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Best Advice for Dogs with Skin Issues
I still need to publish a real post about Mr. Stix’s full backstory, but this feels more pressing. For nearly 18 months, Mr. Stix’s permanent nakey spot (from unknown injuries before he was rescued, including 15 fractures and this big patch of coat missing) has featured several inflamed, peeling areas. Initially I tried to fix it myself at home with things like aloe vera, vaseline, a veterinary ointment called animax that the shelter had give us while we fostered him most of 2019, etc. It’s sort of a combination of steroids, antibacterial, and antifungal stuff. I took him to see our main veterinarian in spring 2020, when there was a 2-month wait to get into see a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. It has been quite a journey since then, and it’s nowhere near over. Here’s my best advice for dogs with skin issues.
Before I tell the ongoing saga with Mr. Stix’s skin. Here is my best advice for dogs with skin problems.
See a board-certified veterinary dermatologist as soon as you can. Yes, your main veterinarian can probably help, but it’s honestly best to go right to the top experts.
Agree to whatever skin scrapings / cytology the veterinary dermatologist recommends. This provides information about what types of secondary infections currently grow on your dog’s damaged skin.
Do NOT assume every skin issue is allergies. It often is some sort of allergic process, but NOT always and assuming so (and acting accordingly may only delay real solutions and subject your dog to all kinds of quack advice and home remedies).
Buy the best quality fish oil and Vitamin E supplements you can afford, if it’s recommended for your particular case of a dog with skin issues.
When necessary, agree to the skin biopsies (yes, like minor surgery) and have them reviewed by a veterinary pathologist that specializes in dogs with skin issues. The one we used is at Texas A&M.
Follow your veterinary dermatologist’s advice and plans, and keep the faith. These dogs with skin problems often don’t improve quickly. (I need to take my own advise. See below.)
Mr. Stix’s Story as a Dog with Skin Problems
This is what Mr. Stix’s nakey spot looks like when it’s normal. Photo from May 2019 soon after his hip surgery. The bald patch is permanent. That’s not the issue.
This is how bad the red / peeling areas got in mid-2020 when we saw our main veterinarian, who added a low-dose of oral Vitamin E and some topical too and told me to keep using the animax.
This is how it looked when Mr. Stix first saw the board-certified veterinary dermatologist in early August 2020, but the specialist had me STOP the animax and instead use a prescription anti-bacterial ointment (mupirocin) … as well as add a better quality oral fish oil and continue both topical and oral Vitamin E (but at a higher dose twice a day). We knew from the skin scrapings / cytology they did onsite that Mr. Stix had a bacterial infection.
But, without the daily topical steroids (which long term are a bad idea), Mr. Stix’s skin got much, much worse — even breaking open and scabbing over.
Our veterinary dermatologist had recommended doing the skin biopsies right away in August 2020, and I *almost agreed to it then, but I was VERY worried about the cuts resulting in skin that would NOT heal. And, I figured it was at least worth a try to use the prescription antibiotic ointment and other supplements and stuff.
But, by around Thanksgiving, it was clear we had to do the biopsy. That photo is kind of gruesome, so you can see it here, if you want. I wish I had done the biopsy sooner. I feel like I wasted time from August through November.
As I expected, despite all the know-it-alls trying to tell me it was an allergic issue, it turns out that Mr. Stix instead has an autoimmune condition called erythema multiforme. They believe it was triggered by the trauma of his earlier injuries. They don’t think it is life-threatening. If you adored this article and you would certainly like to get additional facts regarding australian shepherd and kids kindly visit the website. They don’t think it will spread to other areas of his skin. Just the already damaged, permanent nakey spot.
With that information in hand, we updated the treatment plan to include a topical, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ointment (tacrolimus — often pricey, but we used a Good RX coupon at Costco to get the cost down). They use a version of this medication orally for people who have had various kinds of transplants. It’s the smallest / safest option for treatment, and that’s where we started.
I was so hopeful it would work at the once-daily application, but the skin still didn’t heal completely.
So, in early 2021, we started applying it twice daily on the advice of our veterinary dermatologist.
But, it still hasn’t healed completely. It often improves a lot and then comes roaring back, so we had another appointment to see the specialist last week. We had to try something new.
Enter the Big Immune-Suppressing Drug
Despite my concerns and form of veterinary PTSD about major immune suppression drugs (after our experiences with Lilly), I agreed last week to add oral cyclosporine, which is also a drug that people get after various transplants. Mr. Stix would need to take it daily for life.
It smells like it’s made from skunk butts, so each gel-cap pill is individually packaged, and you keep them in the freezer because that can help with nausea it can cause (since it’s recommended you give on an empty stomach).
I found some good info on this med, and our veterinary dermatologist assured me that it has been safely used in veterinary medicine for like 20+ years, etc.
The med only comes in doses of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg, and at his size Mr. Stix’s ideal dose is around 88 mg once a day. So we went with 75 mg (25+50) to err on the lower side.
It takes like 3-7 days for the med to build up in the blood to therapeutic levels, but it takes more like 4-6 weeks to know if it’s going to help the skin (or not).
We made it to day 4, then the barfing started.
I wish I could say that this is all going to be fine, but I just don’t know. I feel like I just have to accept that the skin will never fully heal, even though seeing his raw spots up close while applying the topical med twice a day and topical Vitamin E once a day causes me so much angst and anxiety.
I supposed to check in with our veterinary dermatology team next week to confirm that Mr. Stix’s weirdness and apparent suffering has improved.
