Posts filed under ‘Skin issues’

Beware the grass.

The most popular posts on Boogie’s blog are about skin issues. It astounds me that so many dogs have been experiencing the same problems with dry, crusty, flaky skin patches… (diagnosed as some sort of staph infection that started as an allergic reaction) and like me, their parents have tried almost everything  including long courses of antibiotics.  I got very tired of putting Boogie on Cephalexin every summer. You should see my impressive collection of Virbac shampoos and conditioners. The first year I adopted Boogie, he was on antibiotics for 1 week. Then it became 2 weeks… 3 weeks… 1 month… 2 months… and the antibiotics worked but the symptoms always came back more frequently, and our vet even suggested feeding Boogie a low dose of antibiotics every day for the rest of his life.

Well, last year I changed vets. Not only was his skin in a really horrible dry condition, he was losing his hair. His coat was so thin, the white parts were no longer white. You could see raw pink skin and grey freckles everywhere. Poor Boogie was going bald.

Four months ago, I changed Boogie’s diet and switched to 100% homecooked food using a balanced recipe from K9 Kitchen. I also gave him coconut oil massages for his skin – which did a lot more for him than Virbac lotions ever did. Boogie’s poop also looked excellent and very slowly, I could see that his hair was growing back.

The weather here in SoCal has been warming up again and in Summer, one thing Boogie loves to do more than anything is to roll around and crawl around in grass.


My mistake is that I have not been very vigilant about bathing him or washing him after these frequent grass-rolling sessions. Lord knows what they put in the grass around here.

The skin problems have come back 😦 The white, dry, flaky patches. The dandruffy coat. Boogie is scratching himself; and his hair is falling out. I am bathing him once a week, giving him chlorhexidine soaks and more coconut oil massages but the problem is not getting better.


I need to figure out what to do, but here’s one thing that I am now 100% positively sure about. There is nothing wrong with Boogie’s diet. This is a seasonal and environmental problem. He is going to hate it so much that from now on, NO MORE ROLLING IN THE GRASS. 😦

May 27, 2013 at 9:58 pm 12 comments

Happy Holidays!

Apologies for the long silences between posts and thank you to everyone who has left comments (advice, tips, personal stories etc) on this blog, particularly with regards to Boogie’s skin issues. I have been out-of-town; now I am happy to be back home and snuggling with the Boogs again. He is less itchy now that the weather has cooled down. His coat is still very thin with the same bald patches, and his poor skin has been dry, flaky, and dandruffy.

I am trying a few new things:

  • No chicken in his diet at all. He has been eating lamb and/or fish-based meals. It has only been 1 week… I can’t tell if there is any difference.
  • Adding Pet Kelp to his food. 3 weeks, now. Can’t tell if this is making any difference with his skin, but his poop is looking very good!
  • Virgin Coconut Oil massage, every other day <– THIS is making a difference! Skin is noticeably less dry.
  • New Year Resolution: Make pet treats with the new dehydrator (which is still in its box)

I am determined to do anything to avoid more vet visits & antibiotics! In fact, I took advantage of Monica Segal‘s recent Black Friday Sale and ordered a dietary consultation for Boogie in the new year. I need help figuring out what foods (if any) that Boogie’s system may not be tolerant of.


 Check out Jordan Rothman’s new book  The Misunderstood Dog, with my illustrations. I would describe it as a simpler, easier-to-read version of “The Culture Clash”, written for dog owners. The Boston on the cover is the author’s dog.  Here is the page.


Order a snazzy little name tag that I designed for blanketID.  A percentage of sales goes to Boston Buddies rescue. I think this would make an awesome Xmas gift. They come in red or blue, and small or large sizes. The photos that I have of Boogie wearing this blanketID tag on his collar are kinda blurry…. Will try again later.  ORDER HERE

Who is going to Clicker Expo in San Francisco next month? I would love to meet up! I know names but not faces, so if you recognize me, please say hi! I will be there for the full three days. First time that I am staying for the whole expo and very excited!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! – Lili & Boogie x

December 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm 5 comments

Yeast and itchiness

Recently, a client suggested that I cut out POTATOES (including sweet potatoes & yam) from Boogie’s diet. These are carbohydrates = sugars which contribute to yeast infections.  Yeast infections lead to itchiness and possibly also bacterial infections.

