ASK THE VET
QOur 10-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has developed lots of crusty pimples all over his back. He is very thirsty and hungry this last few weeks, and he’s getting very fat! He seems happy enough though. Do you think I need to get him looked at, or is it okay to leave him? The spots don’t seem to bother him.
AI think it is highly likely that the symptoms you’ve described are all connected. Most crusting rashes have a bacterial component, possibly what is called a pyoderma (literally pus in the skin!).
Most normal adult dog skin doesn’t get such infections, certainly not as widespread as you describe. I would be looking for an underlying or predisposing cause for the breakdown in normal skin defences.
There is a relatively common endocrine (hormonal) problem called Cushing’s Disease (hyperadrenocorticism) which involves a high level of stress hormone (cortisol) in the blood. This steroid hormone affects immunity, reducing his natural resistance to infections, and allows the pyoderma to develop.
Weight gain, thirst and hunger are all common clinical signs of Cushing’s. The thirst is often the most dramatic, and is the commonest reason for an owner to present the dog to the vet.
This disease is completely controllable in the majority of cases with simple oral medication.
Please take him to your vet, armed perhaps with a fresh urine sample and a recording of his water intake over a full 24 hours. It is really worth treating her, because left untended Cushing’s Disease will advance dramatically and cause irreversible harm.
One painful consequence of long standing disease is called calcinosis cutis, where calcium deposits develop under the skin and are very inflammatory and painful.
A second terrible consequence is when a clot forms in the lung (a pulmonary thrombosis). Pulmonary thrombi are painful and distressing and, in our patients, often fatal too.
None of these things happen if he gets treated on time: early intervention can return him to normal, so please do let your vet investigate his problem. Good luck.