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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

Solid Dog Tips And Advice Just For You

Bringing a dog into the home is a decision that should not be taken lightly. If you are considering, or have already extended your family to include a dog, there are things that you should know. Below, you will find a list of quality tips to use to help the transition easier for you and your dog.

You should only try to teach your dog one new command during each training session. Even if you think your dog is good at picking up on things and will have no issues with that, it is much less confusing for you and him if you focus on just one thing at a time.

Hot summer days are harder for dogs to handle than humans. Always make sure your pet has enough water to drink. If you have any issues regarding where and how to use Cat lying down eating, you can get hold of us at our own website. Provide them with a shaded area to rest if they are going to be outside for any length of time. And, if your dog begins acting in an unusual manner, call the veterinarian. Heatstroke could be fatal, so it is important to get medical care as soon as possible.

If your dog has fleas, and they fall off his coat onto your floor, vacuum them up. However, remember that fleas are pretty good escape artists, so you need to throw out the bag immediately after you are finished. To be on the safe side, tape the bag completely shut before you take it out to your trash can.

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.

Dogs love to eat grass and other plants. When you’re outside, this may not be much of a problem, but if you maintain houseplants indoors, chances are they are poisonous to dogs. Before bringing a dog into the home, make sure all your houseplants are well out of reach of a dog who may be tempted by a green tasty treat.

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.

Some people think that it is necessary to bath a dog often. The truth is that unless your dog gets into something to get dirty, they only need bathed once every two to four months. Bathing more often could strip their skin of the oils they need for a healthy coat and skin.

Know your dog’s behavior and body rhythms well, to keep him at his healthiest. Medical issues often present themselves in slight nuances early on and if you know your dog, you’ll see them. Pay attention to input and output, sleep duration, energy levels and so forth to keep on top of important issues that affect his health.

Always make sure your dog has fresh water available. Water is essential for the health of a dog. He can easily become dehydrated without it or look for unsafe water sources, such as puddles or contaminated ponds. Making sure your dog always has water is an easy way to keep him happy and safe.

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.

Having too many people trying to train one dog can cause problems. Your dog might become confused by different methods, different vocal commands and different ways of offering praise or punishment. One person should be in charge, and everyone else needs to reinforce everything this person teaches the dog.

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.

Use positive reinforcement to teach your dog the habits that you would like to see from them. For example, if you notice that your dog barks anytime someone enters your home you could reward him for not barking with a treat. The dog will then associate being quite with the reward that he will receive.

If you have a smaller breed dog, make sure everyone who touches him knows the proper way to hold him. Small dogs can be easily injured by inappropriate handling and many owners find this out the hard way. Gently lift at the belly from under his front legs and secure him with both hands.

You should check your dog regularly to make sure that he does not have any ticks or fleas on him. There are combs you can purchase that can be used to help you locate them. To prevent fleas and ticks, you can purchase special collars from the pet supply store.

If you have younger children in the home, make sure that you try to teach them what behavior is appropriate with your dog. Let them know the rules and what they are allowed to do. Some dogs are more tolerant of being jumped on, pulled on, and played with than other dogs.

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.

Caring for a dog can be extremely hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Thanks to the advice in this article, you can appreciate the best parts of being a dog owner without getting hung up on the bad. Take advantage of what you’ve learned here, and forge a better relationship with your pet.

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