Hi. I'm Dr. Gotthelf. I have been a skin and ear vet for 35 years and I would like to use my experience to help you with your pet's medical problem.
Being a Golden retriever makes Riley in the category of an allergic dog. Hot spots are usually the result of an allergy. That's probably the reason for the allergy test request. However, with the treatment of steroids and antibiotics, this should have healed up very quickly. When they show up on the leg and they don't heal, it could be something else entirely. What starts as a hot spot can become something called an acral lick granuloma. The dog licks the area and it feels good to the dog. Endorphins are released from the brain that make the dog feel great (like you scratching a mosquito bite). In many cases, antibiotics and Prozac are needed. The dog keeps an infection going in the scar tissue and an antibiotic that has good penetrating properties is necessary. Cipro may be good, but most dogs do not absorb cipro from their intestines, so it is not recommended to give to dogs. Enrofloxacin (Baytril) or Marbofloxacin (Zenequin) are so much better for this. Fluoxetine (prozac) takes away the psychological need to release endorphins. It can take up to a month to start working. I have used it in about 200 dogs and it is magical for these lick granuomas. Please discuss these possibilities with your vet(s).
Thank you so much Dr Gotthelf. I really appreciate your time & expertise to help Riley. I was wondering are the allergies mostly food-related or can it be an environmental trigger (pollen, etc) as well? I will def schedule an allergist evaluation. If the allergist identifies a specific trigger, rather than a multitude, can there be a treatment plan to avoid the hot spots in the future or do they usually find many triggers? And you are right, every other hot spot has resolved quickly in response to antibiotics and steroids which is why this episode has me so concerned. I would be so willing to try the Prozac, despite the lag-time in it becoming effective. Any further guidance you can provide regarding the above questions will help me prepare myself for what the allergist recommends.
There are so many things in the environment that could be causing his allergies. Testing will reveal those things that his immune system reacts against. That does not mean that any one in particular causes the skin problem, but more than likely several of them. Some allergens that show positive on the test may not be in your area or has a very short season. The allergist will be able to intelligently discuss this with you after they get the results. The allergy tests we do evaluates environmental allergens. There is no good test for food sensitivities except to use a special type of a hypoallergenic diet for 6-8 weeks to see if there is any change in the skin condition.
Hi Dr Gotthelf,
Thank you so very much for your expertise. I took action since your initial answer earlier today. There is a Board Certified Canine Dermatologist about an hour away and I made an appt for Riley 10 days from now. I will also consult an allergist for him but right now, I wanted RIley to be seen with someone with your area of expertise first. You have no idea how grateful I am to you for your help in this matter. I just knew we were not on the path to getting Riley well, esp given the Cipro issue. You are a credit to your profession and my family thanks you. I also am so grateful that Just Answer sent this question to you, someone completely qualified to help us in our decision-making. I will never forget you and the great help you have provided. Thank you so much!!!