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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.
Useful Advice For Raising A Happy, Healthy Canine
The uniqueness of dogs is what makes them so special. Like you or I, each has its own personality, likes and dislikes, and temperament. That said, there is some basic advice which applies to dogs as a whole, and you need this knowledge to care for your dog properly. This article details what you need to know to get started.
Hugs are great, but steer clear of kisses. It is unsanitary to be licked by a dog. Dogs are always getting into garbage, drink from places like the toilet, and they clean their bodies with their tongues. It's an old wives' tale that a dog has a very clean mouth. It simply is not the case.
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.
It is important to use your lifestyle as a guide to what breed of furry friend you should get. For instance, if you like to go running, you're not going to want a little dog that can't keep up with you. Likewise if you spend quite a lot of time at home you may want to get a dog that likes to be pampered a lot. Getting a dog that matches your lifestyle will make you both more happy.
If your dog gets lost, it is very unlikely that you will see him again unless he has proper identification. Tags can come off, so the best option is a microchip. It is quick to put in your dog, and it causes minimal discomfort. Simply register the chip ID after it is put in, and your pet will always have his identification with him.
Keep your dog warm during winter with the latest in canine fashion and accessories. You may think it's just for show, but dogs need protection from the elements too! Keeping your dog's paw-pads dry is essential to their health in sub-freezing weather, so invest in suede or leather footwear and pick him up a coat while you're at it. Make them instead if you are creative!
If you're on a tight budget at home, think carefully before getting a dog. They actually cost hundreds of dollars annually, but many people don't realize this until they've actually forked over the money. Depending on the size and regular maintenance requirements of your new dog, you could be getting in way over your head and forced to part with him later so make sure beforehand.
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.
Feed your dog dry, premium-quality dog food. This kind of dog food helps to make sure your dog gets all of their vital nutrients. Making sure that they get proper nutrition helps them live a longer life and reduces their chances of obesity, malnutrition, skeletal problems, muscular problems, and many more conditions.
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.
Try to provide your dog with plenty of opportunities to socialize. Take him on walks to the park or beach where he will be around people and other dogs. Encourage his interactions with others and praise him for good manners. He'll be much more comfortable in any setting and generally happier too.
Not every dog is capable of going to the dog park. Some dogs will not do well around other dogs that they do not know. Get to know how your dog does around friends' or neighbors' dogs before you attempt to take him to the park. This way, you will know if he will be aggressive towards other dogs.
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.
You must learn how to introduce your dog to other dogs. Keep him on his leash during introductions so you have better control. Start with a walk by while keeping his attention on you. Then, on the next walk by, allow the dogs to sniff each other a bit. This will allow them to get to know each other without the dangers of attacks.
If you bathe your dog often, watch out for signs of painful earaches that can be problematic for canines. They can happen when too much water gets into the ears. Use cotton balls dabbed in baby oil while giving him a bath, and that should keep water from getting in, even if he splashes around.
Before getting a dog make sure you have thought about your daily routing, as well as special events like vacations. You may really want a dog; however, you need to have both the time and patience to make the commitment that a dog requires.
You need to consider your own life when you are thinking about getting a dog. Lots of people want dogs, but actually caring for them requires a real commitment.
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.
Now that you understand dogs so deeply and have all this advice at the ready, you must use it to better the life of your dog. Take the time to make the changes necessary, and use the tips as often as you can. When your dog is totally happy, you will be, too.
Repairing Dog-related Problems? These Tips Will Help
When you own a dog, you have a ton of work on your hands. From brushing their fur to feeding them, you need to keep on top of all of their needs. That said, this article will teach you all about what it takes to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Since humans don't speak dog, we need to figure out how to communicate with our pets non-verbally. If you notice that your dog is timid around strangers or other dogs, you shouldn't attempt to force its interaction with them. This may cause a human or the other canine to get bit. Take heed of these non-verbal cues, and act accordingly.
Store your prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines in a safe place where your dog cannot get them. Getting into those pills could seriously impact your dog's health and even cause death. If your dog does ingest some of your medication, get in touch with your veterinarian immediately.
Your dog needs a stimulating environment if it is going to live a long and healthy life. Providing him or her with one is not really that hard. Simply make sure you take your dog for walks each day, and purchase a few toys that you and your pet can play with together.
Take this article tells you all you need to know 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.
Lift your dog properly. If you have a little dog or puppy, place your one hand under their chest and use your other hand for supporting their rump and hind legs. If you're lifting a big dog, lift them from their underside supporting their chest using your one arm and using your other arm to support their rear end. Never lift a dog by their back legs, tail, or the nape of their neck.
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.
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.
Dogs, like humans, can develop health problems, and because of this they should be taken to see their vet at least once eat year. This can help to diagnosis any health issues early on, reducing both the extremity of the illness and the cost to fix it. Do whatever you can to follow this rule of thumb strictly.
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.
To discourage your dog from chewing everything in the house, combine equal parts of water, white vinegar and apple-cider vinegar in a spray bottle. Gently my dog started foaming at the mouth like shoes and umbrella handles and this should repel your dog. If not, dab a little minty muscle ointment on the things he's prone to chomping and that should work for sure.
If you are planning on getting a new puppy, plan on investing in some training classes. These classes offer a great opportunity for your puppy to socialize with other dogs and learn basic commands. These classes will provide your new puppy with a great foundation for future training and will help them get a great start in life.
It is essential that you get your dog vaccinated. Vaccinations will protect your dog from different types of illness and diseases. Most vaccinations are done at your dogs yearly check-up. Your vet can explain what each vaccination is for. The rabies vaccine is required by law in many different states.
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.
Keep in mind that the pads on a dog's foot are very similar to the skin at the bottom of a human foot. This means that they have a hard time withstanding extreme heat and cold. If you have to take your dog out in extreme weather, make sure that you cover their paws, or you don't have them out for very long.
Owning a new puppy is very similar to having a new baby. Puppies need a lot of attention and have to be taken care of constantly. They are not ready to be left alone for long periods of time and need to have a fair amount of attention devoted to them.
If your dog seems to be struggling with learning commands, consider getting a clicker. A clicker is a tool that is useful when training as it teaches your pup that when he does something correctly, a click will happen which is immediately followed by a reward. Clicker training can be helpful for teaching commands, tricks, and walking manners.
In order to potty train a puppy, it is of utmost importance to take the dog outside frequently. Doing this will familiarize your puppy with the association between outside and going to the bathroom. Failure to do this will result in a harder time breaking your new family member of his/ her bad habits.
They say that we understand dog emotions just through their facial expressions, and after a long time with them as our best friends, there is no surprise in that. However, thanks to the tips in this article, you understand dogs on a number of levels. Your friend will show you gratitude for it.
Good Morning from the Golden Retriever Channel. This pupper is taking-in rain. Who turned on the sprinkler in the sky? Another good day in his life, so far.— Golden Retriever Channel (@GoldretrieverUS) August 20, 2021
(Lifeofsterlingnewton IG)#dogs #puppies #cute pic.twitter.com/ooQqHn9XIf
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