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Ask the Veterinarian/Skin and Coat Issue


Lulu rash
Lulu rash  
Hello Jana,

I realize from your bio that you are not a vet, but I would still like to get your opinion on a skin/coat issue my female English Bulldog is having. I switched her to the raw diet (Nature's Variety frozen raw diet to be exact) a little over a month ago. She has been loving the diet, but her coat has not improved as much as I thought it would. She sheds excessively throughout the year and still sheds on the raw diet thus far, albeit less than before on a kibble-based diet. Recently, I discovered some type of rash on the inside of her back legs (see attached photo).

At first, I thought perhaps she was allergic to something in the raw diet, especially since it is chicken-based and I know many dogs are allergic to chicken. However, we just discovered this morning that she was infested with fleas. We have remedied that situation but would like to know from you if you think the rash on her legs is from the raw food or from the fleas? Any input you can provide would be helpful. Thank-you

flea pyramid
flea pyramid  
It looks very much like FAD, or flea allergy dermatitis.


Very common for dogs that have even a small allergy to fleas. One flea bite can cause 12 days or more of misery to a dog.
Make sure that you use an IGR to remove these fleas, or they will be right back in two weeks. IGRs make the eggs unable to hatch, make the larvae not be able to spin a cocoon and can sterilize the fleas. They do not, however, kill adults. You need a knock-down flea killer for that but you must make sure that your carpets and floors are being treated as well.

Here is a page about the flea life cycle and how the fleas are the least of your worries when you see them!

I am including a photo of a flea pyramid.

Now as far as raw diets go, I have yet to find one single vet that will advocated raw diets, BARF diets, etc. There is too much controversy over these diets and the chance for salmonella toxicity. Years ago, decades ago, this might not be an issue but it is now due to the horrendous way that cattle are fed off and kept in holding pens, pumped full of junk then slaughtered. This translates into toxic beef for humans and pets.

Another problem is the lack of balance of nutrients in these diets. Anyway, if she loves it and does well on it then great. Personally I only feed Science Diet to my pets and they outlive all of my friends pets.

I use the new Ideal Balance Diets which is their new line of grain-free, additive free and chemical free foods.

I would try her on that for one large bag and see how her skin and shedding problem is after that. I will lay you odds that it becomes much improved.

But once you get the flea situation under control, her shedding will improve as well.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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