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Skin on Dog's Belly is Falling Apart

by Kelly
(Chesapeake, VA)

Our problem began 6 months ago. I started noticing dark patches of skin under my dog Otto's armpits that were very itchy, and the skin was peeling up, allowing the back areas to be rubbed off. It smelled very similar to a yeast infection that one of my other dogs had some years back.

I cleaned Otto's belly with a spray shampoo that has essential oils and smelled like coconut, and I applied clotrimazole cream, 2%. It seemed to be helping, but then I went out of town for 4 days, leaving Otto in the care of my husband. He said Otto mourned and mourned and would not eat, and when I returned, the black rash had spread to his entire abdomen.

Otto is unable to scratch when he itches, and most of the areas in the photo shown, Otto can neither reach to lick or chew. Returning home, I cleaned his whole belly with witch hazel, and then applied a mixture of the clotrimazole cream and bactroban cream. I thought it would be either fungal or bacterial, so one or the other should do the trick.

The back rash would wax and wane, leading me to believe I was doing some good, but now, patches of his fur the size of a quarter are coming off WITH the skin, leaving a bloody sore. He is no longer able to wear his harness to go for walks, because his skin is so weak, it breaks down very easily and comes off.

I bought a spray that has 2% Chlorhexidine, 1% Ketoconizole I use once a day, and Allercain, with Lidocaine 2.4% and bezalkonium chloride. I ended up adding more of my own Lidocaine just so he can sleep.

I was giving him Benedryl 50mg 2 x day, but now he won't let me give him pills of ANY kind. He even bit me, and he picks through the hamburger I give him pills in to make sure I have not put a pill in.

I've been giving pills for years to dogs - 40 years, and dozens of dogs, and Otto has whipped me on this front. No more pills of any kind.

This grunge is weepy and smelly, very itchy, sometimes crusting as you can see in photo, along with the healed circles where he lost hair and flesh.

We don't have fleas. I alternate Advantage and Frontline and have combed Otto out with a flea comb. I brush him several times a day with a stiff brush because he can't scratch and is so itchy.

He has an undercoat like a husky, and the skin disease has accelerated through the shedding season. He used to lay on his stomach with his back legs out like a frog, but is no longer comfortable that way and only lays on his sides.

I know humans develop pressure sores laying in bed too long, and that occurred to me because of his paralysis, but as you can see in photo, the black grunge has extended to places with no pressure at all, like the sides of his stomach on either side of his phallus.

It began in his front arm pits, but they are clear now. It has just exploded on his belly.

Otto's bladder is expressed 3-4 times per day outside. I wheelbarrow him because he has gained a lot of weight these last 2 years. I took him off of grain dog food as soon as this started, so 6 months on a very expensive bison based, meat based food, which has improved his coat overall and his energy levels, but did not help with the grunge. This came with increased weeping of the eyes, not like conjunctivitis, but clear excessive tears, and copious leg licking.

He is 12 1/2 years old, has the beginning stages of cataracts in both
eyes and does not see well, he weighs 60 lbs, is paralyzed, and I know age is not helping matters, but since the original site of this grunge cleared up, I do not know why I am unable to heal it completely.

He drinks about a half gallon of bottled water a day, and I have reduced his food intake because the extra weight is not helpful when he has to walk on just his fronts to go outside to pee. His ears are clean as a whistle, and he has all his teeth with no tarter.

So, I have treated for bacterial and fungal, and tried to treat his anxiety with diphenhydramine, but no more pills per Otto. he does have massive anxiety when I leave.

I quit my job to care for Otto and his handicap, but I do have to get out and get away sometimes.

Can I be using too little of the antifungal?

Afraid to use more, because it thins the skin, and we already have a problem with him losing patches of fur that take away the upper dermal layer and it leaves a wet bloody patch that does not actually bleed unless pressure is applied.

I'm doing everything I did for another dog I had and was instructed by the vet. Otto's is beginning to suffer now and I can't live with that. I'm sure he is arthritic.

