bulldog

Secondary Infection can cause Misery & Wreak Havoc

Question:
My bulldog is 9 years old and losing hair. Her skin is dry and it smells bad. Her ears have gooey junk in them and they stink too. Is this just because she is old?

Dr. Nichol:
Dry skin problems and hair loss are not signs of good health and, except for humans of a certain age, aren’t considered a normal part of membership in AARP. Your bulldog’s foul odor skin and her miserable ears are serious. More than just B.O. she may have a skin disorder called seborrhea.

I consulted with veterinary skin specialist Dr. Rebecca Mount of Dermatology for Animals. Here is her response. “This poor pup! The odor is a strong indicator of a secondary skin infection. It is really important to have a microscopic evaluation of her skin to ensure we are treating the right infectious agent. I have seen hair loss secondary to infection and self-trauma if the dog is itchy. But it could also indicate a hormonal problem such as low thyroid (hypothyroidism) or excessive cortisol (Cushing’s).”

“While the symptoms are not related to age, it does change the list of possible causes. In addition to allergies, which are common in this breed and can predispose to dry skin and skin and ear infections, hormonal changes can also do the same thing. A full history about the onset of these changes, response to any previous therapy, blood work, and other clinical signs would be helpful in pinpointing the underlying disease which is predisposing this poor kiddo to secondary skin infections.”

The take-away is that your bulldog needs a thorough diagnostic evaluation. She could actually be sicker that she looks and feel worse than she smells. I’m concerned that the chronic inflammation in her skin will affect other organ systems, possibly her kidneys, heart valves, and joints. Having done my residency research on canine dementia (cognitive dysfunction syndrome) and published a paper on it I would add this inflammatory brain disease to my list of long term worries for your sweet dog. I urge you to have her examined ASAP. She’s not a happy camper.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.