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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. 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.
When It Comes To Dogs, We Have The Goods
Are you worried about caring for your dog? Occasionally a person can become overwhelmed by the responsibility of being a dog owner. For other dog owners, curbing their pets’ independent streak seems impossible. This article has so much great advice, you’ll fix any issues you may have.
Groom your dog regularly. A dog requires constant grooming to keep his coat in tip top condition. Make sure that your dog is completely relaxed before you start the grooming session; this is especially important if he is excitable. Keep the session quite short (5 to 10 minutes at most) until he is comfortable with the idea of being groomed. Most importantly – be sure to praise him and offer a treat after a successful grooming session!
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.
It is very important for you to keep your dog’s ears clean. Keeping the inside of the ears clean will help prevent infections of the ear. This is also a good time for you to inspect the ear for fleas, ticks and any other pests that could have made your dog’s ear home.
Not everyone is good at training dogs, so quit trying if you see things are not going as well as planned. Instead of beating yourself up about it, get in touch with a trainer in your area. Since they have more experience with dogs, it may be much easier for them to train yours.
If you are thinking about adopting a dog, try taking a couple of weeks off work so you can spend some time with your puppy and teach it a few good habits. Training your puppy and helping it get used to its new environment will be much easier if you are home.
It is very common for objects to get lodged in the pads of your dogs paws. Check them regularly to make sure that nothing is in there. If you see something, be very careful about taking it out, or it may become lodged even deeper. It is a wise to use tweezers for this.
Your vet can give you some good advice on what you should feed your dog. Sometimes you’ll find that a puppy can’t eat certain brands of foods because it will make their stomach upset. Therefore, ensure you are cautious whenever providing your dog a new food.
Send your dog to school! He will feel more comfortable knowing exactly what is expected of him and obedience school will help him learn that. It will also boost his self-confidence, and of course, make a more well-behaved pet of him. Call around locally and see if you can sign him up for a trial class and take it from there.
If you leave your dog with a boarder, there are certain things you need to tell them. First, make sure the boarder has a number to reach you in case of an emergency. Also, tell them of any behavioral issues you dog has. If the dog needs special foods or medication, let the boarder know this as well.
When you are trimming your dog’s nails, keep a close eye on the tips of the nails. Once you see a pale oval on the tip, stop clipping. This is a sign that you are close to the vein. If you go too far, apply a little bit of styptic powder to it to help stop the bleeding.
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.
When taking your senior dog to the vet for an annual visit, make sure to request senior blood work. A blood panel can help your vet to identify any kidney, heart or vascular concerns. If caught early, treatment is often minimally invasive and less costly. This is a great way to keep your pet healthy for years to come.
Do not believe that a wet, cold nose can judge the health of your dog. A cold and wet nose could be due to many reasons, and it does not preclude illness. Keep an eye on your pet’s health by monitoring their mood, appetite levels, and how much energy they have. They’ll all really tell the story of your pet’s health. If necessary, you can get a rectal temperature reading as well.
Keep your dog hydrated. If you liked this article therefore you would like to be given more info concerning dog breed that start with h please visit our webpage. Similar to humans, dogs need plenty of fresh water to drink. If a dog doesn’t get enough water, they can easily get dehydrated, sick, and possibly die. Provide them with a fresh water bowl every day. Always keep it filled and clean for them. Keep the bowl in single location.
Just as you would with a baby who has just begun to walk, you should take certain measures to protect your dog from harm in your home. For instance, if you decide to get a dog, get rid of any poisonous plants you have in your home. So many dog injuries and deaths can be prevented by taking a few simple steps.
If training your dog is more than you can handle, you should consider sending it to obedience school. Do some research to find out more about the different obedience schools in your area and talk to other dog owners to find the best school possible. It is best to send your dog to obedience school while it is still a young pup.
Where will your new dog sleep? Never let your dog sleeps with you or inside the house if you want to keep it in a crate. If you do let your dog sleep with you, be prepared to let him do it every night.
As you can see, taking care of a dog isn’t that hard. It might be hard at first, but this article can help. Use other quality resources, and talk to your vet if you need help with your dog.
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