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Hey, I haven’t posted any updates on Bowdu’s feet in nearly a month! In this case, no news is good news.

Photos taken 31 October 2010

Yes, his feet are still blackened and calloused. The patch of fur on his thigh that was shaved for his blood draw (see above left picture), over three weeks ago, has barely grown back. I suppose I can blame his hypothyroidism for his prolonged healing times, but in other respects, he’s doing really well.

For the first time in months, Bowdu’s been sleeping cone-free. He’s been continuously cone-free for at least one week now, which is really monumental considering we started with this cone nonsense all the way back in July. We are so proud of him!

Both Bowdu and Bowpi are also now on Comfortis (spinosad), the oral flea medication recommended by our new vet. Despite my desire to find more natural flea preventatives, it was evident that we had too much to manage in our environment and lifestyle to risk even a few flea bites which would set Bowdu off. I double and triple-checked that it was safe to use with Ivermectin, since they’re both also on Heartgard. Assured in triplicate that both medications were safe to use together provided we remained well within proper dosing limits, we gave both dogs their flea meds two Sundays ago, and we haven’t seen a single flea on them after the second day of taking the medication.


Bowdu’s gnawing and itching hasn’t been completely eliminated yet, but I’d say he’s 90% there. In particular, his back thighs, his groin, and his muzzle still cause him to itch — I think from remnant flea bites and habit. The most important thing to me is that he is not fixating on his paws, and has more or less learned to leave them alone. I’m very paranoid about the possibility of a recurring infection, so we’re continuing to do what we can to manage his bacterial and fungal activity in the meantime.

One reason we switched to Comfortis was because it allowed us to bathe Bowdu more regularly, specifically his feet, as recommended by the vet. This is supposed to wash away any accumulated allergens and to prevent his natural flora from growing out of control, since his own immune system is unable to regulate efficiently. As I recalled from the article “Clinical Practice Guidelines from the International Task Force on Canine Atopic Dermatitis,” “There is currently no evidence of any benefit from using other shampoos or conditioners containing ingredients such as oatmeal, pramoxine, antihistamine, lipids or glucosteroids… Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that the benefit from bathing might lie primarily with the action of washing the pet.” To me, that meant It doesn’t really matter which shampoo you use, just as long as you regularly wash affected areas as recommended.

So we started Bowdu’s foot-washing regimen with some shampoos billed as natural or recommended by holistic pet stores — specifically Earthbath Green Tea Leaf and EQyss Micro-Tek Pet Shampoo.

Stop the itching!

Well, both of these aforementioned shampoos smelled lovely, but during the weeks that we were using these “gentle” shampoos, Bowdu still could not be trusted outside of his cone. I think I chose the wrong Earthbath product, since Green Tea Leaf was billed as being for preventative maintenance, not medication. Mediterranean Magic, with rosemary oil, is the one billed as having anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. At any rate, this goes to show that selection of shampoo does matter. I believe I misunderstood the initial “Clinical Guidelines,” which probably make a distinction between medicated shampoos as treatment for known conditions and preventative shampoos.

As for the EQyss Micro Tek pet shampoo, we didn’t give it much of a chance to prove itself. The active ingredient, Trichlocarban (sic) or rather Triclocarban 0.20%, has been reported in recent years to disrupt endocrine activity. Since Bowdu’s endocrine system is precisely what is the problem here (thyroxine, not testosterone, being the hormone of concern), we decided to discontinue use of this shampoo immediately. Too bad if their patent-pending formula is “developed from NASA research on the decontamination of astronauts,” as it claims on the packaging. We already know that many dog lives were lost in the name of the space race, so this association with spaceman technology does not impress me.

So we returned to Septiderm-V (original review here) for one bath, before turning to Selsun Blue (Selenium sulfide) for humans. This is apparently a classic recommendation for canine yeast infections, according to various online sources.

