Treating a Dog's Scaly Smelly Skin?

September 7, 2012

Black lab puppy laying down and scratching ear with back footMy Shepherd mix has had some patches of fur missing, off and on, for about six months. I recently changed his diet to no grain, started him on fish oil and bathe him regularly with a gentle medicated shampoo. He smells awful and has a large patch of dry scaly skin behind his front legs and on his abdomen. He does scratch and lick a lot.


He is a bad vet patient, I have to heavily sedate him. He is friendly to all others, strangers and all, anyone can walk right in my house, but he goes crazy in the exam room. Any last attempt suggestions before the heavy sedation has to come?

By Tracey


September 9, 20121 found this helpful
Best Answer

Your dog has seborreah. A dry, scaly, itchy, smelly skin condition. My German Shepherd has it also. It is very hard to control and has no cure. After almost two years our vet has it under control. We feed him a no wheat, corn, or soy dry dog food.

We chose Purina One Beyond chicken and oatmeal recipe mainly because of cost. The other brands were so very expensive. My husband bathes him in the shower every Saturday with Malaseb shampoo. Cheapest place to buy is on line. Every day he receives 4 Benadryl, I actually buy the Walmart Equate brand because of cost. He gets two at 9 am and two at 9 pm. He also receives 20 mg of Prednisone a week (prescription)..half a pill on Monday, half on Thurs.


He also receives a shot of VARL every 23 days which our vet prescribed and my husband administers. It is a sterile solution that is kept in the refrigerator. Our vet taught my husband to administer it.

Now that I have sufficiently frightened you, I must say this is a very time consuming and expensive condition. It has taken us over two years of trying different combinations. But at last, Cisco has fur, has stopped biting and licking and is a beautiful dog.

I might mention he was a rescue and of course no one told us about his condition. By the time we arrived home the inside of our car smelled like Parmesan cheese. It is a horrible nasty condition. This poor animal had never been patted or kissed or shown any affection. He is sweet, lovable, and a joy.


I don't know that we would have gone though this had we known up front what we were in for, but we are so happy to be able to give him a good home with lots of love.

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September 9, 20120 found this helpful
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The only person who is qualifed to correct this problem is your veterinarian. If you are not happy with their results please change your vet and a lot of animals suffer with anxiety when entering the surgery.

Ask your vet to give you a sedative (to your dog's weigh) to be given one hour before you visit the surgery. But a much better solution is have the vet come to you (they all make house calls), but give tablet just the same. Talk to your current vet about this. Hope this helps because this poor animal can not live like this.

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3 More Questions

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February 27, 2016

I recently rescued a male Pit Bull from off the streets. I live in Newark, New Jersey and one night I was parking my car and he (Rocket the Pit Bull) was standing outside in the cold. I thought he was lost so I brought him inside. He stunk and was literally skin and bones (I could count his ribs).

In the morning my neighbor told me that his original owners lived 2 houses down from us, but when they moved, they left Rocket with the new tenants, who did not care for the dog and treated him very poorly. I found out that the new tenants left Rocket outside because they no longer wanted to take care of him, and they were hoping he would run away.

I've tried everything to make him healthier after adopting him. But I'm a stay at home mom to a 4 month old, so unfortunately I cannot afford to take him to the vet at this time. Would anyone happen to know of any "home" or "natural" dog-friendly remedies that I can do to help with his stinky fur and flaky skin? I give him a bath twice a month (on the 1st and the 15th), but a couple of days after a bath he stinks and his skin is constantly flaking, really really badly.

He does not seem to be in pain or uncomfortable. He is constantly running around and playing, and eats all of his food. Please help.


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February 27, 20160 found this helpful

Congratulations to you for caring for your new friend now!!! When you adopt a pet, you also adopt the responsibility to address any medical problems he may have. From your description, it appears he has had a difficult time after his prior owners left.


Many animals are able to hide pain and medical problems they may have so simply observing your friend may not be the whole picture. Please take him to your vet for an overall exam to clarify the odor and skin problems, get the shots he needs, etc. Much better to address the problems now to avoid more expense down the road.

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February 27, 20175 found this helpful

I understand, and think you should be applauded for doing the right thing, even if you have limited resources!!! At the bottom, I'm pasting a link to a human/dog med chart, but you can google something like DIY dog meds/treatment and find tons of info. I have two dogs with different types of skin issues. Benadryl (generic) is good if it's an allergic reaction. I give my 60 lb spaniel one 25 mg tab when she's itchy. It's cheap, like 100 tabs for $2 at the right store. It could be fungal. Coconut oil is a natural anti-fungal. I melt about a teaspoon in a mason jar (30 sec in microwave) add food/lid, shake to coat. I wash it every few weeks. Just keep it on the counter with the lid on. It doesn't spoil. I found some $4 antiseptic/anti-fungal spray on Amazon that clears flaking on the spaniel in one day. But, when I bathe her, I have to spray again. I've been told flaking with spaniels can be a lifetime issue. Yours sounds more like something related to the lack of care he received in the past. (link to spray also below.) I bought one bottle, and a week later ordered four more. Some stinky skin things are yeast. My little dog loves yogurt. The big one will eat it because she'll eat anything. If you think it could be yeast, try probiotics or a little yogurt every day.


