Dealing with your dog’s dry, itchy skin

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dry itchy skin in dogs can have several causes

The phrase “having thick skin” to describe someone who can take a lot of abuse and still be forgiving or even somewhat happy must not have been coined by a person who knows anything about dogs. A dog’s skin only contains one layer compared to a human’s skin that has three different layers. Yet, with only that one layer, most dogs can keep a positive attitude as they withstand quite a bit of abuse, neglect, mistreatment and more. The fact that a dog will generally accept an apology from his or her owner no matter who the owner is or what they have done certainly makes me want to re-evaluate that saying.

Because dog skin is a single layer, it is extremely sensitive to a variety of conditions. Some of these can be treated and the condition relieved or cured, while other conditions are caused by something that cannot be cured but only managed. In those cases, managing the condition day-by-day or week-by-week does sometimes allow the dog to be as symptom-free and as comfortable as possible. Read More »

Fungal Infection of the Skin in Dogs and Cats

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A fungal infection may cause itchiness

My blog editor and close friend Abby recently moved with her two cats “Daisy” and “Harley.” By the first evening her cats seemed perfectly adjusted to the new home and appeared very happy. When I moved with my cats last year however, it took them about one full week to get comfortable and another full week to look happy. What was the difference between our two moves? I wondered. Read More »

The Use of Fatty Acids in Dogs and Cats

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Fatty acids help maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat

When we mention the word fat these days, it seems to have an immediate negative connotation. We immediately imagine overweight, unhealthy, possibly the source of many of today’s illnesses and health struggles. The fact is that fats provide the most concentrated source of energy; if that energy is not used up it may be stored in the body for possible future use. That stored form of “energy” we recognize as someone “being fat.” Fats contain more than twice the amount of energy as proteins or carbohydrates so obviously ingesting that much energy and remaining sedentary is not a good way to stay thin. Dogs and cats love to run around, chase things, and explore. When we turn our pets into “couch potatoes” and increase the fat intake, we risk causing them health problems. Fats cannot be eliminated completely from the diet however because they are required for a variety of important reasons. Read More »

Causes And Treatments For Your Pet’s Dry Itchy Skin

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog

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One of the most common dermatological complaints seen in the veterinary clinic is the presentation of itchy pets with dry, flaky skin. There can be many causes of this common scenario, including inhalant/contact allergies to molds, grasses, trees, pollens, dust mites, etc.  Flea bite allergies and food allergies may also play a role in other itchy pets. Parasites, including ringworm and mange mites are also occasionally seen in the veterinary clinic. Hormonal problems including thyroid and adrenal gland problems may also result in coat changes and sometimes itchy skin. Pets with chronic metabolic diseases may present with dry itchy skin as well. Read More »

Mange in Pets: Demodectic vs. Sarcoptic

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
With demodectic mange, lesions may or may not be itchy.

There are two common types of mange seen in companion animals. The most frequent type of mange diagnosed is demodectic mange. These mites are found normally in hair follicles on a pet’s skin in low numbers. However, because of genetic deficiencies in younger pets or immunosuppressive diseases in older pets, these mites may multiply on the skin leading to clinical disease.

Symptoms of demodex include patchy areas of hair loss, crusting or scaliness commonly found on the head, neck and legs. In localized demodex, lesions are usually confined to only a few areas; however, in generalized demodex the entire body may become affected. With demodectic mange, lesions may or may not be itchy. It is important to note that demodex is not contagious to other animals or people. Read More »

Help! How do I stop this Shedding?

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Filed under Pharmacy Blog

Some dogs seem to shed year-round.

I am almost certain that the families that claim financial matters as the leading cause of stress in their relationships have not had to deal with a dog that sheds as much as my “Duke.” It makes perfect sense to me that a dog with a heavy coat would shed some of it after the cold winter going into a hot summer.  This would be a great example of something that makes me think of the term “function anatomy” if it’s not for the fact that my dog “Duke” sheds all the time. Read More »

Alopecia X in Dogs

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Alopecia X is more common in certain breeds such as toy and miniature poodles.

A very interesting skin condition seen in the veterinary clinics is known by veterinary dermatologists as Alopecia X. This hair follicle and cycle abnormality is more prominent in certain breeds such as toy and miniature poodles. Some veterinarians have referred to this syndrome as hair cycle arrest. This syndrome can affect dogs of either sex, regardless of neuter or age status. There have been reported cases in dogs as young as one year of age, as well as dogs as old as age 10-12.

