View Full Version : Dry, itchy, flakey, smelly skin - Help!

13th September 2006, 09:14 PM
Hey guys,

Our 10 year old lab mix mutt has suffered from itchy skin and allergies most of her life, but in the last couple of years it has gotten much worse. We have been to the vet a dozen times and tried all kinds of treatments from steroids to antibiotics, specialty shampoos, changing her food, allergy pills, leave on treatments, etc.

We have been giving her a product called nzymes for about 3 months which is a combination of probiotics, antibacterial solution, enzymes to help with yeast and black leaf. It seems to be helping, but she will get better and then worse again.

She has terrible dandruff. :yuk: Sometimes it even looks a bit brown and the flakes are really large. I bathe her a few times a week with an oatmeal and baking soda shampoo and then use a conditioner over the top, but after a couple of days, the dandruff and she has a terrible odor sometimes, not the normal stinky dog odor, but a very distinct smell. I don't like bathing her as much as I do because I know it can dry out the skin, but I have to. The smell is really bad and I can't get rid of the flakes by brushing, it just gets worse.

Right now we have her on a lamb and sweet potato food, we give her 2 different suppliments with her food for skin and coat and we also give her the nzymes products. Does anyone have any suggestions, tips, home remedies, product you have used for itchy, dry, flakey, irritated, smelly skin? Something to help with the flakes would be wonderful!!! I'll try anything to help my sweetie!

13th September 2006, 09:25 PM
Sounds like maybe it would be worth trying to find a specialist in skin conditions. I'd find your closest vet school and ask if they have a dept of dermatology or to suggest the closest place with such a specialty. If this is a specialist problem, vets could have a hard time pinpointing the cause.

13th September 2006, 10:19 PM
Wondering has she ever been allergy tested? That sounds like a good approach if you haven't done it.

This sure sounds like what you are describing:


13th September 2006, 10:35 PM
We had some tests done a while ago and made the changes in food and have tried to limit her activity outdoors with all the wonderful allergens. :roll: I even purchased air purifiers, but she still itches. We could continue to give her steroids but our vet said that can have negative effects, so I want to try other options first. The only other thing my vet recomends is just giving her daily alergy pills which help, but I'm looking for a solution.

She has only been on the nzymes for three months and according to the info, it can take 6 - 8 months for full results, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that it clears up. In the meantime, I am just looking for something to help with the yeast smell and flakes. Any kind of shampoos or skin treatments that anyone has used that helped their pet.

It' funny because her coat looks wonderful when it is grown out (we keep her shaved right now so the flakes don't stay caked in her fur). The hair is shiny and soft (it used to be course), so I know the supliments we are using are working, but the flakes just keep on coming!!! :sl*p:

14th September 2006, 02:44 AM
Don't you just wish your dog could speak and tell you what the problem is ! :)

Obviously they can't and so the only way you are going to be able to treat this problem effectively is to know the source of the problem, eg what is the allergy or allergies.

Normally the first step is to rule out a food allergy this is done by using an elimination diet for a minimum of 12 weeks, if this has no effect then intradermal skin testing is necessary to find the source as it can often be a number of things. This testing (where I live) is not that expensive considering the black and white answers it provides you with and therefore an effective treatment plan.

As you are probably already aware there are lots of treatment options, steriods (which I also steer clear of), antihistamines, fish oil and allergy specific drugs as well as topical treatments which are used for bathing and to help improve the condition of the skin in a localised area.

As for the bathing if it is a specific prescription shampoo you are using, oatmeal based, you can usually use it a couple of times a week to help remove the bacteria, pollens etc off the skin. But you need to check this with a vet/specialist as every doggy is different and the cause of each allergy is different. I know the products I use are fantastic but then again I know what I am treating.

In your position I would ask my vet for a referal to a specialist as Karlin suggested and go from there, the cost of this is probably not much more than the cost of constantly buying and trialing new drugs and treatments to see if they work.

Oh that smell is more than likely rotting flesh and dead skin.

Hope you manage to find a solution for your girl. It will be hard work but those licks are certainly worth it. :p

14th September 2006, 03:31 AM
Try some of Dr. Foster & Smith's products, I've seen a lot of their products work...plus I give King their multivitamin/mineral tabs and vita caps tabs and they really work for him....here's a couple of links to some of their allergy products http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?CatalogCustomerNum=&catalognum=&pCatId=15232&prodId=30181&catId=1172534&siteid=12 but check around the site....