I had no idea about potatoes and it saddens me that the giant boxes of The Honest Kitchen food in my kitchen contain potatoes and honey. Yep, honey is also a sugar. As are rice, wheat, corn, and ALL CARBOHYDRATES…. usually found in treats too.

Today I found this extremely informative video about treating and preventing yeast infections by Dr. Karen Becker. It’s long but worth watching!

Some anti-yeast tips from this video:

  • Anti-fungal foods: Oregano, garlic
  • Clean and disinfect yeasty parts of body every day- especially ears and feet, armpits, groin area…
  • Foot soak: Gallon of water + 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide + 1 cup white vinegar/lemon juice. Astringency = anti-fungal
  • Ear solution: Witchhazel & cottonballs. Clean out debris!
  • No Oatmeal shampoo! (Oatmeal is a grain/carb and will feed the yeast!)
  • Use Anti-fungal shampoo –  tea tree oil based or herbal
  • Post bath rinse: Gallon of water + 20 drops of peppermint oil  (do not get on head), or astringent solution (see Foot Soak). Towel-dry without rinsing.
  • A supplement to support the dog’s immune system.

September 20, 2012 at 7:29 am 14 comments

Boogie’s skin problems – solutions! Fingers crossed.

One of the most popular posts on Boogie’s Blog is Hair loss and crusty dry skin… What is it?   Many other dog owners are experiencing the same troubles, have spent as much money as I have, and feel as desperate as I do.

This photo is from 4 years ago, but see the bald patches on his back and legs? This is what happens every summer, and what Boogie’s back looks like NOW.

I have written about Boogie’s recurring skin problem many times, every summer, when we get the same Staph infection diagnosis and another whopping course of antibiotics. Yes, the cephalexin clears up the skin issues but Boogie’s immune system gets messed up at the same time so I have never been 100% happy with this solution.  Some blog readers have shared their own success stories with me so I want to re-share them here.

From Carolyn&John:

Oh I can help you with this! Went through the same with my ridgeback. Spent a fortune and FINALLY found the answer. I wasted time with the specialists. My local RR Club hooked me up with an old school vet who had the solution. It is a staph infection and antibiotics won’t help long term because it’s so hard on the system and this whole thing is caused by a compromised immune system to start with. You need to start WEEKLY baths of chlorohexadine shampoo and add PB–8 probiotic to the diet. Basically treat the staph topically and bolster his immune system rather than tear if down. Also, I feed Honest Kitchen Thrive. It’s best for allergic dogs. I wish I could go on at greater length but I’m typing from my iPhone lol thumbs are sore Lol. But I found your blog by chance and wanted to help. Email me for more info as I have lots to share. We spent 2 years and spared no expense to fine what works. Silly thing is the solution isn’t even expensive. Ay! Best of luck!!

Today, this comment came in from Lawrence:

Thanks for posting this blog post. My BT, Buster 4mth old Male, had that weird scaly hair lesions with resulting patchy hair loss too this summer. At first it was only one patch on the side of his belly, then it really spread around to the point where it was embarrassing.

I followed the advice of Carolyn&John (which lacked specific brands/products). I looked up pro-biotics and chlorohexadine shampoo and just bought what was popular/highly rated on amazon.

Here’s exactly what I used:

Chlorhexidine Products
-Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo
-Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Micro-Emulsion Spray

PharmAssure – Acidophilus Capsules (this is the probiotics)
Nature’s Bounty Odorels Fish Oil 1000mg (purified of Mercury PCBs and Dioxins)

I bathed my BT up to 3 times a week (also whenever dirty like after a dog run/day at the beach). I would spray him w/ Cholorhexidine spray once a day (a good 3-4 sprays around his whole body).

