Posts filed under ‘Skin issues’
An update on where we are at.
Last month, Boogie’s skin got really bad and his coat was thinning drastically. We had already been through two courses of antibiotics and steroids… the symptoms went away, and then they came back. So I decided to take Boogie to the Animal Dermatology Clinic for a second opinion and expert treatment.
Here is what I was told:
Boogie’s allergy is definitely environmental and seasonal (I already knew this). It’s unlikely to be food-related. He already eats very good food – grain-free, raw/rare food from Darwin’s Pet, and Nutrisca kibble. Supplements: probiotics, Brewers Yeast & Garlic, Apple Cider Vinegar. The topical remedies: Chlorhexidine shampoo, Resicort lotion, and essential oils. Sometimes also EV Coconut Oil. The problem is that the constant scratching and licking leads to infection and inflammation. (well yes, I already knew this too) and he is going bald because his skin was severely inflamed all over.
Boogs was put on Medrol, Simplicef and Ketoconazole for 30 days in addition to the topical treatments. I didn’t see any changes for the first two weeks. Poor Boogie was ravenous, restless, and his skin looked WORSE. In the third week, his skin was looking better (no bumps, redness, crusty bits, flakiness) – though his fur still hasn’t grown back. And then I noticed that he was obsessively licking his paws for most of the day and waking up in the middle of the night to do this.
This week we were back at the Animal Dermatology Clinic with a follow-up appointment …
I was given three options:
1. Allergy testing + shots
2. More steroids
I couldn’t afford the allergy testing (I don’t have a spare $600-$1000 lying around) and Atopica… also a pricey option at $100+ per month. So I chose the option that I could afford that I felt would be the least complicated or with the least side effects. Boogie is now on Medrol steroids again for 60 days (!) and I am also to give him Zyrtec (Aller-Tec) everyday. Look at this crazy schedule…
I hate seeing him so hungry, thirsty and restless on steroids – sigh. I hope the meds work and that he will get some relief. The ONLY advantage to his current state of constant starvation is that he is extra food-motivated and therefore easier to “train” and “lure”.
I always crate Boogie before I go out and I have been doing this for years. The main reason being that he used to relocate or destroy stuff when I was out, and the second reason – I didn’t want him getting into the habit of barking at people outside the window when I am not around to divert him from these triggers or to help calm him down.
About a month ago when Boogie was on his recent course of Temaril-P (side effects: extra thirst & restlessness) I felt bad about keeping him cooped up for up to 3 hours at a time. I thought it would be more comfortable for Boogie if he could move around, so for those couple of weeks, I stopped crating him.
Everything was fine at first. I would come home to a Boogie curled up in his open crate, on his bed or in my bed. He’s a bit deaf so sometimes he doesn’t even hear me enter the apartment.
And then one night when Nathan and I were out to dinner for only 30 minutes, this happened….
Yes, Boogie was on my computer keyboard and I don’t know what password he entered. And that trash can is actually twice his height and heavy! Of course, the steroid meds had made him so hungry and he was so obsessed with finding food that he was prepared to do anything! I felt I had no choice but to start crating Boogie again because there was no way on earth I was going to risk him eating something dangerous from the trash. (coffee grounds and Darwin Pet’s ‘raw meat’-lined plastic packets – eeeuughh!)
However, the temperature in LA has been 100+ degrees. It has been so unbearably hot that Boogie has been flopping down on the floor – changing locations throughout the day – in order to keep cool. And once again I wonder if it’s cruel to keep him enclosed in a small space even with the fan and AC on. It can’t be comfortable in that crate when all he wants to do is spread out all over the floor.
I am pleased to report that I have come up with a no-crating management solution for when I am out of the apartment. Before I step out, this is what I do…
- I still call Boogie to his crate and give him a treat. (He usually runs in there by himself anyway when he sees me pick up my keys) But I don’t shut the crate door.
- I move Boogie’s water bowl out of the kitchen and block off the kitchen with a baby gate. (no access to any food or trash)
- I fill the bath tub with some water so if Boogie is hot he can go cool down his paws (this is his Summer thing)
- I still lock my PC keyboard.
