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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. 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

You Can’t Find Better Answers About Dogs Than Those Here

When you have a dog, you have a best friend. Millions of dog owners around the world know this to be true. However, you are tasked with caring with a dog if you choose to bring one into your home. That’s why you need to have some tips about how best to do this. Keep reading for some great dog tips.

It’s very important to make sure that your home is safe for a dog. Make sure any area your dog will be in is safe. Put all medication and cleaning supplies away, and keep your indoor trash can inside a cabinet. Some plants in your house may be toxic to your dog, so they should be kept where your dog cannot reach them.

Although the sound may be cute, your dog’s nails shouldn’t click along the floor when it walks. That’s a sign that the nails are too long. The nails should actually just barely touch the ground. Seek the advice of a professional on what tools are the best for giving your dog a pedicure.

If you are interested in providing your dog with the healthiest of diets and making positive contributions to the earth’s environment, make his food from scratch. You can buy locally grown organic ingredients and provide him all the proteins, carbs and fats he needs with no preservatives while reducing the waste from packaging as well.

If you notice your dog gets dry skin in the winter, you probably need to brush him or her more often. Doing so will get rid of old fur and help get their oil glands working properly. If you have any questions with regards to the place and how to use why does my cat like her bum scratched, you can speak to us at our own webpage. Try brushing once in the morning and once in the evening to see if it makes a difference for your pet.

Having fresh and clean water available to your dog at all times is a must. Dogs become dangerously dehydrated in a matter of days, so its very important to always have water ready. Dogs will also appreciate water that is clean. If you find it necessary to drink filtered or bottled water because of the quality of water from your tap, then be sure to provide your dog with the same high quality water.

Daily brushing for your dog does more than simply prevent shedding. Daily brushing helps the coat to stay beautiful and shiny. When you brush a dog, you are moving the skin’s oils evenly throughout its fur, so it really makes the fur shine and feel great.

Make sure you have the correct dog supplies. Before bringing your dog home for the first time, be sure that you are equipped with the right supplies. Every dog needs a good sized food and water bowl, a collar and leash, toys, and a comfy place to sleep. Also, remember to purchase an identification tag immediately.

If you have tried everything to get your dog to stop digging your garden to no avail, head to your kitchen. Mix up a batch of cayenne pepper (five tablespoons), hot sauce (also five tablespoons) and a quart of water in a spray bottle and spray it where he digs. It should discourage him quickly.

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.

Let your dog feel the love that you have for him. It is easy to overlook the good behavior your dog shows while you concentrate on eliminating the bad. If that persists, your dog may begin to act inappropriately to get your attention. You should ensure you give your dog positive reinforcement. Your dog’s behavior will improve because of your new technique.

Be consistent when giving your dog commands. This is an area where a lot of dog owners have a problem, especially when you won’t feed your dog from the table but your spouse will. Make sure that everyone in your home understands what’s acceptable so that the dog will receive a clear message. That will make him more likely to obey.

You should talk to your veterinarian about microchip IDs. Your contact information can easily be stored inside a microchip and most veterinarians or shelters own a scanner they can use to scan the microchip. This will greatly increase your chances of getting your dog back in case it gets lost.

If you have a hard time with keeping your dog from chewing your possessions or your furniture, use a taste deterrent. Most pet stores sell bitter apple sprays or other products you can use to keep your dog from chewing. Choose a product that does not contain any chemicals if possible.

If your dog is covering everything in the house with his shedding fur, grab a paper towel. Lightly wet it with water and rub it down his back in the direction of fur growth. The loose hair should come off easily on the paper towel and your dog will love the attention too!

When your dog has a bathroom accident on the floor, be sure to thoroughly clean the area. Use a cleaner that’s professional strength and follow that up with a good odor remover. If you still smell dog waste, the dog could be emptied to return to the scene of the crime and repeat the actions.

Yelling at your dog or displaying any other violent behaviors are not good options. Your dog will fear you and establishing a bond with your pet will be very hard. The best way to train your dog is to use positive reinforcement and simply say no in a firm voice when you catch your dog misbehaving.

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.

Dogs are the most wonderful pets around, and most people know that. These social creatures deserve our affection. And if you own one, he deserves your best. Use the information here to make sure that you are doing all you can in order to give your dog a truly happy life.

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