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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20547
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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9 year old golden...belly and ear skin has turned dark...chronic ear infection... has a fe

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9 year old golden...belly and ear skin has turned dark...chronic ear infection... has a few pea size dark growths around his groin area and hair loss on tail...seemingly constipated, but walks and eats well..??
Hello, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with Bailey today.
It does sound like Bailey does have a few chronic and older age issues affecting him.

Now first I do have a few questions for when you return:

Is he suffering with itchy skin or sore ears at the moment?
Is Bailey on these listed treatments currently?
Have you been using any shampoos (ie Malaseb)?

When did he last pass feces?
What is he doing that makes you think he is constipated?
Is his urination normal?
Hi again,

Since you are offline, I will touch on your current history until you have the chance to provide the further information I have requested.

First, if Bailey has chronic skin issues then it is most likely that the darkening of the skin is due to hyperpigmentation (example on the groin, example under armpits, severe example) . It the melanocyte of the skin's reaction to long term irritation (a phenomena similar to the way our skin darkens when the skin is irritated by sun). In these cases, then skin can become thickened and we see the development of black pigmentation. This is often non-reversable but doesn't cause any issue for them as long as the skin irritation (be it allergies or infection) is treated and settled. Rather it is a side effect of having chronic skin and ear infections.

Furthermore, hair loss at the tail base will also be part of his chronic skin disease. Often it arises because they dog chews this area to relieve the itching. If the area has just balded recently, then this would suggest that the allergy or skin irritant that has been triggering his chronic skin disease is causing him issue at the moment. If you know what allergen triggers his reaction (ie flea saliva, certain diet proteins, pollens), then you do want to make sure he is being treated against these (ie flea preventative, special diet, anti-histamines) to minimize the irritation and thus the need to chew.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX growths, there identity can be one of a few. If they look like pimples or pustules, then they are a sign that he has an active bacterial infection and treatment for his skin would be indicated. If they are firm tissue growths (that are not nipples), then the next most likely differential are warts or skin tags. Otherwise, since he is an older lad, we do have to appreciate that we can see growths and tumors of the older age dog. If those are suspected, the best way to identify them is via fine needle aspiration (FNA). This is where the vet uses a needle to harvest cells from the mass. If pus is removed, then an infection is likely and antibiotics can be dispensed. If clear fluid is found, then it is a cyst and just needs to be monitored. Otherwise, the cells from the FNA are stained and they allow the vets to identify the nature of the mass. Depending on the findings, the vet will be able to guide you on whether these lumps are sinister and require removal or not. (And if he is itchy now, then it may be a good time to have his vet check these while he is being seen for his skin).

Finally, the potential constipation. If he is struggling to pass feces, then there are some home treatments you can try with him. First, we sometimes find that milk can be helpful at getting things moving along. As well, cat hairball medication (ie. Catalax, Laxatone, etc) can be used to get things moving. This is available from the vet or the pet shop. It works to lubricate the gut and can facilitate the movement of hard feces out of the rectum. . Alternatively, you can administer a small volume of Miralax (1 tsp per 24 hours), lactulose (LINK) or mineral oil orally. If he is eating, these can be mixed into food. If you have to administer via syringe, do take care to avoid aspiration ( since that would cause problems we'd best avoid).

Furthermore, if he is eating, you can mix in some canned pumpkin or a 1/4t teaspoon of unflavored Metamucil. Just like people, these can restore fecal output regularity. I would offer these with wet food to ease him eating of it, while making sure we are getting water into him (as canned food is 35% water). I would also encourage him to drink as constipation can be complicated by dehydration. Make sure he have fresh water and you can even offer low sodium chicken broth if they won’t drink.

While you are doing this, I would advise that you monitor fecal and urinary output.
I would advise trying the above measures, but if you aren't seeing feces in the next 12-24 hours, or your lad begins to vomit, show belly pain, or worsens, then they should be evaluated by a vet. Severe impactions of feces can sometimes be due to more serious health issues and sometimes won’t respond to our gentle colon cleaning treatments requiring more aggressive treatment (ie enemas under sedation).

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.


Remember that if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please reply so that we may continue our conversation. I will be happy to work with your further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Please remember to rate my answer when you are satisfied (with 4-5 stars or a happy face) so that I may receive credit for my assistance. Thank you & have a great day. : )

Dr. B. and other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much! Your answer is extremely helpful! Bailey is not on anything right now. We went through a couple rounds of medicated ear solutions and antibiotics and steroids for his skin many months ago with not much of a noticeable improvement. The spring has heightened his skin issues and just wanted another opinion...I like our vets, but of late find us being required to pay for many rounds of blood panel tests that leave us with more ambiguity than solutions! As for his constipation...he urinates fine, he just seems to strain a bit more, and rarely does he have a complete evacuation. Many thanks again, and we will work with your recommendations, and go get his growths checked. Chris

You are very welcome.

If Bailey's recurrent issues are being triggered by environmental allergies (which is suspicious if its bad in the spring), then this can be quite a challenge to get under control. The allergy testing panels can be helpful for some cases, but if Bailey is a dog with multiple allergies to things we cannot control (ie dust mites, tree pollen, grass, etc) then it can be quite a daunting situation to address. (since we cannot just put him in a sterile bubble for the rest of his life).

And in those cases, it can be a case of treating to keep things in check as best we can during the worst months (be it with steroids, antibiotics when there is pyoderma, shampoos like Malaseb or Episoothe to soothe the itch). Now you didn't note if you have already, but if he is prone to spring time allergies, you might want to discuss a trial on anti-histamines (Example) with his vet. In some cases, this can be enough to get allergy dogs through the high pollen times of year. And if they can be maintained on these over the season, its preferable to steroids if they can keep his signs at bay (which can have side effects over the long term).

Furthermore, in cases where the allergic dog has had allergy testing, there can be a scope to use immunotherapy to allay their signs. This is essentially a special 'vaccine' that is developed based on the allergen that have been found to trigger his signs. That said, this would be something to discuss with his vet since multiple allergens (which is what I suspect has caused the ambiguity) can make this a difficult option to take advantage of.

As well, just since you mentioned that ambiguity issue, I do wonder if the vet thinks Bailey's dermatitis is atopic. If that is the case, here is a good link explaining the challenge and frustration of canine atopic dermatitis (more information) that you might want to have a peek of. It will shed some light on how frustrating these cases are and how we tend to need to approach them.

Finally, do try those constipation aids to make things a bit easier for him to pass. But if he is struggling more and more lately, then we do want to have him checked for that as well (ideally you can have that done at the same time as the lumps). If he has not been castrated, then you do want his vet to check his prostate (since it can grow and compress the lower GI making fecal passage a struggle. Furthermore, since he is an older lad, we'd also want to make sure he isn't struggling to defecate due to arthritic pain making squatting a challenge. So, ideally his vet can have a check of his joints at the same time to make sure that isn't the root of his fecal issues.

All the best,
Dr. B.