Saturday, January 12, 2008

Excessive Itching, Licking and Hot Spots - part II

From: Laura (USA)

Subject: Black Labrador Retriever with excessive itching, licking and Hot Spots - part II

Labrador Retriever Name: Deuce

To read part I of this e-mail visit: Excessive Itching, Licking and Hot Spots - part I

Reader's E-mail - Laura's Response:

Please see the answers to your questions below in red. Thank you!

Has Deuce ever been to a veterinarian for the ear infections? Yes, he is on a fairly regular regimen of ear cleaner and ointment to keep them from getting increasingly worse. We also have him on a fatty acid supplement.

What type of ear infections does he get? (bacterial, yeast, etc) I believe it’s yeast

Does he have an ear infection now? Does not appear so, as long as we stay on top of cleaning them twice weekly we usually are able to keep them away.

You stated " the last several months has been excessively itching", where has he been itchy? I understand the paws, but where else? Ears, and some back, but mostly paws

Any head tilting or shaking? If he has buildup in his ears he starts shaking and tilting the head, which lets us know it’s time to clean the ear.

Any odor from the ears? Only if an ear infection goes untreated, which really doesn’t happen anymore.

Any discharge from the ears? The brown yucky stuff we clean out, but I don’t notice it draining out, we just clean it out.

Where are the hot spot located? On his back

What do you fed Deuce? (food brand and flavor, treats, table scrapes, etc) Eukanuba itchy skin formula

Is Deuce an inside dog or outside dog? Both, he stays outside when we are at work and sleeps inside.

Is there a bad smell to the paw? Not at all.

Is the paw red or swollen? No, it just looks like he licks it, hard to explain they just look worn, if that makes sense.

Any sores on the paws? See above

Has he ever had problems with his paws before? No, he just turned 3, April 20th and it’s only been the last few months that it’s really been a problem.

Has there been any new places you have been taking Deuce since he developed the paw problem? (new walking paths, new dog parks, etc) No, he’s always gone pretty much everywhere with us.

You said " the last several months", when did this start? (Jan, Feb) What was the weather like during that time frame in Colorado ? I can’t really remember when, but we had a really wet “snowy” Dec and we’ve had a warm spring.

Any other medical problems with Deuce, now or in the past? Only his ears, they’ve been a problem since he was a puppy.

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Continue Reading...

Hello Laura,

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

Thanks for the replies to my questions and for the wonderful photo of Deuce!

Sounds to me as though Deuce has some sort of allergy, which can cause the ear infections, hot spots and ear infections. I am going to start with Deuce's paws first.

First off I would advised taking Deuce back to your veterinarian if his paws are so bad he doesn't want to go for runs without stopping.

Some common causes of paw licking:

Sore paw - from a thorn, infection, cut pad can cause your Labrador Retriever to lick the paw until it is better.


Labrador Retrieves with allergies will itch. This itching can affect the whole body, but certain allergies such as a food allergy or pollen tend to affect Labs paws. To get relief from this horrible itching, your Labrador will lick and/or bite his paws non stop. The paws can become wet, worn, swollen and red, and in really severe cases, painful sore can develop.

There are several different types of allergies that can affect your Labrador Retriever:

Contact allergy - just as the name states, a reaction to an irritant (such as flea collars, materials on his bedding, etc) that will cause itching and skin irritation at the location of contact.

A flea allergy - serve itching due to the flea’s saliva getting into your Labrador Retriever's skin. Your Lab will scratch and chew himself so severely it could lead to open sores, scabs and loss of large amounts of his hair. This itching is usually found in the rear area of your Labrador, mainly around the rear end (near the base of the tail).

Inhalant Allergy - just like you and I, your Labrador can develop allergies to something it inhales, tree pollens, weeds, grass pollens, with many of these being seasonal. There is also a possibility to allergens such as house dust, molds, mildew, which can be around all the time. Serve itching, sneezing and coughing may be present.

Food allergies - allergies to something eaten (ex: beef, pork, turkey, chicken, vegetable products). Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, scratching and itching can be present. His dull, dry coat can also be attributed to a food allergy. Food allergies can be complicated to recognize and to treat, with testing being done with a special hypoallergenic diet.

Allergies can't be cured, so what needs to be done, is to try to help Deuce avoid whatever is causing him to itch. Tests by your veterinarian can be performed, with a plan to reduce allergy triggers for Deuce worked on by you and the vet. Your veterinarian can recommend an over-the-counter antihistamines or in serve cases steroids.

You can also keep a log and write down times, areas, etc where Deuce has been before he starts this licking off his paws. It might help to narrow down possible causes of the allergy. Ex: Deuce's paws itch when he comes inside, can be an allergy to pollens, fertilizers, etc.

Here are some other things you can do to help with his itching:

I would definitely wash Deuce's paws after he comes in from outside.

