to consult a nurse friend who also has a frenchie.

She said to try myconazol for the groin and cautioned against using steriods like temeril-p while there was a yeast infection. She said fungal infections and steroid are a bad combo.

I solved most of the itching problem by having clean laundered kid's shirt for her to wear, I washed her with the soap as needed and kept her dry.

Her face skin folds during this time would get inflamed. With the allergies, her weepy eyes would keep the skin folds wet and irritated. Hypoallergenic baby wipes helped, but I found a daily wipe with a white vinegar water solution was good and organic coconut oil on her face and paws cleared up irritations and pinkness.

Yet the skin got a weird dark brown stuff on it. At first I discovered that if I put the ketaconozole lotion on without wiping the skin clean, that the lotion that was applied to the skin would just get dirty looking. At one point her whole under belly was brown.

But even after I started rinsing the old lotion off there was a brown tinge that remained. The skin irritation would not stop despite far less scratching and rubbing.

The scratching and rubbing inflamed the skin and I used bactrim ointment on the spots she couldn't lick.

Speaking with her former owner, I was told that the skin develops staph and an antibiotic was required.

I spoke with the vet and went over the situation and he concurred. A round of Cephlexin was prescribed. About 3/4 the way through that everything cleared up beautifully.

Through this I also chose to switch her from the established Limited Ingredient Diet by "Natural Balance" ( potato/duck, sweetpotato fish, and sweet potatoe venison ) to a raw frozen diet called Instinct by Nature's Variety - mostly from me researching dog diets and allergies. What I saw taught me that a dog has a harder time digesting starches and has better digestion of meats.

I also began adding a dollop of yogurt to her food as we went through the antibiotic and also using Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotic.

Following directions from her previous owner I had been giving her "dermapet" "Eicosaderm epa 360 mg/dha 240 mg" in the morning. And at night "k-9 liquid health" "Glucosamine & HA. As the skin conditions got real bad I suspected that this combo was also putting a stress on the dog. So at the time I switched from kibble to raw meat diet I quit using both the dermapet and k-9 liquid health.

Everything has been going well. From what I read the diet change can take months to see lasting results. And my hope is that reducing the digestive stress from hard to digest food and supplements with the addition of enzymes and probiotics will provide her body with what it needs to function better.

Then a a week or so ago I noticed a lot of itching by my dog. This time it was not accompanied by the allergic type reaction and after about a day I noticed she had a chain of small bumps from her right paw, up her leg, across her chest and neck and up to one ear. Where she could scratch the bumps she would do so until red and oozing.

I kept washing, drying and applying batrim ointment. I gave her a dose of frontline. She had not had any flea guard since I gave her Advantage in October.

The last few days the brown stuff has come back in the area she itched. Though the bumps, which I assume are bites, have healed enough they aren't itchy anymore. But this brown skin amidst the dark scabs from the bumps she scratched raw give me concern.

The brown looks like dirty skin, but when washed with soap and water it does not go away completely. There is no noticeable odor. The skin is not thickening. It just looks like brown smeared in the pores of her skin. The picture shows her neck, though the flash reveals more pink than I had seen without the bright light.

Is this brownish stuff on her skin a sign of bacterial infection? Fungal infection?

I applied the myconozol once but it had not immediate effect. I washed with the keticonozol once but no effect. Everything else seem okay. Skin folds, toe folds, groin, underbelly, etc.

It seems to get darker and lighter. She has three of the scabbed bumps at the peripheral of the brown spot, but I keep them cleaned and moist with ointment so as not to get dry, crusty and itchy.

Comments for Skin issue of french bulldog

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Feb 05, 2011
My Online Vet Response for skin Issue of French Bulldog
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Ronald,

You took some great photos of your cute little French Bulldog. The dark brown areas of her skin are due to 'black head' or pore enlargement secondary to all of her chronic inflammation of her skin.

Also, it is very unusual for one so young (at one year) to have developed hypothyroidism. That is another reason she is having a hard time healing after each 'allergic' bout she encounters. Thyroid hormone regulates the metabolism of the body, and also maintains the health of the skin, especially the ability to fight off bacteria, yeast, etc.

Whether her dog allergies are from fleas, food, inhaled allergens, etc. she certainly needs to have immune system support. You did not mention if you had her Thyroid levels rechecked since you adopted her, or if it had been done right before you adopted her. I would be suspicious of that diagnosis, and seek out some other opinions from a holistic veterinarian.

I would also be cautious of the use of the Temeril-P, as you mentioned in your post, using it if there are any yeast or fungal infections in her skin, the prednisone would suppress her immune system (which is already very weak from having long term allergies).

You are on the right track with the change in her diet AWAY from dry food to a more raw/natural diet, Nature's Variety 'Instincts'. I would suggest using a NON-Dairy Probiotic for her, instead of the yogurt, such as PB 8. Adding one capsule, open and sprinkle in her food two times daily. She should also have the Omega 3 fish oil for dogs. This acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

I would not continue with the K-9 Liquid Health (glucosamine supplement) at this time.

