HOTSPOTS BE GONE!

 

Natural Prevention & Treatment of Eczema, Pyoderma (hotspots) & Pododermatitis (foot sores).

 

This page is dedicated to the many lovely bull terrier owners I’ve met, both on social media and in real life, who struggle constantly with their bully’s skin and foot health, battling recurring eczema, pyoderma and pododermatitis.

 

So why is it such a struggle? Here’s a little insight from the Lulu’s Menu page:

 

It’s easy to forget that bull terriers are a young breed. The form of the breed we know today has developed rapidly over just 150 years. From the perspective of animal husbandry, inbreeding is unavoidable in this kind of rapid intentional development. This means that often, for the sake of aesthetic conformation, anomalies that can’t be seen – mutations like genetic polymorphisms (SNPs) – get entrenched in the breed as certain blood lines are repeatedly overlapped. The global bull terrier gene pool is a relatively small one – and subsequently the same immunodeficiencies, food and environmental sensitivities are prolific in bullies in every corner of the world.

 

I so often get asked what it is I do to keep Lulu’s skin so healthy. The answer is simply that I think about it holistically. That means understanding that these skin issues are just a symptom of a greater imbalance, rather than an isolated condition. Finding and addressing the underlying issues causing that imbalance can having a dramatic effect on your dog’s skin health and quality of life, leaving you relieved, empowered and saving a lot in vet bills!

 

The truth is that there’s no one thing that will put an end to the the itchies, sores, infections and discomfort, it has to be a combined effort. After a lot of trial and error and fine-tuning over Lulu’s lifetime, I’ve found a combination of things that work together beautifully allow her to live a happy, carefree life with beautifully healthy skin and coat.

 

 

PREVENTION

 

 

FOOD OF THE DOGS

 

The integral first step: make the shift to a dairy-free, grain-free diet (going gluten-free isn’t enough – this means no rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat or rye), rich in good oils and probiotics. If you can change the way you think about your dog’s diet you’re well on your way saying no to another tube of cortisone cream or yet another prescription for antibiotics.

 

I can’t stress enough that diet is the foundation for healthy skin and promoting appropriate immune response (helping to alleviate allergies). It doesn’t matter what else you do to prevent and treat skin issues, if the diet isn’t hypo-allergenic and supportive those hotspots will just keep popping up – and we all know how soul-destroying that can be.

 

The digestive tract is the largest immune reactive surface in a dog’s body. It is your dog’s first line of defence, exposed daily to pathogens, viruses, bacteria and food particles. It’s no secret that a large part of the bull terrier population has intrinsic food sensitivities. When the immune system becomes stressed by the toxic load from incompatible food (grains, dairy, chemical additives, fillers) a dog’s natural defences can become more and more compromised and reactive. When a dog’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract is healthy, it allows for the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, strengthening and balancing the immune system to protect against the allergens and bacteria at the root of eczema and pyoderma.

 

Don’t know where or how to start changing your dog’s diet? For a detailed outline of what I feed Lulu for healthy skin head to the Lulu’s Menu page.

 

For those whose life just just doesn’t allow the time to cut up fresh veggies and meat or add supplements, don’t worry, there are still solutions! There are wonderful conscientious companies out there like Ivory Coat and Sunday Pets making truly high quality and genuinely hypo-allergenic food that can form the basis of a skin health diet. Lulu gets 1/2 cup (approx 125gm) Ivory Coat Turkey & Duck or 6-7 Sunday Pet Tasty Holistic Grain Free biscuits after she’s had her daily fresh meat, veggies and supplements. But for those compromised by time, if all you can do is make the switch to a truly hypoallergenic filler-free, dairy and grain free food like Ivory Coat or Sunday Pets Tasty Holistic as a complete meal then that’s still a big step in the right direction.

 

 

The Lulu Bully - Bull Terrier Skin Health - natural, healthy, raw, hypo-allergenic diet for bull terriers and other dogs

 

 

CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO DOGLINESS

 

With the hypoallergenic diet nailed the next step is all about giving the skin itself some regular TLC.

 

It’s easy for environmental allergens and irritants to build up in the coat and on the skin, especially during summer and changes of season. Removing these unwelcome little troublemakers regularly can provide a lot of relief for itchy, dermatitis-prone skin. The key is to do so without drying out the skin, disrupting the natural oil balance or PH, or irritating the skin with sulphates, parabens or other chemicals. The ideal combo is to feed a diet rich in good oils (ie. omega-3, omega-9, lauric acid) and bath once or twice a fortnight with a quality natural dog-specific, soap-free, hypo-allergenic shampoo.

