Molly's face is rotting off!
August 27, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Alas, Molly the cocker spaniel is back in her cone.. can I avoid a trip to the vet? And if not, what can I do in the meantime?

Molly (2yro cocker) is developing what I like to call "face-rot" on her mouth and chin. Like most smooshy-faced breeds she's getting stinky lips at the corners of her mouth where the folds of skin trap moisture and food and who knows what else. This I only noticed earlier this week, right before the following episode: she's also getting over a bout of food allergies that initially had her scratching like a maniac, kicking her face, chewing her legs, rubbing on all vaguely rough surfaces. It probably accelerated for a day or two before I noticed how much more scratching was going on than usual and put the cone on her and took away her cheap food, at the same time I noticed her chin was getting pretty beat up from all this and was looking rather red. I put her on rice and beef broth for two days and now she's on a special kibble for the allergies and her all-over itchiness has vastly improved.
However her chin sustained some major damage in the two or three days of scratching and is now raw and disgusting, I only just noticed how bad; I called the vet when I first noticed and was told to put polysporin on the chin and see how that goes. Getting the ointment on her is tricky as her fur is really dense on her chin and she doesn't want me touching her wounds so she freaks out and fights me, but I got some good smears on. Since her habit of scratching seemed to have abated and I had a rough treatment plan, I've been giving her breaks from the cone, only putting it on if she gets uppity. I was wrong. In the space of a day her chin has become an oozing welt. This combined with the weeping face-rot has made Mol a reeking mess. Now here's the kicker: I'm broke. I know she should probably be knocked out, cleaned up and given antibiotics, but buying the low-allergen food cleaned me out and waiting for my next paycheck is as bad as not doing anything. Even if I find the money the vet isn't open til Monday. I need a short-term (possibly longer-term if I can't find someone to beg off of) treatment to at least stop the progression for a day til I can call the vet, or if you've done this before a treatment to heal her up without the trip.

Molly and I thank you!
posted by Carlotta Bananas to Pets & Animals (6 answers total)
I am not a vet, I don't even play one on TV and I have never had a dog with this problem so take the advice for what its worth.

I have had dogs with infections of various sorts and in various places over the years and one of the best thing I've found is a warm water salt bath. Not too much salt you want it about the concentration of seawater and you want to gently bath the wound, the advantage to this unlike creams are its easier to get into all the nooks and crannies. The salt is antiseptic and a little drying, it will also sting like heck so they won't like it. It will also help wash some of the stinky puss away too.

I like to use sea salt. I find doing it in the bath the easiest way or with a cloth and a bowl, soak the cloth and then place it over the sore area and use it to clean up some of the mess. You can then put the cream on after its dried. The easiest way I've found is if you live near a beach to take them for a run and throw the ball in the water so they get nice and wet in the salty water, it all becomes a game and less of a struggle.

Make sure to dry the area carefully as moisture is what caused this all in the first place. Also make sure she gets lots of sunlight, sunlight and fresh air is very good for help dry up wounds.

I would however make a call to the vet on Monday morning, even if money is tight she really shouldn't be going without her antibiotics and having a vet look at it. Most vets are very good about helping to arrange a payment plan if money is tight. I've never had one turn me away for something serious and some can even arrange credit plans if needed.
posted by wwax at 9:11 PM on August 27, 2011

My dog is a spaniel with some issues with lip flap dermatitis. If this were me, I would call the vet and tell him that I am totally broke but my dog has a skin infection and needs some antibiotics. Broke like I need to pay next month for the $30 bill. I would assume the vet will go for this, I know mine would. The second thing I would do is shave the area. My dog is mellow enough that I can do this and I have done this in the past. After that, your favorite method for cleaning and drying the area then slap that cone on and leave it on.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:52 PM on August 27, 2011

You may be able to save some money by getting a script for whatever meds she needs. Some places are now providing antibiotics for very cheap or even free (for example, the grocery store Publix will hand out free antibiotics at their pharmacy, even if it's for a pet, even if it's gigantic horse doses). Even if you're paying regular generic prices at a pharmacy it'll almost certainly cost you less than your vet will charge.

It sounds like she may need prescription shampoo, too. Poor little girl, it does sound unpleasant. Check with your vet--your local emergency vet may have a number you can call, and might be able to tell you if it's okay to use various non-prescription treatments--but see if maybe the lidocaine spray you can get at a pharmacy would be helpful for reducing the discomfort, and if soothing oatmeal shampoo is okay on broken skin.
posted by galadriel at 8:07 AM on August 28, 2011

Oh, did the vet talk to you about Benadryl when they recommended the Polysporin?
posted by galadriel at 8:18 AM on August 28, 2011

Not yet a vet, and I've never seen your dog. While a picture would be appreciated, it is no substitute for a physical examination.

If you call to an emergency clinic (or any veterinarian's office), they will be unable to offer you substantial help without examining your dog. Emergency visits are expensive. While she sounds uncomfortable, Molly is probably not in need of emergency care.

At the vet's office, it is possible that they would want to clip the hair away from the facial lesions and clean them with warm water and antibacterial soap. Prior to cleaning, they might want to take a skin scraping to get a better idea of what is going on in the area, to determine if there are parasites or indications of infection.

She might be more comfortable if you were able to clip and clean the lesions yourself. A warm saline compress like wwax described might be beneficial. Keeping the lesions clean and dry will help them to heal. Keeping the cone on, while a pain in the ass, will keep her from getting to her face and exacerbating the lesions.

If she responded dramatically to the food change, she could have food allergy dermatitis. Keeping her on the proper diet may prevent recurring problems. Think of the money you spend on the food as money you won't have to spend on vet visits.

Also, try to keep a small fund of money on hand for your dog's emergencies. Few vets are able to offer payment plans. Running a veterinary practice is expensive, and while we would love to be able to take care of your animal for free, it simply is not always possible. It is terrible to see a person lose a beloved pet because they cannot afford medical expenses.

Good luck with Molly!
posted by Seppaku at 12:05 PM on August 28, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help! I managed to clean and dry her chin after a bath using diluted oatmeal aloe shampoo, and when I was able to call the vet they told me she shouldn't need to come in unless signs of infection appeared and they haven't. She's mending slowly, but has gotten over me touching the sore spots and I can now lift her muzzle to clean and treat it without her freaking out. I dry her chin a couple times a day with a paper towel and swab with rubbing alcohol to dry it then a small amount of polysporin ointment. She smells much better and is much more relaxed!
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 1:32 PM on September 7, 2011

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