Here is a recent question I got from one of my radio show listeners about treating her dog’s skin infection without using antibiotics.
Dear Dr. Shawn:”My dog Butch has a bad skin problem. His current veterinarian says that he has a skin infection and has been using antibiotics (different ones) for the last 5 months, but nothing seems to help. His skin will improve while he’s taking his antibiotic but within a few weeks of stopping the medication his skin worsens. Can you offer any advice? We’re desperate as he is not getting better and seems uncomfortable and is itching all the time.”
“If your veterinarian’s diagnosis of bacterial skin infection is correct, Butch would have already recovered! I’m glad you’ve contacted me, as it’s now time to properly assess this case and begin the correct therapy.
First, a correct diagnosis must be made. Since I’m not there to examine Butch, I’ll give you some advice you can share with your current veterinarian or another one if you choose to seek a second opinion. I would suggest a complete blood and urine profile and then a skin biopsy. The blood and urine test will assess Butch’s overall health and may reveal an underlying disease such as thyroid or adrenal gland disease that is responsible for his repeated skin infections. The skin biopsy is the best test that can quickly diagnose the cause of a pet’s skin condition, although it is also the one most often overlooked by veterinarians who struggle to treat diseases of the skin.
My guess is that Butch does not simply have an infection as his only problem or he would have responded to the antibiotic therapy IF the correct antibiotic was chosen and IF it was given for a long enough period of time. There are only a few good antibiotics to treat skin infections and they’re usually quite expensive. In an attempt to reduce the cost of treatment, veterinarians often treat skin infections for 10 to 14 days. Unfortunately, this is too short a period of time to cure the skin infection. When the antibiotics are stopped, the bacteria, which have not been totally killed, will grow faster and cause another infection. The minimum length of time to treat a pet skin infection with antibiotics is three weeks, although many pets need treatment for 4 to 6 weeks.
I won’t know exactly what’s wrong until we have the test results, but from your description I wouldn’t be surprised with a diagnosis of allergies (most likely,) thyroid or adrenal disease, mange, fungal infection, or autoimmune skin disease.
Let’s simply assume for the sake of this discussion that Butch simply has a bacterial skin infection that has not been treated correctly and does not have an underlying disorder that predisposes him to chronic skin infections. In this case treatment will involve an integrative approach using the correct antibiotic for the correct length of time plus various natural therapies. I know you would like to avoid using antibiotics to treat this problem, and truthfully in my practice, I rarely use antibiotics to treat a skin infection as early diagnosis and aggressive therapy with natural treatments usually suffices. However, due to the chronic nature of Butch’s problem, another round of antibiotics may be needed.
There are a number of natural therapies that may help Butch, and as is true with conventional medications, the correct therapy varies with the pet, and every case is different. However, here are some things you can do that won’t hurt and will begin helping Butch get on the road to healing.
First, topical therapy with the correct shampoo is critical in helping Butch’s skin heal and in reducing the amount of antibiotics he will need. While many people have heard that you should not bathe pet’s frequently, this is untrue if you choose a shampoo designed for frequent bathing. In my experience, pets bathed frequently, even daily, heal faster and require less medication than those which are only bathed infrequently or rarely. Obviously I’m partial to a line of organic shampoos that I developed, but since they contain nothing artificial or chemical and are the only shampoos designed for daily use, they are the ones I usually recommend. Because Butch’s skin infection causes him to itch, I would recommend bathing him every day, if possible, with Dr. Shawn’s Itch Relief Shampoo for one to two weeks, then several times a week for maintenance.
Second, because his gastrointestinal system has been damaged by repeated antibiotic usage, a good probiotic will help replace the healthy bacteria that the antibiotics have killed as well as boost his overall immunity. I would recommend my Enzymes and Probiotics powder, and I always use it whenever a pet needs antibiotic therapy.
In order to help damaged skin heal, I’m a big proponent of both fatty acids and antioxidants. I routinely use Ultra EFA (made by RX Vitamins for Pets,) and Proanthozone (made by Animal Health Options) or Super Ox (made by Nutriwest.)
Finally, I think it’s important to support his immune system to try to minimize future infections. I recommend my Healthy Qi herbal capsule. I would also use Dr. Shawn’s Olive Leaf Plus to help treat and control future infections.
I routinely treat pets like Butch. Fortunately, skin diseases, even chronic ones, readily respond to natural therapies. It is important as I mentioned earlier to make sure he doesn’t have an underlying problem that is causing chronic skin infections, as those must also be addressed using natural therapies. It will probably take a few months to cure his condition, but I’m confident that you will be able to avoid chronic use of antibiotics for the rest of his life if you follow these simple steps.
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It’s too easy for doctors to miss something in the patient’s history or laboratory testing due to a busy schedule. Misdiagnosis is all too common when the doctor doesn’t have time to thoroughly evaluate each case. Medications may be prescribed that are not appropriate for the situation, or could be prescribed at the wrong dosage or dosing regimen. In some cases numerous medications are prescribed that cause side effects without anyone catching this mistake.
Unfortunately this type of service doesn’t exist for our pets on the same scale as it does for our own health care needs.
Fortunately I am able to offer this valuable service at a reasonable fee. For only $75, I will review your pet’s medical records and then provide a written commentary with recommendations and suggestions. Learn more at www.drshawnsnaturals.com
I recently had a question from a reader about whether or not acid reflux might be causing her pet to regurgitate. One of her friends thought the dog might simply have allergies.
Allergies are not likely to cause regurgitation. Acid reflux is very rare and hard to prove, and often overdiagnosed in people and pets. Most people and pets with regurgitation do not need lifelong therapy with antacids, which can cause problems.
I usually approach these cases with natural remedies first, after doing simple testing to rule out common problems such as parasites or infections. If needed, sometimes I will use a very low dose of various GI medications to see how the pet responds. Each case is different and so are the supplements I recommend, but to get started try Kan GI Support Drops and Dr. Shawn’s Enzymes and Probiotics powder (available at www.drshawnsnaturals.com)
In most cases the pets respond without advanced testing, but those that require the testing are usually diagnosed with IBD and can live well with just the right supplements.
All of our GI supplements, including Dr. Shawn’s Herbal Scoot No More (our product to help control anal sac issues as well as constipation in dogs and cats,) Kan GI Support (our herbal formula for diarrhea,) and Dr. Shawn’s Enzymes and Probiotics Powder, a special blend of enzymes and probiotics for GI support of the healthy pet, as well as those with allergies, cancer, arthritis, and of course GI disease. These specials are only available online and only for the month of May!
You can check out all of my natural therapies at www.drshawnsnaturals.com