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  • Need help

    Need your expert advice.....I got a new client this week. A 10 year old westie who has AWFUL skin and is deaf. She is with her third family and these people seem to really care about her. The vet has just put her on prednisone (sp) and that's it. Her skin is very oily and she has scabs all over. She has what I would call elephant skin like all thick and scaly. I am wondering if there is a product or products you guys could recommend to me. I bathed her with nature's specialties almond crisp as a degreaser and then used their lav-n-derm to try and soothe her skin a bit. The back of her neck was still very oily though. I see alot of terriers with skin problems and oily coats but none this bad. Could this be partly contributed to a lack of hand stripping over the years? Also the skin in her ears is so thick that they are basically closed off. They were told her cause of deafness was a dog bit her in the ear....doesn't make alot of sense so I wonder if it it because of her skin. Anyways, just wondering if anyone has any experience with skin like this and if you can recommend any products. I know they need a vet but it seems as though their vet isn't doing alot so I would like to try to educate myself enough so that maybe I can help her get some relief. Thanks guys!

  • #2

    I don't know this dog's history, but there is a VERY strong possibility that she needs a better diet, needs to have no more steroids (prednisone is a steroid), and needs to let herself heal. Sounds like possible chronic yeast infection. Antifungal shampoos may give some help, but may be best done every 3-4 days for a while.

    This is not the typical "medicine/vet care" routine. They want to give steroids and antibiotics which "hit" the dog's immune system more and more. Plus this dog is now a senior. Probably on grocery store food or other high corn food. Two foods that I can recommend for them would be Merrick and Taste of the Wild (Wetlands is my favorite to give, it is the fowl mixture). Both these foods have very high quality ingredients, dogs usually love them, and I have seen good results. The owners should be instructed to change over SLOWLY for about 2 weeks to ensure that the dog does not have any digestive problems with the change, which would just complicate things.

    That's my take for the basics. And I go further with the "let the dog recover" path by trying to avoid vaccinations, systemic flea meds, heartworm, etc. Many think this stuff is necessary, but I prefer to do a bit of extra work and try the least amount of toxins in the animal's system. It can take 6-18 months for the immune system to recover. Better to have blood test for heartworm twice a year than put more poison into a damaged, senior dog. If the test is done this frequently, I am thinking that IF heartworms were detected, you could then give the regular heartworm med instead of doing the spinal/more toxic cure for a big infestation. I need to check and see if this is true, but I think I read this somewhere. Also, blood test for immunity to diseases that have been vaccinated for; many vets now advise that elderly dogs should not receive vaccinations.

    For more information, check out the book "Scared Poopless" by Jan Rasmussen, and her website:

    Good luck helping the dog; I believe she can be turned around.


    • #3
      "Elephant skin" = fungal scarring?
      "We are all ignorant--we merely have different areas of specialization."~Anonymous
      People, PLEASE..It's ONLY a website!~Me


      • #4
        I am not sure what you would call the skin actually....that is just my description of it. There is also alot of scabbing all over the dog. I wonder how the owners would react to taking her off of the they have just upped her dose. How would I go about this without sounding like I am giving vet advice. I certainly don't want to be accused of that. They have only had her since September and seem to have sort of just accepted her skin as a problem she will have. But I don't think they realize how bad it is. The worst I have ever seen for sure. Does anyone have any feedback on the Davis Theracoat? I don't want to recommend anything without hearing from real people but I was thinking that I would buy them a container of it to see if it would help. I am also wondering if anyone knows of any literature or resources for me to educate myself on skin conditions. There was very little of it in my course. She is coming back for a bath in 2 weeks so I will take some pictures of it then.


        • #5
          I would recommend they get a second opinion or even suggest a veterinary dermatologist. This is clearly a long term chronic condition and because we are talking about a Westie, I would definitely put allergies high on the list. I have a client that had battled allergies and chronic skin conditions with her dog for years before they came to me. The dog was getting meds and allergy injections and the skin had improved but wasn't well. I recommended a diet change as I am sure our vets had in the past but for some reason she listened to me hehehe. After the diet change, the skin issues have resolved and the lab now has a glorious full black coat =) They are continuing the allergy injections though and I hesitate to say diet alone could have brought about such a tremendous change. All you can do is educate your clients and try to guide them in the right direction. Good Luck


          • #6
            I'm surprised the vet hasn't prescribed "Sebolux" shampoo. It would help break down the scabs. Another option would be to try Pooch "Metacetic" (sp?) shampoo.

