Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daisy's Butt – Treating Flea Allergy Dermatitis

by Tom King (c) 2011


Poor old Daisy, my half something, half something else black and white hound dog suffers with what one vet told me was “fleas” and another, more helpful, veterinarian explained was flea-allergy dermatitis. The first vet acted like I was some neglectful redneck living in a trailer park that left his dog outside in a bare dirt yard. The second doctor knew me and rather than assuming I neglect my dog, he explained what flea-allergy dermatitis (FAD) is.


Notice where Daisy has pulled the hair off
on her lower back and at the root of her tail.

FAD is an allergy to the saliva of fleas. It differs from flea-bite dermatitis because there is no relationship between the number of fleas found on the animal and the severity of the reaction the animal has to being bitten. FAD is charachterized by persistent scratching, red, painful-looking sores called hot spots that appear almost overnight. FAD's most common symptom is a Christmas tree pattern of hair loss on the lower back and the root of the tail. The bares spots appear scaly, rough and may ooze a little if the dog scratches or chews to frantically. Most animals with FAD actually have very few fleas. They itch so badly they groom themselves obsessively and eliminate any evidence of fleas. Sadly, though you may treat for fleas, but if one or two get to your dog every few weeks, it will keep your pet itchy all the time. They will scratch themselves, lick their paws, bite, chew, rub their body against the ground or furniture and pull out tufts of hair.


Step 1 Control the Fleas

Fleas are nasty little blood-suckers and can live up to a year. They like temperate weather and especially like high humidity. You absolutely must get rid of fleas around your house all at once. Treat all the cats and dogs in the place at once or they will reinfect each others. Dipping your dog is a good way to make sure all the fleas are cleared out. Spray the house, treat the carpets with borate-based flea powder and spray the yard with a flea-control product designed for each application. Outside, watch for moist, shady areas, piles of pine needles, wood scraps or garbage under plants and shade trees. Be sure you get areas your dog likes to lie around as these are the most likely places the fleas hop on board. For a natural flea repellent, try cedar or rosemary oils on bedding and even on the dog to keep any stray ones off her. Sticky flea traps won't get rid of your fleas, but they are a good way to tell if your eradication program worked. Hang them about and see if you collect any flees. They are small, dark, flat bodied about the size of a comma. Finally, use a topical flea killer like Front-line or one of the new combination anti-flea and worming treatments you can get from your veterinarian.

Step 2 Treat the Symptoms

Allergic skin can easily become infected with bacterial or fungal infections. These are secondary symptoms of the primary cause, but the animal's reaction to the itching does the most damage in FAD. A topical application of witch hazel to help the healing process along. If the skin becomes infected, apply a topical anti-bacterial ointment. If the problem becomes too bad, the veterinarian may give your dog cortisone shots to relieve the itching for several weeks. This will give you time to treat the underlying causes of the condition. Diphenhydramine anti-allergy medication can also help. Talk to your vet about dosage. Especially important is treating developing hot spots with a mixture of one part water and one part tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Another treatment is Absorbine Jr. applied a few times a day until the area dries up. Medicated shampoos may help, but the only real treatment for the condition is to keep the fleas off the dog.

Step 3 Address the Underlying Cause

Dogs' bodies manufacture essential fatty acids that help maintain healthy skin and fir. Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids include linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid produced by dogs. Linoleic acid is essential for a healthy epidermis. If there is a linoleic acid deficiency, the skin can become dry and flaky, fur may become dull and fall out and the skin may be more susceptible to inflammation. Fatty acid supplements in the diet can help reduce skin irritation and skin itching. It may take three to 12 weeks of supplementing the dog's diet to determine if supplementation will help. Besides promoting healthy skin, fatty acids also help support the immune system, growth, development of brain, kidneyw and other organs. They are also needed to help the body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, all of which are important to healthy bones and skin and help prevent cancer. Omega 6 fatty acids are converted to inflammatory compounds and Omega 3's conver to anti-inflammatory substances. Because the acids compete for the same enzymes when they are metabolized, so they need to be balanced. The best ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids is somewhere between 5:1 and 10:1, though veterinarians aren't sure. The best places to get these fatty acids are found in poultry, pork fat and plant oils like corn oil, canola, sunflower, and evening primrose oil. There aren't many omega 6's in beef or dairy products. Omega 3's are found in cold water fish oils (salmon, herring and mackerel) and in soybean, canola and flax seed oil. Vets prefer fish oils as fatty acid supplements for dogs since they are already balanced properly between omega 3 and 6. Most dog foods contain balanced omega fatty acid levels, but you may want to supplement your dog's diet if they are experiencing symptoms of dermatitis. Pet stores carry these and they can be purchased without a veterinary prescription.

