Ask The Vet Archives

Scooting And Gunky Ears

My dog has been “scooting” and has had ear infections, off and on. We have had her anal glands expressed, not very often. When we take her on trips, she doesn’t scoot.

I think it is an allergy to something in our yard. Is scooting harmful if it continues? Should we have her anal glands expressed more regularly? She is a 13 year old Golden Retriever. – I don’t give her flea/tick medicine – or heartworm.

How do you feel about the heartworm medication? Thanks in advance.
~ Linda

Dear Linda,

Dr Jennifer RamelmeierScooting and ear infections are both related to an increase in discharging from the body. An increase in sebum increases in the ear and makes a great environment for yeast and bacteria and an increase in anal sac fluid distends the sac and causes the scooting.

While allergies can be a part of this, another consideration is the amount of environmental toxicity. I recommend keeping her off all chemically treated lawns, feed a raw organic diet and avoid vaccines and heart worm preventative (Instead of giving preventative test her twice yearly as this disease is prevalent in most US states).

I also recommend starting homeopathy right away, as this can assist with improving the liver function to help with detoxification and also resolve allergies to grass etc.

Yours in health,
Dr Jennifer Ramelmeier

Raiding The Garbage Can And Paying The Price

My one year old Bernese has had some diarrhea and stools that are almost in a mucus casing. We just had a busy long weekend of camping and he definitely got into some food and garbage he shouldn’t have. Will this pass?
~ Julie

Dear Julie,

Dr Sara ChapmanDogs develop diarrhea from stress and excitement as well as from eating things that they shouldn’t. As long as your dog is feeling reasonably well (active, interested in food, no vomiting, small amounts or no blood in the stool) it is safe and reasonable to treat symptomatically.

Mucus on the stools is a normal protective response of the intestinal tract to inflammation and irritation. Sometimes there will be a wee bit of blood on the stools because many dogs strain when they have diarrhea.

Large amounts of blood can be more serious, and will require examination of the pooch.

Uncomplicated diarrhea from stress or dietary indiscretion (garbage-itis) responds well to symptomatic treatment.

First, feed frequent small meals bland, easily digested food. I like to use plain cooked meat, as cooked meat is slightly easier to digest than raw. (My own animals all eat raw otherwise.) Some people want to add grains, if so, I would suggest cooked oatmeal.

Offer plenty of water, ice, and other clear fluids (such as low sodium chicken broth) to ensure that the pet remains hydrated.

Provide probiotics to replenish the natural bacteria that are being flushed out of the tract by the diarrhea. Probiotics are safe for all animals. Some people give them daily at a low dose; during times of digestive upset double the daily dose. There are many probiotic sources, and they vary widely in quality and number of live active bacteria.

Ensure that parasites are not a major complicating factor by having a stool checked.

Use homeopathic remedies appropriate to the individual’s signs. I give a dose of the chosen remedy in a 30 C potency after each diarrheic stool. There should be significant improvement within a few hours, if not, the remedy is probably not correct, and the case should be re-evaluated.

If the diarrhea persists, or if at any time the patient’s condition deteriorates, consult your local holistic vet.

Symptomatic homeopathic remedies for diarrhea include:

Argentum nitricum – These patients develop diarrhea when they are excited, such as dogs on holiday or in competition.

Arsenicum album – This is the remedy most often used for gastrointestinal signs form eating unusual foods or garbage. Animals are usually restless, and may have vomiting as well.

Nux vomica – These patients have frequent urges to stool, with no result. They may be uncomfortable before and during passage of stool. They may seek out warmth.

Podophyllum – These patients have explosive diarrhea, often with a lot of gas. They often seem uncomfortable before the diarrhea, and are better afterwards.

Pulsatilla – This is a changeable diarrhea, often resulting from dietary indiscretion or overeating fatty foods. These dogs want to be out in the open air.

Sulphur – These animals have early morning diarrhea which is quite foul smelling.

There are many more remedies which can help with diarrhea. I suggest the book by Lockie “The Family Guide to Homeopathy”, as an excellent resource. This book is written for people (well obviously, animals can’t read) and does not specifically address animal problems. However, most problems are similar and often directly referable. If you use homeopathy for yourself, you will understand better how to use it for your animal friends.

Sara Fox Chapman MS, DVM, MRCVS, VetMFHom

Bald Spots?

My 2 year old lurcher has a bald patch on his tail. I never see him chew it or rub it. He is mostly raw fed and otherwise his coat is good. Non vaccinated.
~ Karen

Dear Karen,

Dr Sara ChapmanThis sounds like a mild case of hypertrophy of the tail glands, sometimes called “stud tail”. It is most common in intact male dogs, though I have seen it in dogs of both sexes, intact and neutered. Some dogs develop a swelling and inflammation of the gland, often accompanied by greasy discharge and itchiness. This sort of reaction is excessive, and often indicates underlying health problems; the stud tail improves in these cases with homeopathic treatment.

