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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.
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.
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.
Have Questions Related To Dogs? We'll Answer Them
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 your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, he or she may eventually come in contact with a skunk. If he gets sprayed, mix together one teaspoon of dish-washing detergent, a fourth a cup of baking soda and a quart of hydrogen peroxide solution (but make sure it is no more than three percent). Apply the mixture to your dog's coat and allow it to sit for five minutes. Wash your dog off well afterward.
When choosing a dog for your home, don't forget to estimate the size it will be as a full grown adult. This is especially true if you have small children at home. Although a small puppy will be cute, it may grow into a large, one hundred pound dog. Do some research on the average adult size of the breeds you are considering.
Don't assume your toy-sized dog's bite isn't dangerous, just because he's little. A lot of owners brush-off training, thinking that the smaller breed dog can get away with a little bad behavior and this isn't true. As a responsible canine master, you've got to make certain your dog does not pose a threat to anyone by having him well trained.
When it's time for dog training, you'll want to do it inside your house or in your yard. This will give you security and an area that your dog is comfortable. Distractions occur, making it difficult to get your dog to focus on basic commands.
Brush your dog's teeth every week. Use a child's toothbrush that is soft, some nylon pantyhose over your finger, or a gauze pad. Don't use regular toothpaste. Instead, try using a baking soda and water paste or toothpaste made for dogs. Clean their teeth one to two times a week.
Send your dog to school! He will feel more comfortable knowing exactly what is expected of him and obedience school will help him learn that. It will also boost his self-confidence, and of course, make a more well-behaved pet of him. Call around locally and see if you can sign him up for a trial class and take it from there.
If you live with other people, make sure they are aware of your training "rules." It is important that everyone redirects the dog off of the furniture, for example, and that they use the same language when doing so. If everyone's rules are different, your dog is just going to get confused, which will make the training process much longer and more difficult.
In order to make sure that your dog is healthy, be sure to allow it to have access to clean water at all times during the day. Just like with all living beings, water is one of the most important components. The only exception would be that you would want to keep water from a puppy for three hours before bedtime.
Be strong when the time comes to say goodby to your beloved dog. Many owners keep the animal suffering to keep them in their lives and that's not fair to the dog. Consult with your vet, then talk it over with family. If it's time to part ways with your dog, do what's best for him.
Accept the aging process in your dog and know how to meet his changing needs. Your older dog may require dietary changes, more rest and not be as playful as he once was. This doesn't mean he should be left to grow old in a corner. Adapt to his needs and make his golden years enjoyable!
Always use a leash when your dog or puppy is out in public. This helps you make sure your dog always stays by you and prevents them from wandering off or getting into trouble. This can also help you restrain your dog if something upsets them so that they don't hurt another animal or person.
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.
Some vitamins are not beneficial for dogs. If your dog already has a good diet, avoid giving him supplements. Too many vitamins can damage his body, particularly the bones, joints and blood vessels. Before giving your dog vitamins, speak with your vet.
Be sure to keep your dog's nails clipped in order to prevent injury. This can occur both from the dog scratching itself or also from having its nails get caught in things such as carpet. In order to be sure you are cutting the nails correctly, be sure to check with the veterinarian or groomer.
Make sure that you spend adequate time on each thing that you try to teach your dog. Even though your dog might catch on to something, for example the "sit" command, it may not be mastered. You'll want to make sure that the command is done every time that you ask no matter what situation you are in before you move onto a new command.
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.
A dog can be a faithful companion, but you must know what it takes to be a responsible owner. The article here shared tips any dog owner can use to help make sure their time with their pet is enjoyable. Use what you learned to have the best relationship possible.
You Don't Need Any Other Article, This One Has The Best Dog Advice
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.
Be careful with your dog around Christmas season, many dangers are lurking just under the festive ambiance. For instance, electrical chords are typically strewn about during the holidays, and dogs often chew them, creating an electrical hazard. Dogs may be tempted to eat the decorations on the tree. They may also be tempted by the tree water, which can be toxic.