Everything has been working out great. I can’t believe I never thought of blocking off the kitchen before. When I come home – all is as it should be. Trash is safe. Boogie is sleeping in one of his many beds. He may still bark out the window but oh well…
Masked Dog is a character from Mucha Lucha. I designed him over 10 years ago and I can’t believe I have never owned a Masked Dog plush toy until now. Boogie was very excited to meet Masked Dog but I will have to keep these two separate because Masked Dog is MINE
Last week I was sent a free packet of Bionic Biotic by Pooch & Mutt for Boogie to try out. Poor Boogie still has skin issues – his coat is thinning very drastically – he is getting so bald you can see his black freckles showing through the white parts. He will soon turn into a black and grey boston terrier
And now that he is no longer on antibiotics, I am seeing the dreaded return of red (bumpy and crusty) spots on his skin. From what I have been told, it could be a few weeks before I see a result with Bionic Biotic, and we only just started a few days ago so it is too soon to tell if this will help. I really really hope so! I will keep you all posted. I am also bathing Boogie with Cortisoothe and Hexadene shampoos – and still adding Brewers yeast and garlic to his food. I have a suspicion that these medicated shampoos may be contributing to his hair loss… I don’t know for sure. It seems that the more I bathe him, the more hair he loses… But I can’t not bathe him when he is so allergic to grass and pollens.
What antibacterial shampoos do you all use?
We were at the vet again last week. Boogie is now on Cephalexin (antibiotics) and Temaril-P (steroids). 30 days of Cephalexin.
The itchiness has stopped but Boogie’s skin is still splotchy. Hopefully it won’t take too long to heal. One side effect of Temaril-P is increased hunger, so the poor little dog is constantly starving. Walks are frustrating. He has become obsessed with scavenging off the sidewalks (“Leave it” only works 50% of the time) and at home he often sits looking up at me, pleading for treats. He won’t even play fetch or tug. He would rather eat.
The upside is that Boogie is paying no attention to his usual triggers on the street. He is ignoring other dogs and scary humans and concerned ONLY with finding food scraps on the ground.
I told Dr. F that I cook for Boogie, and she mentioned that she orders her dog’s meat from Darwin’s Pet . Knowing that Boogie does not eat raw meat – he has either walked away from it, or eaten it and vomited later – I at first figured that this wouldn’t be something worth trying out. But when Dr. F told me that she cooks the meat and that it is ok to do so, I placed a trial order…
The prices seem really good. I spend about the same amount of money each week at the local market anyway; and the meat from Darwin’s Pet is organic, antibiotic-free and already mixed with organ meats, bone meal, veggies, apple cider vinegar and supplements. In the photo above – our first shipment of 10lbs of food – $15. When the box arrived, my first thought was – there is NO WAY THIS IS GOING TO FIT IN MY FREEZER – but then I realized the contents were mostly dry ice. The meals comes sealed in 1/2 lb packets. They include a fed ex slip for you to send the box back to be recycled.
Interestingly – the instruction sheet says that if the dog has a compromised immune system, he should not eat raw and it is advisable to cook the meals…
This evening I started transitioning Boogie over to Darwin’s Pet food… I sauteed 1lb of food – as you can see in the photo the meat is still red in color – definitely rare – and added 2oz of this to his usual fully-cooked mix of meat and veggies.
I have a question – does “rare” meat keep longer than “raw” in the fridge? This is a transition period so I won’t be feeding all of this rare meat too quickly but I don’t want it to go bad sitting in the fridge for too long… How many days is safe? I suppose I could cook it some more…
I have been receiving LOTS of tips and product/supplement recommendations from Boogie’s Blog readers. Thank you!!! I am going to list some of these items here for people whose dogs are suffering the same problems. I can’t tell you if all of these work because I have only just started using some of them, and keep in mind that Boogie’s skin problems are REALLY BAD.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar.
I have been spraying a diluted mix of this on Boogie’s coat after his last two baths. I can’t tell if this is making a difference. I have been told by several friends that adding ACV to a dog’s food makes a big difference and eliminates the skin itchies so I started doing this today. We’ll see if this works. From this Whole Dog Journal article: “recommended dose usually 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon per 50 pounds of body weight.” According to our vet, diluted ACV also makes a good ear cleaner. I have ordered some ACV pills because I can’t stand the odor.