14th September 2006, 03:31 AM
Try some of Dr. Foster & Smith's products, I've seen a lot of their products work...plus I give King their multivitamin/mineral tabs and vita caps tabs and they really work for him....here's a couple of links to some of their allergy products http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?CatalogCustomerNum=&catalognum=&pCatId=15232&prodId=30181&catId=1172534&siteid=12 but check around the site....

Denise G.
14th September 2006, 03:32 AM
Heather--I feel your pain. My 2 year old Golden is going through almost the exact problem. The only difference is that he doesn't smell. But he has incredible flaky skin that looks like dandruff. He also has flat, scaley red, sometimes scabbed places on him too. I was talking to my sister today, who is an Naturopathic Doctor and she suggested a yeast infection. She said to get him on enzymes and probiotics, as well as a product I've used before called Parabuster for any type of parasites that may be lurking. Also, of course, fish oil is always good. When he was a puppy, the Parabuster helped a much milder flare up of this problem. So I'm going to try it again. She also suggested colloidal silver in his drinking water to take care of any infections as well as the yeast. Just some ideas... I've heard good things about the Nzymes product. There's also a site called petenzymes.com that I've been looking at. I think I may try their enzymes and probiotics.

Wrigley's skin has never been this bad--though like you, his coat looks good and he isn't really shedding any more than usual. Go figure...

Good luck!

14th September 2006, 11:48 AM
I wonder if allowing her coat to grow and not washing her as much would help? I would think the mix of washing a lot and shaving could be very irritating annd possibly could exacerbate the problem. There are also medicated shampoos from vets that help. I'd still be looking for a vet school with a dermatology speciality, as regular vets can have a hard time diagnosing a specialist problem. Most GPs are not able to diagnose sepcialist problems, for example. It's just not within their range of training. A vet school will have people with the right specialities.

Cathy Moon
14th September 2006, 12:26 PM
My heart goes out to you and your lab, it's very worrying to have something like this that does not improve. I would look up the nearest veterinary college as Karlin suggests. The dermatology specialist would be able to offer the best diagnosis and treatments for this type of condition. I would worry about making the condition worse by trying home remedies.

14th September 2006, 05:06 PM
Aaron: I have actually tried those vita caps and they worked great for her coat! I'm using something similar that you sprinkle over the food that has a lot of the same ingredients!

Denise G.: I really do think the nzymes are working. If you would like to give it a try, the site is www.nzymes.com. The full kit is around $100, but it has lasted us 3 months. When we started the program, Gibson had the exact symptoms of a lot of the testimonials. She had started developing blackening of the skin, the flaking, biting, everything. If you read through their material, they talk about how dogs can go most of their lives on one type of food and be fine and then all the sudden they develop these symptoms which is how it happened with us. I guess the dogs digestive system kind of gets clogged up with yeast from all the wheat products in dog food which most vet usually don't diagnose.

The smell didn't start until a few weeks ago. According to the nzymes info, once the product starts working and cleaning out the dogs system, the yeast buildup is pushed out like toxins and that is what is producing the smell. Also, the flakes have now changed from white to yellowish brown so I can definitely tell it is working. It said it can take 6 - 8 months to see full results, so we are going to stick with it and after that time, if she is still having problems, I will take karlins advice and find a specialist.

In the meantime, i'm just looking for something that may aleviate so much dandruff (which I just may not be able to do since she is detoxing), or something good to soothe her itchy back. I can imagine that all that skin coming off is not very pleasant!!!

Karlin: Thank you for the advice on seeing a specialist, I think that is a wonderful idea. I think most vets tend to try and band-aid sometimes if they don't know what the exact cause is. I'm sure they see so many pets with allergies and it is so hard to diagnose each one individually, even with allergy tests!

We only started shaving her when the flakes started to get so bad. I would come home and her back from neck to tail would be solid white (she is all black). :yuk: Her hair is very thick and would hold the flakes and brushing just made it worse. And this itchy problem started way before the trims did!

Also, we would only bathe her every 2 weeks and with the best medicated, oatmeal shampoos I could buy, but then when the smell came, well, I go as long as I can without bathing her, but when it gets bad, I just have to.

