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This is so puzzling, and has been a bit of a nightmare. I just want to post the sotry to see if anyone has a clue what could have caused this, or has ever heard of anything similar.


Kit is my female dog, 6.5 years old. We do have a bad tick problem here, and I had been bathing both dogs weekly, and grooming them carefully to pull off the ticks that invariably live through the shampoo and disregard the Frontline.


Two weeks ago after her bath (I did use a new shampoo I had not used before) I noticed a three small (1/2 to 1" diameter) patches on her back where her fur had fallen out in clumps. The skin remaining without hair was perfectly white and clear looking.


A few hours later, those patches had hemorraghed under the skin, turned a dark red, and had grown in size. That was Saturday evening. By the time I could take her to the vet Monday morning the skin was necrotic; had hardened into patches and there were three more places on her back that were similar. All of them were necrotic, but only on the skin level, not open sores.


The vet thought it could be a bite. We have brown recluse spiders here, but the brown recluse bite typically is like acid: it just keeps going deeper and deeper. It doesn't stay on the surface like this. Also, there are several patches, varying in size from 1.5" in diameter to 4" in diameter, so the spider would have had to bite her several times.


If it were the shampoo, I would think it should have affected more of her body than just these patches on her back.


The vet thought it could have been that she scraped herself on something, but if that had happened it would have scraped the top layer of skin off, and there would have been bleeding and an obvious wound. All of these skin patches started out as just bare skin, and then hemorraghed under the skin later.


A rattlesnake doesn't cause this type of injury.

A retired vet who saw her said he thought it was a scald.....such as from boiling water. But I cannot see any way that that could have happened to her, although I have wracked my brain.


It is not spreading, and there's no rash. The rest of her coat and skin are normal. They don't hurt her when touched. The vet has now pulled off a couple of the necrotic skin patches, and those places have now formed what look like reasonably normal scabs. It looks as though she is healing, and the vet agrees, although it remains to be seen if the fur will grow back or not.


Normal appetite, energy level is normal, attitude is normal, upbeat, happy. No other symptoms of anything. The vet did not take a biopsy at first, fearful that she was having a blood clotting issue. Later, she decided against it because healing seems to be taking place.


Kit wears a T-shirt to keep dirt out of the wounds, and I wash them with saline twice a day and put on a fresh T-Shirt. She also has a neck wrap to keep her from pulling off the scabs. Some of the scabs have now fallen off, and there is healed skin underneath, but her back still looks just horrible. :rolleyes:


I googled everything I could think of for hours that might lead to a clue about this, but came up with no descriptions that applied to this case.


Does anyone have any idea what could have caused this?

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It sounds like a bite or reaction to me- although one of my dogs had a similar problem and I think it might have been a burn from my trucks' tail pipe/undercarriage. She wasn't normally anywhere near my truck (except to go places of course) but we were penning sheep that day and she scooted under there to cover the sheep and I think that's where she got the burn. It healed completely but if I shave her, you can see the scar (she's older than God now and we keep her furry self down to a minimum :rolleyes: )

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Did the skin lesions turn up in the area where you applied the Frontline? That would be the only thing that jumps out at me. Just to be on the safe side, did the vet do a tick panel?




The vet didn't do a tick panel. Actually, I don't know what that is, but the vet did not run any tests. She did not think that Kit had tick fever, because she said that although such a thing can occasionally be a result of severe tick fever, it has not been seen in a dog who is otherwise free of tick fever symptoms. To be on the safe side, Kit is on a course of Doxycycline.


The Frontline was applied all in one place, on the neck, and done a month prior to this event, so the vet ruled that out as a cause.


I thought of her having gotten under a car.....acid, or heat....but do not know when she could have done so. The dog pen is not the same area where the cars are parked......and none of our cars are leaking anything.....


Thanks for the replies............................I was noticing that 30 people had looked at my post, and no one had replied! (Guess everyone else is just as puzzled as I am). If only I knew what happened, maybe I could prevent it in the future.....


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What about the crazy ants in Arizona? DH swells up like crazy when they bite him. Those bites can be monstrous. Maybe Kit rolled on or near an ant hill. We had some crazy ants in our yard this spring. They are fairly aggressive buggers and when they bite you their whole body flexes and curls. We haven't see a lot of them, but DH HATES them.