2. Witch Hazel.
I have been dabbing or spraying diluted witch hazel (the ALCOHOL-FREE version) on Boogie’s skin, and on mine too when I get insect bites. It is also good for cleaning “raw red areas” on his face from scratching, as well as his ears. I actually add a couple of drops of Lavender Essential Oil when using as an insect repellent. This helps ME (I am super attractive and allergic to fleas) so I am assuming it is helping Boogie too. I don’t know how it compares with the ACV in terms of effectiveness but it doesn’t smell as bad as the ACV.
Astringents work their magic by quickly tightening skin and subcutaneous tissue, and thereby reducing inflammation and redness. A classic example of such an astringent is witch hazel extract, which can be purchased in a clear liquid, distilled form at any drugstore. A dab or two of witch hazel applied by cotton ball can bring instant relief to angry flea or mosquito bites. (Whole Dog Journal)
3. Brewer’s Yeast and Garlic.
I bought a big tub of this stuff and have been adding a teaspoon daily to Boogie’s food for the past week. This is supposed to protect him against fleas. I can’t see any significant difference (yet)
Fleas particularly dislike the flavor of garlic and yeast (nutritional or brewer’s yeast). Mixing garlic and yeast with your pet’s food can render their blood unpalatable to fleas. However due to risks associated with garlic which affect cats and some breeds of dogs, it is generally recommend that you avoid feeding your pets concentrated amounts of garlic. (Eartheasy.com)
4. Fish Oil.
I have been adding Salmon Oil to Boogie’s food for years. It has made no difference whatsoever.
5. Coconut Oil vs Virbac Resicort Lotion
I was massaging Boogie with Extra Virgin Coconut Oil after every bath. The dryness disappeared and his skin was no long flaky. I found the coconut oil to be way more effective than the Virbac Resicort lotion that our vet recommended. Boogie likes to lick himself so I feel better applying something that is safely edible. And then I was alternating between the two “moisturizers”. I no longer use either of these because I am trying out the Apple Cider Vinegar spray and I can’t imagine that it’s healthy to overload his coat with too much stuff. p.s. The Resicort lotion has a very strong fragrance.
6. Pramoxine Spray
This spray is supposed to soothe itchy inflamed skin, but I couldn’t tell if it worked. It also has an overpowering fragrance (poor Boogie nose) so I would rather stick with Witch Hazel or something less intrusive.
7. Virbac Cortisoothe Shampoo… and other options?
Our vet gave us this shampoo and I bathe Boogie once a week. We have been using this shampoo for months…I think it might be a bit drying (hence the Coconut Oil/Resicort lotion), but I am open to trying other options. So far, people have recommended to me this Dermacton Skin Conditioning Shampoo Bar and also a Pine Tar or Coal Tar Shampoo. I haven’t tried these yet. Any thoughts?
9. Colostrum and Quercetin supplements
From what I have read, these are supposed to support the GI-tract and immune system, and quercetin would help with the itchies.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I call it ‘nature’s Benadryl’ because it does a great job suppressing histamine release from mast cells and basophiles. Histamine is what causes much of the inflammation, redness and irritation characteristic of an allergic response. By turning off histamine production with a quercetin supplement, we can suppress or at least moderate the effects of inflammation. (healthypets.mercola.com)
I may consider getting some if the Apple Cider Vinegar doesn’t work.
*edit to add:
10. Chlorhexidine (antibacterial) soak and spray
I still do this occasionally. I fill the bathtub with some water and solution and let Boogie soak his feet (if he is licking them excessively). I also spray him with this Duoxo Chlorhexidine spray. Interestingly, my dentist sent me home with a prescription for the SAME Chlorhexidine solution to use on my gums so I now have more than a gallon of this stuff at home.
11. Triamcinolone cream
From Dr. R (our previous vet). This is an anti-inflammatory cream that I use only on Boogie’s face when he has scratched it red and bloody.
It breaks my heart to see him like this. He is so itchy and miserable. The allergic reaction has flared up really badly in the last week (combination of grass pollens and 1 or 2 flea bites) and in spite of the baths, witch hazel, coconut oil etc. it looks like Boogie’s skin issues have progressed to some sort of secondary bacterial infection because he has been chewing, rubbing and scratching himself raw and bloody, and the bald patches have spread.
