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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/

Dogs

Solid Dog Tips And Advice Just For You

Is your dog full of mischief? Does he chew on the furniture and hide your shoes when he is not supposed to? Maybe a little behavior training is in order. This article contains some helpful advice about dog ownership.

If the cost of your dog’s high-quality food is a burden for your family, team up with another one and buy in bulk. The big-name pet store chains offer top rated names in pet cuisine at a significant discount when bought in the larger quantities. You can minimize the cost for you and some friends while still providing your dogs with fresh and wholesome meals.

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. Try brushing once in the morning and once in the evening to see if it makes a difference for your pet.

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.

Do you have a “wrinkly” dog, like a bulldog? If so, you have to be conscientious about the grooming process in order to help keep your pet clean. After you brush, take a baby wipe and use it to get in between the folds on their body. Make sure, though, to get them fully dry after doing so.

To protect your dog in the event he is lost or stolen, have a microchip surgically implanted by your vet. These handy chips store data that can be retrieved by a shelter or animal officer and used to contact you. They are painless to put in and offer peace of mind for the pet lover!

Don’t forget to trim your dog’s nails regularly. Long nails can make him uncomfortable, cause injury to his feet and will ruin your floors. If he makes a “click” sound when he walks on hard wood or linoleum, that’s a good indication it’s time for a trim. Ask your vet to do it if necessary.

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.

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.

Be a responsible dog owner, to represent the species well. For example, Pit Bulls are feared and often even hated in most places these days, due to irresponsible ownership. People tend to blame the animals when in fact it’s the human factor influencing the dog’s behavior. Train your dog well and leave a good impression on others!

If your dog is always drinking out of the toilet, try changing how you provide him with water. Most prefer it cold and fresh, hence the attraction to the bathroom, so buy a fountain or thermally insulated dish to keep his water at a more appealing temperature. Also, add ice-cubes when it’s hot out and he’s panting

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.

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.

Never give your dog away for free, no matter how desperate you might feel to get rid of it quickly. Even if you can not care for the animal, it is still your responsibility to be sure that it will have a good life to come. Instead, take the time to investigate the person that you will give it to and charge a re-homing fee to ensure that they are serious about caring for the animal.

If you beloved this article therefore you would like to be given more info concerning why cat tries to bury food generously visit the web-page. Even if your dog does not spend the majority of his time outside, it is still important that you bring him or her to the vet for their yearly shots. Your dog could come in contact with other dogs at the dog park or at your home. If the other dog is sick, it could pass on to your dog. This is why it is important that they are vaccinated every year.

When taking care of your dog’s grooming needs, do not neglect their feet. Obviously, dog’s do not wear shoes so their feet are exposed to the elements and could hurt their feet in debris outside. Look for any cuts or abrasions on their feet and if you find something serious, bring him or her to their vet.

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.

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.

Hopefully, the advice you’ve found in this article has addressed any concerns you might have. Even if your problem isn’t addressed specifically, you may find that these suggestions can help you resolve your issue. Dog care isn’t as complicated as it seems, and some tips truly are one size fits all.

Pets

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