Skin infection, Pyoderma, Dermatitis, Hot spot.
Skin Infection is an acquired progressive disease describing the condition of infected tissue anywhere on the body other than where it has been given a more specific name: like say Ear Infection or Anal Infection.
Likewise, parasites like mites or fleas rarely trigger Skin Infections, normally only with untended stray dogs.
The most common cause of Skin Infections too is:
- poor diet
- administration of immunosuppressants or antibiotics, whether purposefully as medication or unnoticed in meat and dairy!
- needless and yet harmful vaccination "boosters".
In today's food chain meat and dairy are loaded with antibiotics and steroids, and the meat and dairy that is tested and found to be too much contaminated for human consumption is used for animal feed nonetheless:
The largest groups of buyers of contaminated meat and dairy are the farm feed wholesale industry and the pet "food" industry!
The average allopathic physician however apparently does not know this process: they blanket prescribe such medication day after day, and you pay for it.
Plus, they merely diagnose your dog's Skin Infection as either Pyoderma or Dermatitis or Hot spot.
Note though that all of these are no more than the name for a symptom, and so that diagnosis isn't worth a penny!
Hopefully you don't accidentally pay for that without knowing any better?
- pyogenic means producing pus
- bacterial means triggered by bacteria
- and Skin Infection - well, you just read that at the start of this chapter.
Note that the name for the symptom "Pyoderma" leaves UNanswered:
- Why is the body producing pus?
- What strain of bacteria is it?
- And most critically: has the physician identified the cause of the Skin Infection?
So if your physician merely diagnoses "it's Dermatitis", (s)he neither knows what causes nor what triggers the inflammation. I wouldn't pay a penny for that. Nor for the then prescribed blanket treatment: "Treatment consists of steroids". Click the link to verify that most physicians say exactly that!
Make sure you always click all new links here to see the proof of what I am writing, else you might wrongly be thinking I am making things up, lol!
To bring more clarity into medicine, even though this is just about names for mere symptoms, it would help to reserve "Hot spot" for itchy inflammations only, but not all physicians do.
My reasoning is that most people associate with a "Hot spot" that the dog is licking and/or scratching the spot, making the spot hot and the inflammation worse: The dog licks and/or scratches because it itches.
Conversely, most people seem to associate with "Dermatitis" dry reddish sores or flaky patches, or (later) oozing, crusty, or scabby patches, neither of which necessarily itch.
In fact, "Dermatitis" is commonly used as the name of the visible symptom only, while "Hot spot" is rather used as the name of a behavioral symptom too, as in "the dog licks and scratches the spot all the time, now it looks hot, inflamed!". Indeed.
Be aware that many skin conditions that go by the name "Hot spot" do not produce pus, thus they are not "Pyoderma", even though they may be triggered by bacteria just like Pyoderma.
Because of this lack of clarity even in naming mere symptoms, currently dog owners and physicians use the name "Hot spot" as long as they don't know (or don't care) why the skin is inflamed and they cannot describe how it looks. It is a "catch-all" term.
Now you see why at mygermanshepherd.org there is this rather detailed Help With Dog Consultation form: it ensures some degree of precision when dog owners seek help with their "dog problem". Because requests like these leave a LOT unanswered: "I need help! For a month already my dog has really bad hotspots on the belly!"
Who Suffers Skin Infections
In general, any dog with a lesion can contract a Skin Infection. In general, because even with a lesion, healthy dogs rarely succumb to a Skin Infection since a healthy integumentary system's Langerhans cells can easily thwart off the everyday pathogens.
Most times a lesion stems from accidental injury or from a dog fight. While Skin Infections following veterinary treatment are extremely rare in developed countries, thanks to protocols of hygiene.
Accidental injuries come down to abrasion from bushes etc, harsh coat care with sharp blade, rake, or teeth, or household or yard accidents.
The typical infection pathway of dogs that do not have a lesion from accidental injury or from a dog fight is:
- the dog lies down, may even roll around
- an irritant, or possibly an allergen, causes an itch somewhere on the dog's body
- the dog starts scratching, or at least feverishly licking
- the itch intensifies
- the dog scratches ever more frequently
- the skin gets sore
- ruptures or micro-cracks arise in the epidermis
- parasites, bacteria, fungi, or more rarely viruses infiltrate the sebaceous glands at hair follicle shafts
- where the infiltrating pathogens trigger an infection.
- The body responds with an inflammation to alert all available mechanisms of the immune system to assemble and fight the pathogens.
- At this point the average physician responds with a symptom name for this infection and prescribes antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory drugs to mitigate the inflammation...
- ... such that you believe healing occured and, quite pleased, you pay for drugs and consultation.
For now everyone is happy, until spin-off symptoms surface because cure is outstanding.
Cure is outstanding whenever:
- you didn't use up all prescribed antibiotics (usually for 7 to 12 days) because the also prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs quickly relieved the inflammation and made you think "it's already cured!", or
- the infection was triggered by fungi or other pathogens but not by bacteria: if at all, antibiotics can only help with bacteria, or
- the infection was indeed triggered by bacteria but these bacteria are resistant to the antibiotics: Note that against more than half of the major group of bacterial infections NO antibiotic is effective!