Long Term Prognosis

Dog's with flea-allergy dermatitis will always be allergic to fleas. It will get worse as the dog ages. Some work is being done by veterinary dermatologists with allergy shots for the condition, but the jury is still out on the efficacy of the treatment. Keep your buddy treated with something like Frontline, K9 Advantix, Advantage or Revolution to kill any adult fleas on contact.


Be careful when killing fleas. If your dog experiences heavy drooling or shaking, you may be seeing early symptoms of chemical poisoning from the flea treatment. Call the vet immediately to prevent the dog from going into convulsions, collapse, coma or even death.


Recovery SA (Natural Remedy for Flea Dermatitis)
Pet Shed: Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Rural Area Veterinary Services; Foothills Animal Hospital; Flea Allergy Dermatitis; Bob McKee
University of Vermont Vetmed: Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Thursday, June 02, 2011

How I Survived A "Windows XP Recovery" Attack

Let me stay first that I believe any hacker who writes hijacker programs, viruses, trojans, malware of any kind or who snoops around in my private files should be stripped naked, hog-tied and branded on his forehead and his butt with a big letter "H" by the hairiest, smelliest cowboy we can find (on who's been out on the prairie way to long and thinks the hacker has a "purty mouth".  Then he should be dipped in honey and dropped on a tiny deserted island infested with fire ants, somewhere not far from the arctic circle with lots of friendly crabs, scorpions and other assorted crustaceans - anything with pincers or stingers.

That said, I was working and doing a Google search for bananas and tomatoes and trying to find out if you could grow them together. Somebody on one likely looking site planted a trojan that opened a video file and when I tried to shut it down, it paused and installed a Trojan.

MacAfee kept deleting it to no avail.  It started giving me messages that said my SATA hard drive was failing. Well, my laptop doesn't use a SATA hard drive.  I discovered that a new "security" program icon had appeared in the lower right task bar calling itself Windows Recovery XP.  I began receiving ever more frantic messages that my computer was going to fail. I quickly saved my files I was working on. That was an early giveaway because a hard drive failure wouldn't have let me save files. To be certain, however, I saved my files to an SD disk and then rebooted.

Things got worse.  My wallpaper disappeared and a big "security" screen came up telling me I had 12 problems with my hard drive and that I should scan it with Windows XP Recovery. The program also uses several other variants of the same name. Whatever it calls itself, it is another of the fake Windows Security programs that have been so successful of late at getting past firewalls and security software.  Task manager was greyed out so I couldn't manually delete whatever process they had running.  So:

1. I went to my desktop computer and downloaded fresh versions of Norman Malware Cleaner  and Kapersky TDSSKiller Anti-Rootkit Utility onto a jump drive.

2.  I booted the infested laptop, plugged in the jump drive and started TDSSKiller right off the jumper.  It found nothing, but it's always smart to check first or the malware can reinstall itself every time you reboot.

3.  I ran Norman Malware and scaned the entire C: drive.  Norman Malware was busily deleting registry entries this nasty piece of business had installed when the computer shut down on its own.  This is something this particular malware does to protect itself. It hopes you'll give up and buy their "security software" to rid yourself of the problem.  Of course, then they'll have your credit card - I don't think so!

4.  Restarted the laptop and this time closed the "security screen" from the blue program bar. I started Norman Malware Cleaner again and checked the program bar again by right-clicking on it. This time Task Manager was operational. By now it was throwing hard drive crash notices at me again.  I opened the process tab in TM and found a bunch of copies of a program called "attrib"  - six or seven copies of it. I shut them all down quick.  Next, I found a program that I didn't recognize with a word salad name that no respectable programmer would ever use (ASduaswhIbMHgW.exe).  I shut it off.  The "notices" stopped and Norman was able to finish the scans and clean 4 malicious files.