I read a recent article in THE BARK magazine that if the dog’s GI tract is healthy, this would be the BEST protection against allergic reactions, compared to antihistamine or steroid-type medications. Well, I thought Boogie’s GI tract was health-ier! Now I don’t know, anymore.
We have a vet appointment tomorrow morning.
And as skin issues are a “pre-existing condition”, we are not covered by Healthy Paws…. Sigh.
UPDATE: Since these photos were taken, Boogie’s skin got much worse. The sides of his body are full of bald patches. There are red bloody sores on his neck. Dr. F (Boogie’s vet) has prescribed Simplicef antibiotics and Prednisone. I hope the meds will help him feel better, not so itchy.
The most popular posts on Boogie’s blog are about skin issues. It astounds me that so many dogs have been experiencing the same problems with dry, crusty, flaky skin patches… (diagnosed as some sort of staph infection that started as an allergic reaction) and like me, their parents have tried almost everything including long courses of antibiotics. I got very tired of putting Boogie on Cephalexin every summer. You should see my impressive collection of Virbac shampoos and conditioners. The first year I adopted Boogie, he was on antibiotics for 1 week. Then it became 2 weeks… 3 weeks… 1 month… 2 months… and the antibiotics worked but the symptoms always came back more frequently, and our vet even suggested feeding Boogie a low dose of antibiotics every day for the rest of his life.
Well, last year I changed vets. Not only was his skin in a really horrible dry condition, he was losing his hair. His coat was so thin, the white parts were no longer white. You could see raw pink skin and grey freckles everywhere. Poor Boogie was going bald.
Four months ago, I changed Boogie’s diet and switched to 100% homecooked food using a balanced recipe from K9 Kitchen. I also gave him coconut oil massages for his skin – which did a lot more for him than Virbac lotions ever did. Boogie’s poop also looked excellent and very slowly, I could see that his hair was growing back.
The weather here in SoCal has been warming up again and in Summer, one thing Boogie loves to do more than anything is to roll around and crawl around in grass.
My mistake is that I have not been very vigilant about bathing him or washing him after these frequent grass-rolling sessions. Lord knows what they put in the grass around here.
The skin problems have come back The white, dry, flaky patches. The dandruffy coat. Boogie is scratching himself; and his hair is falling out. I am bathing him once a week, giving him chlorhexidine soaks and more coconut oil massages but the problem is not getting better.
I need to figure out what to do, but here’s one thing that I am now 100% positively sure about. There is nothing wrong with Boogie’s diet. This is a seasonal and environmental problem. He is going to hate it so much that from now on, NO MORE ROLLING IN THE GRASS.
Apologies for the long silences between posts and thank you to everyone who has left comments (advice, tips, personal stories etc) on this blog, particularly with regards to Boogie’s skin issues. I have been out-of-town; now I am happy to be back home and snuggling with the Boogs again. He is less itchy now that the weather has cooled down. His coat is still very thin with the same bald patches, and his poor skin has been dry, flaky, and dandruffy.
I am trying a few new things:
- No chicken in his diet at all. He has been eating lamb and/or fish-based meals. It has only been 1 week… I can’t tell if there is any difference.
- Adding Pet Kelp to his food. 3 weeks, now. Can’t tell if this is making any difference with his skin, but his poop is looking very good!
- Virgin Coconut Oil massage, every other day <– THIS is making a difference! Skin is noticeably less dry.
- New Year Resolution: Make pet treats with the new dehydrator (which is still in its box)
I am determined to do anything to avoid more vet visits & antibiotics! In fact, I took advantage of Monica Segal‘s recent Black Friday Sale and ordered a dietary consultation for Boogie in the new year. I need help figuring out what foods (if any) that Boogie’s system may not be tolerant of.
Check out Jordan Rothman’s new book The Misunderstood Dog, with my illustrations. I would describe it as a simpler, easier-to-read version of “The Culture Clash”, written for dog owners. The Boston on the cover is the author’s dog. Here is the Amazon.com page.
