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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.

Post-Biopsy Diagnosis

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.

Anxiety

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. If you liked this article so you would like to get more info relating to why do cats eat their kittens after birth please visit the web-site. 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.

https://championofmyheart.com/2021/08/05/dogs-with-skin-issues/

Pets

When It Comes To Dogs, We Have The Goods

We all love to ask for advice. Sometimes we ask about our children, or a house repair, or even financial situations. Asking for advice about dogs is also great, and this article is a perfect place to start. You’ll find a ton of tips which really change how you view your dog.

Take the time to make sure your house is dog-proofed. Don’t take a dog into your home without being sure that it is safe from top to bottom. Cleaning supplies and medications should be locked away, and any indoor trash cans need to be put in a cabinet. Many common types of house plants can be toxic, so it pays to eliminate or move them.

Refrain from making the training sessions with your dogs too long. Extended sessions can make a dog tire out and become bored easily when you are trying to teach them new things. Limit your training sessions to 20-30 minutes, as this will help to keep the full attention of your dog.

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.

When you begin training your pup, start in your yard or home. It is unwise to do it where there are many strangers around. This can cause your dog to get distracted, which can make training them simple commands almost impossible.

Research a particular breed of dog you may be interested in before bringing him home. Lots of people make the mistake of falling in love with a type of dog, then find out later that the animal isn’t really for them. Chihuahuas, for example, are a trendy type, but very difficult to fully potty train, especially in colder climates!

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.

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.

Lift your dog properly. If you have a little dog or puppy, place your one hand under their chest and use your other hand for supporting their rump and hind legs. If you’re lifting a big dog, lift them from their underside supporting their chest using your one arm and using your other arm to support their rear end. Never lift a dog by their back legs, tail, or the nape of their neck.

Have a rotating schedule for dog-related responsibilities in your home. It’s not fair for one person to always be taking care of him, and he’ll feel more like a family pet if everyone pitches in. Kids often lose interest in a pet and leave the work to parents, but it’s important that you teach them to keep up the commitment!

If you are not allowed to place a fence in your yard but want your dog to run freely there, consider an electric fence. Electric fences are easy and inexpensive to install, and they can help to keep your free roaming pet safely contained. Using them will require a little training, but they are quite effective if you put the work in.

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.

Your dog’s nose is not a way to determine if your dog’s health is good. Your dog’s nose may be wet and cold even if they are sick. Judge a dog’s health by demeanor, appetite, and energy levels. You will be able to learn a lot about how your dog might be feeling. A dog’s temperature can be taken rectally if need be.

When it comes to feeding your dog, make sure that you are using a reputable brand that contains enough nutrition. This is important because there are dog foods that contain an undesirable amount of filler in the food. You want to be sure that your dog is getting the amount of nutrients that it needs in order for it to be healthy.

The kind of leash you use when walking your dog is very important. A small leash that would fit a small dog, like a chihuahua, is not going to fit a Rottweiler or pit bull. Get a leash that will fit your dog comfortably but also provided them with safety.

You should not let your dog go outside without supervision. It is best to provide your dog with a safe space such as a fenced yard. Inspect your fence to make sure your dog cannot escape. If you do not have a fence, always go outside with your dog so you can keep an eye on it.

If your dogs breath smells extremely bad, it is important to set up a vet visit to make sure this is not coming from some type of mouth problem. Such problems could be tooth decay or an infection. If untreated, more problems could arise causing further expenses down the road.

When training your dog, always make sure that you enter a room before allowing the dog to. This is important because it is an obvious form of dominance that your dog will understand. Establishing dominance will help with your ability to train your dog and with its overall behavior patterns.

Time, energy and knowledge will make the living arrangement with a dog more enjoyable for everyone. Use what you have just learned to help the household adapt to the addition. Dogs can be great friends and companions if you take the time to train, love and care for them properly.

Pets

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