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Dogs are wonderful pets. They are reliable, loyal and often very loving to their owners. Many people, over time, begin to see their dog as another member of their family. Therefore, it is important that you care for your pet in the best way possible to ensure that they live a healthy, happy and productive life. The following tips will help you as you attempt to raise and care for a canine companion.


Hugs are great to give your pets, but kisses are not that great. Dog kissing may be adorable, but dogs have awfully dirty mouths. Keep in mind that dogs drink from toilet bowls and eat whatever is on the ground. Some believe the mouth of a dog is even cleaner than our own. This is not the truth!




Avoid impersonating a medical professional when it comes to your dog's health. In an attempt to save money, many people try to diagnose their pet's conditions or use human treatments on various elements and that can be very dangerous to the animal. If you can't afford full vet care, tell that to the doctor and ask their advice anyway or if they could arrange a payment plan for you.


Your dog has teeth just like you, so it makes sense that he needs proper dental care. Invest in a dog toothbrush and brush his teeth often. Simply allowing the vet to do it at his regular checkups is not enough. You can also purchase treats that are specifically meant to help with your pet's teeth.


Be careful around Christmas time with a dog in your home; it's the busiest time of year at 24/7 animal clinics! Things like hanging and tree lights pose a danger to your dog, as they could become tangled or gnaw their way down to raw wires. The loveliest of Christmas plants are also hazardous to a dog's health, so take extra care during holidays.


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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.


Avoid impersonating a medical professional when it comes to your dog's health. In an attempt to save money, many people try to diagnose their pet's conditions or use human treatments on various elements and that can be very dangerous to the animal. If you can't afford full vet care, tell that to the doctor and ask their advice anyway or if they could arrange a payment plan for you.


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Shop carefully for a dog before you get a new one. Make sure that you have taken the time to research the breed and know how much exercise and grooming a new dog will need. If you take the time to choose carefully, you'll find that you are naturally a better match to the dog and both of you are happier.


If you're going to be away from your dog for a short period of time, it might be a good idea to invest in a dog crate. A crate for your dog will provide it with a safe and secure area to go into when you aren't able to watch it for a period of time.


Make sure that you carry small bags and gloves with you while you are out walking your dog. If he uses the bathroom outside, it is your responsibility to clean up the mess. It is unsanitary for you to leave it there, and it some places you may receive heavy fines for that.


Timing is key when bringing your dog home. Try to introduce him to his new home over the weekend or when you have a couple of days off. Take the time to get to know one other - this will make him feel much more comfortable when he has to spend time in the home alone. Also, if you have children, make sure that they don't overwhelm him at first. If you have other pets in the house, be extra cautious when introducing the new arrival.


Dogs sometimes get tiny cuts on their paws. If your dog happens to get a cut, wash it thoroughly and put a bandage on it. If it is a very deep cut, you should take him to a vet.


dog licking their lips


Be clear with your pet during training. The word "no" does not explain anything to your dog, other than that you are unhappy with something. Instead, explain which behavior you do want to see. For example, if your dog jumps on the furniture, tell him to get down instead of just saying the word no.


Never punish your dog for being curious about a new baby. Instead, allow your dog to investigate the smells and sights that come with a baby at a safe distance. If the dog is made to feel like the baby has infringed on his home, the very worst is far more likely to happen.


Consider your daily routines, and decide whether a dog would fit into that scenario well. Wanting a dog is easy, but it is not always easy to deal with responsibilities of dog ownership.


The joy and delight a dog can provide is truly something amazing to behold. The fact remains, however, that a significant amount of know-how is required in order to make life with a dog the very best it can possibly be. Hopefully the insights found above have provided a strong foundation for canine aficionados everywhere.

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/



We had been made aware of that write-up about Pets through a good friend on another web blog. Liked our blog entry? Please quickly share it. Help other people discover it. I love your readership.

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