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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14840
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My female dog has a lot of bumps on her back and sides i

Customer Question

my female dog has a lot of bumps on her back and sides i only found them taking her outside in the light were her fur was being pushed up they seem to be itchy but other then that it dosnt seem to bother her she also has hot spots under her front armpits but that is all like i said they dont seem to bother her at all
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Using the wrong medication for fleas can be dangerous. You should definitely talk to the Veterinarian. What is the dog's name and age?
Customer: we get our flee meds from our vet her name is ***** ***** she is a year and a half she has been with the same flee meds and her food from the time she was a puppy but she recently found out about swimming thats the only thing that changed
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about oreo?
Customer: no shes has never had any problems with anything
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 months ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
ok thank you
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 months ago.

I'm sorry that your your girl has bumps all over the sides and back of her body, some hair loss and hot spot lesions in her front armpits.

It sounds she has both a superficial and deep pyoderma, or a skin infection. Superficial lesions might look like pimples initially, or red, oozing raw areas. The deeper lesions feel like bumps under the skin and may break open and drain leaving behind a bloody or pus like discharge. Swimming is likely contributing to the superficial lesions, as moisture breaks down the skin barrier, especially in areas which don't get much air or light.

This infection is usually secondary to inflamed skin and irritated oil glands (which are found in greater numbers along the back).
Allergies are the most common cause of irritated, itchy skin. When dogs lick and chew they irritate their skin enough a secondary bacterial skin infection can result, which is also itchy, so they lick and chew even more.

She will probably need antibiotics to clear her infection because it is a deep one, under the surface rather than on the surface, but I can you some suggestions to try to avoid more episodes once we get her through this one and to help her feel more comfortable until you can have her seen by her veterinarian.

I'll give you an allergy rundown of likely causes for skin troubles. She may have more than one allergy given how symptomatic she is now. Dogs that have one allergy often develop several with time. The effect of multiple allergies aren't additive, they actually compound one another.
Even if you don't see fleas I do recommend using protection, if only during the spring, summer and fall months in areas that have a heavy freeze and year round where there is no frost. Flea bite allergy is the most common allergen and it only takes one bite a month to make an allergic dog scratch. Fleas tend to make dogs most itchy along the back, especially near the base of the tail and around the neck, and ears. I recommend using flea prevention even if you never see one again. Frontline Plus, Advantage II or Advantix are excellent, as is the Seresto flea collar. I don't normally recommend flea collars but this one is very effective against fleas and ticks for 6-8 months. Don't use over the counter products, especially Hartz or Sargents, as most are ineffective if not toxic. Unfortunately even after the fleas are gone the allergic reaction can continue for weeks and I will discuss controlling that reaction below.
Other allergens can be inhaled (like grass pollen, dust mites or molds).
You can use a combination of antihistamines and high doses of omega-3 fatty acids to help with the symptoms of flea allergy and inhaled allergies. In combination fatty acids and antihistamines work synergistically, much better than either one alone. If her symptoms worsen seasonally I would think that inhaled allergens are a part of her problem.
Antihistamines that you can try include:
1)Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products with acetaminophen or decongestants as they can be toxic for dogs) at a dose of 1mg to 2mg per pound of body weight or one 25mg capsule per 15 to 25 pounds of body weight orally every 8 hours.
OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at a dose of 5mg per 25 pounds of body weight once or twice daily.
OR 3)Hydroxyzine at a dose of 1mg per pound of body weight orally every 8 hours.
OR 4) Chlorpheniramine at a dose of 4mg to 8mg per dog once or twice daily.

OR 5) Zyrtec (Cetirizine hydrochloride) at 1/2 mg per pound of body weight orally every 24 hours. That would be one 10mg tablet per 20 pounds of body weight. Make sure it is NOT the formulation with a decongestant (such as Zyrtec-D) because dogs cannot tolerate decongestants.

Some dogs do better on one antihistamine rather than another, most seem to respond to cetirizine the best. Give the one you pick a week trial and if it isn't working try another. Be aware antihistamines can cause sleepiness or hyperactivity in some dogs. These side effects do wear off with repeated use.
Omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil products. 3V by DVM or Derm Caps ES are good brand name products. Use the high end of the dosing schedule for your pup's weight, meaning if she is between doses work up to the higher dose. I recommend a dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give her 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example an 80 pound dog could take 1600mg of EPA per day.
Cool water baths with an oatmeal shampoo or chlorhexiderm shampoo (which is antibacterial and antifungal) and a conditioner with an antihistamine may help. The water rinses off allergens and the cool temperature soothes itchy skin. Do not bathe her for 2 to 3 days before or after applying flea control products or the bath will interfere with the product's efficacy.
Food allergy is very possible with her as well if she seems to be itchy all year round. Dogs can develop allergies to any protein or carbohydrate so even if she is only fed one thing that can be what she is allergic to. Dogs with food allergies tend to lick and scratch their paws, face and ears the most, but any of the "allergy reactive areas" can be affected.
Make sure that the food that you put her on is a true hypoallergenic diet. The trouble with "limited ingredient" or "low allergy" pet store brands is that the same machinery is used on multiple lots of food without sterilization cleaning in between. So for example even if a food says it has salmon and rice if the previous batch had beef and corn then you will get traces of those ingredients in your bag of food. Not a big deal if your dog isn't allergic but a waste of money thinking that the food was hypoallergenic and not good for your dog if those happen to be allergens for your dog. The veterinary brand true hypoallergenic foods are more expensive because it isn't cheap to thoroughly remove all traces of a previous food mixture from the machines used to process food.

Generally what I recommend is trying to clear the skin by feeding a true hypoallergenic diet and then adding one food item (chicken, beef, corn wheat etc) every month to see what they react to. Then we can find a regular food to try that doesn't contain the foods she is allergic to. As far as permanent diets I do tend to stick with Purina Pro Plan brands or Nature's Recipe as I find those rarely if ever have cross contamination. Purina Pro Plan Turkey and Barley or Nature's Recipe Vegetarian or Venison are pretty good products. I know that this isn't easy from personal experience (my dog is allergic to wheat) and it is time consuming, but worth it.
If you choose to try testing/treating her for a food allergy I recommend that you try a true hypoallergenic diet like Hills z/d or Purina Veterinary Diets HA. No treats, flavored medication or bones while on the diet and it must be used for a least 12 to 16 weeks to see the full effects. You should see some improvement in 6 to 8 weeks.
Another option if the antihistamines and omega 3's aren't enough is a product called Atopica. It suppresses the immune system a bit so it decreases allergic symptoms but it doesn't have as many harmful side effects as systemic steroids.
Another option is a newer drug called Apoquel (generic name oclacitinib) which interferes with the allergic pathway. It works very quickly to stop the symptoms of an allergy. Most dogs are reported to be much more comfortable in a day or so. Unfortunately it is in limited supply now due to overwhelming demand, but it is something to keep in mind for the future if she continues to have trouble.
If you are interested discuss these medications with your veterinarian as they are prescription products.
Another option if you are interested, is trying immunotherapy. Your girl would need to be tested to determine exactly what she is allergic to, and then she is given small amounts of the allergen to build up her tolerance to it, increasing the amount of allergen in the injection incrementally so that her immune system no longer responds to it. This isn't a quick fix, it takes time to slowly build up their tolerance and as she develops new allergens things may need to be added, but it is an option.
If it's been a while since her last exam parasites like cheyletiella, demodex or sarcoptes mites should be looked for by your veterinarian as well if she isn't improving as they can lead to very itchy skin.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.