Last night my husband and I put her in the jaccuzi (sp?) and filled the tub with epsom salts and made a mixture of aveno colloidal oatmeal, baking soda and a touch or tea tree oil for an antiseptic and covered her back in it. Poor thing just looked pitiful!!! I actually climbed in with her while we let it sit on her skin. Then I gave her an apple cider rinse that I read is really great for dandruff. She smelled really bad with the vinegar (and Riley and Fletcher didn't want much to do with her) :lol: , but this morning she looked much better! My dog thinks I am nuts, but I just want to help her not be so itchy! Oh the never ending quest to take care of our little angels!!!! :D

Thanks to everyone for their advice! We really appreciate it!

15th September 2006, 04:43 AM
I would mayb try Dr. Foster/Smith either ItchStop or Soothing shampoos, or other shampoos good for dry, itchy skin but I would consult a specialist as Karlin stated

15th September 2006, 08:02 AM
As you might or might not know, my Charlie has terrible allergies & has been allergy tested. at the minute he's on 'Atopica' from the Vets (immune suppressant) and will then go on to immuno therapy.

I am also using a wonderful shampoo called Quistel. I'm sure they'd send you some over www.actigeneruk.co.uk it's absolutely fantastic and the longer you leave it on their coats the better it works.

Nicki recommended it to me and it really is the best shampoo I have ever used. It seems expensive but it's really not as you don't use a lot - you dilute it in water and it produces a rich lather.

If you want to try it and they won't send it then PM me and I'll see what I can do to help you get some :D

Denise G.
15th September 2006, 04:45 PM

I ordered the Nzymes products yesterday. Wrigley's problem doesn't seem quite as severe, but I can tell it will probably get worse with age. I'm also switching him over to NV kibble and raw food and see how/if it helps. Thanks for reminding me about Nzymes--we'll see what happens.

I hope your sweet girl gets better! It's so hard to see them uncomfortable. :(

15th September 2006, 04:56 PM
I've used Quistel on Twinkle also as she was very itchy all over. It was nothing as bad as this but one wash and one application of the ear cleaner and she is much much better. The spray lotion can be used as required in between washes too. I would definitely recommend it.


16th September 2006, 05:55 PM
Just out of curiosity, have you ever tried raw food? Also, dry kibble needs grain (potato of any type is a starch just like grains!) to hold the kibble together which can contribute to yeast problems. Usually a low allergy food should work but if it doesn't, I'd be willing to try raw (after you see if the nzymes work) to see if it clears up her skin.

If you do decide to do raw, make sure you do excessive research before taking the plunge. If you're in the US you could buy an AAFCO approved ground raw food (mostly or totally grain free) and use good meat handling practices (keep frozen, thaw in fridge, feed within 2 days of thawing, use clean bowl for each feeding) and never feed kibble and raw together.

I have horrible skin problems too so I feel for your por gal! Hopefully you can come up with a solution soon.

16th September 2006, 11:03 PM
Denise - I hope the nzymes are successful for you. I went back and read through all the info they send (it's a little overwhelming when you first get the kit). It does say that the dog may get a little worse before it gets better as the toxins (yeast) is coming to the surface, so i think we are in the "worse" part!

The concoction that I made has worked wonders!!! I drew a bath with epsom salt which is for soaking any infection from scratching. I mixed 1 packet of aveeno oatmeal bath with 1/2 cup baking soda and a touch of tea tree oil. We put the mix on her back and let it sit for 10 - 15 min. Not a very happy pup during that time. :( Then I spritz a little apple cider vinegar on (kinda stinky). We did this 2 nights in a row and she has hardly and flakes and very little itching so far. And she smells much better!

I'll keep trying this method for a while and hopefully in a few more months, she'll be good as new! It's also getting cooler now and I know heat aggrivates skin probelms, so that should help as well.

We'll look for a raw food. I'm not sure if we have tried one or not, my husband is in charge of the food. But we do have her on a food that is not supposed to have any of those yeast or allergy causing ingredients!

Denise G.
17th September 2006, 04:05 AM
Hi Heather--

Thanks for the bath tips! Do you rinse with the apple cider vinegar or just plain water? Does the water get the tea tree oil out o.k.?

I'm going to try Nature's Variety raw food to see how it works out for Wrigley. I've heard geat things about what it does for the skin and coat. I think once things cool off for the fall, he'll be much better. Next week is supposed to stay in the 80's which will be wonderful!! Not quite fall temps, but we're getting there!

Thanks again and let me know how the Nzymes work out for you.