Then I would feed him the two supplements twice a day with meals.

It actually cleared up within 2 weeks completely in the middle of summer. The first week there was very noticeable results.

I added the fish oil for the fatty acids and omega 3 benefits.

I’m a doctor and understand the biochemistry/pathology behind this fungal infection. Its basically lack of absorption in the gut resulting in the fungal/bacterial lesions in the skin due to a bit of immunosuppression. Carolyn’s advice as scientifically sound.

The probiotics reboot the guts natural bacterial flora/fauna to normal, the fish oil provides nutrients specific for the rebuilding of skin layers (amongst other things like heart benefits), and the clorohexidine is basically a disinfectant/sanitizer that kills off the bacteria/fungus at the skin level.

Thanks again for posting your dogs skin infection and plight with pictures on your blog. It really helped me out and also helped me avoid going to an over zealous vet who might have put my puppy on long tern antibiotics that was not needed.

Hope this works for your guy as well.

– Lawrence

Thank you, Carolyn, John and Lawrence!

I did order a big ol’ bottle of green Chlorhexidine solution to make a spray but when it arrived, I wasn’t sure what % to use so I have held off on using this. The instructions offered by one Amazon customer was 2 tablespoons of chlorhexidine solution to 1 gallon of water, and I tried this but the result looked just like plain water. It was super diluted and gut instinct tells me I may be better off just ordering the bottled Duoxo Chlorhexidine spray.

At the same time, I am bathing Boogie once a week… Perhaps I need to bathe him more often. He is also getting Canine Immune System Support twice daily in his meals (The Honest Kitchen and Stella & Chewys) I should get some probiotics too.

Question on the probiotics: Are these the kind that humans take? How do you calculate how much to give a 26lb dog?

UPDATE: I received an email reply from Lawrence that this is the same kind of probiotics that humans take that you can buy from Rite Aid. You can’t overdose on it. There is also this very helpful footbath video:

August 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm 8 comments

First visit to our new neighborhood vet

The bath time “counter-conditioning with treats” strategy doesn’t work on Boogie. When he hears the sound of water running, he is already in cowering-under-the-nearest-table position (even if I am running a bath for ME). When he is in the bathroom, he won’t eat. Even after his bath, when he is freshly showered and I have rubbed him down with the towel, he turns his nose away from any stinky food in my hand. Or he takes the treat and spits it out, reorienting towards the closed door. “For f’s sake, open this door”.

I open the door, he shoots out of there, does a BT500* around my living room, and gleefully flings toys in the air. Only now will he come running for treats.(*BT500 = Boston Terrier version of zoomies)

On Friday, we went to a new vet clinic in my neighborhood. I haven’t decided yet if I will permanently switch vets because I am very happy with our current vet Dr. R… The only problem with Dr. R is that he is always so fully booked… it is so hard to get an appointment.

The appeal of the new place is that they are bigger, have more technology and staff, are almost walking distance from my home (a huge plus!), and the Dr. is really lovely and comes highly recommended. They also have a very progressive attitude at this place: the consultation forms use “your friend” instead of “your pet”, and there are no metal examination tables in the rooms! The exam rooms are decorated with warm cozy colors – as if you were in someone’s home. And there being no tables, the vets get down onto the floor to examine the animals.

Unfortunately, in Boogie’s case, being confronted with a stranger seated on the floor, in a room (in which there is no escape) is no less disturbing than having to stand on an elevated cold metal surface. At least in a traditional vet exam room, he knows what’s coming. He has been through the metal table routine many times, and he always stands there LEANING his body into me when Dr. R checks his mouth, ears, butt etc.

On the checkered floor of the new fandangled exam room, it was much harder for anyone to hold onto Boogie. When Dr. F called him, he sniffed her, took a treat, then backed away. And then he crawled under my chair and stayed there. It didn’t help that there had been an off-leash (resident) dog in the waiting room so Boogie was already agitated on arrival and all he wanted to do was GET AWAY FROM THIS PLACE. The only way he could have anything examined by Dr. F was if I picked him up and held him on my lap the entire time ….