Otto communicates with me when he needs water or food by tapping his foot, but now at night when he is panting and panting, and has had plenty of water, has had a BM (which is solid), and been out to pee, and has had the numbing spray applied, I just don't know what else to do to make him comfortable. I have Tramadol for him and he sleeps very comfy when he takes it, but I can no longer get him to take it no matter which trick I use.

Some more history...

Otto is a 12 year old mixed breed dog. In 2009, he became paralyzed on his back legs, and has a 4 inch dead zone on top of his back, starting at base of his tail, and moving toward his head.

His tail is not paralyzed, and he has some nerve action in his legs. He will draw back if you tickle his foot.

Since his world is very small, the highlight of Otto's existence is going for a walk in his walking wheels, which has a harness, side rails and the wheels (ordered from handicapped pets, a wonderful device that has given Otto 4 years of freedom and happiness).

I am out of tricks, and my best friend is suffering. We did get a new dog just after the first signs of this showed. We rescued a male American Bulldog and got him neutered asap. Otto doesn't like him, but does not seem OVERLY pained by his presence.

3 dogs in home overall. Otto, Otis the bulldog, and Dixie, and black lab / American bulldog mix that was born with me and has grown up with Otto and his handicap. She is protective of Otto and they love each other. None of the other dogs have any skin disorders and no parasites.

That is every detail I can think of. I just want this guy to be comfortable. He saved my life quite literally, and I am beyond attached and in love with my little guy.

He is otherwise in excellent health for his age, and the no grain, meat based dog food seems to have made a big difference in his energy levels, and all the dogs coats and muscle tone. Still little Otto suffers. I say little, because the other 2 dogs are jumbos, over 100 lbs. Otto's normal skin color is all pink - no black at all.

Help please.

Comments for Skin on Dog's Belly is Falling Apart

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Jun 18, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Skin on Dog's Belly is Falling Apart
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

June 18, 2014

Hi Kelly,
Regarding Otto, you wrote,
"I do not know why I am unable to heal it completely."

Because his immune system is very weak, making him more susceptible to other infections.

You wrote,
He drinks about a half gallon of bottled water a day...
Has he been checked for Cushing's disease or hypothyroidism? Cushing's disease will cause excess drinking of water, weight gain and immune system weakness. If he was given steroids for his paralysis, this may have triggered the Cushing's and/or suppressed his immune system.

You wrote,
"I have reduced his food intake because the extra weight is not helpful when he has to walk on just his fronts to go outside...."
That is not the way to help him lose weight. If he *should* weigh 50 lbs, then he needs to eat 800 calories per day, or 400 calories TWO times daily, (per meal). Each meal can be 250-300 calories of his grain free bison dog food,

(you will need to check on the calorie content of his food to calculate this correctly),

PLUS 1 cup of green beans (20 calories), PLUS 1/2 cup yam (50 calories), PLUS 10 baby carrots steamed, about 20 calories. The entire amount will be almost 3 cups of food. So, he can have a HUGE quantity of food, just make sure the calorie count is NOT over 400 calories per meal.

You wrote,
"I have treated for bacterial and fungal"
But these are only secondary *invaders*. He needs to have immune support, and to find out if he has any deeper illness such as Cushing's or Hypothyroidism.

These problems are diagnosed by a blood test.

1. Missing Link Canine Formula

2. Immuplex from Standard Process

3. OrthoMolecular Specialties, Mega C Powder

Also, NO MORE vaccinations.

A holistic veterinarian can write an exemption form to exempt him from vaccinations.

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is

You wrote,
" and tried to treat his anxiety with diphenhydramine..."
This is an anti-histamine, not an anti-anxiety drug. Perhaps, you are using it for it's *side effect* of causing drowsiness?? Instead, use RESCUE REMEDY.
Add 2-3 drops to his water bowl two times daily. And also make up a diluted mixture in a 2 oz dropper bottle with 20 drops of Rescue Remedy, and you can give this by mouth as often as needed to decrease anxiety. This can also be applied to his skin to help 'calm' the skin.