So then when spin-off symptoms surface:
- the average physician either tries a different antibiotic, and again you pay for drugs and consultation, and the above a... b... c... starts all over
- or the physician considers the new symptoms to be a new health issue, diagnoses it with another symptom name, and prescribes different drugs or just more of the same.
Digestive Disorders are a common spin-off because of what antibiotics do to the digestive system. Ear Infections are a common spin-off because antibiotics cause proliferation of yeast into other tissues, and the delicate outer ear and middle ear tissue is particularly sensitive to yeast.
As mentioned before, high skin pH too can trigger a Skin Infection. Dog skin is mostly alkaline anyway, and the average skin pH of German Shepherds is particularly alkaline (about ten times more alkaline than that of a Golden Retriever).
The more alkaline, the more attractive to bacteria and fungi, including the pathogenic strains that can trigger Skin Infections.
Be aware that many drugs impact on skin pH. The changes in skin pH can then cause new strains of bacteria to settle on the skin that may briefly challenge the immunological defense mechanism of the integumentary system.
If at that time the immunological response:
- is weakened, say due to severe illness, or
- is paralyzed from the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, or
- is busy fighting other attacks, say from vaccines(!)
then the organism may be unable to prevent an infection.
Other than all the above, generally the more humid and warm the living space of the dog, the more likely a Skin Infection. This is because both bacteria and fungi thrive in humid warm environments.
Be aware that when the dog has a chance to lick the infected tissue, the dog will even ingest the pathogens. And scratching the infected tissue, and then other body parts, will spread the pathogens all across the body! Both makes the whole situation much worse.
- reddish spots
- often quite circular
- often uneven skin
- receding fur
- possibly swelling
- often itchy
- often odor
- possibly pus or other discharge
- increasing in size and/or spreading out elsewhere
- if any marks then rather blackish dots than whitish dots
- possibly visibility of parasites (eg mites, fleas, ticks, worms)
- and behavioral signs of an infection:
- reduced appetite
- general malaise
- possibly even fever
Preventing Skin Infections
As always, the key to prevention is to nurture all body systems, not to intoxicate the body's cells with:
- many needless yet nonetheless harmful vaccinations that perturb and weaken all immunological defense mechanisms
- steroidal and non-steroidal drugs
- antibiotics and many other types of lab medication
- toxic waste products from rendering plants attractively packaged in large colorful plastic bags or less so in tins labeled "dog food"
- insecticides, for example in tick and flea spot-ons
- pesticides in yard care products
- allergens and carcinogens in many plastic toys, plastic bowls, cleaning detergents, carpet adhesives etc
- superfluous radiation, whether from X-rays or therapy
It is that easy, indeed.
Other than that, GSDs have a particularly thin skin, and so regular coat care and gentle skin care will help as well:
Oh! I can now add an update on this: While I continue to suggest to rinse your dog off after salt water contact whenever you can, I observed now that IF the dog is kept healthy then rinsing off is not required for healthy dog skin:
Currently with Miguel I have the chance to go swimming in the ocean every day (because we now live in a tiny house on wheels, yes, and so for the last half year we have been parking the truck house right next to a beach). We have no way to rinse off here (unless we catch an active irrigation system, which is rare).
In short: Miguel has no dry skin nor any other skin issue. No Skin Infection, no allergy, nothing. Despite a LOT of salt water contact and a lack of rinsing off, his skin is entirely healthy.
So, IF the dog is kept healthy then rinsing off is not required. Indeed, Miguel is kept very healthy, after all I teach that topic.
Well, one correction: With this dog I wasn't able to stick to consistent meal times and related points, and so promptly he did develop a habit of scavenging as expected. With consistent meal times it is so much easier to stop scavenging for good.
As for coat care, I brush him every single day with a Furminator type of tool from the UK, else we would drown in lose hair in this tiny truck house! Whenever the house inside will be done and upon unpacking the boxes I find the Love glove, I will polish him off with that again, like before. I also found that the Love glove is the only effective remedy to gently get loose hair off his legs. So yeah, I love the love glove.
Further tips how to prevent Skin Infections relate to stress and boredom:
- A stressed dog is likely to scratch a LOT more, and at some point so much that the skin gets sore, up to and including a lesion. Both can trigger a Skin Infection. The key factor to prevent stress for the dog is the #1 Secret about Dogs.
- A bored dog too is likely to scratch a LOT more. The key factor to prevent boredom is to integrate the dog into our lifestyle as much as possible, and when we cannot, to provide safe toys: Top 6 Toys that German Shepherds Love.
I even took Miguel with me when I was working in a cafe! I "sold" the idea as "protection" for both cafe and customers. I leashed him outside the entrance to a bench. Somewhere on the website is a photo.
Be imaginative to accomodate your dog's needs.
Since both stress and boredom find relief with plenty of varied exercise, a good exercise regime helps to prevent even Skin Infections too.
Finally, keep in mind that if your floors are tile or hardwood, and all the more if they are carpet, floors (obviously) quickly accumulate pathogens that may trigger Skin Infections when excessive scratching leads to micro lesions and we have not kept all body systems healthy for a proper defense.
This is why we were always using a steam-cleaner: They keep floors hygienic (pathogen-free) without any chemicals! Sounds too good to be true, I know. And yet it is: The hot steam kills every living thing (microbes!) but leaves even carpet fibers intact if used right (short intervals, repeated).
Treating Skin Infections
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