 

I’ve found that the best shampoos are natural, but that all natural shampoos are not equal. The natural anti-parasitic oils, like neem oil, added to some canine cleansers can irritate sensitive bully skin, as can formulas with a high-percentage of tea-tree oil. Of all the shampoos and conditioner combos we’ve tried over Lulu’s lifetime, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. Ivory Coat’s Sensitive Shampoo and Conditioner combo is just beautiful to use and the calm, pale, moisturised and happy bully skin it leaves in its wake is enough to make any bully owner smile with joy (and relief)! I can’t recommend their ‘Sensitive’ combo more highly. It’s soap-free with gentle natural oils, soothing calendula, and less than 1% Tea Tree – the balance just feels perfect and, for Lulu, the results have been amazing. I’m seriously impressed with both Ivory Coat’s nutritional and grooming products, and their philosophy – so glad to have found them!

 

Lulu Bully - Healthy Bull Terrier Skin - Natural treatment for skin sores, hotspots

 

 

WELL DRESSED

 

As delicious as it is in salad dressings, Apple Cider Vinegar and Manuka Honey can be equally wonderful as a ‘dressing’ for your bully!

 

I’ve mentioned the internal use of organic unfiltered ACV and medicinal Manuka Honey in Lulu’s Menu. They’re also both an absolute must-have in our Tool Kit for topical treatment and prevention of skin issues. Applied topically in a 1:3 (ACV:water) mix as an all-over rinse, or 1:1 (ACV:water) + 1/2 tsp Manuka honey (in a 120ml bottle) as a spray for localised areas the effect it can have on stubborn eczema and even full-blown pyoderma (hotspots/staphylococcus) can be quite incredible. I mix 1/3 tsp of UMF 5+ Manuka honey with the veggies in Lulu’s daily meal. The effects of feeding Manuka honey have been particularly evidence in the resilience and repair of Lulu’s sensitive, infection-prone skin. In the 6 months (including two changes of season) since I started feeding Manuka honey in her daily meal we’ve had no rashes, eczema, dermatitis or hot spots and any grazes or insect bites have healed super fast without infection. I’m not entirely sure how I managed with Lulu’s skin prior to using ACV and Manuka honey!

 

For years now ACV has been well known amongst the global community of human eczema sufferers as having quite miraculous results. Many times I’ve heard from people in real life and on online forums who tout it as their personal ‘cure’ for eczema. Aside from beneficial bacteria,  riboflavin, mineral salts and vitamin B1, the rich acetic acid content of unfiltered ACV packs a mighty anti-bacterial and anti-fungal punch. Our homemade topical ACV+Manuka honey spray has often been the ONLY thing that has stopped Lulu’s atopic dermatitis in its tracks.

 

Read more about topical ACV spray as a treatment for hot spots further down the page.

 

 

GETTING IT LICKED

 

As a breed, bull terriers are prone to OCD licking – particularly of their feet. Whether licking is brought on by anxiety, itchy environmental irritants, or an incompatible diet, either way, it’s a habit that can bring on, or contribute to, eczema and pododermatitis (foot sores). If a bully’s feet or legs are stained orangey-red, that’s a strong indication that they need help to curb their licking problem. Teaching a ‘no licking’ command using positive reinforcement can be really helpful and it’s never too late to start!

 

Another thing I find really helpful in relieving itchy feet (which can often be the initiating factor behind licking) is to massage a little Virgin Coconut Oil into the paws and a couple of inches up the legs. The oil is soothing and calming to dry, itchy, saliva irritated skin and the lauric acid in coconut oil is anti-fungal and antibacterial.

TREATMENT

 

We have one gluten and dairy eater in our house. We also have green ants in our yard (Australian natives with horrendous bites!). Which means no matter how skin-safe, immune supportive, and hypo-allergenic Lulu’s diet… when a herd of obnoxiously militant green ants get a little too up-close and personal, or a chunk of cookie or a crust of bread gets dropped unnoticed and cries of ‘what are you eating?!’ are met with a ‘wouldn’t you like to know?!’ grin and wagging tail – you’ve just got to be ready with Plan B!
Here’s our tried and true treatment regime for eczema and hotspots for those times when the best laid plans go awry…

 

1. Spot those spots before they become hot!

 

When you know what to look out for, it’s much easier to catch skin issues early and nip them in the bud with some simple natural treatment techniques before the opportunistic greeblies like staphylococcus can get a party started.

 

Always keep your eye out for little lumps (about the size of a mosquito bite) beneath the fur – easy to see when the light catches the coat on an angle. These little bumps indicate atopic inflammation that can easily turn into hotspots if left untreated.