For the thyroid, use Thytrophin. This does not contain any thyroid hormone, it does contain all of the building blocks to provide support for the thyroid. Start her on 1/2 tablet two times daily, which can be crushed and added to her food.

After she has been on the Thytrophin for 3-6 weeks, then have her thyroid level checked. If it is normal, I would suggest decreasing the levothyroxine by half. Continue the same dose of Thytrophin, after another month, get her thyroid level checked. If it is still normal, decrease her levothyroxine again, by half.

By continuing to give support to the thyroid, instead of giving her a hormone (which the pituitary gland monitors, and figures that since the hormone is there, it will not send any 'message' to the thyroid gland to make any more. In essence, her thyroid gland will sort of atrophy, as long as there is an external source of thyroid hormone given to her.)

Continued below in Part 2.
Dr. Tillman

Feb 05, 2011
PART 2 My Online Vet Response for Skin Issue of French bulldog
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Continued from previous post:

Also, start her on Immuplex from Standard Process, for immune system support. One capsule opened and sprinkled in her food two times daily, for 6 months to one year.

Use an oatmeal shampoo to bathe your dog two times per week to provide relief from all of the itching. Apple cider vinegar is a more 'natural' and effective treatment for the darkened areas of her skin, to act sort of as an astringent, and anti-yeast treatment, once a day.

I would also once a week, give your dog a coconut oil massage/rub down, on all of the red, itching dry areas. Let it soak in for 2-3 hours, but do not let her get onto the furniture when she is so greasy, or give her a towel to lay on! You may need to use Dawn dish detergent to shampoo all of the coconut oil off, then rinse and shampoo with the oatmeal shampoo.

Of course, she may need to continue to wear her little shirt through all of her recuperation to prevent more self-trauma to her skin.

NO VACCINATIONS until she is completely normal. And even then, I would be very worried that she may relapse. Find a holistic veterinarian to treat her, avoid commercial flea products, and other 'conventional' suppressive treatments.

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

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.

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

Sep 05, 2012
One year follow up
by: Ronald Robertson

Thanks for the great response. I did search for the immune support you mentioned. It was not easily accessible for me.

I did do blood work and my local vet doubted she needed the medication and wondered if she did not have a thyroid problem. I was reluctant to stop her because her former owner was adamant about her needing it. I slowly took her off the medication and we followed up with blood work that looks normal. We will soon be doing a yearly check, but she has far fewer symptoms and does not look as gaunt as she was the last few months she was on the thyroxin.

I spent a good six months whereshe was on a restricted diet of lamb neck, 2to1 meat to bone. Her health improved. Yet, she would still have issues. Strange inflammations in patches that got crust and red. Like a flock of bug bites. I think I discovered that she suffered most when I was not giving her the monthly sentinel medication . I have read that dogs are exposed to all sorts of mites in their lifetimes and that a dog with a normal healthy immune system these mites are not a problem, but when a dog has a poor immune system the mites can become a serious problem, setting the stage for secondary bacterial infections. I kept a lot of ointment on her and resorted to temril p only for a few days at a time, every few months. I learned the hard way that steroids and antibiotics make for nasty fungal infections.

It was and is awful to see her suffer from a wide array of skin problems.

Back on the regular monthly sentinel the worst of her skin issues, at least the crusty patchy kind, are at an all time low, yet her itchiness and topical allergies still continue.

She gets what i think is fungal blackness between her toes. She licks puddles about them. Though, a daily coating of coconut oil on her paws helps immensely to keep the licks and black away.

I have also started giving her organic unsweetened coconut flakes for treats.

She is eating a natural raw diet I buy frozen at the pet store.

I think the coconut flakes have made the biggest difference. Next we are trying some handy disposable cotton mittens for dogs. I suspect with these she will leave the fungus and irritants outside. There is hope yet. It just takes patience and attention.

Sep 05, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Skin issue of french bulldog
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Ronald,
Thank you for the one year follow up report. You have certainly helped your 'Frenchie' quite a bit. Perhaps using the Sentinel every 45 days, (instead of every 30 days) would still be effective to help keep parasites at bay, and also decrease the total amount of toxin exposure.

Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are very beneficial for the intestinal tract as they seem to be more easily absorbed. It is ALSO very effective as a hypoallergenic moisturizer when used on the skin. It sounds like you are on the right track!

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
. 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 16, 2014
Similar Issues NEW
by: Machi

We just moved to Washington as well and my frenchie is having the same issues.I came across your post and was wondering what worked the best(and did you find permanent solution)? I switched her over to a raw diet as well and her black spots have gone away.Though she still has a lot of red spots and itchy skin.Any input would be much appreciated,thanks.

Aug 17, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Skin Issue of French Bulldog NEW
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

August 16, 2014

Hi Machi,

We have not heard any more updates from the last posting.

If you wish to ask a question, more specific to your own Frenchie, here's how to subscribe to post a new question.

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

Click here to add your own comments

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