5. Restarted the laptop and it was still there, but Task Manager still worked.  I again disabled the invading file to stop the phony "alerts" and shut off the "security window".  Went to the control panel and clicked "run" then typed "msconfig". Found the ASduaswhIbMHgW.exe file in startup so I disabled it.  I didn't try a restart it yet. Instead I ran my Advanced System Care Pro software's deep clean utility before restarting, hoping it would catch the file and eleminate it. ASC found two high risk programs and removed a bunch more malicious registry entries.

6. Restarted the laptop. and everything on my desktop and all the programs in my Start program menu were gone. Restarted the laptop and went to Save Mode with Networking by tapping F8 till the safe mode Window came up. I selected the "System Restore" option for bootup and restored from yesterday afternoon's system setting restore point. Everything looked fine till I noticed that my McAfee real time virus scan is turned off. When I try and turn it back on it won't do it. opened McAfee and ran the "check for updates" utility. Seems there's also a problem with McAfee when you do a system restore that McAfee sometimes loses any updates that happened after the restore point. Updating McAfee fixed the problem.

7. Ran Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware software. I couldn't update the malware database, but was able to run the program. Still acts like something's wrong. Malwarebytes scanned for over an hour and found 1 Malware file designed to restore the program and a tracer file.

8.  Restarted the laptop. Ran a full McAfee scan. For some reason Advanced System Care Pro self-destructed when it tried to update and I had to go to the control panel and remove all traces of it and reinstall it.

9.  Finished up about 2:30 am.  The laptop is working again and I am in a state where, if I met the hacker who came up with the Windows XP Recovery Malware, I fear I might have a great deal of difficulty obeying the golden rule. I would likely obey it, but the only comfort would be the thought that the lake of fire awaits evil people as their reward for their labors in this life. 

I figure it cost me $45 to $60 in lost time working at the pittance my lowest paying writing job pays.

 If it's still loggy in the morning, I'll run TDSSKiller and Norman Malware Cleaner again. For now I'm taking a shower and hitting the sack. I hope the anti-virus/anti-malware/anti-spam people figure out how to block this. After all we pay them quite enough protection money thank you.

ONE MORE PROBLEM:  When I opened Internet Explorer I discovered my Favorites (bookmarks) folder was empty.  Five years of bookmarks gone.  My Firefox browser still had its bookmarks, but IE's were missing in action - a serious PIA for someone who does research and writing for a living.

HOW I FIXED IT:  I found the favorites folder in my files under C:\Documents and Settings\Tom King\Favorites .  But every file was greyed out. They had all been marked "hidden".  I had to go to the favorites file, right click, select properties, left click on it to open "properties" and uncheck "hidden" as the attributes. Fortunately, it lets you unhide all the files in the folder at once, so I selected "all subfolders" when it gave me the options. In about 30 seconds it unhid my bookmarks.  I opened Internet Explorer and all my Fav's are back. 

WARNING:  The vicious little punks who created the "Windows XP Recovery" malware program likely hid a lot more key files.  I'll be cleaning that up for weeks, but at least I know what they did.

Hiding files is an easy way to mimic a hard drive break-down.  Their phoney security software probably doesn't do anything except unhide the files that have supposedly "gone missing" on your computer. It's a fraud. Their software is what hid the files in the first place. I hope someone sends these pipsqueaks to prison for it. In the meantime.......



P.S.  If anyone out there is like a super computer geek who wants to be a superhero, let me suggest something.  Track people that do this down and post their home addresses on-line. You could support your super-hero work by selling baseball bats on-line to people who have had hours and hours of their lives robbed from them by these villains. Or even more fun, track down every virus, malware program, trojan and herbal viagra spammer you can find, every Nigerian e-mailer, every phony lottery and create a database of their creator's names and the homes or basements they live in.  Put a "donation" link on your website. You'll make a killing.

If you'll do it, let me know. I'll buy you a genuine superhero cape!  Flame retardant.