Progression from bumps to hotspots (left to right): 1, Small bumps seen and felt under the coat. 2, Bumps progress to dermatitis (NB. broken skin). 3 and 4, Dermatitis progresses to pyoderma/hotspots (NB. Purple colour = tell-tale sign of staphylococcus bacterial infection).

 

It pays to also be on the look out for repetitive itching or licking of a particular area – another early indicator for localised skin issues. Licking between the toes can be indicative of fungal/yeast infection (characterised by an accompanying sickly sweet, funky smell) which can progress to bacterial infection (pyoderma/hotspot) if not treated.

2. Spray those blues away!

 

Our super simple and totally amazing natural recipe for success against these little badass bumps is a simple blend of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Manuka Honey and water that we keep in a handy little spray bottle.

 

Recipe:

 

1 part Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
1 part Distilled or Filtered Water
1/2 tsp Manuka Honey UMF 5+

 

With the inherent anti-microbial properties in both ACV and Manuka honey this little recipe is super simple, super soothing, super safe (no problem for lickers!) and can be used frequently without discomfort or risk of sensitisation. It’s easy to think ‘Vinegar? Wouldn’t that sting?’ but mixed up using the recipe above it’s surprisingly gentle for use on broken skin too – I’ve tested it on my own cuts and grazes (there’s just a little momentary tingle on first application) and Lulu doesn’t mind it in the slightest.

 

At the sign of any little bumps, redness, inflammation or rashes I spray the affected areas 3-5 times per day (part the fur with your fingers if necessary to get to the skin) for as long as necessary until the bumps are gone and/or the skin has returned to a healthy pale pink colour. Then sit back and relax, cuddle and play and enjoy the thought of all those potential hotspots that you and your BFF didn’t have to suffer through!

 

For yeast infections between the toes, I spray thoroughly with the ACV and honey, gently wipe clean with a cotton pad, spray again, take another cotton pad and gently pat as dry as possible, then finish with a liberal covering of organic virgin coconut oil (coconut oil contains the proven anti-fungal lauric acid). These simple steps usually clear up yeast between the toes in after just one treatment, although applying some more coconut oil 24hrs later can help the healing process and take care of any remaining fungal spores. This solution is wonderful for pimples and insect bites too, I just spray it onto a cotton bud and dab on.

3. Past the point of no return…

 

On those occasions when you miss spotting those bumps early and a nasty hotspot sneaks up on you, don’t worry – all is not lost! The treatment and healing process at this point just takes a little more time and effort, but is still simple, still done at home and still extremely effective.

 

When dealing with the bacterial infection that is as the root of full-blown hotspots (pyoderma) here’s what’s in our Tool Kit:

 

Chlorhexadine 4% Surgical Handwash – I use the ‘Microshield’ brand from Chemist Warehouse here in Australia.

 

Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar – Available from any good supermarket or health food store.

 

2 x Clean jars and/or containers for soaking. Wide enough to comfortably fit a paw flat on the bottom and tall enough to cover the affected areas.

 

Cotton pads  – I just use regular organic cotton makeup pads from the supermarket or pharmacy.

 

Cohesive Bandage (aka Vetwrap)  – Available on eBay, from online pets supply stores, and your local vet clinic.

 

Bepanthen ‘Nappy Rash’ Ointment – There are two types of Bepanthen, and for this purpose I use the ‘Nappy Rash’ Ointment (not the ‘First Aid’ Antiseptic Cream) which contains dexpanthenol, an emollient pro vitamin of B5, with a greasy consistency that acts as a barrier after treatment to help seal out bacteria, saliva and other external undesirables, and helps to soften and moisturise the skin and decrease itching and flaking. The regular Bepanthen ‘First Aid’ Antiseptic Cream is not greasy, has the opposite effect to an emollient and doesn’t work in this particular situation. NB. Bepanthen Ointment contains petroleum products (Parrafinum, Petrolatum). I generally avoid petroleum based creams and salves like the plague and this is the only one you’ll find in my house because, for its part in this process, I’ve found it to be the best product for the job. I’ve tried substituting with all-natural alternatives like quality petroleum-free Paw Paw ointment, but none perform the way Bepanthen Ointment does for this crucial part in the process. 

 

Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – Available from any good supermarket or health food store.

