Vets - please help our dog!

Our border collie has sores around her mouth (on the outside, by the corners). We’ve taken her to the vet twice, and he gave us antibiotics for her, which made the sores heal up each time. But now that the antibiotics have worn off, she has them again. He wants to do a biopsy (he admits he’s never seen anything like this) but that’ll run us about $300. We’ll do it if it’s necessary, and I’m taking her to another vet tomorrow for a second opinion. But I’m wondering if any Dopers have had a similar experience with their pets?

They’re crusty red sores that ooze a little but eventually dry up and go away. They seem to be somewhat itchy for her, but she seems to tolerate them fairly well (i.e. she’s not scratching at her muzzle all the time).

We’ve had her for just under 2 months. Her former owner (a friend) told me she didn’t notice anything like that on her before we got her. So I’m wondering if it’s some kind of allergy, but would antibiotics clear up an allergic reaction? I’m also wondering how we can know if it’s contagious for other dogs or not? We’re going on holidays next week and she’ll be around other dogs quite a bit.

Any ideas? HELP?!?!

i think that you’re prob’ly doing the best right now- the 2nd opinion. The biopsies will let you know for sure what’s going on.

IANAV, but I’d guess that it was something enviromental. Even if it were not an allergy, perhaps there’s somethings that’s a source for the bacteria. I assume bacteria because the antibiotics appeared to help.
Unless the second vet recognizes it, I suspect that the second vet’ll want to biospy as well.

Sounds like Orf. It is very common in sheep. I know it’s pretty contagious. It will spread to humans, I’m betting dogs can get it.


Thank you.

She also has sores in her ears (she had those when we got her, but we were told they were from her kennel mate chewing on her).

Once they’re cleaned up (which she hates of course), the sores in her ears are very similar to the sores on her muzzle. They don’t look like bite marks or holes at all.

Poor pup.

Bear_Nenno - What is “orf”?

Forget orf; if you lived in a sheep raising area you would know about this Parapoxvirus.

I would ask your vet for a dermatology referal. Cheilitis can be difficult to treat/control. Topical cleansing agents containing benzoyl peroxide are frequently used.

Isn’t cheilitis a swelling of the lip?

These sores are on the outside of her mouth and not exactly on her lips - picture where dimples would be if she could smile and had dimples - that’s where they’d be. (If that makes any sense at all!).

I have no idea how sophisticated the veterinary services here are. The original vet also sold us a surgical wash (that pink stuff - I guess it’s a sterile solution) to kind of gently scrub at the sores with a damp cloth, and then rinse it off. This gets rid of the scabs which I assume allows it to heal faster. But it certainly doesn’t solve the original problem.


Hmmm…I was basing things on your original description…

If it is an area where saliva/food particles/bacteria can congregate then cleaning the area after each trip to the food/water bowl may help.

I think the most expediant thing would be to request a derm referral though.

Just got back from getting the 2nd opinion.

This vet is somewhat stumped too, but believes it could be **vasculitis ** (sp?) - some kind of immune deficiency disorder? (or is it auto-immune?).

Apparently a biopsy is required, so that’s been scheduled and then she’ll be put on hormones or steroids or something. :frowning:

All of this for a doggie we’ve only had for less than 2 months. Any Straight Dope on this disease?

Is it lifelong? Can it cause other health problems?


Apparently vasculitis is a name for the symptom, not the cause.

from vetinfo:

Vasculitis occurs for several reasons and your vet is looking for the more
likely ones with the testing already done. It can occur due to tick borne
(rickettsial) infections, due to some other infectious diseases, as the
result of E. coli food poisoning, from vaccine or drug reactions, in
association with systemic problems like kidney disease and hormonal
diseases and for a number of other reasons. Many of these would be ruled
out by normal chemistry values on a routine blood panel and by negative
titers on a rickettsial disease panel. In many instances it is not
possible to find a specific underlying cause for this problem, in which case
it is referred to as idiopathic vasculitis

If you do decide to treat for this problem, the usual medications used are
the immunosuppressive medications. Pentoxifylline (Tental Rx) seems to be a
popular choice for this right now, along with corticosteroids and
niacinamide/tetracycline combinations. I’m sure that other
immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory medications have been used
successfully, too.

…sometimes it does seem like it only affects one
small area, making it hard to figure out whether to use systemic
medications to treat a localized problem that sometimes doesn’t seem to be
causing too much discomfort. I don’t have any advice about how to make that
decision, I think it has to be made by the vet who can see the effects and
the owner’s assessment of the dog’s response to the problem.