You can soak Deuce's paws for five minutes, four times a day, in cool water. Add a sprinkle of Epsom salts to the water as it will also help soothe the paws. A compress applied to the paw for approximately five minutes will accomplish the same.

A nice cool bath can be helpful, since the water will assist in relieving the itching. You can add a little colloidal oatmeal (Aveeno) to the bathwater, which will help soothe the paws or your veterinarian can prescribe an antiseptic shampoo. Make sure you rinse Deuce's foot thoroughly after the bath, since any remaining soap that remains can make the itching worse.

Another method that you can try is Aloe Vera applied to the paw. Make sure its 100% Aloe Vera, like the kind from the plant (you can find in health store) not the mixture. This will also not hurt Deuce if he is to lick it off.

Hot Spots:

Also known as "pyotraumatic dermatitis", these lesions are usually caused by and made worse by licking, scratching and biting. Some causes of hot spots can be mites, skin wounds, fleas, allergies (contact, food, inhalant) and boredom. There is also the possibility that in a warm, humid climate, hot spots can develop when Deuce sheds his undercoat and the hair gets tangled, matted, or trapped against the skin, with moisture getting caught next to the skin, making it an ideal spot for an infection to begin. A good grooming schedule can help with this.

Again I would advise speaking with your veterinarian, as hot spots can be very painful, can spread and cause deeper skin infections.

As with the paws, you can treat the sore, but you have to remove the underlying cause to prevent the recurrences.

For treatment of the Hot Spots:

Shave the area around the sore to prevent spreading of the infection, and let air get to the area to help dry area out.

Clean area with cool water and a mild skin cleanser. You can also use a cool compress a few times a day. A home remedy of a tea bag compress, black or green, can be used to help dry area. The tea can also be used as a wash.

Medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian, and found at local pet stores to help dry up and heal the hot spots.

For the ears:

As far as a successful regimen of treatment, cleaning of your Labrador ears regularly is your best bet. Frequency of cleaning will vary, especially in the warmer months and always after swimming or bathing. A good ear cleanser can be purchased at your local pet store. White vinegar mixed 1:3 with water can also be used to rinse the ears. It can sting if there is any ulceration of the ear canal, and can possibly be dangerous if the eardrum is damaged.

One of the best products I've used with success for gunk in my Labrador's ears is called a blue power wash (actually I have seen it called many other things, as it has been on the Internet for ages).

"Blue Power Ear Treatment"


16 Oz. Isopropyl Alcohol (Witch Hazel)
4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
16 Drops Gentian Violet Solution 1%

Mix together in alcohol bottle and shake well. You will also need to shake solution every time you use it to disperse the Boric Acid Powder. An eye dropper can be used to fill the ear.

TREATMENT: Evaluate condition of ears before treating and if very inflamed and sore do not attempt to pull hair or clean out ear at all. Wait until inflammation has subsided which will be about 2 days.

Shake the bottle each time before using. Flood the ear with solution (gently squirt bottle), massage gently for approximately a minute, and then wipe with a cloth or tissue. Flood again a second time, and wipe again without massaging in. The dog will shake out the excess. Be advised, the Gentian Violet does stain.

The SCHEDULE of treatment is as follows:

Treat 2 xs per day for the first week to two weeks depending upon severity of ears
Treat 1x per day for the next 1-2 weeks
Treat 1x per month (or even less frequently, depending on the dog)

All of these ingredients should be available at your local pharmacy. I highly recommend the use of the witch hazel instead of alcohol, as if any scratches are in the ear, the alcohol can cause burning. The Boric Acid Powder soothes the ear and the Gentian Violet Solution is an ant-infection agent. The solution appears to work well on many ear problems. I also like to warm my solution slightly, under warm water, but you can use it either way. There is also a commercial version of this solution called Gentian Ear Treatment.

Another good product for ear cleaning and infections is the Zymox Products - ear cleanser and Zymox Otic (Do not use on punctured eardrums. Do not use on pregnant females).

The last time one of my Labradors had a problem with her ears (which they very seldom do) I used the Blue Power Ear Treatment and added plain natural yogurt to their diets (at the urging of a fellow Lab owner, some research and talking to the vet). The live cultures found in yogurt are called Probiotics, which are tiny organisms that help to maintain and produce good flora (bacteria) of the gut and will decrease chances of illness. No problems with ears since.

You can add it directly to their food or you can put some in a Kong (by now, everyone knows of my great love on the Kong toys), and freeze the whole thing with some treats.

I hope some of this will be of some help to you Laura. If you would like to try another food in regards to a possible food allergy let me know and I can help recommend some to you and help with a hypoallergenic food trail.

If you don't understand anything, please don't hesitate to ask, and if you have any further questions, again please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail. Please keep me updated on Deuce's condition.

Take care of yourself and Deuce,

To see a photo of the adorable Deuce visit: Deuce 01/12/08

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