            As for giving "vet" advice...always qualify by saying "I'm a dog groomer, NOT a veterinarian, anything I say is simply based on grooming experience and things simply to ask your veterinarian about."

            That said, and as someone who is "just a groomer, who has happened to work for veterinarians for 10 years until now" there must be an underlying issue. Schnauzers are prone to Cushings disease - is is body "sausage" like? Almost like he's overweight but not quite the same, like his belly is stuffed? Cushings is when the body produces too much cortisone. Then there are secondary problems created. I would think it really odd for a vet to miss it and actually prescribe more cortisone (pred) but it can happen. Thyroid disorders can also be a primary issue and cause secondary ones - like ear infections, skin issues, etc.

            Have they only seen this vet? For years? If so I would really recommend going to another vet for a second opinion. If you really care, research vets in your area and find a good one that keeps REALLY up to date on things. I'm sick of vets being old school and just handing out pred instead of finding an underlying cause. Too many treat symptoms instead of finding what is creating the issue.

            Keep in mind too, many many people do not want to spend the money to find the real issue. That is exactly why so many vets just treat symptoms.

            Hope that helps.


            • #7
              I agree with what has been said

              But what about her diet and allergies to chicken etc? I think/hope now with caring owners she can actually get over this problem. I have seen The Missing Link vitamin supplements help a lot.

              Anyone? Would a suger scrub help or irritate the skin? Warm medicated shampoo with a saran wrap, or warm wet tight towel and apply warm air to get the medication into the skin. Kinda like a hot oil treatment. I just learned about this from a fellow groomer pal.


              • #8
                This dog needs to be seen for a second opinion. A veterinary dermatologist or better yet a holistic vet would be my choice. The Pred. is only going to shorten her life and really make no difference in her skin unless other changes are made. This dog needs to have blood work done to make sure she is not hypothyroid, she needs a food without offending ingredients, she needs to have her immune system built up, not ruined by steroids. She will probably require topical treatments of some kind for a while also.
                Lisa VanVleet, RVT


                • #9
                  sounds like a lot of years of neglect. I would seriously check this dog's thyroid levels, and seriously consider a different vet. While this vet is not necessarily wrong for putting the dog on pred, it doesn't sound like many diagnostics were actually run. There is a time and a place for steroids, and steroids are very valuable for treating some diseases and not all steroid use is wrong, bad, or unhealthy. However, if they are simply treating symptoms rather than getting down to the cause of all these problems, then a different approach is recommended.


                  • #10
                    Having a dog with "issues" (allergy, etc) is a HUGE commitment by the owners! Many of the dogs I've seen with problems, the vet won't commit to a firm diagnoses. They continue to just treat "symptoms" instead of finding a cause and I feel it's a lack of true interest in what's BEST for their furred clients! So many people just follow blindly, what their vet says and never questions, so they just keep going back for more and more drugs! All these drugs are compounding the problems by breaking down the immune system causing the dog to cycle! While it may get better for a short time, once taking off the steroids, they get worse than before. It's a viscous circle.

                    Get the dog on a RAW/fresh diet! Investigate a bovine colostrum supplement (to boost the immune system) and topical treatments for Candida (yeast). You have to boost the immune system in order to get a handle on the other problems, so they MUST get this dog some help in that area, as well as, the topical treatments.

                    Here's a short article on yeast infections


                    • #11
                      Second opinion for sure. Could even be thyroid with a secondary skin infection going on.


                      • #12
                        I'm pretty sure I talked about our almost 12 year old rescued Lhasa here before, but his skin condition and obesity was caused by inadvertent years of neglect by his elderly owner. When he came to us in February 08, he was 15 lbs. overweight, could barely walk because of his weight and his skin was a gray with dander, scabs and infections. She regularly took him to the vet for pred shots because she refused to change his terrible food. We put him on a massive diet, using high grade foods, stopped the pred, started him on 500 mg/day high grade fish oil and bathed him every few days with EZ Grooms medicated oatmeal shampoo.

                        It took us well over a year, but he is now the correct weight, happy and healthy. However, I'm going to have his thyroid tested again this spring...just in case.