 

 

Treatment Method: 

 

1.  Mix 1 part Microshield (Chlorhexadine 4%) with 3 parts warm distilled or filtered water in a clean jar or container. In a separate jar or container mix 1 part Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with approx 4 parts warm distilled or filtered water. Both solutions should be warmer than human skin temp, but not so hot as to cause discomfort. The warmth of the solution is important as it helps draw the infection to the surface and opens the pores to allow the antibacterial agents deeper into the affected area.

 

2.  Soak* the effected area in the Chlorhexadine/Water mix continuously for at least 10 minutes. For the first minute or two I often gently massage the affected area with my fingers while submerged – this helps to expel the bad fluids and encourage the antibacterial fluid in.  NB. When you’re starting out it can be hard, particularly for young dogs, to sit still for a 10min soak. Rewarding with treats at set intervals throughout the duration of soaking is a great way to settle them and provide a positive treatment experience.

 

*If the hotspot being treated is on a part of the body unable to be soaked I make a warm poultice by dipping a few cotton pads or a clean wash cloth (depending on the size of the area into the chlorhexadine solution and holding it to the affected area, refreshing it every 2-3minutes until reaching at least 10minutes total treatment time. 

 

3.  Rinse*: Remove after 10 minutes in the Chlorhexadine mix, place the affected area in the ACV and water rinse for approx 30sec-1min, again gently using your fingers to massage the affected area and surrounds to help rinse the chlorhexadine from the coat and skin.

 

*If the area being treated is on a part of the body unable to be placed in a container for rinsing I put the ACV rinse solution in a spray bottle and spray the area repeatedly, mopping up with a clean towel between sprays until the chlorhexadine soak is rinsed away. 

 

4.  Dry: Remove from the ACV rinse and dry gently but thoroughly with a clean towel (taking particular care to dry between the toes).

 

5. Ointment and Bandage: Once dry, apply a generous amount of Bepanthen Ointment (or Paw Paw ointment) to the affected area, cover with one or more cotton pads and bandage with VetRap.

Treatment method (left to right): 1, Chlorhexadine soak. 2, ACV rinse. 3, Bepanthen Ointment and Cotton Pads. 4, Bandaging with Vetwrap. 5, Repeat at least twice daily.

 

Repeat this procedure a minimum of twice daily (consistency is key – don’t skip!) until the skin has returned to a healthy pale pink colour and texture, is no longer abnormally warm to the touch or oozing any type of fluid. If you can manage 3 times daily it definitely does help speed things up – the less breathing space you give the bacteria, the quicker it will retreat. I generally find that anywhere between 5-10 days of this treatment protocol is enough to vanquish even the most stubborn hotspots without the need for antibiotics or topical steroids.

 

Even when it’s clear that the bacteria is gone and you’re no longer bandaging the area it’s really important to keep curious tongues at bay for at least another week to allow the skin to rebuild its defences and prevent re-infection. Keeping the area moisturised is also really important to stop it from becoming itchy or flaky as it heals – organic virgin coconut oil is fantastic for this purpose, and its anti-microbial properties help to protect it from re-infection. After successful hotspot treatment I rub coconut oil into the skin at least twice daily for a week or two to prevent flaking, encourage hair-regrowth, and help the healing process along.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Lix NorthArtist, Illustrator, Photographer, Designer. Owned by The Lulu Bully.

 

I grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand. Forever fond of my gumboots and jumping in muddy puddles, my childhood best friends were the farm working dogs (huntaways, bearded and border collies) and the family spaniels. Animals have always been an intrinsic part of my life, I spent a lot of my youth caring for farm and domestic animals, hand rearing orphaned animals and watching and assisting farm hands and vets. One of my earliest memories is the magic and awe I felt as a toddler watching my grandmother help a litter of puppies into the world. As legend has it, my first word was ‘woof’.

 

My passion for holistic health was born from the challenge of living with multiple polymorphic gene mutations (MTHFR and CBS SNPs). 20+ years spent studying holistic principles and modalities, together with a basic understanding of metabolic, enzymatic and genetic processes empowered me to manage my own sensitivities, methylation and immune issues at a level that conventional medical science alone was unable to offer. It was a natural progression, as Lulu’s own sensitivities became apparent, to simply apply the very same level of research and holistic care to her.
Disclaimer: The content on lulubully.com is a fluid, living collection of notes, personal thoughts and experiences. I regularly edit tweak and updated these blog pages as my ideas evolve. All opinions are my own and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, nor prevent any disease. Thoughts expressed, information provided and products mentioned are not necessarily approved by any governing body or health professional. I am not a qualified medical, veterinarian or naturopathic practitioner, my thoughts and experiences are offered purely as a layperson. Discretion, common sense and personal responsibility should be employed when applying any of the ideas expressed here to your own personal situation.