Dr. F was super gentle and did not want to pressure him to be near her, so in the end, I didn’t feel that Boogie had a thorough enough of a check-up. :/

She said Boogie looked good though… everything looked fine except for a minor ear infection.

So now we have some new drops for Boogie’s ear infection and two new shampoos (Virbac: Ketochlor & Cortisoothe) for Boogie’s skin issues. I don’t know if these products are better than the ones we get from Dr. R…  hopefully they are because they’re way more expensive. We’ll wait and see. Fingers crossed.

Have you ever changed vets for your scaredy/reactive dog? What do you look for in a vet?

June 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm 10 comments

More Cephalexin.

Home from another long afternoon at the vet where we spent more time trapped in the waiting room than doing anything else.

It was weirdly stressful today. There were some seriously anxious senior dogs (shaking, panting, drooling) in that tiny waiting room,  a cat in a crate that wouldn’t stop meowing, and the Dog Whisperer Show on TV – that famous 1st season  “flooding” episode with the drooling dog led across slippery floors. And I was getting a glazed-eye look from the woman across from me when I tried to talk to her about BAT … She said her dog has anxiety issues and would bite visitors when their backs were turned.

Boogie, on the other hand, had no anxiety. He was simply very very bored. He had already (very sweetly and politely) introduced himself to every human, dog and cat in the room and nobody was interested in playing with him. He sat by the door and stared at me with big hopeful eyes and a pouty face.

In the end, we came home with more Cephalexin antibiotics. Staph infection again. Second time this year.

I asked Dr. R about atopic dermatitis, atopica cyclosporine (see previous blog post), should Boogie get a bi-weekly vaccination,  should he get allergy-tested, how can we nip this problem in the bud?

Dr. R  asked me about our previous experience of Staph: Did the antibiotics work? Did I see any changes? What percentage improvement did I see?

I told him I saw a significant improvement (about 80-90%) when Boogie was on antibiotics. His skin cleared up and he stopped itching. When he finished the meds, 2 weeks later, the itchies returned.  Dr. R deduced that if the antibiotics worked, then this proves the problem to be primarily Staph, not allergies, and so he was reluctant to settle for the very expensive Atopica medication, which is specifically for atopic dermatitis and does not treat the recurring Staph problem.

I am to bring Boogs back in 2 weeks to check if the Cephalexin is working. If it works, ie, no more itching and skin improves, then this confirms the Staph problem. If Boogie continues to itch, then we may have an allergy or dermatology problem, and I may want to make an appointment with a Skin Specialist in Studio City. I am also to change Boogie’s diet… from now on, only ONE protein.*What am I going to do with the 2-month supply of mixed-protein dog food in my kitchen?

The thing I like about our vet is that he will only administer hardcore expensive vaccinations/medications as a last resort, when we know for sure what exactly we are treating. Even though it’s frustrating, not knowing for sure what is going on…

November 23, 2011 at 12:23 am 5 comments

Atopica Cyclosporine capsules: Has anyone used this?

It’s happening again. Boogie’s itchiness is getting worse in spite of more frequent bathing & skin conditioning and am seeing signs of those crusty white patches that suggest another Staph infection 😦 ( See also  this old photo)

Has anyone heard of or used Atopica Cyclosporine with their dogs? A friend’s dog was taking these anti-inflammatory meds for another issue and his itchiness disappeared.


I am going to talk to our vet about this treatment… I may even consider Allergy Testing… anything but:

1. more antibiotics. These only work when Boogie is on them. The itchiness returns when he finishes the pills.

2. Steroid meds (like prednisone etc). The side effects of increased hunger, thirst and frequent need to pee are horrible.

If you know anything about the Atopica treatment, please share!

*UPDATE: Off to the vet tomorrow…

November 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm 13 comments

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