Skin problems can range anywhere from simple cuts to dangerous infections. Some you can treat on your own, but many require help from your veterinarian. If at any time you're not sure what you're doing, consult with your vet.
Cuts and Scrapes
Unless particularly deep, most cuts and scrapes will heal without much attention. Clean the wound with a mild solution of betadine or hydrogen peroxide mixed with water. You can use a good triple antibiotic ointment (available at the drugstore) for the cut and keep an eye on it to make certain it heals. Have your vet look at the wound if there is any redness, swelling, pus, or other sign of infection. Keep the wound clean. If you must, bandage it with a sterile wound dressing and gauze (be certain not to get the gauze too tight or you may constrict circulation). Change the dressings daily or when they get dirty or wet.
Sometimes your rottweiler will develop a lump around a vaccination injection site. If so, notify your vet. He may want to have you watch the injection site closely or put your rottie on medication.
You can prevent your rottweiler from chewing or licking his bandages either with a bitter substance (like Bitter Apple) or with one of those plastic Elizabethan-style collars. The Elizabethan collar (available through your vet) is cone-shaped and prevents a dog from chewing or worrying at his bandages. Most dogs (and dog owners) find these collars disconcerting, but with some help from their owner, they can eat, drink, and even sleep with an Elizabethan collar on.
If your rottie has been licking an area excessively, you'll see where the fur has been chewed or the area has turned red. The area where your rottie is licking is usually a source of irritation. It could be from allergies, dry skin, yeast or fungal infection, foreign body, mites, flea allergy dermatitis, injury, or a skin condition. If you look at the place where your rottie is licking and see no foreign body, take him to the vet to have the problem looked at. Your vet can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Dogs have a different chemical makeup than humans. Never give your rottweiler acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). Both are very dangerous to dogs and should never be given at human dosages.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea allergy dermatitis, or fleabite dermatitis, can cause itchy skin. With flea allergy dermatitis, the dog becomes allergic to the flea saliva. Eliminating fleas from your rottweiler and your home will solve the problem and provide welcome relief. Your veterinarian can prescribe medications to alleviate the itching.
Foxtails, or grass awns, are seeds from grass-like plants. They have a sharp, burrowing head with a tail that looks like a fox's tail (hence the name). These seeds have a nasty habit of getting into your rottie's fur and ears. With each movement, they burrow into the dog's skin.
Check your rottie thoroughly for burrs and foxtails after he's been outside. Be sure to check his ears, too. Foxtails will bury themselves deeply into a dog's skin. They can cause abscesses and can even enter organs.
Hot Spots (Moist Dermatitis)
Hot spots are areas of moist dermatitis (skin inflammation) that may become infected. The symptoms are reddening skin, missing hair, and oozing wound-like lesions. Allergies, matted fur, or some other form of irritation frequently causes them. Shave or clip all hair surrounding the hot spot and clean twice daily with a solution of 10 percent betadine and 90 percent water. If the hot spots are too painful, infected, or extensive, your veterinarian may have to anesthetize your rottweiler to shave them and prescribe corticosteroids and antibiotics.
Your rottie could have itchy skin for a number of reasons. If your dog's coat is dull and dry, try adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of canola oil to your dog's meal once a day and a hardboiled egg three times a week. If your rottie's coat remains dry and brittle or if it is thinning, consider having him tested for hypothyroidism.
Lumps Under the Skin
Most lumps are usually benign. However, you should show any lump or bump to your veterinarian. Lumps that are oozing, red, dark-colored, irregular in size and shape, or swift-growing may be serious. If your female rottweiler has lumps on her mammary glands, they may be cancerous mammary tumors requiring surgery. A large doughy lump on the stomach might be a hernia that your veterinarian may have to fix.
Rapidly growing lumps may be a form of abscess or infection. Abscesses occur when foreign bodies enter the skin (such as foxtails), or an injury closes with bacteria inside. Abscesses are serious. Your veterinarian must drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics. Do not attempt to drain the abscess yourself or the wound may become even more infected.
A lump or bump doesn't necessarily mean cancer. An unexplained lump or bump may be a cyst, a fatty tumor, an abscess, or other cause. Regardless, always have your vet check out any lump you find.
Mange mites can cause itching and hair loss. The two common types of mange are sarcoptic and demodectic. Sarcoptic mange causes intense itching. Demodectic causes severe hair loss. Demodectic mange is often caused by a weakened immune system. It can be seen in puppies and will often clear itself up. Both must be diagnosed through skin scrapings and treated through a veterinarian. Over-the-counter remedies seldom work.
Ringworm can cause hair loss, leaving round patches of scaly skin. It is contagious to humans and other animals, so use disposable latex gloves when treating it. Use a mixture of 90 percent water and 10 percent betadine (available from your veterinarian) to treat the skin. Shampoos and soaps containing iodine work well. Your veterinarian can prescribe oral medication for chronic or widespread ringworm.
You may be surprised to learn that ringworm isn't a worm at all but a fungus. It is highly contagious to cats and people with lowered immune systems (such as the elderly and children).