Other dogs just lose a patch of hair on the top of the tail, a short way down from the base of the tail. The hair in the skin gland area is always a bit more sparse and coarse, and in certain dogs, it does fall out. As long as the skin in the area looks normal, I believe this is the most likely cause
of your boy’s hair loss. Lurchers, and other dogs with sighthound ancestry, are particularly prone to hair loss because their coat is thin and easily rubbed off. Many sighthounds will show improvement to their coat condition with the addition of omega fatty acids (salmon or krill oil) to their diet.

Sara Fox Chapman MS, DVM, MRCVS, VetMFHom

Bonus Allergy Questions!

My standard poodle is itching and scratching I’ve looked for fleas – didn’t see any After a month I put Frontline on in case there were fleas. I didn’t want to use chemicals (Frontline) but she is scratching so much Is there any homeopathy remedy that you could recommend?
~ Barbara

What’s the best thing u can use for allergies? After a raw diet of course.
~ Kerri

My dog Molly has allergys every year at this time. She scratches all the time. My vet gives her medication, I think it is predizone, and we are really not sure if it works all that great. Is there anything we can give her?
~ Sandra

Do you treat hotspots with homeopathy, or do you treat the whole dog’s constitution and use that remedy to strengthen their immunity instead.
~ Margot

My 5 1/2 year old Minature Schnauzer, Spencer has been plagued by small bumps down his spine. Our vet said it was a common bacterial infection that Schnauzers get. They itch him, and feel like a bad case of acne would on a human. I’ve had him seen by our vet a month ago who prescribed a 3 week regimine of the antibiotic, Cefpodoxine 100mg. He also had me bathe Spencer with BPO-3 medicated shampoo. The bumps disappeared while Spencer was on the meds, but quickly reappeared after he finished the meds. I continue to bathe Spencer with the medicated shampoo 2-3X/wk, but do not want to put him on another round of antibiotics. Spencer is very active and has a good, healthy diet. We go to the dog park every day or evening, and he gets daily walks, etc. We do live in hot, humid Florida, and I have noticed that Spencer usually breaks out during the summer months. The last time Spencer had this bacterial infection, my vet at the time put him on Baytril. This worked very well and the bumps cleared up completely. My new vet did not want to prescribe this medicine, as he said it was too strong for Spencer.
Please advise and help us find some relief for Spencer!
~ Patty

One of my dogs has environmental allergies and has been to a traditional vet (steroids etc.) but is not getting better. What would be the holistic approach. He is a 33 lb. beagle and is very raw and red and loosing his hair on chest and legs. Thank you so much.
~ Ann

My female Pit Bull terrier had both Parvo and generalized Demodex as a puppy. We treated her Demodex with Ivermectin, a low carbohydrate raw diet, medicated shampoos, Neem oil, probiotics and EFAs, but every year with the fall and spring season changes it comes back. The Demodex begins to appear either on her thighs or neck (usually her thighs). She eats a limited ingredient, high quality diet, is kept as stress-free as possible and has a bath no less than once every 2-3 weeks. What can we do to help her stay Demodex free year round?
~ Trista

Cam homeopathy help with atopic dermatitis? My dog has a very light one – he scratches a little bit some parts of his body, and in his tummy and back legs there are a few black spots. I tried corticosteroids, and during this time he got better, but when stopped the medication, it came back. Can homeopathy relieve the itch?
~ Juliana

Hi Barbara, Sandra, Margot, Trista, Ann, Julianna, Patty and Kerri,

Dr Jeff FeinmanSince you are all asking about itchy dogs I would have similar advice for you all.

Thanks for your questions. Itching pets is a huge (and growing) problem. My own rescue Standard Poodle is also quite itchy and has gotten red and inflamed (“infected”) skin areas. She appears to have fleas at times especially when she suddenly attacks herself (usually with her front teeth as if eating corn off the cob called “corn cob chewing”).

Although I hate fleas as much as the next guy, they do get a bum rap at times. Many itchy dogs look like they have fleas. Pet owners and vets keep looking for them, but often none can be found. Your dog’s history and any direct or indirect evidence of fleas will help guide proper treatment. Personally, I’d never use potentially harmful insecticides on my dog’s skin.

Many itchy pets are actually itching due to allergies. Foods, pollens, environmental toxins, etc. are all allergic triggers. I suggest removing all corn, wheat, barley, rye, soy, eggs, lactose and sugar from the diet of allergic patients. Some of these patients even stop itching altogether on the right diet. I suggest fresh food (ideally raw) feeding and constitutional homeopathy.