Order a snazzy little name tag that I designed for blanketID. A percentage of sales goes to Boston Buddies rescue. I think this would make an awesome Xmas gift. They come in red or blue, and small or large sizes. The photos that I have of Boogie wearing this blanketID tag on his collar are kinda blurry…. Will try again later. ORDER HERE
Who is going to Clicker Expo in San Francisco next month? I would love to meet up! I know names but not faces, so if you recognize me, please say hi! I will be there for the full three days. First time that I am staying for the whole expo and very excited!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! – Lili & Boogie x
Recently, a client suggested that I cut out POTATOES (including sweet potatoes & yam) from Boogie’s diet. These are carbohydrates = sugars which contribute to yeast infections. Yeast infections lead to itchiness and possibly also bacterial infections.
I had no idea about potatoes and it saddens me that the giant boxes of The Honest Kitchen food in my kitchen contain potatoes and honey. Yep, honey is also a sugar. As are rice, wheat, corn, and ALL CARBOHYDRATES…. usually found in treats too.
Today I found this extremely informative video about treating and preventing yeast infections by Dr. Karen Becker. It’s long but worth watching!
Some anti-yeast tips from this video:
- Anti-fungal foods: Oregano, garlic
- Clean and disinfect yeasty parts of body every day- especially ears and feet, armpits, groin area…
- Foot soak: Gallon of water + 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide + 1 cup white vinegar/lemon juice. Astringency = anti-fungal
- Ear solution: Witchhazel & cottonballs. Clean out debris!
- No Oatmeal shampoo! (Oatmeal is a grain/carb and will feed the yeast!)
- Use Anti-fungal shampoo - tea tree oil based or herbal
- Post bath rinse: Gallon of water + 20 drops of peppermint oil (do not get on head), or astringent solution (see Foot Soak). Towel-dry without rinsing.
- A supplement to support the dog’s immune system.
One of the most popular posts on Boogie’s Blog is Hair loss and crusty dry skin… What is it? Many other dog owners are experiencing the same troubles, have spent as much money as I have, and feel as desperate as I do.
I have written about Boogie’s recurring skin problem many times, every summer, when we get the same Staph infection diagnosis and another whopping course of antibiotics. Yes, the cephalexin clears up the skin issues but Boogie’s immune system gets messed up at the same time so I have never been 100% happy with this solution. Some blog readers have shared their own success stories with me so I want to re-share them here.
Oh I can help you with this! Went through the same with my ridgeback. Spent a fortune and FINALLY found the answer. I wasted time with the specialists. My local RR Club hooked me up with an old school vet who had the solution. It is a staph infection and antibiotics won’t help long term because it’s so hard on the system and this whole thing is caused by a compromised immune system to start with. You need to start WEEKLY baths of chlorohexadine shampoo and add PB–8 probiotic to the diet. Basically treat the staph topically and bolster his immune system rather than tear if down. Also, I feed Honest Kitchen Thrive. It’s best for allergic dogs. I wish I could go on at greater length but I’m typing from my iPhone lol thumbs are sore Lol. But I found your blog by chance and wanted to help. Email me for more info as I have lots to share. We spent 2 years and spared no expense to fine what works. Silly thing is the solution isn’t even expensive. Ay! Best of luck!!
Today, this comment came in from Lawrence:
Thanks for posting this blog post. My BT, Buster 4mth old Male, had that weird scaly hair lesions with resulting patchy hair loss too this summer. At first it was only one patch on the side of his belly, then it really spread around to the point where it was embarrassing.
I followed the advice of Carolyn&John (which lacked specific brands/products). I looked up pro-biotics and chlorohexadine shampoo and just bought what was popular/highly rated on amazon.
Here’s exactly what I used:
-Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo
-Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Micro-Emulsion Spray
-PharmAssure – Acidophilus Capsules (this is the probiotics)
-Nature’s Bounty Odorels Fish Oil 1000mg (purified of Mercury PCBs and Dioxins)
I bathed my BT up to 3 times a week (also whenever dirty like after a dog run/day at the beach). I would spray him w/ Cholorhexidine spray once a day (a good 3-4 sprays around his whole body).
Then I would feed him the two supplements twice a day with meals.
It actually cleared up within 2 weeks completely in the middle of summer. The first week there was very noticeable results.
I added the fish oil for the fatty acids and omega 3 benefits.
I’m a doctor and understand the biochemistry/pathology behind this fungal infection. Its basically lack of absorption in the gut resulting in the fungal/bacterial lesions in the skin due to a bit of immunosuppression. Carolyn’s advice as scientifically sound.