Another thought might be fungus. I have no idea if fungus could do that to skin, but Valley fever is caused by fungus in AZ so maybe this could be as well?

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Have you ruled out a super-staph (bacterial) infection? Also referred to as MRSA, flesh-eating bacteria, and in worst form as necrotizing fascitis. The extreme versions (in humans) have made the news this year but there are also not-quite-as-virulent forms. Dogs (and other animals) can get it, as well as humans.


About a year and a half ago, a very robust young dog of mine developed crusty deep oozing sores which absolutely would not heal, on his lower hocks. I didn't like the look of them, and we went to the vet fast when all of a sudden they went from being fairly small (but persistent) to tripling in size overnight and showing up in multiple new locations. She diagnosed a very aggressive skin staph infection, and treated both topically and internally with strong antibiotics.


I was advised to be keep the lesions covered, to dispose of the coverings securely, to be very careful handling him, to disinfect all contact surfaces (including crates, blankets and my own hands) aggressively, and to watch my other animals, in case it spread. It didn't spread, and once we got onto it with the powerful prescription stuff it cleared up pretty fast. But it left some nasty scars on the dog's legs for a while. I think we may have been lucky.


The dog never got a fever, his energy was fine, and his bloodwork was clear. Apparently his immune system was vigorous enough to keep the problem localized, but not quite enough to fight it off completely.


Just another possibility. I hope it isn't super-staph, and your dog heals fast with no lingering effects.


Liz S in PA

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Sorry -- additional related thought. The other vet who mentioned "scald" may have been thinking of equine "scald" also known as "rain rot." It is a topical infection though usually related to chronic damp conditions. It causes hair loss and whitened skin patches. You might want to google it.


A bacterial infection caused by Dermatophilus congolensis. Horse men have called this rain rot or rain scald and even sometimes call it skin fungus


Liz S

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This afternoon I was looking through some articles on weeds and problems with grazing animals. That gave me the idea of poison ivy, poison sumac, or any of the other bothersome plants. Was the dog running in wooded areas, around wild fields etc? Just a possibility.



Here in southern AZ we don't have those plants. We just have cholla cactus and other assorted prickly and spiky plants, and of course scorpions, black widows, brown recluses, rattlesnakes and coral snakes! :rolleyes:


Ants..............could be, because we certainly have ants here. But no ant hills in the yard.....


As for staph..............what a horrifying thought. I suppose it could be that, but if so it would by now have spread to the other animals in the household, I would think. I will certainly ask my vet about that in the morning when I see her. There have been no new patches for a while, though, and the ones that there are seem to be healing up reasonably well.


The information about "scald" in horses is very interesting, and I didn't know about that. This retired vet, however, didn't mean that, but an actual hot liquid scald such as coffee. However, I know that there's no way that happened to her. (Unless someone came past our back yard, through an area that is neither a road nor a path but a ditch, and then climbed up a 6 foot chain link fence to pour hot coffee on her back over the fence.....or poured it through the fence.........not impossible, but somewhat unlikely . Although you never know what people will do!)


Some kind of fungus or bacterial infection seems also like a good possibility to me. I am goiong to ask the vet about that as well. I may possibly never know, because if she is healing up from it well I may not want to spend the money for tests to tell me what the cause is. I would much rather know, but money is so tight I may not choose to spend it on that as long as she heals up, which is the main thing.


Thanks so much to all of you who responded.

And for the good wishes on her speedy recovery. Please send her some good mojo.



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There is also something in horses called "scald" but it is (if I remember correctly) a bacterial or fungal infection that occurs on skin that is moist (maybe rain rot?) and becomes infected.


As for staph, my experiences with that in dairy goats (on the udder, after kidding, every year but greatly varying in extent and severity with different animals, so I think there was also a genetic predisposition factor) and in Bute (who apparently had an issue with low immunity, as a simple staph "pimple" that occurred after a scrape or scratch would often "act like" flesh-eating bacteria in terms of eating through all the layers of skin - yet it was easily stopped and treated by one or two applications of a mild antibiotic spray - obviously not a virulent strain but a dog that could not "handle" the infection, no matter how mild) - sorry for the run-on-sentance - it has always appeared in my animals that were affected as white pus-filled pimples or blisters but (in spite of myself coming into contact with it frequently, and not always where and when I could wash my hands) never spread to any cat, person, or other animal.



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