Dogs/Bouvier itchy skin
QUESTION: Dear Roger,
Maxi is a 3.5 year old bouvier, about 70 lbs. We feed her, and our 2 shih tzus, purina one, lamb. They all get alpo snaps as treats/ rewards. We do not feed any of them table scraps. Over the past 6 months Maxi has developed itchy skin on her rear/ mid back to her rump. There is no redness or scaly skin, however her hair is starting to thin quite a bit in this area. I am her groomer, and usually keep her hair around 1.25 to 2 inches, a little longer come winter. We have tried Hartz hydrocortisone with aloe, but there is no long lasting relief. She gets bushed a couple of times per week, and bathed with magic mike shampoo, then conditioner, about every other month, or sooner if someone tells me she is stinky. ( I do not have a very good sense of smell). I rinse her extremely well. She is a stubborn pleasant companion, is never destructive in the house, but will dig now and then in the yard and she will eat the sweet hickory nuts that fall from the tree. She gets heart worm pills monthly. We spray the yard with permethrin about every other month, we have no fleas, thank goodness! She has 3/4 of an acre to run and play with her brothers, and that can be loads of fun to watch!
Can you tell us what we are doing wrong/ how we can help her?
Appreciate your taking the time to read this, and look forward to your reply.
ANSWER: Hi Abbi,
Let's see if we can go over a few things that may help. Thanks for providing a complete list of foods and other information. That makes it much easier on my part to make suggestions.
This may be long as we have a lot to go over.
The topical solutions are fine to give them some relief but we need to focus on healing from the inside for true, long term relief.
Fist you have to learn about and how to read the ingredients in your dogs food. What are the good ingredients and what are the bad ingredients and what ingredients can cause health problems.
The most common allergy causing, poor skin condition causing and disease causing ingredients are wheat, corn, soy, by-products, chemical preservative, and artificial coloring's. There are more but these are the most common ones used in commercial dog foods.
Look at your Purina One formula and the Alpo Snaps and you'll find a multitude of these bad ingredients listed.
Maxi is probably suffering from a very common food allergy for one.
You mention that you don't feed table scraps. Well, if you eat healthy, those table scraps will be a lot better for him than this Purina food. If you have leftover lean meats or veggies, these are much better than any heavily processed dry foods. You can always add these to their diet.
For second, if he is running around in the yard where you sprayed Permethrin, he could also be suffering from chemical or contact allergies. Here is a link for more information on Permethrin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permethrin
I would never let any dog run around a yard that has been sprayed by any type of toxic insecticide. You are just asking for health issues.
Its side effects state: Permethrin application can cause mild skin irritation and burning. Discontinue use if hypersensitivity occurs.
If he is not running around in this part of the yard with this in it, then no worries.
Next, let's look at the heart worm application. If you live in an area that has a high risk of infection from these mosquito's like in Texas or Florida, then I understand monthly doses. If not, you may think about this more as any of these meds will have side effects.
Here is more information about it from Karen Becker who is a holistic vet and who we follow as her beliefs and ours in nutrition and supplements line up quite well. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/03/10/pet-dog-bree
So these are the potential issues I see from your statements that can cause the skin issues you are seeing.
Now lets go over what you can do to try and correct these.
First, you need to get him off of the Purina One food. Most all of these commercial type dog foods are loaded with the problem ingredients listed above. Their marketing efforts lead most of us to believe you are feeding a good, solid dog food but this is far from the truth. We see it daily in our store how people's dogs suffer from these ingredients.
The wheat, corn, soy and by-product ingredients will actually lower your dogs immune system so any type of allergies, diseases, cancers and more can take hold and ruin health.
I don't think you mentioned if it was Purina's dry or wet foods you are feeding. Either way it needs to go. But if it is only dry you are feeding, then that creates another problem in itself.
No dog should ever be on a dry food only or mostly diet. Dogs by nature are meat eaters. This means they need to consume a high moisture content diet to function properly.
Dogs on a dry only diet will actually live in a mild state of dehydration. This effects internal organs and their skin and coat. You will typically see a very dry coat.
Depending on your budget, if you don't have to feed dry food, don't. Even the best dry dog food is the worst diet to feed. It can be part of the diet if needed, but never any more than 50% of a diet. The less, the better. It is the most processed food and is hard to digest. The less processing you do to foods the better is is for us and for our dogs.
The best diet in the world for any dog is what nature intended them to eat and thrive on and that's a raw food diet. This gives them a high moisture diet and contains the "live" co-factors that are missing in a dry or canned foods. These are typically the enzymes and probiotics.
Missing these co-factors are another reason why today's dogs are suffering so many diseases and cancers.
We feed a raw food diet to our dogs and cats. We also take in rescue dogs from high kill shelters that come to us with typical skin issues. We transfer them to a raw diet as that heals them the fastest. Then we find homes for them.
Feeding raw is not for everyone, we understand that. There are commercially prepared raw foods that come frozen in nuggets so feeding this type of diet is very easy.