The typical clinical presentation is the symmetrical, gradual loss of hair over the trunk and lower end of the body, often affecting the back of the thighs. It seems that in most cases, the hair loss does not involve the head and front limbs as much as the lower end of the body. There is often a secondary thickening or development of hyper-pigmentation of the skin over time. Most of the dogs that develop this syndrome are not systemically ill, and it is not known why the hair cycle goes into this arrested state. While the diagnosis can be suspected based on clinical appearance, skin biopsy to differentiate it from other coat disorders is probably the most definitive test.

While I have seen some veterinarians use hormones such as melatonin in treating affected dogs, there are really no currently proven effective treatments at this time.  As a holistic veterinarian I have found that, if animal guardians place their pets on a more evolutionary appropriate raw meat based diet, as well as work with a holistic veterinarian on using nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies over time, that improvement may occur slowly. Even if not successful, such an approach will most likely improve the overall health of the animal.

To learn more about classical homeopathic approaches to this and other diseases that conventional medicine has little to offer, see the websites www.beyondflatearth.com as well as my own website www.doctordym.com.

Miliary Dermatitis in Cats

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Miliary dermatitis is a common skin condition in cats.

Miliary dermatitis is a very common skin presentation seen in cats at the veterinary clinic. It manifests most typically as a scabby inflammation of the skin which actually feels like millet seeds as one runs the hand through the hair coat. The small crusts and scabs may appear anywhere on the cat’s body, but most commonly is seen around the head and neck.

Miliary dermatitis is most commonly seen secondary to either inhalant/contact allergies, flea bite allergies or food allergies in cats. Unless these potential underlying causes are addressed the condition will recur. Treatment of a flare-up of miliary dermatitis may involve corticosteroids, antihistamines and sometimes antibiotics for accompanying skin infections.

Omega 3 fatty acids such as Be Well or The Missing Link also may help when added to the food long term.   Holistic veterinarians will often change the diet of affected pets to an all natural novel protein diet, and/or in some cases to a raw meat based diet, as well as use herbal and homeopathic remedies to strengthen the immune system.  Prognosis for recovery is excellent, as long as the above underlying causes are addressed.

Why Does My Dog’s Skin Smell Bad?

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog

One of the most common dermatological complaints in the veterinary clinic is the complaint that a dog’s skin smells bad.

One of the most common dermatological complaints in the veterinary clinic is the complaint that a dog’s skin smells bad. By far, the most common causes of offensive smelling skin are overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. Yeast and/or bacteria may overgrow for many possible reasons, including underlying inhalant/contact allergies, flea bite allergies, as well as food allergies.  Hormonal diseases, including hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease may also cause bad skin odor. Localized inflammations including allergic hot spots on the skin may also cause unpleasant odor of the skin.

In my practice I have often found that pets on poor processed commercial pet food diets often have a lot of allergies and bad skin odors. In these cases, I find that placing pets on naturally preserved diets including Petguard, Wysong or Nature’s Variety can be helpful in improving coat health and skin odor over time. Ideally, I recommend evolutionary appropriate home prepared raw meat based diets that are low in processed carbohydrates as the best way to go toward not only improved skin and coat health, but overall health of the patient in treating and preventing disease.

I also will recommend Omega 3 fatty acids, such as Be Well, as well as digestive enzymes including NaturVet Digestive Enzymes as nutritional supplements that may help with bad skin odor. Western and Chinese detoxifying herbs also may be helpful in those pets on poor diets. Treatment of bad skin odor may include medicated or prescription based shampoos. I often prefer natural tea tree based shampoos when yeast or bacterial infections of the skin occur. Diagnosis of the cause of bad skin odor is best made by veterinary exam and visit and specific treatment is best determined by a conventional or holistic veterinarian.

Does Your Pet Need Sunscreen?

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Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog

The ultraviolet rays of the sun can be harmful, especially to pets with lighter skin.

We are often hearing about the harmful effects of the sun on people, as well as the risk of long-term skin disease, including skin cancer. However, excessive exposure of the sun can have equally harmful consequences on the skin health of pets as well. Pets with lighter colored skin and those areas of the body that are thinly haired seem more likely affected by prolonged sun exposure.

In particular, it is the ultraviolet rays of the sun that cause the most damage. It is for these reasons that I strongly recommend using some sort of sun-screen products, especially on thinly-haired areas like the ears and muzzle before exposing pets to prolonged sunlight.   While human sunscreen products may often be effective, I have also used topical healing agents such as vitamin E or aloe vera gel both to treat and prevent the long term effects of sun exposure. With judicious use of these products, pets may indeed enjoy hours of fun and frolic playing in the sun.