Fruit Valley Veterinary Clinic

Skin Problems in Dogs

Hotspot treatment:

If possible, gently clip hair from hotspot area. Gently cleanse with cool water by soaking area for 5 to 20 minutes with a very wet washcloth or towel, or soak a limb in a bowl or bucket or basin. Pat dry. Most of the oozy green or yellow stuff should come off with the soaks. Repeat cleaning as necessary to keep area clean. Apply a thin film of hydrocortisone OINTMENT to area 3 times daily and distract animal afterwards. Call if not improving soon.

Excessive Itching

When a dog is injuring itself by scratching or licking its skin, no bath is going to help it (unless you want to use a lymdyp which smells like rotten eggs). If the dog must be bathed because a groomer will not trim its hair without a bath, then bring Aveno oatmeal powder (for chicken pox) to the groomer and insist that ONLY it be used. Oatmeal shampoos take away the dog's protective oils and having oatmeal added to the shampoo will not put it back.

Oatmeal powder helps remove odors from the skin without irritating it. It also does not remove topical flea products. Dogs should be treated every 3 weeks with an advantage flea product, or if that is not possible, with revolution, when they are itchy even if no fleas are seen.

It can also be helpful to give the dog chlorpheniramine (an antihistamine) and essential fatty acids to help reduce its itch, or if it becomes necessary, reduce the dose of prednisone (a steroid) needed.

If the dog is itchy year round without any fleas (an advantage is being used) then it might have a food allergy.

If the dog's itch cannot be controlled with flea control, and/or a hypoallergenic diet, antihistamines and essential fatty acids, then it might benefit from a trip to Cornell Veterinary School for skin tests, then get desensitization shots to control its allergic reactions. This can be expensive, but works 70-80% of the time.

Lick Granuloma

This condition is characterized by repetitive licking directed at one spot, often on the lower extremity of the limbs. Attention may shift from one location to another over time. large breeds of dog (Labrador Retriever, German Sheperd, Great Dane, Doberman) are primarily affected. Affected dogs are often high-strung or have an anxious temperament.


  1. It is best to choose a diet that is appropriate for your dog's level of activity-for example, avoid high perfprmance food for a house pet that spends most of its time confined or resting.
  2. The more exercise that you can provide, the better. twenty to thirty minutes of aerobic exercise per day is the bare minimum.
  3. Provide a diverse and interesting enviornment, with plety of mobile and chewable toys.
  4. Antibiotics should be prescribed by your veterinarian if infection is present.
  5. Medication with an antiobsessional drug, such as Prozac (fluoxetine) or Anafranil (clomipramine) may be appropriate. Alternatively, opioid antagonists, like naltrexone may bring about dramatic improvements.

Licking a Problem. 1997, Dr. Nicholas Dodman. Tales, Treatment, and the Psychology of Dogs.

Oil Supplementation

For dogs with dry or scaley skin. Add 1 teaspoon of a 50:50 mix of a vegetable oil (safflower, corn or soybean) and an animal fat (pork or poultry) per cup or can of food. A fatty acid deficiency responds in 1 to 3 months.