The next best diet is a lightly cooked diet. This type of food is typically heated to about 170 degrees. This is the next best thing to feeding raw and it usually comes frozen as well. My mom does not like to feed raw to her dogs so I provide her with this type of food. One of them is called My Perfect Pet. You can search them on the web and find out if they sell in your area.
The next best diet is a homemade diet. This is hard and time consuming but at least you know all the ingredients going into it. There and many books on the subject if you decide to try that route.
The next best is canned foods. Not the commercial ones but the premium ones.
The best thing for your dogs right now is to go grain free on their diet. Getting rid of all grains, even the good ones will help them recover good, health skin the fastest. Plus, dogs just don't need grains in their diet. It's just a filler to help cost out.
Find a small, independent pet food store in your area. Go talk to them about grain free canned foods to feed. Or better yet if they can provide you with My Perfect Pet foods or similar will be even better than canned.
Some of the better grain free foods are from companies like Orijen, Accana, The Great Life, Natural and Delicious, Merrick, Before Grains, Canadae's grain free and Wellness Core to name a few. There are many other good ones.
Next, we need to supplement the enzymes and probiotics into their diet. This is the number one thing I tell everyone they can do for their pet no matter what they feed. It's that important.
Enzymes break down the foods far enough so all the nutrients that are available in the food to be transported into the blood stream. Then it is available to all of the body. The lack of enzymes in a diet causes some of the internal organs to produce enzymes to help digest their foods. This is called enzyme robbing and can lead to organ failure over time. Also, the lack of breaking down food far enough can lead to most of the nutrients passing right through the body and then the dog becomes nutrient deficient.
Probiotics help fight off bad bacteria and help provide a health flora in the digestive system. This helps create a healthy immune system.
You can get enzymes and probiotics in powder form and just sprinkle on each meal. Look for it in your local pet food store or online.
Other supplements that will help nourish the skin is omega's. You can get a good fish or salmon oil and give them the correct amount daily.
That will help take care of the diet and supplements to start healing from the inside. Next we need to make sure they are not exposed to any chemical treatments in the lawn.
Then look to the heart worm application and make sure you need it every month.
Proper feeding of a balanced diet and supplements will build up his immune system, nourish the skin and coat and fight off diseases.
My wife and I did wright a book on these basics of good food, bad food ingredients I discussed above. It also talks about what you can do if you're on a budget. If you would like to check it out, it is available on Amazon in paperback or kindle format. It's a short read and only a few bucks. The link to it is here: http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Food-Decoded-Choose-Healthy-ebook/dp/B008LX6WGY/ref=tm
So those are my suggestions based on what you told me. I know this is a lot of information and I'm sure you will have more questions or would like me to clarify something. If so, please feel free to wright back with any questions or more input and I'll be happy to help if I can.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: You were right, more questions,
We plan on changing their food ASAP, this week. You confirmed my thoughts, that the issue was diet related. Forevermore they will receive leftover veggies, very lean lamb. Chicken is not Maxi's friend...
We are in central Arkansas, and all vets we have been to recommend the heart worm, your thoughts?
As for spraying the yard, do you have any other suggestions? If we do not spay, ticks are definitely a problem...the entire yard is treated when we spray. We were under the impression that permethrin was the least toxic of our options. It is ALWAYS dry before we let them out...our yard is tree fringed, and ticks are definitely a problem. I would rather not give her a tick " pill"... Suggestions very welcome.!
Thanks again so much for you input!
Here is a link to a heart worm related incidents per area of our country. You can see how relevant it is in your area. https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/incidence-maps
To be honest with you, I would not take my vets advice all the time. One, they are not trained in nutrition but are looked at as authority figures because of their medical practice. They are typically given products and told by reps that this particular flea control or heart worm pill or dry food diet is a fine or a must. It does warrant your investigation.
We will use our regular vet for emergencies or to help with a diagnosis. But we don't rely on them for treatment. We go to and recommend a holistic vet. These guys are great as they are trained in regular vet medicine but have furthered their education in healing through the holistic approach.
See if there is one in your area that you can discuss this with. Even if they are not in your immediate area, you can contact one by phone for this type of advice.
There is also a pay per question holistic vet in California that I have used before. It was only like $9 or something. She is good and will help you with this type of question. She is at: http://www.organic-pet-digest.com/ask-a-veterinarian.html
For the yard, we have a natural spray we sell, I can't remember the name of it off hand here at home but searching the web, I found this one on Amazon. You can read about it and look at reviews. You could also ask a holistic vet if you do find one. I'm sure there are more that you can search for. http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Kennel-Convenient-Sprayer-Hookup/dp/B001B4SHB8
Glad to hear you are changing foods. Wheat is the number one cause of so many issues with our pets and your current food and treats are loaded with it. It was the reason one of our dogs got severe skin condition and it eventually got us to research nutrition many years ago. We eventually opened our own store to help others and it's fun as we are able to take our dogs with us to work each day.
I hope this helps and be sure to keep asking questions to me or anyone else as your dogs deserve the best you can do for them.
Let me know if there is anything else,