I found powdered probiotic packets on a discount rack, and used them when my spaniel was a puppy and had tummy trouble. Worked miracles. My little dog (chihuahua) had some issues after I screwed up and left them with the wrong pet sitter. He had bald patches, and was flaky/stinky. Nizoral shampoo (around $6 a bottle) cleared him up. You'll need to lather him, making sure to get down to his skin, and leave it on for at least five min before rinsing. I'm single, and have been frustrated with the amount of money vets try to guilt you into spending. My dogs get expensive grain-free food, and the best of care. But, instead of paying $20 a month for heart worm meds, I treat them with ivermectin, which costs $30 for a bottle that will treat two dogs for two years. I say that to say there are tons of ways to take care of your new family member without breaking the bank. I know I've thrown out a lot of options, but in my experience with the vet and skin issues, there's a lot of trial and error. Hopefully you'll find the answer. Good luck!
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October 31, 20182 found this helpful

It's probably a combination of yeast and bacteria. My sheps get it off and on too. I have found increasing their 'good fats' and vitamin-rich foods really helps. My black female recently started itching again... and these are the steps I'm taking.

1) mix about a teaspoon of flowers of sulfur with 1 cup 50/50 coconut oil/olive oil and rub onto skin. The dog will lick it off. Don't worry, won't hurt the dog. Rub it into the dog's fur and keep them outside if possible 'cuz this is messy.

2) I've added flaxseed oil, fish oil, and eggs to her diet. Just one capsule of each squirted over food. She loves it. Also, give her as much coconut oil or olive oil as she will eat.

3) After the coconut oil has sat on her fur for a week. Bathe in babyshampoo with some tea tree oil added. 15 drops per cup of baby shampoo. This will help to kill the yeast.

4) keep giving good fats, flaxseed oil, fish oil, and high vitamin foods. Raw chicken, eggs, pumpkin with oats, etc. Repeat the week of sulfur oil and tea tree baths as necessary.

She has had it before. This is what I do when it flares. Works really well. Instead of going 100% grain free you can just up raw protein/quality oils and reduce the amount of dog food. Corn in the food feeds the yeast.

That's what I do anyways. Good luck.

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January 21, 20193 found this helpful

Not everyone has unlimited funds to just throw around to a vet that will cost hundreds of dollars each visit on a "trial &error" experiment. At least she is reaching out to find alternative options for doing so she IS taking responsibility for her new pet. Instead of insinuating that this lady doesnt take responsibility for her dog...and seeing as you you seem to think everyone has money that grows on trees....why don't YOU send her the money required since u have so much it. Gotta love rich people who think their money gives them the right to talk down to others and make them feel guilty for doing the best they can given the current situation. You are a douche.... and maam you are a saint. I hope you found the answers you were looking for! ;)

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February 6, 20200 found this helpful

Nailed it.

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July 15, 2017

I have this 2 1/2 year old male German Shepherd. Today I noticed that he had oily smelly skin. I tried cleaning it off with some baby wipes, however I noticed that he had a big patch of missing hair; you could see his skin.

I tried cleaning the area with shampoo to get rid of the smell, however I am worried that this might be an infection. Does anyone know if it is canine seborrhea and how to treat it?


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July 16, 20170 found this helpful

I would suggest a Visit to the vet. It could be a fungus

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July 16, 20170 found this helpful

You could have mites or an infection. A visit to the vet is in order.

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July 18, 20170 found this helpful

You will have to find the underlying reason for the condition or it will not go away. Your vet will have to run tests and these can be expensive. Hopefully you have a pet clinic in your area that has reasonable rates for this kind of condition.
Here are a couple of links that explain which dogs are most susceptible (always German Shepherds) and what you can do at home but mostly stating that a vet visit is necessary.

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October 24, 2016

I have researched until I was blue in the face and still have no definitive answer. One of my two Cavaliers has had a skin problem since I rescued them nearly 12 months ago now. They, being brother and sister, are both almost 9 1/2 years old. My boy's skin is pretty much covered in wax like lesions which I scrape off the best I can. I also bathe him in a mixture of coconut oil, neem oil, some Dawn, and then the rest is water. Once he's chamois dried I then spray him with a small amount of almond oil and water. His condition is up and down!

Any budding scientists want to have a go at answering this lol. All suggestions will be welcome. All sugars and grains are eliminated from his diet and he is raw fed according to the Hot vs Cold Chinese therapy etc. Trust me both darlings are very spoilt by me in the forms of massage etc.


October 24, 20160 found this helpful

Sounds like you're trying really hard here. It could be yeast, but with no grains and raw diet I guess I'd probably not jump to that conclusion.

It's probably seborrhea which affects spaniels. It is either genetic (primary) or caused by an infection (secondary). So that will be your first concern.

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October 25, 20160 found this helpful

Thanks Abigail A. I'll double check seborrhoea thanks Lee

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