I am not a vet, but my best friend is, and she is adament about the fact that one of the big changes in vet care over the last 20 years has been the rejection of steroids as a reasonable way to treat dermatology problems in dogs. According to her, steroids can–and eventually will–cause serious internal health problems that are much, much harder to treat than any derm problems, and that in many cases allowing the derm problem to persist is better than the damage caused by steroids. She often complains about getting in dogs that older vets have put on steroids for extended periods of time without ever saying one word about the damage they can cause.

So before putting the dog on steroids, I would definitly ask for a referral to a vet with some additional training in dermatology.

IANA vet, and vetbridge is probably going to object to this advice. However, I do believe that what I suggest will help. And I’m certain that, done with caution, there’s no way my suggestion can damage your dog (I love dogs far too much to tell anyone to do something that I had the least suspicion would harm one.).

If she were mine, I’d get a bottle of 8,000 IU vitamin A from WalMart (or someplace else cheap), and start giving her one daily. I think you should begin to see improvement in 5-7 days.

How do I know this dosage is safe? On her breeder’s advice (about 25 years ago), I gave my 25 lb. Saluki 25,000 IU of vitamin A daily for about a month (that strength is no longer available, AFAIK). She had challenged the Dane who regarded herself as bosslady of all the dogs. Missy picked her up gently (if it hadn’t been gently, Meerah would have been dead), but one of her canines caught on the loose skin on Meerah’s neck and tore it. Meerah (the Saluki) wouldn’t allow stitches to stay in, and I didn’t have a “Queen Anne’s collar” (the weird looking thing that keeps an animal from being able to get at an owie to bite or scratch). Despite the fact that there was originally a tear that gaped open to the approximate circumference of a quarter, with the A it healed with no scar visible unless you parted the fur.

So, the daily dosage I’m suggesting is 1/3 of the amount that my 25 lb. Saluki took without problems for a month. I’m assuming that your BC weighs in the 40-50 lb. range. I see no reason why she couldn’t take 8,000 IU daily indefinitely, unless she were bred, in which case I’d drop the A for the first five weeks after breeding (potential for neural tube malformation). If she’s spayed, she should be safe at that dosage forever, if the rash heals up using A, but comes back when you take her off it.

My suspicion is that this is an allergy. If so, and persistent, some vets would put her on steroids more or less permanently. Even though I get steroid injections for my osteoarthritis, I’m not a fan of them when there is any alternative.

Update (we’ve been on holidays) : for the past 10 days or so she’s been on her new food exclusively (we were gradually switching her over from her Lamb & Rice formula) - she’s now solely on Innova and her skin has almost completely cleared up. I’m guessing it may have been either an allergic reaction to the Lamb in her food, or else a reaction to the preservatives.

Following the vet’s recommendation, we’ve been giving her two salmon oil capsules a day and one Vitamin E capsule.

SimonX - thank you for the info. I had hardly any time to search the 'net before our trip. It’s good to know that it’s a symptom not a disease.

Manda JO - thank you for the info re: steroids. In our town it seems like all of the vets think along the same, old-school, conservative lines. It’s good to know there are other opinions out there and if we need to, we can stick to our guns about the steroids. They made me nervous to start with!

tygerbryght - good to know about the Vitamin A - I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

I have my fingers crossed that keeping her on the new food and the oil capsules will keep this problem well under control.

Thanks again!

Glad to see you took note of our cautions about steroids. They are dangerous if misused, and they are so very easily misused!

The salmon oil (and vitamin E) sounds like a good approach. One thing you may not have realized is that the salmon oil contains all of the oil-soluble vitamins - A, D, and E. Does the label have an analysis of how much of each of these vitamins the capsules provide? Although it’s a bit harder to do so, it is as possible to overdose on D & E as it is on A. However, I believe it is important to know how much of each the dog is getting. If there is no analysis on the label, I’d try to find a webpage for the manufacturer, or (I hate writing letters!) an address to which you can direct an inquiry.

As you have probably realized by now, I would not recommend giving her “A” in addition to the salmon oil without first knowing how much of it she’s getting from the salmon oil.

Another consideration for the long term is the cost of salmon oil capsules (unless your budget is extremely generous). I’ve thought about taking it myself because of all the other nutritional benefits, but it doesn’t fit in with living on Social Security. :frowning:

But I am glad to know that you love your pup and are doing the very best you can for her. :slight_smile: Keep us posted on how this goes?