The probiotics reboot the guts natural bacterial flora/fauna to normal, the fish oil provides nutrients specific for the rebuilding of skin layers (amongst other things like heart benefits), and the clorohexidine is basically a disinfectant/sanitizer that kills off the bacteria/fungus at the skin level.
Thanks again for posting your dogs skin infection and plight with pictures on your blog. It really helped me out and also helped me avoid going to an over zealous vet who might have put my puppy on long tern antibiotics that was not needed.
Hope this works for your guy as well.
Thank you, Carolyn, John and Lawrence!
I did order a big ol’ bottle of green Chlorhexidine solution to make a spray but when it arrived, I wasn’t sure what % to use so I have held off on using this. The instructions offered by one Amazon customer was 2 tablespoons of chlorhexidine solution to 1 gallon of water, and I tried this – but the result looked just like plain water. It was super diluted and gut instinct tells me I may be better off just ordering the bottled Duoxo Chlorhexidine spray.
At the same time, I am bathing Boogie once a week… Perhaps I need to bathe him more often. He is also getting Canine Immune System Support twice daily in his meals (The Honest Kitchen and Stella & Chewys) I should get some probiotics too.
Question on the probiotics: Are these the kind that humans take? How do you calculate how much to give a 26lb dog?
UPDATE: I received an email reply from Lawrence that this is the same kind of probiotics that humans take that you can buy from Rite Aid. You can’t overdose on it. There is also this very helpful footbath video:
The bath time “counter-conditioning with treats” strategy doesn’t work on Boogie. When he hears the sound of water running, he is already in cowering-under-the-nearest-table position (even if I am running a bath for ME). When he is in the bathroom, he won’t eat. Even after his bath, when he is freshly showered and I have rubbed him down with the towel, he turns his nose away from any stinky food in my hand. Or he takes the treat and spits it out, reorienting towards the closed door. “For f’s sake, open this door”.
I open the door, he shoots out of there, does a BT500* around my living room, and gleefully flings toys in the air. Only now will he come running for treats.(*BT500 = Boston Terrier version of zoomies)
On Friday, we went to a new vet clinic in my neighborhood. I haven’t decided yet if I will permanently switch vets because I am very happy with our current vet Dr. R… The only problem with Dr. R is that he is always so fully booked… it is so hard to get an appointment.
The appeal of the new place is that they are bigger, have more technology and staff, are almost walking distance from my home (a huge plus!), and the Dr. is really lovely and comes highly recommended. They also have a very progressive attitude at this place: the consultation forms use “your friend” instead of “your pet”, and there are no metal examination tables in the rooms! The exam rooms are decorated with warm cozy colors – as if you were in someone’s home. And there being no tables, the vets get down onto the floor to examine the animals.
Unfortunately, in Boogie’s case, being confronted with a stranger seated on the floor, in a room (in which there is no escape) is no less disturbing than having to stand on an elevated cold metal surface. At least in a traditional vet exam room, he knows what’s coming. He has been through the metal table routine many times, and he always stands there LEANING his body into me when Dr. R checks his mouth, ears, butt etc.
On the checkered floor of the new fandangled exam room, it was much harder for anyone to hold onto Boogie. When Dr. F called him, he sniffed her, took a treat, then backed away. And then he crawled under my chair and stayed there. It didn’t help that there had been an off-leash (resident) dog in the waiting room so Boogie was already agitated on arrival and all he wanted to do was GET AWAY FROM THIS PLACE. The only way he could have anything examined by Dr. F was if I picked him up and held him on my lap the entire time ….
Dr. F was super gentle and did not want to pressure him to be near her, so in the end, I didn’t feel that Boogie had a thorough enough of a check-up. :/
She said Boogie looked good though… everything looked fine except for a minor ear infection.
So now we have some new drops for Boogie’s ear infection and two new shampoos (Virbac: Ketochlor & Cortisoothe) for Boogie’s skin issues. I don’t know if these products are better than the ones we get from Dr. R… hopefully they are because they’re way more expensive. We’ll wait and see. Fingers crossed.
Have you ever changed vets for your scaredy/reactive dog? What do you look for in a vet?