Foot Sores, Myasthenia Gravis

Plus, comments on a new rabies vaccine study.

My Lab has a sore between the toes on his right foot. The vet gave me some Entederm to treat it. I have put a head cone on him to stop the licking but he still is able to get at it. The vet also advised me that I could use athlete's foot medication to treat it. I'm looking for some kind of boot to put on him to stop the licking. What do you advise? --JK

Sores between the toes are usually caused by either penetrating foreign bodies that result in interdigital cysts or foreign bodies lodged in the web between the toes that cause an ulcerated, infected wound. Both conditions benefit from antibiotic therapy and hot packing with deep cleansing.

Antibiotics commonly used are those that do well against staphs and other gram positive organisms. Cephalexin and Clavamox are common first choices. For hot packing add a tablespoon of Epsom salts to a quart of warm water and soak the foot for 15 minutes twice a day.

As you have mentioned, boots may be needed to protect the foot if you intend to continue running the dog, but be careful. Boots can collect foreign material and result in continued irritation of the wounds. If you use boots stop every hour or so and remove the boot and clean out any accumulated stuff. Some times just laying the dog up for two or three days will allow the lesion to heal.

I have been having an ongoing problem with my nine-year-old female Chesapeake Bay retriever for almost a year now. She weighs 80-82 pounds, and I feed her three cups of a lamb and rice mixture food per day. I supplement with Canine Plus Senior vitamins (two per day), Glyco-Flex 600 (two per day) and Missing Link for dogs (one coffee scoop per day). She hunts upland birds and waterfowl and runs in hunt tests so she is not a couch potato.

It seems that after she eats, she is very uncomfortable for anywhere from 15 minutes up to an hour, with gas (belching, not flatulence). If she lies down, within minutes she is either sitting or standing. She will commonly hang her head down as though she is sulking and also be licking at her mouth almost as though there is something stuck in it. During this time, you can sometimes hear her stomach rumbling and she will let out with quite a few belches.

I do not know medical terms so bear with me. My vet suggested I take her to a specialist, which I did. She had blood work done, her mouth was examined, she had a sonogram done and she had a scope put down her just into the beginning of her stomach.

Some samplings of the entrance to the stomach showed some bacteria and she was given Sucralfate, one tablet by mouth three times per day. She was on this medication on two different occasions. The first time, she had two days left of the meds and she vomited up the pill. The second time, she had one day's supply left and did the same thing. It seemed to help a little while she was on the medication, but once off, the problem came right back.

Since then, we have tried splitting her feedings into two segments, half in the morning and half in the evening. We changed her to Hills Science Diet ID for 30 days. We switched from an open top bowl to feeding her from the Brake-fast bowl--it has three "fingers" sticking up in it to slow her down.

She drools excessively on occasion. She would always drool if food was in front of her and she couldn't have it. Now (again, on occasion) she will drool profusely while her dinner is being prepared and sometimes after eating.

Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated. --B

I would suggest that you rule out myasthenia gravis as a possible cause of the clinical signs you are observing in your dog. Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disease in dogs that presents with varying signs of muscular weakness. These can include swallowing difficulties, eating problems and voice changes as a result of impaired innervations to the various muscles involved in these functions.

Diagnosis involves a complete blood profile along with urinalysis and thyroid function and then testing for serum autoantibodies to muscle. This disease is one of the diseases in the autoimmune complex and should be suspected anytime there is muscle weakness or functional changes of the voice or swallowing mechanism, including megasophagus.

Comments and observations by Dr. Tom
Recently I attended a veterinary continuing education day and came away with several items I would like to share.

In my last column I commented on a reader's unfortunate adverse experience with the use of Mometamax in her dog's ears. The dog became deaf as a result of using this product for treatment of an ear infection.

One presenter at the conference discussed this issue as it related to her topic of treatment of ear disease. She related that the incidence of deafness as a result of using Mometamax was one in 50,000. This seems like a very small chance but it is still unfortunately 100 percent if it happens to your dog. Possibly consideration should be given to using Mometamax only in dogs that do not rely on hearing for performance activity and live their lives out as house pets.

Another public health topic reviewed the subject of rabies and its various regional concerns with regard to species as reservoir of infection. Discussion followed, suggesting that people with high risk to rabies exposure should receive a rabies booster every 10 years. Interestingly, I recently received a news release from the University of Wisconsin, where a study of the duration of vaccine immunity is being undertaken and I would like to share it with you. I quote:

"One of the most important vaccine research studies in veterinary medicine is underway at the University Of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison. Dr. Ronald Schultz, a leading authority on veterinary vaccines and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Science, has begun concurrent five- and seven-year challenge studies to determine the long-term duration of immunity of the canine rabies vaccine, with the goal of extending the state-mandated interval for boosters. These will be the first long-term challenge studies on the canine rabies vaccine to be published in the United States.

"This research is being financed by the Rabies Challenge Fund, a charitable trust founded by pet vaccine disclosure advocate Kris L. Christine of Maine, who serves as Co-Trustee with world-renowned veterinary research scientist and practicing clinician, Dr. W. Jean Dodds of Hemopet in California. The Rabies Challenge Fund recently met its goal of $177,000 to fund the studies' first year budget with contributions from dog owners, canine groups, trainers, veterinarians, and small businesses. Annual budget goals of $150,000 for the studies must be met in the future.

"Scientific data published in 1992 by Michel Auber

t and his research team demonstrated that dogs were immune to rabies challenge five years after vaccination, while Dr. Schultz's serological studies documented antibody titer counts at levels known to confer immunity to rabies seven years post-vaccination. This data strongly suggests that state laws requiring annual or triennial rabies boosters for dogs are redundant. Because the rabies vaccine is the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and associated with significant adverse reactions, it should not be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity. Adverse reactions such as autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibro sarcomas at injection sites are linked to rabies vaccinations.

"Study co-trustee Kris Christine adds: 'Because the USDA does not require vaccine manufactures to provide long-term duration of immunity studies documenting maximum effectiveness when licensing their products, concerned dog owners have contributed the money to fund this research themselves. We want to ensure that rabies immunization laws are based upon independent, long-term scientific data.'

"More information and regular updates on the Rabies Challenge Fund and the concurrent five- and seven-year challenge studies it is financing can be found at the fund's website designed by volunteer Andrea Brin at"

My personal comments are these: Finally the law and good science may come together for the good of our canine companions, and I consider Dr. Dodds one of the best in the area of blood and immune work and would like to impress upon my readers that this study will be done with the highest of professional and scientific standards.

Contact Dr. Tom Holcomb with your questions at:

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