I hope everyone and their dogs have survived this hot, and in many cases, dry summer. My newsletter this month turned into a ‘stream of consciousness’ that puts many thoughts and suggestions together regarding skin and allergy conditions and cautions regarding antibiotic use for these conditions. Oftentimes, antibiotics are prescribed for various skin conditions without any thought to the consequences. I hope you find this information useful.
This summer has appeared to be a particularly bad year for both skin issue and allergies for our dogs. With fall coming, this should help reduce itching and skin irritation if it is caused by the environment. Some simple steps can help with these types of allergies. These include:
- Frequent brushing to help remove dead hair and dander.
- Weekly bathing (or more frequent if needed) to help wash away the allergens that produce the itching.
- Keep the affected areas clean. Bacteria and yeast are opportunistic and love finding a moist, warm place to grow. A good solution is to use 3/4 witch hazel and 1/4 aloe vera (or the Thayers Witch Hazel with Aloe). This stops the itching, helps kill yeast and bacteria, and helps cool and heal the affected area.
If the itching and skin problems are caused by food, most often the ears and face will also be involved. This can include face rubbing and eye discharge. The insides of the ears may be red and they may have a brown discharge with a yeasty odor. What you feed is a consideration, and I generally advise folks to feed either a home cooked or a raw diet so there is control over the ingredients that are fed. Commercial dog foods often contain so many ingredients that it is too difficult to pinpoint which foods or ingredients are causing the allergic symptoms. Preparing food at home helps reduce the amount of food types included in the diet and helps to discover and eliminate the foods causing the reaction.
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In either event, if the dog develops sores or skin lesions, have a skin culture done at your veterinarian’s office to check for bacteria and/or yeast. These two issues can increase the problems created by the allergy. And remember, if your dog has a yeast problem, using antibiotics only helps to make a better environment for the yeast to thrive.
Eye and Mouth Staining
Another coat and skin issue is red or brown staining around the eyes, mouth and occasionally the feet. Often veterinarians will prescribe antibiotics for these conditions. I have even had people email and tell me they have permanently put their dog on Tylan for this. However, I don’t believe this issue is caused by bacteria, nor would I recommend a dog be put on antibiotics for this issue. Staining on the coat around mucus membranes and the feet (generally caused by licking) comes from dietary issues. Many dogs react to diets high in carbohydrates, either through yeast infections or perhaps diets lacking good protein. I have found removing commercial diets and placing the dog on home cooked (low carbohydrate) or raw diets helps to eliminate these staining issues. And continued use of any antibiotic will result in killing off the good bacteria, which sets up the perfect environment for yeast to grow and proliferate. And this in turn will cause more staining, foot licking and the possibility of yeast moving to the ears, causing a brown discharge.
High carbohydrate diets are high in sugars, which in turn create a good environment for growing yeast. An overgrowth of yeast can cause a brown or red discharge from the mucus membranes. Removing the offending substance can solve this problem. It is also helpful to add probiotics to the diet. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, which help fight yeast overgrowth. Giving a small amount of the Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder in each meal will help restore balance to the body.
This blend contains live cultures of 100 Million CFU Units/Gram (CFU=Colony Forming Units) of Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Enterococcus Faecium and Bacillus Subtilis. These all help keep the beneficial bacteria in good numbers in the gut which helps the immune system, reduces gas and aids in firm stools.
I mentioned Tylan in the above paragraph. Tylan is also known as tylosin. It is in the class of antibiotics known as erythromycin family. It is used in large animals for antibiotics, but for small animals it is marketed as an anti-inflammatory, even without much formal research or evaluation. And even The Veterinary Partner website (http://www.veterinarypartner.com/) warns:
“Casual use of antibiotics is responsible for antibiotic resistance of bacteria in the environment and, in general, bacteria that become resistant to tylosin also become resistant to erythromycin. Since tear-staining is simply a cosmetic issue, perhaps non-antibiotic treatment could be used instead.”
Tylan can also cause elevations in ALT and AST (liver values found in blood work).
I would certainly recommend trying a low sugar (glycemic) diet, which means a diet low in carbohydrates, no grains and good quality proteins. I have some easy to follow recipes here:
Another antibiotic frequently prescribed is metronidazole. This is commonly prescribed for diarrhea, gastric inflammation, irritable bowel disease or parasites such as giardia. It is interesting to note that metronidazole has never been approved for use in dogs or cats, but it is utilized frequently.
It is thought to have some anti-inflammatory effects, which may be why it seems to help diarrhea so quickly. However, the underlying cause of the diarrhea still exists. So often, when dog owners stop using the metronidazole, the diarrhea reoccurs. Using metronidazole is not recommended for the same reasons Tylan is not recommended. Long term antibiotic use can cause antibiotic resistance. It also has a long list of side effects, including:
Depression, ataxia, disorientation, head-tilt, tremors, bradycardia, rigidity, stiffness, and seizures. It is also processed through the liver and kidneys and should never be used in dogs with renal or liver issues. Metronidazole can cause liver toxicity in some dogs. It can also cause birth defects in pregnant dogs. It is recommended on most drug websites to never be used in puppies or kittens.
Diet changes are helpful in the case of diarrhea as well. Using more digestible foods (home cooked or raw) with less amounts of carbohydrates and fiber often help with intestinal inflammation. The dog’s short intestinal tract labors with high fiber diets. This often creates spasms, diarrhea, gas and stomach aches. Adding probiotics, along with digestive enzymes that help predigest fat and protein in the stomach will help combat gas, assist in firming stools and ease spasms. L-glutamine given at 500 mg per 20 lbs of body weight also helps heal the digestive tract. All of these can be found in the Berte’s Digestion Blend.
Metronidazole is used for giardia (a protozoa), but studies show it is less than 60% effective in getting rid of this parasite. A more effective and safer drug to use for Giardia is Panacur (fenbendazole) for giardia. For more information on giardia and treatment:
Please meet Willow, the newest member of my household! She is half Haflinger and half Friesian. She is six years old, 14 hands tall, and is a real sweetie!
We will see you in October. Please enjoy these last days of summer, even though I am sure our dogs are looking forward to fall and the cooler weather!
Copyright Lew Olson 2009