About three months ago, I noticed that my 8-year-old Pit Bull, Hailey, had a few spots on her from scratching. Now she looks awful and has big sores and, boy, does she smell!
I thought it might be hot spots but now they are all over her body. My other dog in the backyard doesn’t have these spots and sometimes they sleep together. She looks like she is uncomfortable. Any ideas? Thanks!
—Christy, Long Beach
Left unchecked, itching and scratching can lead to a skin infection and the development of sores and hot spots. The sores often start out as small red bumps or a rash but quickly develop into larger circular or oval-shaped red sores with lots of crusting. Skin infections are also itchy so they contribute to the dog’s discomfort and lead to even more itching, and a vicious cycle ensues.
These sores are also very foul smelling as the bacteria and yeast start to colonize the skin. Often people complain that they have just bathed the dog and within hours the odor is back again. When skin infections arrive, they must be treated with antibiotics (or antifungals in the case of yeast infections) for three to four weeks or longer. In addition, weekly medicated antibacterial shampoos are helpful to remove the surface bacteria and help with the odor.
However, all skin infections are always secondary to some kind of underlying problem that causes the itching in the first place. If the underlying problem is not addressed, the skin infections will keep coming back again. Possible underlying issues that cause skin problems include allergies (such as food allergies, flea bite allergies or environmental allergies), hormonal disorders, such as low thyroid levels or excessive cortisone levels, called Cushing’s disease, parasitic infections (such as flea infestations or mange mites) and fungal infections, such as ringworm.