Skin Troubles

Remember, although I am not a vet, I do have over 30 years of running a boarding kennel, training school and breeding dogs. This coupled with living on a farm that over the years we have dealth with horses, cows, chickens, cats, goats and even emus, I have built up a great regime of home remedies and first aid. Not forgetting to that I am an avid reader of science advances (particularly in dogs) of their health, welfare and behaviour. Although I am always happy to make use of a good vet practice, we always treat our animals using a hearty dose of common sense first, which seems to be a rare commodity these days....

WORRIED ABOUT THE DOGS SKIN / ALLEGIES  ??

It is common to have dogs owners worried when they seem to have dogs with sensitive skin or allegies.... There can be various signs and sometimes a few sympthoms might appear at the same time - hence it may be more than one thing happening at the same time.

* Scratching a great deal
* Reddness / watery eyes
* Chewing or excessive licking of feet
* Chewing to the point of creating bald spots
* Excessive rolling around and rubbing against ground/furniture/vegitation
* Hots Spots - pink/reddish areas sometimes getting to the stage of looking a bit like pimples and area is sweaty.

Now I assume you have already checked for fleas... simple to do... roll the dog onto their back and scratch their belly.... ahhhhh don't they love that.... so while he is enjoying the attention then look around the 'private parts' is their any fleas walking around or even the signs of flea dirt... dark spots showing against the pinkish skin.... also check under the 'arm pits'..... if you see something dark crawling around then you need to give your dog a good wash, preferably in the bath or a public dog wash... using lots of shampoo which will help to dull the fleas and then they will wash off... hence the fleas can wash away down the plughole. This may clear up the fleas off the dog but don't forget to do the same to his bedding.... Note: dog fleas are a parasite... they live on dogs... once they don't have a host they will die off, so down the plughole they go into the storm water system to die off. 

OFF TO THE VET ???? .....  WAIT... Lets think about this first.....

So the problem doesnt seem to be fleas... so often families pack the dog off to the vet... However, when you take your dog they will likely suggest having some skin tests - Expensive!! and remember they can conduct many many tests and still not find what is the problem. The other suggestion from Vets will be to use some medication, often these are antihistamines /  steriods of some sort... again Expensive and often ends up being an ongoing action. They may also supply creams which again may have varied results and require ongoing treatment or trying to restrict the dog from licking the creams off. All in all it can be easy to spend perhaps $350 for an initial consult and then into $1,000s as you keep testing for more and more. Some people have reported that they are spending $3,000+ and still have dogs scratching like mad.

Remember the objective is to try and treat without the use of medications or chemicals as these will often work for the short term but as soon as you stop the meds the problem just re-occurs.. Plus you have to worry about what effect the meds might have on other parts of the body.

FIRST RESPONSES  !!

Nothing wrong with trying some home remedies as a first response. Personally my attitude is why waste money when it may or may not work, so best to eliminate some of the factors before spending money at the clinics. Here are some of the lessons I have learnt over the last 40 years with dogs and allegies.

DIET ... !!!   Yes I keep harping on about the Diet... but what happens on the inside of the dog WILL affect the outside....

Often dogs will have poor skin problems because their immune system is not working properly... so fix the diet... there may be some foods that trigger your dog more than others... but DONT go onto a rice and cooked chicken diet as often suggested by Vets... Rice and Pasta convert to sugars so it is not a great idea to add if a dog has a sensative stomach...  Instead we recommend that you get your dog onto a Raw Diet (more info on this diet in other articles) but basically this means....

1. Mix of Raw Meat (either beef/lamb/kangaroo/venison) if you find one meat seems the problem them exclude it to start with.
2. Vets All Natural Complete Mix - if you have skin issues they also have a Skin Sensitive version
3. Heaped desertspoon of plain Greek Yoghurt - its a good probiotic and helps to reduce yeast infections !
4. Drizzle of oil (olive, sunflower etc) - helps to build the immune system
5. Leftover fruit or vegetables (most that are fine for human are fine for dogs)
6. Twice a week you can add a bone / egg / sardines

The above would be what I would have a dog on all year... however, if the dog is having skin issues then leave out the 6th item above until all has settled down and then you can try introducing into the schedule and see how things go.

Processed food is a big problem. You don't know what is in it or really what benefit it has - even tho it might sound all scientific and have fancy words and pretty packaging.... even if you pay more money for the one that specifies it is for skin issues or bladder issues etc... we have only got the manufacturers 'research' to tell us this is best....PROCESSED FOOD IS PROCESSED FOOD.... Don't believe the bullshit and play into their marketing games... they are really after profits.... we have already seen some commercial foods that have caused terrible permanent issues - yet the companies just keep spinning the spin.... even if it says, no artificial anything it doesnt mean its good for the dog... and then all the nutrients have been cooked and steamed out of it.... Sheese..... why do so many vets seem to play into their bullshit....

Really folks, would you let your kids eat McDonalds every day.... we all know it is processed to buggary but this is what many seem to crave...well if you do it would be interesting to see if they end up with skin issues, sinus problsm, overweight, diabetic, heart issues, bad breath, poor dental and the list goes on....

HOME REMEDIES....lets think about how we can help the dog and not spend a fortune  !!!!

