13 July 2010

Do you have a dog with lots of fur who spends time outside? Had wet weather?

If you this sounds familiar … please do yourself and your dog a favour.

Check through his coat. Just … go look. Really, it’s a good idea.

See, I have a dog with lots of fur: Mackenzie, the Great Pyr. Mackie is a livestock guardian dog, so he spends all of his time outside. He lives with the sheep: they are his pack, he loves them and he protects them. He spends all his time with them. Buildings freak him out – usually, he won’t even go in the barn – he’d rather be with his sheep.

And, we’ve had lots of rain. Days of rain, then hot humid dampness, then more rain. This much humidity is really unusual here – I had noticed the humidity because the herbs I hung up to dry seemed way too soggy for the amount of time they’d been hanging. And, of course, my hair is out of control with frizziness. However, I still hadn’t put two and two together.

You see, when you have lots of rain and then some warm days and then some more rain, those outside dogs with lots of fur don’t really get a chance to dry out completely. This is especially true if, like our Mac, they are in the process of blowing off a winter coat and have patches of thickly matted fur that hasn’t quite worked it’s way loose yet.

What happens then is that the flies arrive. The flies see this nice warm damp spot and …

I’ll spare you the details. It’s horrible. It’ll give you nightmares. Everything that brushes against your skin will make you squeal like a teenage girl at a horror movie. And that won’t be an overreaction.

Mackenzie is now in the barn, willingly (which shows you how sick he feels), with the worst haircut you can imagine and huge patches of raw, sore, damaged skin. Home made salve (olive oil, calendula, mullein and beeswax) plus oral antibiotics and topical steroid/antifungal/antibacterial ointment (courtesy of my fabulous vet, who will provide me with medication and guidance based on a phone conversation, rather than requiring us to transport a 125 lb dog who panics when he is confined or forced to walk into a building) are easing his pain and helping him on the road to healing.

So, yeah: today’s message is check under the fur.

If the worst you find is dirt and guck and maybe leftover bits of grass … be grateful. If you find something worse … well, at least you found it and can treat the problem.

Sleep well. :)


  1. The POOR guy!!
    The rain here sure has been something hasn't it?
    I panicked for a minute there, thinking about our dog Jada who also has a thick undercoat, but she's not an outside dog and I bathed and brushed her recently so I know she's okay.
    Mind you I did find some tangled knots behind her ears I must have missed the last time and I felt terrible when I realized just how tightly they had woven themselves. They had gotten so close to the skin I knicked her a bit when I cut them out.
    She was NOT impressed!
    I hope Mac feels better soon.

  2. Thanks, Rosa! He is looking much improved this evening ... I'll be home again tomorrow as nursemaid to see if we can move things along even faster with careful attention. I hate seeing my animals in pain.


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