Can he be bathed? Giving him a baby shampoo bath 1-2 times per week, to remove surface bacteria/yeast/fungus will help to decrease itching, make him more comfortable, and keep him clean.

DO NOT use any Advantage, Frontline or other toxic flea/tick product on him. If you need to use something, try, EVOLV, made from cedar oil. Very natural and safe.

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.

Jun 18, 2014
Otto's skin condition
by: Kelly

Thank you for the advice Dr. Tillman. I am not a big vaccine person to begin with. My dogs got a single round as puppies and their rabies shots, but I have been suspicious of vaccines for a long time, with the vets practically shoving them down your throat at every visit. Insisting on giving bordatella shots especially at nearly every visit, yet your dog still comes home with kennel cough after staying overnight or even all day. It is always a different strain than they were vaccinated for of course. Otto was checked for thyroid disorders a few years back, but not lately. It was a holistic vet who saved his life when he became paralyzed. While 2 vets nearly demanded I euthanize Otto, I found a holistic surgeon who was also a chiropractor. In our fist visit, he gave Otto an adjustment and the pain stopped immediately. He treated him with adjustments for a few months and assured me the only reason to euthanize Otto would be my own inability to care for a handicapped child, so that was a no-brainer. After becoming paralyzed, Otto enjoyed 4 years of near perfect health and activity with his doggie wheelchair. 3 months after being recommended for euthanasia, he was running and playing and swimming with the aid of his wheels. Now, I felt a little nauseous when you mentioned 'toxic' Frontline and Advantage. I always suspected so, but was always assured it was perfectly safe. Yes, I was using the Benedryl for its side effects of quiet / sleep, but also because he was always itchy, and I hoped it would help with any histamine reaction and help keep him more comfortable. Bathing Otto is difficult because he fights to the death. That undercoat stays damp for a long time, but I will bathe him anyhow if it will help. I wish I had gotten to this response earlier, because I just applied Frontline today. I will order the cedar oil. Otto eats twice per day, but is a bonafide meatasaurus who would never eat green bean or carrot, unless it was hidden inside a hamburger. I decided to try writing to you, because his anxiety goes into overload at the vet. Though his blood tests are old, the weight he has gained doesn't seem typical of thyroid disorders, but more a fat dog. In fact, I wouldn't even worry about it if he could walk. He does eat twice per day, but his body fat is evenly distributed, and hasn't presented as belly or neck bloat. His legs are fatter, his ham hocks, etc... I keep going back to 12.5 years of toxic flea remedy. I will come up with a way to get some vegetables into his diet. His anxiety is off the hook and that might be compromising his immune health as well, so I will also try the holistic anxiety liquid. When the dreaded day comes for Rainbow Bridge, if God does not take Otto for me, I will have to find a vet who makes house calls to euthanize Otto. I could not bear a vet visit for that, with Otto crying out loud, sounding like a crying child, as he does with any vet visit. Thank you again. I will work on his immune health and stop with the 'safe' flea remedy I have been using all these years, while undermining my 'children's health. I am having an 'Oh Wow' moment still.

Jun 19, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Skin on Dog's Belly is Falling Apart
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

June 19, 2014

Hi Kelly,
Sorry I could not get the response out to you any sooner, regarding the application of the Frontline. If he were easier to bathe, I would suggest a bath in Dawn Dish Detergent, it is a great *de-greaser*, and can sometimes remove some of the Frontline before it has soaked into the pores.

Otherwise, you just need to let it 'wear' off.

Consider some of the immune supplements. If they come in powder form, perhaps you can just mix them into his 'meaty' meal.

And using Rescue Remedy for anxiety may help. The rest of what you are doing, sounds like you are right on 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 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.

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