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Friday, 10 June 2011

A gentle approach to soreness

Please can you help?

My dog has a really sore tummy, it’s red and sort of angry looking. When I look she’s also got some sore, bald patches on her legs. I’ve looked for fleas but can’t see anything walking in her coat. I know if I go to the vets it’ll start getting expensive and I’d like to try something that is just really natural as it looks like it might be an allergy to me – it seems to be slightly worse the hotter the weather.

Where do I start?

Geraldine Williams, Cardiff, by email

Please note: Dogs Today strongly advises that veterinary attention is sought in the first instance so please assume this is the case when providing advice, tips and suggestions.

Alison Logan, vet, replies...

It is very hard to diagnose a skin condition without a full history (such as the age and breed of your dog, flea control strategy, diet, other pets living in house such as cats and their flea control history, nature of your home environment, where you tend to walk your dog) and being able to examine your dog in person. This is what your vet can do and yes, you will have to pay for a consultation but there is no NHS for pets and, in the longterm, your pet’s welfare is paramount. The longer you leave it, the more potential there is for this to develop into a serious problem requiring intensive treatment.

Common things are common. Fleas underlie a large proportion of skin problems, predisposing to secondary skin infections, and are straight forward to sort out. Simply looking in the coat is not sufficient to be sure your dog does not have fleas. You need to run a flea comb (a very fine toothed comb, similar to a child’s nit comb) through your dog’s coat and look not only for fleas but also for flea dirts (small black comma-shaped particles which dissolve red if water is spotted onto them because they contain partly digested blood). Apply an effective flea control product to all your pets regardless of whether or not you find signs of fleas, and ensure good environmental control as well (house, car, caravan etc). Do remember that if your dog is allergic to fleas she may only need one flea to bite so you may not find signs of fleas because the offending flea may have been and gone! If this is so then simply putting effective flea control into place may be sufficient for her skin to settle down.

An allergy to flea saliva is a very common allergy, but a dog with a flea allergy tends to be allergic to other things as well. It may be that your dog was coping until a flea bite took her above the so-called itch threshold. Before investigating inhaled and food allergies, for example, it is so important to rule out fleas. It is also worth remembering that you may find that your dog’s skin settles naturally over the next few weeks as the air-bourne allergens change with the season. If this is so, and then the skin changes recur at a similar time next year then the likelihood is that your dog has a seasonal allergy.

A complication can be a secondary skin infection, following on from skin trauma where a dog has had a good scratch at him/herself. This will usually require medication from a veterinary surgeon. I would therefore strongly advise you to take the plunge and take your dog to be examined by a vet if there is no improvement once you have established strict flea control. There are, of course, other skin parasites and more serious skin conditions which could be the cause of your dog’s problem.


  1. 1st question - when was your dog last vaccinated.
    2nd question - what do you feed your dog.

    Normally I would go down a combined route. One would be to give aloe vera juice, double body weight and make in ml. Ie. 30kg dog needs 60ml of juice per day. I would also be giving bee propolis tablets. Food wise I would be avoiding anything with grains. My preferred choice would be to feed one of the foods. Chicken is usually a good starting point.

  2. Rio used to get these little red raised red patches and we found Bob Grass Skincure Cream really helped and soothed - she would roll over on her back for it to be applied so it must have felt good - it does pong a bit though. Its also good for small grazes and cuts - would not be without it in the first aid kit.

  3. I can definately recommend Aromesse products:
    I have all of these, they are fantastic and all natural! Super fast postage too!

  4. I would suspect it is a contact allergy so do your best to eliminate or manage things like washing powder (use less, consider alternatives), sprays like Febreze or carpet fresheners, and after walks wipe down the affected areas - I would use a weak solution of water/Apple Cider Vinegar for that.

    You can make your own cream up by mixing aloe vera gel with some honey and some vit E (squidge it out of the capsules)which should help and if it doesnt will do no harm and is safe for your dog to lick off - I used this to great effect on a Greyhound with a horribly sore tummy/bum/thighs.

  5. sounds like a grass allergy especially if its been running through long grass i found aloe vera gel really helps it can be bought from health shops worked wonders on my lab and i put a thin tshirt on her when we go places with long grass.

  6. Hi Geraldine, It seems for your email that you dog is suffering from a seasonal skin condition. Non specific skin conditions can be very hard to pin point the cause, and in most cases a combination of several steps really do make a difference.

    Food, Environment and Herbal Medicines.

    Food. Keep the diet as natural and plain as possible, a hypo- allergenic diet is advisable or plain white meat and rice with green vegetables.
    The environment. Make sure the dog is sleeping in a cool place free from dust and most importantly away from bedrooms, as dust mites are most commonly found in bedding and dogs very often can be sensitive to them.

    Herbal Medicines Garlic & Fenugreek Tablets, and Mixed Vegetable Tablets which we product are licensed to treat skin conditions and are a natural way to keep these conditions under control. Garlic & Fenugreek Tablets help to fight and prevent infection and the Mixed Vegetable Tablets help to remove irritation and have a anti-inflammatory and anti -histamine effect.
    We have just produced a new leaflet specifically on treating skin conditions so please call our advice line for advice on your dog or a free copy of the leaflet.
    Kind regards Roly Boughton, Senior Adviser Dorwest Herbs

  7. Hi

    At this time of year it could well be a contact allergy to grasses or the wildflower/weeds that grow in them. If you don't walk in these areas for a while and it all starts to heal up then you will have found the cause.

    The other thing that springs to mind is have you had your dog 'boostered' recently or within the last couple of months. Skin problems after vaccination can happen.

    Look at what your dog eats as well, as diets that have a large amount of cereals in them can also cause reactions. Ideally the Typical Analysis on your dogs food should start with meat (not meat derivatives). If it's any form of cereal to start with then a better quality natural food may help.