|Barked: Tue Oct 19, '10 7:09am PST |
|Ah, brings back lots of memories!
Our family's Westie developed blackening skin during her fight with horrible dermatitis/mange and yeast infections. Westies in general are more prone to these problems and we found that most standard vets are ill-equipped to diagnose and treat complicated skin issues.
Yeast infections and (often) accompanying mange/dermatitis are secondary to a weaker/vulnerable immune system, a genetically inherited trait. Typical allergy treatments will alleviate the worst symptoms - itchiness/inflammation - but are only treating the symptoms, not the actual problem. We found that to be the issue with much of our Westie's vet treatment. They gave her medicines to treat "allergies" but they were more stop-gaps rather than treating/assisting her weaker immune system and stopping the infections/dermatitis from starting in the first place!!
She started off scratching and itching lots of spots, mostly belly and paws. These hot spots then started turning black as hyperpigmentation set in after the long-term inflammation/scratching/infections. Our vet at the time (about 12 years ago in Western PA!) diagnosed 'allergies' and gave her steroids/allergy meds. These barely helped! He also prescribed the hypoallergenic Science Diet (worst choice possible, but we didn't know better).
Her problems continued to progress and the vet threw his hands up in the air and sent us to a doggie dermatologist at a vet school/teaching clinic in Ohio. 6 hour drive round trip + 500 dollar visit! She was the first to give us an inkling that "allergies" might only be a symptom of a larger problem we weren't treating and explained that Westies and many purebreds often have weaker immune systems which allow yeast/bacterial infections to run rampant. She prescribed medicated baths every other week, new meds to control the itching and give her skin a break and follow-up visits to check on her progress.
Jojo's main issue that was 10+ years ago, the internet was just starting and few people did research on puppy health/nutrition on their own. So we followed our vets' advice and she reached a point of "status quo" -- we could control her symptoms with the meds and baths, but whenever they stopped, everything would come back.
Once my mom started getting into the internet and reading about skin allergies/problems in dogs, she began to take matters into her own hands. She's a medical doctor so she was able to work in tandem with our new vets (we had just moved to Florida) to get some new meds and a new treatment plan. This plan included treating the overall problem -- weakened immune system -- with a healthy homemade diet, vitamin and probiotic supplements, and standard meds to control the itching/discomfort.
When Jojo died last spring, she had a FULL COAT. No blackness, no itching, no redness. She hadn't had major skin issues since my mom started her on the new treatment plan!
TLDR: Allergies, maybe, but a yeasty smell and the blackening makes me think that you are dealing with yeast infections and hot spots of dermatitis since it sounds just like our Westie. The meds should help with the itching, but if things don't improve, look into diet, probiotic supplements and medicated shampoos.
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