The homeopathic remedies that will help the most are chosen by individualizing each itchy pet. For example, although the homeopathic remedy Sulphur is sometimes known as the itchy pet remedy, it will only help those patients whose “symptom picture” corresponds with that of Sulphur. The Sulphur (or any remedy) is recognized by the symptoms that it elicits both in provings and in clinical cases. The itchy Sulphur patient often overheats easily and is thirsty, can have diarrhea first thing in the morning has an unkempt coat, brown ear and grey mucus eye discharges and red eyes.

There are also a few supplements that can be very useful. These include Antiox (grape seed extract) which both helps normalize the immune system as well as acting as a natural antihistamine, a good probiotic like RxBiotic from Rx Vitamins, fatty acids such as those in UltraOil, vitamins C and E, among others can be very helpful. Try to start with one new supplement at a time if you are going to use any. Doing so both reduces the chance of an aggravation of the itch as well as helping pinpoint what works best. This is especially true if your dog is also starting to get treated with homeopathy.

If your dog itches most during bad allergy days such as when when the pollen count is high she may have an inhalant allergy also known as atopy. Because the immune system of many dogs has become hypersensitive, sometimes even common foods like chicken, meat, eggs and dairy can be a big trigger. The home salivary food allergy test NutraScan from Dr. Jean Dodds can help you identify food triggers with a simple in home saliva test.

In some areas (warm and humid regions) fleas are among the most common cause for itching in dogs. It only takes one flea bite to start a major reaction if your dog has a common flea saliva allergy. Not seeing fleas does not mean that they aren’t there. These little critters are fast and wily.

All of the harsh chemicals in the world may not prevent fleas from biting your dog and I don’t advise using any. Better to use gentle alternatives like baths, topical essential oils, frequent visual inspection, etc. Flea combs are great for short coated dogs but unfortunately aren’t very useful in Poodles. The most overlooked part of flea treatment is environmental control since most of the flea life cycle occurs off of the pet. This is best accomplished by frequent vacuuming and washing of your dog’s bedding.

Another big cause for itching in dogs is dry skin. Often this is a dietary problem that can corrected with a species-appropriate diet. Sometimes topical moisturizing sprays can also relieve the itch as can fatty acids + zinc.

Sarcoptic mange is a less common cause of itching. These are among the itchiest pets. Because this parasitic dis-ease is transmissible to people, I recommend multiple site skin scrapings done by your vet. Especially if yore dog is very itchy, or if there is a rash, lots of crusting, and especially if other pets and/or people are itching or have rash.

Demodectic mange is another, less common, skin parasite that can cause itching. It is typically associated with a weak immune system and can be secondary to other metabolic disorders. Like “allergies” and other forms of immune dysfunction it is best treated by upgrading the diet and constitutional homeopathy.

Personally, I’d start treating your dog by feeding a raw, meat-based diet (I feed my itchy SP girl a varied Vital Essentials frozen meat diet + other meats). The prey model diet works especially well in my experience. If this alone doesn’t do the trick, then you certainly can try different shampoos, supplements and homeopathic treatment guided by a trained veterinary homeopath.

Good luck. Please let us know what you end up doing and how much it helps.

Be well.

Dr. Jeff

Undescended Testicles

Are there any remedies that fit specifically for an undescended testicle in a 5 month old puppy? Otherwise, dog is in great health with no problems that stand out in need of treatment.
~ Rhodes

Hi Rhodes,

Dr Jeff FeinmanYes, absolutely. If your pup is from a breeder, I’d also ask about the age when testicles descended of his father and half brothers. Your pup may be “normal” for some dogs in his line. If not, the lack of the testicle dropping from the abdomen to the scrotal sac may be a manifestation of:

[GENERALS – DEVELOPMENT] – arrested: (33) Agar. aloe ant-c. bac. Bar-c. bar-m. bar-p. bar-s. borx. bufo Calc. CALC-P. Carc. cupr. des-ac. hypoth. kreos. lyc. nat-m. nep. ol-an. Phos. rad-br. rhod. Sil. sulfa. syph. thuj. thym-gl. thyr. toxo-g. tub. vip.

[GENERALS – DEVELOPMENT] – slow: (24) agar. bac. bar-c. bufo Calc. calc-f. calc-p. caust. cupr. ferr. guaj. kreos. lac-d. mag-m. med. nat-m. ph-ac. pin-s. puls. sil. succ-ac. sulph. thyr. toxo-g.

Or one of the remedies in these rubrics may correspond:

[MALE GENITALIA/SEX] CRYPTORCHISM: (23) aloe aur. aur-m. Bar-c. bar-m. bufo calc. calc-f. calc-p. caust. Con. cupr. Fl-ac. iod. lyc. pitu-gl. psor. sil. syph. test. Thyr. tub. zinc.

In addition to these 54 (when the rubrics are combined) remedies there are other rubrics that can have useful homeopathic remedies. To further complicate remedy selection however is that the needed remedy may not be in any of these rubrics.

Good luck!

Dr. Jeff

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