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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 39520
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I have an Irish doodle (Irish setter standard poodle cross),

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Hi, I have an Irish doodle (Irish setter standard poodle cross), 2 years old. Recently changed diet to grain free sensitive kibble due to persistent anal gland issues. This has worked a treat but her coat now smells like sweaty socks since the diet change. Bathing makes no difference. Any idea how to resolve? Thank you...
Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. What is the Irish Setter's name?
Customer: Nuala pronounced New-la
Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Nuala?
Customer: She was spayed at 1 year old

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. Nuala appears to be seborrheic. Seborrhea can be a primary hereditary disorder of skin maturation and keratinization or, more commonly, arise secondary to any chronic skin condition.

Clinical signs may be mild or include a dull, dry, lusterless hair coat, excessive scaling (dandruff), follicular casts, scaly and crusty seborrheic patches and plaques, and greasy, malodorous skin - often described as the odor of dirty gym socks. Most of the body is involved to some degree, with interdigital areas, perineum, face, axillae, ventral neck, abdomen, and skin folds usually most severely affected. Pruritis (itchiness) is mild to intense, and ceruminous otitis externa (oily external ear canal inflammation) is common. Secondary skin and ear infections with bacteria and Malassezia (yeast) are often present. Here's how you might address Nuala's seborrhea:

1) Ensure good nutrition. A commercially balanced dog food that meets AAFCO requirements should be fed. You should find the AAFCO statement on the food label.
2) Any secondary bacterial and Malassezia skin and ear infection should be treated with appropriate topical and systemic therapies. Periodic treatments or long-term, low-dose maintenance therapy may be needed because these dogs are susceptible to recurring infections.
3) For symptomatic control of ceruminous otitis, long-term maintenance ear care is necessary. Ear treatments with a multimodal therapy (consult with Nuala's vet) or ear cleaner should be administered to both ears every 1-7 days to control cerumen (wax) accumulation.
4) For symptomatic control of seborrhea, antiseborrheic shampoos and emollients may be used every 2-7 days until the skin condition is improved (~2-3 weeks), then, bathing frequency should be decreased to every 1-2 weeks or as needed for maintenance. Antiseborrheic shampoos contain some combination of sulfur, salicyclic acid, tar, benzoyl peroxide, or phytosphingosine and can be found over the counter/online or at Nuala's vet hospital.
5) Daily oral fatty acid supplementation may be helpful as an adjunct therapy (180mg EPA/10lbs). EPA is thought to be the most antiinflammatory of the essential omega-3 fatty acids. It's plentiful in fish oil supplements.
6) Vitamin A 8000-10,000 IU per 20lbs orally administered with a fatty meal every 24 hours. Improvement should be seen within 4-6 weeks.
7) For dogs with severe, greasy, malodorous, pruritic seborrhea, treatment with systemic corticosteroids may be helpful. Acitretin (a retinoid) may be helpful in some dogs. Calcitriol (vitamin D) may be helpful in some cases.

The prognosis is variable, depending on the severity of the seborrhea. This can be an incurable condition that requires lifelong therapy for control. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Dear Dr Salkin, thank you for your response. I’m surprised by your diagnosis as Nuala does not present with any of the symptoms you describe for seborrhoea (or any skin or coat abnormality for that matter) I can pinpoint the change in odour to the change in diet as she did not exhibit the same smell beforehand. Now that her anal gland issue has been resolved she is a happy healthy animal with plenty of energy and vigour, I am just at a loss as to the cause of the odour, which is not strong, it’s just unpleasant. If we were to change her diet again is there a specific ingredient or ingredient group we should try in either include or exclude that might help? Thank you.

Thank you for the additional information. Please note that skin can be seborrheic and smell so without the overt symptoms I posted. If Nuala were food intolerant and an allergic dermatitis arose, a mild seborrhea might also arise. To see if that's the case, you can test for food intolerance with prescription hypoallergenic diets. These special foods contain just one novel (rabbit, duck, e.g.) animal protein or proteins that have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed) to the point that Nuala's immune system doesn't "see" anything to be allergic to. The over the counter hypoallergenic foods too often contain proteins not listed on the label - soy is a common one - and these proteins would confound our evaluation of the efficacy of the hypoallergenic diet. The prescription foods are available from Nuala's vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra (a hydrolyzed protein diet is my preference because it avoids the possibility of my patient being intolerant to even a novel protein). A positive response is usually seen within a few weeks if we’ve eliminated the offending food allergen. Food intolerance can arise at any age and even after our patient has been eating the same food for quite some time.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Many thanks Dr Salkin, I shall try that approach.

You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

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