17th September 2006, 10:37 AM
My old border collie was allergic to fleas and if just one got on her that would be it, she would scratch and chew herself raw. This was also the same for my Aussie shepherd, but he also had allergies to high protein foods. I found the best thing to do was use Frontline for the fleas, keep them on a low protein diet, so no red meat, food colourings and preservatives. I used sunflower oil in their food recommended by the vet because it is lower in protein. A teaspoon every night in their dinner does the trick. And I bathed them every week with either Hexasil or pyohex, and if I couldnt get these then Quititch, but didnt like using Quititch so much because the iodine would dry the skin out. Mine also had preiods where they would be worse, so I would bathe them everyday for 3 or 4 days in a row and then to every second and then to once a week. This seemed to work for my dogs.
Good luck with it all. :)

Denise G.
22nd September 2006, 06:11 PM

Do you add water to make a paste of the Aveeno oatmeal, baking soda and tea tree oil? I'm thinking of giving it a try on Wrigley. We got our Nzymes on Wednesday and we've just started the program. Crossed fingers! Also, do you shampoo her first or after the oatmeal treatment?


23rd September 2006, 02:45 AM
I do add about a cup of water and mix it all up in a bowl. We put her in our jacuzzi and fill it up as much as we can and then put the mix on her back which is where her skin is so dry. You need to leave it on at least 10 - 15 minutes (if pup allows). The I rinse with plain water (no shampoo at all). I put the vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on the places with the most flakey skin.

It works seems to work well so far. Poor pups and their itchy skin!

I also started adding a capsule of fish oil to her food today. Maybe that will help with the dry skin a little. I'll let you know if that helps! :D

Denise G.
23rd September 2006, 03:56 AM
Thanks, Heather! The fish oil will definitely help--it's helped Wrigley pretty well. I put about half a teaspoon in his food twice a day. His skin isn't flaking quite as much. I use the Grizzly Salmon Oil and he seems to like it. Amazingly, Mia likes it too--she's kind of picky--ha!

Keep me posted on the progress!

Denise G.
6th October 2006, 05:01 PM
Hey Heather!

How's your girl doing on the Nzymes program? Wrigley's been on it for two weeks now and I think we're going through the "worse before it gets better" stage. His skin and sores look a little worse, though the flakiness is gone. Did this happen to you? I waited two weeks (per instructions) to start the probiotic powder. Seems like it started getting worse when I added the probiotic powder. I hope it means the yeast is being emptied from his system through his skin...

Thanks for your input!

9th October 2006, 02:32 AM
I think we are going to take Gibson back to the Vet. The flaking is just our of control. I think the nzymes are working and I am probably just being impatient, but she is in her 4th month, and although the flakes only started about a month or so ago, I just can't seem to get it under control.

I went back and read through everything again and it said it can take up to 7 months before you see results for more severe yeast cases. About 1 month for every year of yeast buildup.

So part of me wants to wait another few months and the other part can't stand the flakes. I spoke to my vet last week about it and they want me to bring her back in to see a new doctor that has a lot of experience with these issues. They said if they can't help me, they will refer me to a specialist.

No matter what we do, I will keep her on the nzymes and probiotics. The Vet told me that was a great thing to have her on.

I'm sure you are going through the bad stage. I think that does start about 2 weeks or so into it. You may also want to make sure you are giving the right amount of the probiotics. I think the scoop it comes with is 1 gram and for our 60 lb dog, we only give 1/4 of that. I think they should have made the scoop smaller. Keep me posted on your progress!!!!

Denise G.
9th October 2006, 05:32 PM
Heather--I'm so sorry to hear that Gibson's not doing much better. I have to bathe Wrigley every 3-4 days to keep his flaking away. I thought we were past it, but not quite. His tummy and his ears are pretty inflamed. I know you're supposed to double up on the granules for 60 days, but are you supposed to double up on the probiotics also? I've been doing that, so I hope it's the right thing to do...

I'm going to take Wrigley to the vet (holistic) on Friday. I think his is stemming from hypothyroidism. Golden's are very susceptible to this and it slows their immune system which leads to the yeast infections. He was licking away this morning when I left--I felt SO sorry for him. I gave him a couple of Benadryl in hopes it would help with the itching.

Have you used the oxy drops (diluted) as a topical spray yet? I started using it and it seems like Wrigley licks more when I do...not sure if its related or not.

Keep me posted about Gibson's condition... Good luck!