It took a lot of convincing to get Mr. Champion of My Heart to agree to try the cyclosporine, so even if the specialist comes back and recommends maybe a lower dose, I doubt we’ll want to risk it … because Mr. Stix sure seemed to be having some neurologist issues to me, and after the Lilly situation, I just cannot do that again.
He is only 3 years old. I don’t want to make anything worse. It honestly felt like I’d poisoned him.
The good news is that most of the time his skin doesn’t seem to hurt or itch or anything — though I do have pain meds, if he needs them. It mostly just looks bad, and he has to wear a no-lick collar for about 20 minutes after I apply his meds so that he doesn’t lick it off.
His nakey spot is prone to sunburn anyway, and the topical tacrolimus increases the risk of burning, so I used his earlier sun-reflecting coat (which started to look ragged) as a pattern and sewed him a new / light sun protection coat. He looks very cute in it.
Got A New Dog And Need Some Advice? Read This!
Dogs are unlike any other animals you can own as a pet. They love you unconditionally, cheer you up when you are down, and want you to love them as much as they do you. This article will tell you how to make your dog’s life as amazing as it deserves it to be.
Never hit your dog. There are better ways to train a dog without having to resort to violence. The best way to train a dog is to reinforce positive behaviors with treats and attention. Negative behavior should be handled with a stern and disapproving voice as opposed to striking the animal.
If your puppy or dog is constantly chewing up your furniture, invest in some chew-toys. Scatter them around the floor, especially around the legs of the sofa and end-tables. Be enthusiastic about your offers to play with the chewies with your dog to encourage frequent use. This should eventually deter him from chomping your furniture.
Never give your dog milk! It’s not necessary for his body and he doesn’t have the proper enzymes to digest it anyway. Feeding your dog cow’s milk can lead to chronic diarrhea and leave him with an upset stomach, among other health problems. Stick with plain old water for a healthy and hydrated dog.
Keep your dog warm during winter with the latest in canine fashion and accessories. You may think it’s just for show, but dogs need protection from the elements too! Keeping your dog’s paw-pads dry is essential to their health in sub-freezing weather, so invest in suede or leather footwear and pick him up a coat while you’re at it. Make them instead if you are creative!
Unless you’re okay with your dog playing with your shoes and other things around your home, buy him some toys. He will enjoy having things of his own, particularly if they are interactive like pull-toys you can use together. Also buy him things he can use to occupy himself and stay out of trouble!
Dogs, like humans, can develop health problems, and because of this they should be taken to see their vet at least once eat year. This can help to diagnosis any health issues early on, reducing both the extremity of the illness and the cost to fix it. Do whatever you can to follow this rule of thumb strictly.
House-training your dog will be much easier if you adopt a routine. You should go for walks regularly throughout the day and come home during your lunch break if necessary. If your dog has to be home alone for long hours, do not leave a bowl full of water unless it is very hot.
Know your dog’s behavior and body rhythms well, to keep him at his healthiest. Medical issues often present themselves in slight nuances early on and if you know your dog, you’ll see them. Pay attention to input and output, sleep duration, energy levels and so forth to keep on top of important issues that affect his health.
Be careful to not over feed your dog. Obesity is a huge problem for animals these days due to the fact that many dog owners allow the animal to determine how much it eats each day. For the best results, and health of your dog, you should follow the instructions of your vet when it comes to feeding habits.
Determine your dog’s specific exercise regimen. Dogs have different fitness needs based their sex, overall health, age, breed mix, or breed. Every dog should have a couple 10-minute walks a day around the block. Dogs between 6 and 18 months, active breed or mixed breeds, terriers, hounds, and herding dogs will most likely require more fitness than others types of dogs.
If you do not have any ear cleaner solution on hand, you can use a baby wipe instead. Simply wrap it around the tip of your finger and wipe the inside of the ear’s surface. Only go as far as your finger can easily fit. Do not use Q-tips as they can injure the ear.
Be thoughtful about breeding your dog. Repeated breeding of a female can evetually lead to severe health problems for both the dog and the puppies that is born from her. If you plan to breed be sure to do your research first so that you can be sure that you are doing the right thing for your animals.
If you pick up a dog from a shelter, make sure that he has been seen by a medical professional. You don’t want to bring home a sick dog unless you are aware of it, particularly if you have other dogs at home. Make sure to ask if the dog you have chosen has been around sick dogs in the past few weeks as well.
If you breed your dog, do so responsibly. The AKC advises all owners of pure-bred dogs to make an effort to advance the breed and discard all other motivations, such as money or experimentation. Consider the repercussions of your actions before allowing your dog to mate and create a litter of puppies.
Just like people, dogs need their exercise too. Playing a game of fetch or Frisbee is a great way to get your dog to burn some calories, while having fun at the same time. Dogs should also be walked everyday. Some dogs require more exercise than others, which is why it is so important to understand your dogs needs.
If you are thinking about getting a dog, it is crucial that you choose a bread wisely. For instance, if you have children, large vicious dogs may not be a good idea. Or, if you live in an apartment, smaller breeds may be better. Pick a dog that works well with your lifestyle.
Do your homework before getting a new dog. Take your time to research the different breeds and what their needs are. You might find that a dog you like the looks of, would be a terrible fit for your family. Too many dogs end up in shelters because people didn’t take the time to learn about their newest family member before getting them.
Caring for a dog can be extremely hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Thanks to the advice in this article, you can appreciate the best parts of being a dog owner without getting hung up on the bad. Take advantage of what you’ve learned here, and forge a better relationship with your pet.
As a serious person who reads about Dogs, I think sharing that excerpt was smart. Do you know about another person who is intrigued by the niche? Do not hesitate to promote it. Thank you for taking the time to read it.