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petdrz, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7353
Experience:  Over 30 years of experience caring for dogs and cats
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My 4 year old border collie is allergic to the "red rust"

Customer Question

My 4 year old border collie is allergic to the "red rust" fungus that grow in the dry season on our lawn. His paws get red and irritated and he licks and chews them constantly. This only happens in the late dry season when the rust appears. Our 3 other BC's not affected. I have just started using a mild providing iodine dip. Can I use clotrimazole cream in addition?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry that you have been waiting for a response. I recently just logged onto the site and noted that your question hasn't yet been answered. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 25 years’ experience and would be happy work with you if you are still needing assistance.
What it sounds like you are describing as occurring with your dog is a condition called atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis (AD) or eczema is a long-lasting (chronic) condition that causes itchy inflammation of the skin and ears. It may affect any area, but it is usually affects the face, feet, armpits, trunk, and abdomen. It may be persistent or it may flare periodically and then subside. These can make a dog's skin itch and there may or may not be other skin lesions visible. Itching problems in pets can be difficult to diagnose and the history and response to medications tried are a very important part of figuring out the cause
Animals with AD have two main problems. The first is an abnormal skin surface (barrier) which leads to sensitive skin. The second is an overactive immune system that reacts to a variety of flare factors. Recognized flare factors include: dry skin, food allergens, parasites (fleas), infection (bacterial or yeast), and environmental allergens, like dust, pollen, molds, etc . When a flare occurs, your pet will itch more and may develop red, flaky, and/or infected skin or ears, as these areas are then invaded by bacteria or yeast. When these bacteria or yeast live there for a long time, the skin can develop secondary lesions and even become blackened and thickened. These secondary infections require a specific treatment to resolve and is separate from therapy to manage the AD. A test called a skin cytology can be done to look for these organisms that cause infection. There are other things to look for on the skin that can make a dog itch and cause skin changes like mange mites and ringworm.
Since AD symptoms can be a seasonal or year round problem, treating them or the secondary infections at any given time, does not mean the signs are gone for good and the symptoms may recur throughout the year. Although there is no cure for AD, it’s symptoms can be treated with a variety of therapies/medications. If recurrences are frequent, the focus must shift to identifying the specific triggers of the allergic reactions with things like skin testing or food trials and then practicing avoidance as best possible.
In his case, it sounds as if you may have a suspicion of the trigger. The fact that his feet get red and irritated may not be due to a "yeast infection" as that is usually due to the skin inhabitant yeast called malasezzia that overgrows. If the mild or fungus is the trigger, it may be the source of the irritation, but unless malasezzia are present, I wouldn't expect the clotimazole to do much, although there would be no harm in trying it. The povidone iodine dip may help with secondary bacterial or yeast infections, but can be irritating, especially if the skin is already irritated. You might do better with an daily shampooing of the feet with an antiseptic shampoo from the pet store to decrease the bacteria and yeast if they are present. I like the product called Hexedene® because it contains chlorhexidine which is effective on bacteria and yeast. There is also a "leave-on" product called Resi-chlor® with similar ingredients that can be used on the lesions themselves and in some cases, may be all that is needed. I would also get in the habit of wiping the feet with a damp cloth when he comes in to decrease the allergen absorption. When his feet are irritated, cool water/epsom salt soaks can help to relieve irritation and decrease inflammation.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please reply so I can clarify for you.
Dr Z

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