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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

Need To Deal With Issues Related To Dogs? Read This Article

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.

Always give your dog plenty of attention and affection. When your dog behaves properly, make sure you let the dog know you are happy and give them some affection. This will help reinforce the good behavior and the dog will try to behave in this manner for the positive attention..

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 thoughts pertaining to in which and how to use Cat Eats Kittens, you can get hold of us at our own web site. Try brushing once in the morning and once in the evening to see if it makes a difference for your pet.

If you are planning to take your dog on an extended car-ride, talk to your vet about motion sickness medication first. Avoid feeding him before setting out to prevent queasiness and vomiting and make sure you buy him bottled water if you are traveling to any destination that is known to have issues with water quality.

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.

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!

Try to always be aware of how your dog is feeling. If your dog seems to be nervous, fearful, or scared of certain things, you should take note of this and try to avoid putting your dog in a stressful situation. When a dog is stressed or afraid, you could traumatize your dog if you insist that it stays in the stressful situation.

If your dog is a digger, make sure to protect him and your garden. Some plants are poisonous to dogs, not to mention the damage those paws can do to your prized flowers and produce. Put up an appropriately sized fence to keep him out or consider using an electric one.

Pay attention to your dog’s breath. Dogs will always have “dog breath,”u009d however, really bad breath is a sign that they need a dental check up. Plaque buildup caused by bacteria could be the culprit and that will need to be treated by a professional. After their treatments, you will need to brush their gums and teeth and feed them food that helps maintain good dental health.

Whatever your vet recommends, do it. While a cone around the head is not a pleasant experience for your pet, it may be a necessary requirement for a short time. If you fail to listen to your vet, your dog may end up sick or injured.

If you’re trying to break one of your dog’s unwanted habits, make sure that you understand that it will not happen overnight. Breaking a habit takes time and patience. Don’t get discouraged and give up if it seems like your pup isn’t making progress. Keep at it and maybe try changing your approach to the training. Sometimes this can be the boost that your dog needs.

Check your dog for ticks and fleas every day when the weather gets warm. Try to get rid of any fleas by using what is called a flea comb. There are a lot of things on the market that will help you get your dog’s fleas and ticks under control. Talk to a vet regarding these products or some other options.

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.

Check you dog for parasites and take preventative measure. Flea and tick collars are important. Keep in mind certain collar work better in different seasons and geographic areas. In addition, check your dog’s ears. Ear mites are common. Also, check the dog’s stool to ensure he hasn’t picked up worms in his digestive system.

Keep your dog hydrated. 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.

It is important to train your dog as soon as you get him or her. Behavior that might seem cute as a puppy, can develop into bad habits as your dog matures. It is essential that your dog understands and obeys simple commands. Not only for your safety, but the safety of your dog as well.

When you make the decision to get a dog, it is important that you have the proper type of fence in your yard. Of course, the size of the fence you need depends on the kind of dog you will be getting. The bigger the breed, the higher the fence should be.

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.

Dogs

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