Only after the bath with Selsun Blue did Bowdu’s paws feel noticeably less crusty, and his desire to lick his paws almost immediately went away. Little did I know that the best solution was lurking at the human drugstore all along…

But for all its efficacy, Selsun Blue is still a human shampoo, with sulfates that I worry will overdry Bowdu’s paws (even though I got the moisturizing aloe formula). So for one final measure, I picked up a bottle of DermaPet’s Mal-A-Ket shampoo (with 1% ketoconazole, 2% chlorhexidene, 2% acetic acid). It seemed as successful as Selsun Blue in controlling Bowdu’s itchiness, though his skin felt smoother only with Selsun Blue. We’ll keep Mal-A-Ket on hand (and try to forgive them for bad product naming) as our alternate medicated shampoo as we continue on our twice-weekly foot bathing regimen.

In summary…

PRODUCT: Earthbath Green Tea Leaf shampoo
Volume: 16 fl. oz (472 mL)
Price paid: $16.99 from local Pet Store A
Packaging description: Preventative maintenance for healthy skin & coat
Ingredients: Purified water, renewable coconut-based natural cleansers, extracts of green tea leaf, ginger & Hawaiian awapuhi, aloe vera, vitamin E, olive oil squalene (preservative). All ingredients are natural, 100% biodegradable, and gentle on your pet & you. [Also designated animal cruelty free]
Company information: Earthbath, P.O. Box 411050, San Francisco, CA 94141
Final Grade: W [Withdrawn from review, not considered a “medicated” shampoo]

PRODUCT: EQyss Micro-Tek Pet Shampoo, Maximum Strength
Volume: 16 fl. oz (473 mL)
Price paid: $16.99 from local Pet Store D
Packaging description: “The fastest acting skin problem shampoo ever developed! May on contact neutralize any skin problems. MICRO-TEK Pet Shampoo contains our patent pending formula developed from NASA research on the decontamination of astronauts. Combines ingredients to create the healthiest environment for healing. […] Stops biting, licking, and scratching; Neutralizes contact allergies; Neutralizes dry flaky skin conditions; Contains no soap or harsh detergents; Will not burn or hurt open wounds; Safe for puppies and kittens; Non-steroidal, Alcohol free; Reduces skin redness caused by irritation; Non-toxic – environmentally friendly”
Ingredients: Active ingredients – Trichlocarban 0.20%, Inactive ingredients: Deionized water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamide DEA, polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Polyquaternium 10, Allantoin, Sodium PCA, Glycosamino-glycans, Trichlocarban [again?], Aloe Vera, Extract of Clove, Thyme and Lavendar, DM Dm Hydantoin, Methylparaben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Salt, Fragrance
Company information: EQyss Grooming Products, Inc., Carlsbad, CA 92013
Final Grade: C

PRODUCT: GreenTree Septiderm-V Skin Care Bath
Volume: 8 FL. OZ. (240 ml)
Price paid: $9.99 from local Pet Store B
Packaging description and ingredients: See original review from 18 August 2010
Final grade: B

PRODUCT: Mal-A-Ket shampoo
Volume: 8 Fl. Oz (237 mL)
Price Paid: $16.99 at local Pet Store E
Packaging description: Antiseptic, cleansing, medicated shampoo formulated for dogs, cats, and horses
Ingredients: Chlorhexidine Gluconate 2% w/w, Ketoconazole 1% w/w, 2% Acetic Acid in a shampoo base
Company information: DermaPet Inc., located in Potomac, MD, recently acquired by Dechra Veterinary Products (UK)
Final Grade: A-

PRODUCT: Selsun Blue Moisturizing Formula with Aloe
Volume: 11 Fl. Oz. (325 mL)
Price paid: $9.99 from Walgreen’s
Packaging description: For relief of flaking and itching due to dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, and to help prevent their recurrence
Ingredients: Active ingredient – Selenium sulfide 1%, Inactive ingredients: water, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, dihydrogenated tallow phthalic acid amide, sodium chloride, cocamide DEA, dimethicone, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, titanium dioxide, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, sodium isostearoyl lactylate, DMDM hydantoin, fragrance, citric acid, sodium citrate, FD&C blue no. 1
Company information: Chattem, Inc.; P.O. Box 2219; Chattanooga, TN 37409
Final Grade: A