and to address a couple of other things relating to animals needing medical care...i want to put a couple of other thoughts about these kind of animals out for folks to consider.
firstly...skin dogs (ie dogs with chronic skin issues, usually caused by stress, allergies, infections or demodex) are the hardest dogs to care for in rescue and find appropriate new homes for.
the problem is two fold...first you have those of us that have very strong beliefs about how these dogs should be treated. from raw or natural to medical hypoallergenic diets from mainstream antibiotics, antifungals, steriods and anti-allergen meds to naturopathics and homeopathy. if you ever want to see a rousing rescue wrestling match..put 6 rescuers who believe in treating k9 skin issues differently all in the same skin dog's treatment ring! it would be a blood bath.
the second problem is laziness, carelessness, thoughtlessness and a lot of misunderstood information....these dogs are a ton of work initially and then the committment to continue to follow thru religiously without error is almost next to impossible. it is a given that most skin dogs will have periodic skin break downs. the issue becomes who accepts the blame...the dog or the human caring for them?
murphy despite what folks thought..was not a mentally ill, stressed out, self mutilating dog, nor were his skin issues untreatable...people just quit following thru. and murphy did not deserve to die because of this.
there is no way i am going to put my life on the line and tell everyone how skin in issue dogs should be treated. but i will tell you that we have great success with managing these dogs that others think should be euthanized and providing them with a comfortable life as long as their treatment plans are followed.
i do not use raw diets, homeopathics or natural treatments...sorry...our dogs are usually in pretty bad shape and i need them to be feeling well really soon. i do not believe in miracle cures in a bottle of suppliments or homeopathy meds because if there was such a thing, no one on earth would ever be sick. these dogs are sick and miserable when they get here so we hit them hard with all gun barrels blasting to get them feeling better asap.
the one thing i will ask folks who believe only in using homeopathy for treating animal's illnesses is...when you or one of your own human family is seriously ill and possibly facing an end of life event and you rush to the hospital to get some help to take away your unbearable pain or save your life....what kind of treatment are you going to accept in there? because it will not be naturopathic or homeopathic medical options..it will be full main stream modern day medicine and you will probably be very grateful for that.
so do the animals in our care deserve that same kind of life saving chance? anyway..just something to think about.
so how do we treat skin dogs? it has been an evolving practice of trial and error. and every year we get better at it with faster and more long term results and the dogs really appreciate that!
treating skin issues in dogs is a 5 prong approach..we cover all bases so they can hit a home run.
2.reduce parasites...worms, fleas and mites
3.reduce bacteria AND yeast overgrowths
4.reduce allergen response
what does this mean? it means the second the dog walks in here. he will be getting antibacterial/antifungal/antihistamine/steriod oral medications for several weeks. he will be getting daily antifungal baths. after the first week of damage control...he will be treated every two weeks with topical parasite control using advantage multi (demodex are sneaky little bastards that do not always show up on skin scrapings..we learned this from jelly bean.), he will be on a life long limited ingredient diet...we use bison/venision limited ingredient diet currently..easy for us to pick up from bosleys and with so many animals to care for...we need easy once in a while around here! once their skin is healing and we have taken care of the overgrowths...we look at adjusting bath schedules and medications. some dogs go on to meds like atopeica..some still need the antifungal/antihistamine/steriodal orals, some need bathing daily or weekly and all need some kind of strict diet control. once they are stable with a good and effective plan in place..we now send them out into permanent foster care so we continue to manage their medical care our way.
pac is a perfect example...great dog, bad skin, good medical plan, great foster home and we hold the medical decision making control over his now in very good shape skin....the ongoing meds are expensive but whatever, pac is really healthy and happy where he is.
i think what i want folks to understand here...about skin issues or any chronic health issue for that matter...
there are not usually any miracle cures in a bottle..in a diet...in a philosophy. usually it takes a well thought out, rational, appropriate and effective multi pronged medical plan that is consistently followed. that's how these dogs finally find peace inside their hyperreactive skin. and that is our goal for these dogs to find peace and comfort after a really long and hard road that brought them to us here.
Great post Carol. I also have a rescue who had chronic skin issues, her records were very thick but the strange thing is that her old owner did NOT want to put her on a special diet. When she arrived at LAPS she was put on a special diet, with baths and medication and they had her pretty much on the right track when I adopted her. I also think part of her issue was that she was overweight and not exercised enough, she can be pretty high energy, especially playing with a ball! She is still on the food but I do get a flare up every year around September. My vet thinks it's the tiny mites that are causing this so I will be switching her flea medication to advantage multi. I think the dogs whole well being has to factor into this for sure.