Skin Problems in Dogs


From Animal Doctor syndicated newspaper column, Dec 28th 2021

DEAR DR.FOX, Our dog is a rescue from a county shelter. We got him when he was 7 months old and he has just turned 3 years old. He is a wonderful pet, but is very anxious. We believe him to be a combination of Dachshund, Beagle, and other breeds. He is short-haired and 52 pounds. He has a long neck, a long, sleek body, a fish-hook tail, and a face that looks like a small Great Dane. When one of our sons first saw his picture he thought he was a Dingo. I guess all that really doesn’t matter unless it helps you know more about him.

He has had a constant rash under his front arms and in his groin. This would get very red——-like a severe irritation. He has also had this on the tops of his paws and around his paw pads. We have a fine vet who has been very attentive to him and his needs. We are using the Cytopoint injections every two months, and a Neo-Predef Powder 15 gm once a day in the evenings. These have worked well on the underarms and groin. Because he would lick it off we have not used the powder on his paws. Two questions please: Are the Cytopoint injections safe to use long-term, and is the Neo-Predef powder safe to use once a day long-term? His paws and around his paw pads concern me all the time. I simply do not know what to do to help those areas. Please help me know how to move forward with our 3-year-old dog. We want him to be well and healthy, and don’t want him to have any side-effects from the use of current medicines B.M. Tampa FL

DEAR B.M., Skin problems are common in dogs and can have multiple causes. Some are related to endocrine and immune system disorders and call for a veterinary dermatologist or other specialist determination. Brachycephalic dogs like Pugs and French Bulldogs with skin folds around their faces and elsewhere are especially prone to chronic skin diseases.

Your dog must be very thoroughly skin-tested (scraping and culture) for parasitic “red” mange or a fungal and/or bacterial infection. Another possibility to look into after your vet rules these out is a food allergy. For starters I would transition your dog onto my home prepared diet posted on my website or at least add a few drops of fish oil or one canned sardine ( in water) daily to your dog’s regular food plus 1 teaspoon of Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes and a good quality probiotic which your veterinarian should supply-or get one for humans and give daily with food. for a start.

Supplementing cautiously with zinc, under veterinary supervision, may be down the line but do avoid symptom-suppressing and not cause- eradicating drugs like Cytopoint and Apoquel, especially long-term, that can have iatrogenic consequences, especially suppressing the immune system. The Zoetis Neo- Predef Powder cocktail of antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and anesthetic will not help if your dog has mange or just one flea and is allergic to flea-bites. Must get rid of the fleas! For details check my website review Preventing Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes.


DEAR DR.FOX, I have a 5 yr old shih tzu who reacted badly to his second set of shots when he was 1 year old which caused a raging case of Panniculitis. (His littermate also had a bad reaction but it did not result in a chronic, lifetime autoimmune disease.) The condition is so rare that the two different vet practices I took him to had never seen a case in their 30+ years of practice. A lump was removed and sent to Purdue University Veterinary College who made the diagnosis. Vets immediately think Prednisone and although it cured symptoms, it was only temporary. When my dog was 3 yrs old, still suffering mightily from deep volcanic-like wounds all over his body, it occurred to me to take him to a veterinary dermatology specialist near Chicago. He not only had seen Panniculitis, he had treated it in multiple pets. He prescribed Atopica which was invented for atopic dermatitis. My dog has been on it since Dec 2020 and last month had his first one-year checkup including blood work, indicating him to be in fine health. I tell you this because S.D. from Erie, PA should look into this drug for his/her shih tzu that had been on Apoquel for a long time with no healing. N.E., South Bend, Indiana

DEAR N.E., I am aware of the benefits of Atopica, the brand name of cyclosporine, which, like Apoquel, suppresses the immune system and must be used with all due caution and monitoring teh dog’s health. I am so glad that it proved effective in suppressing your dog’s autoimmune skin disease, panniculitis. Panniculitis, which is inflammation of the fatty tissues beneath the skin with eruption of lumps that may ulcerate and bleed, may be caused by several factors, including trauma, infections (bacterial, fungal, etc.), mmune-mediated diseases (lupus panniculitis, erythema nodosum), recent subcutaneous injections (corticosteroids, vaccines) and cancerous neoplasia (multicentric mast cell tumors, cutaneous lymphosarcoma).

The manufacturer Elanco, has posted the following advisory: From “Do not use Atopica in dogs with a history of neoplasia, with a hypersensitivity to cyclosporine, or in reproducing dogs. Atopica is a systemic immunosuppressant that may increase susceptibility to infection and development of neoplasia. For use only in dogs. Capsules should not be broken or opened. Wear gloves during administration and wash hands after administration. Gastrointestinal problems and gingival hyperplasia may occur at the initial dose. Safety and effectiveness has not been established in dogs less than 6 months or 4 lbs. Use with caution in dogs with diabetes mellitus or renal insufficiency, and with drugs that affect the P-450 pathway. Killed vaccines are recommended. The most common adverse events are vomiting and diarrhea. Please see product insert for full prescribing information.”

Note that modified live vaccines should be avoided and I would advise closer attention to your dog’s diet with the inclusion of essential fatty acids and avoid corn, soy and wheat, providing an ideally organically certified, whole food diet with probiotics and digestive enzymes (provided by a teaspoon of unsweetened pineapple daily).I would give no more vaccinations. Then I would consider slowly taking your dog off the Atopica and see how he responds. As I have pointed out in my review of vaccinations in dogs posted on my website, adverse vaccination reactions (so called vaccinosis) include autoimmune diseases as per your dog’s adverse reaction. I am not opposed to vaccinations ( or to the use of corticosteroids and immunosuppressant drugs) but a cavalier approach to their use is ill advised.

NOTE :Many dogs, especially in the summer, develop “hot spots”, weeping, red sores and often scratch a lot as well, licking and worsening these sores. The most likely cause is insect-bite allergy, especially to flea bites. One flea on a sensitized dog can cause extensive allergic dermatitis which should always be checked for when a “hot spot” is found on a dog .A flea comb can catch flea poop ( digested dog’s blood) in the fur that looks like flecks of coal and turn brown-red when put on a piece of wet white paper.