It's good to give hugs, but avoid giving kisses. Dog kisses may be seen as cute, but their mouths aren't all that clean. Keep in mind that dogs drink from toilet bowls and eat whatever is on the ground. It's an old wives' tale that a dog has a very clean mouth. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
Take your grown dog to the vet at least once a year. The vet will check to see if the dog's vaccines up to date. In addition, the vet will check the dog's teeth and vital signs. If any major health or behavioral issues come up between annual checkups, you should see the vet earlier.
Schedule regular veterinary visits. Regular veterinary exams are extremely important for your dog's overall health - as with humans, it is important to catch any health problems early on. The vet will make sure that your dog is up to date on his vaccinations, and check for any other issues such as weight and dental problems or parasites.
Never allow your dog to be alone with small children, no matter how much you trust his temperament. Many little kids have been attacked by family dogs who have otherwise never demonstrated a tendency towards violence. Sleeping dogs may be woken by a toddler and react negatively or some other offense is committed against the animal that sets him off.
Practice your training regimen for your puppy near your home. Don't train them in any areas full of people. They can get distracted, which can make it harder to train them even basic commands.
Take your dog outside so that he can get fresh air and exercise. A dog needs to play and exercise on a regular basis so that it can be happy and healthy. Your dog will be happy with any kind of activity, even if it's just going for a walk or throwing them a ball. It also grows your bond with the dog.
Unless you're okay with your dog playing with your shoes and other things around your home, buy him some toys. He will enjoy having things of his own, particularly if they are interactive like pull-toys you can use together. Also buy him things he can use to occupy himself and stay out of trouble!
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.
If you are looking for dog of a particular breed, don't discount your local pound. Many pet owners abandon their dogs at the pound when they no longer want to, or are able to, keep them. Paying a trip to your local shelter might help you to find the exact dog you have been searching for. You may save a poor dog's life if you do this.
If your dog has been playing outside, take the time to inspect its ears and neck for ticks. These parasites are very common and could make your dog sick if you do not take action right away. Take your dog to the vet if you do not know how to remove the ticks yourself.
Don't forget about your dog when writing your will. Many pets end up being fought over or neglected completely because specific instructions were not left regarding their care. Include a clause that clearly directs your loved ones on what to do with your dog so that he's well taken care of.
Put your dog through obedience training. A well-trained dog is a joy to live with for both you and them. Teaching them simple commands like "Come,"u009d "Heel,"u009d "Sit,"u009d and "Stay"u009d can help curb or prevent troublesome behaviors in no time. You can either teach them yourself, or you can find out about obedience courses by contacting the SPCA or the local humane society for class recommendations.
Dogs love the outdoors. For the most part, dogs really enjoy being outside and being able to stretch their legs. Remember this when choosing the right dog for your family. If you live in an apartment, it is not really fair go look at a dog that needs lots of exercise, unless you are planning on jogging with your dog twice a day.
If your dog is ruining your home while you are gone, it is probably suffering from anxiety. This issue is very common in young puppies, especially if they are still getting used to being home alone. You should find some toys your dog can play with and let your dog have a shirt or a blanket that smells like you.
Always be sure that your dog understands that you are the master if you want to have a well behaved pet. This is important because if your dog believes that he is dominant over you, then you have a much smaller chance of getting it to obey your commands and behave according to your wishes.
Don't bathe your dog after you have applied a flea or tick medication. Some medications tout that they are waterproo, but they only mean against rain or swimming. They will largely wash away with a dog shampoo, rendering the treatment ineffective. If you must bathe the dog after a treatment, use a soap free shampoo.
Puppies may be cute when biting on a slipper, but the cuteness fades when it turns into a dog who is ripping them apart. Stop these problems early. If he's doing something wrong, say "no" firmly. It is best to address this issue early.
Caring for a dog can be absolutely exhausting, but that doesn't mean it has to be. If you use the tips and tricks in this article, you may find living with your dog is a breeze. Soon, others will be wondering how you make being a dog owner look so easy.
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