Firstly, try not to wash the dog too much... Shampoos can start to wash away the natural oils in the coat, yes they might make your dog smell better but to be frank I only wash my dogs perhaps twice A YEAR.... and they don't stink... believe me I would know as one of them is often sleeping on my bed.  Without washing you might find that running around on grass, rolling in sand and swimming in sea water or in rivers will often be enough for the majority of pet dogs. If they have rolled in horse poo then fair enough a good wash to get rid of the stink, but if just dirty perhaps hose them down to get rid of the muck.

HOT SPOTS .... Inspect your dogs underside... especially under the legs/armpits. Same sort of inspection we did for the fleas.
Dogs react to grasses/plants when they are growing at certain times... if you dog is sensative to a plant then the aim is to break the cycle of your dog reacting and itching and it gets worst and worse.   Hot Sports are often a sure sign of some sensitivity these will often start as about the size of a 20 cent piece and perhaps even look a bit moist and have some pimple effects... often it will annoy the dog and is itchy so they lick and chew and suddenly seems to spread. If you catch them early generally you get cotton wool and metholated spirits... use the cotton wool to dap really well over the hot spots.

The metho will dry out the area and take away the itch... this means the dog can forget about it for a time and then nature will take its course and the area will revert to normal... you might repeat this morning and night for 2-3 days and then see a marked improvement.

METHO WILL NOT HURT YOUR DOG..... I repeat.... THE METHO WILL NOT HURT YOUR DOG..... I have done this for the last 30-40 years to multiple thousands of time to perhaps a thousand of dogs of different breeds, not only my own dogs but also dogs in the kennels or training school... Never hurt a dog yet....... and in a huge percentage of cases this has helped to break the itchy cycle.... then nature can start to heal.... I also increase the yoghurt in their diet to help reduce the cause... Most minor issues of skin or ear trouble are from yeast infections... remember to that yoghurt will not hurt but could be a great help.

EARS - Dogs can rub their head against the ground because of mites, fleas or yeast infections.... So make sure they get the yoghurt to try and eliminate that.... your have already checked for fleas... but they are still scratching.... you can get some drops from the vet to insert yourself to treat for ear mites... just follow directions on the packaging and massage it well down into the ear to do its stuff....  later the dog will likely shake half out and then you can put a tissue around your finger and scoup muck our from the ear cavity... Don't use a cotton bud - with your finger you cant reach into the ear far enough to cause problems.
Last case scenario could be a grass seed, bloody nasty and uncomfortable for a dog... this is a job for the professional. So then off to the vet as they have the gear to see and in some cases they need to knock a dog out to get to it....

EYES - Sometimes allegies will show in the eys with the dog having some discharge or redness or both... It could also be conjuntivitus but the same course of action will help. There is a simple home remedy that is a good first response. Get a small container and put half a teaspoon of salt... dissolve salt with hot water and then use cold water so it is just warm. It should taste quite salty to you when you dip your finger in. Then soak a tissue and wipe across the eye from inside to out ... use a fresh soaked tissue for the other eye ... repeat with fresh tissues each time and it is good to let a fair bit of the water to wash out the eye.

This will often make a dog feel more comfortable, it will also help to flush out dust / pollen etc from the eye. THIS PROCESS WILL NOT HURT THE DOG.... It is just the same as using saline solution that you can buy from a chemist... just cheaper and you all have salt sitting in the cupboard so you can make your own whenever you need it.

FEET - Dogs who are chewing their feet are often reacting to grass allergies. They will chew inbetween the pads and try to pull out the hair as their feet as getting as itchy as all hell..... driving them mad at times.... so get a small jar - fill it with metholated spirits and dip each foot into the metho.... This will do the same as for hot spots... dry out the area and reduce the itch - repeat when needed. Cost about 30 cents instead of a vet visit for $160. AGAIN.. I say... THIS WILL NOT HURT THE DOG.... even if your dog seems to have some cuts in the pads this will not hurt... consider if you as the human have a cut on your finger, dip into metho and there is no pain or problem... in fact .... the metho will help to wash out any muck in the pads and may even kill some bad bacteria....

Cut Pads - We do the same treatment for dogs who have cut the soft pads of their feet - dip in metho each couple of days for a week, no bandaging and by 2-3 weeks the pad is grown back. Yet take the dog to the vet, they will give antibiotics, bandage the leg (which is usually pulled off by the dog)

Grass Seeds - Whenever we pat a dog (and we have Aussies with a lush thick coat) we are running our fingers thru to the skin, feeling for any lumps or bumps. This should be a normal practice every time you are patting the dog... feel around the ears and chest loosen off any matts or pull out any bits of foreign matter such as seeds. At the same time get them used to you running your fingers thru their toes to feel if there is any seeds getting lodged.  At least twice a week in summer roll them over and check their belly and thru the back legs.  

If I find a lump I inspect to see if it might be a grass seed, I might pull the hair away or even use the little clippers to clear the spot... sometimes you can feel a bit of an absess forming which I tend to squeeze and push to see if a grass seed might be inside... Just like with us getting a splinter out of our finger, often a grass seed will form a small absess and fill with blood and puss... dont be afraid to squeeze and if possible burst it to the outside and often a grass seed can then be removed with your fingernails or some tweezers. It might even take some different attempts over a couple of days. But you can feel really happy with yourself when you pull a big long grass seed out of the absess. Plus you have saved yourself perhaps $400 for a vet bill.

We live on a farm and spend time also in the bush. In 40 years have probably had to have 3 grass seeds removed by a vet. The rest of the time we do it ourselves without any loss of life or limb....

GOOD LUCK - happy home remedies -- and then if you need a vet... find a good one.....