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
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 »
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 »
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 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.
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.
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.
|As dogs get older, it is very common to find the appearance of various lumps and bumps either above the skin, or felt under the skin. Some dogs may have multiple growths all over the body. In fact, the incidence of skin growths in dogs is probably much higher than it is in people. Fortunately, most of these growths are benign ones such as warts, cysts, skin tags and fatty tumors known as lipomas.
While benign growths comprise the vast majority of these lumps, malignant cancers known as mast cell tumors may sometimes mimic other growths. If in doubt, a veterinary exam and needle aspiration of the lump will often distinguish mast cell tumors from the more common benign growths outlined here.
After 20 years of clinical experience, both as a holistic and traditional veterinarian, I am convinced that over-vaccination of adult and senior pets plays a significant role in many of these growths. In fact, the homeopathic remedy Thuja is often quite helpful in the management of many of these cases, and is one of the major remedies in treating diseases brought about by vaccination.
While one must follow the law with regards to rabies vaccination, I would strongly recommend skipping other core viral vaccinations such as parvo and distemper in adult pets previously vaccinated. Fortunately there are now blood vaccination antibody tests, which can document existing immunity, thus avoiding giving vaccines that are no longer necessary.
|Fatty acids are specific types of unsaturated fats that are often needed to be supplemented to pets for optimal health because animals can produce some of the fatty acids but not all of them. The two main classes of fatty acids are the Omega-3 fatty acids and the Omega-6 fatty acids. The difference between between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are based on molecular structure. Research is ongoing about what the proper ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids should be consumed for optimal benefits.
Current recommendations for pets suggest an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of approximately 10:1 to 5:1 be consumed. Since most pet foods contain much more Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3 fatty acids, many pet food companies have added Omega-3 fatty acids to try and compensate for this difference. However, the cooking and processing of most commercial pet foods does destroy some of the fatty acid content. Also in many allergic and inflammatory conditions of the body, adding supplemental fatty acids can help in the management/prevention of many disease conditions. Examples of Omega-3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA and DHA. Examples of Omega-6 fatty acids include LA, GLA, DGLA, and Arachidonic acid.
Both types of fatty acids can help in many diseases, however, fatty acid supplementation rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and the Omega-6 fatty acid GA seem to be the most effective for many of these conditions. Among the various diseases potentially helped by these acids include allergies and autoimmune conditions, heart disease, joint problems, coat and skin problems, central nervous system disorders, as well as many cancers.
There are numerous brands of fatty acid supplements with different quantities of vitamins, minerals and these fatty acids. Among the excellent products I have used include Nordic Natural Pet Omega-3 or Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil supplement, as well as Be Well fatty acid supplement. It is suggested that for conditions such as allergic skin disease that a 2-3 month trial with a good fatty acid supplement that is rich in EPA, DHA, GLA, vitamin E and/or the Omega-6 fatty acid LA be used. Fatty acid supplements should also be fortified with Vitamin E as well. This ratio of fatty acids will differ from product to product, so if a trial with one fatty acid supplement does not work after an adequate period of time, it may be beneficial to try another one.
|While people often develop dry and/or cracked fingers and toes, our pets can also develop scuffed, cracked, and rough paw pads. In most cases this does not indicate a severe pathology, there are many things a pet owner can implement to help improve paw pad health, with the most important being to feed an all-natural preservative free diet. If a proper homemade diet is not possible, than feeding natural diets like Halo, Wysong or Nature’s Variety are amongst my favorite pet foods.|
Often dietary therapy alone can improve health of paw pads. Using combination fatty acid supplements like Be Well or Missing Link added to meals can also help long term. Kelp and/or lecithin granules are also two of my favorite skin supplements. Topical vitamin E and/or aloe vera gel applied to paw pads a few times daily can also dramatically help moisturize and improve pad health when used long term.
In those cases where pads become ulcerated or severely cracked, a veterinary evaluation is recommended due to potential hormonal conditions such as thyroid disorders and autoimmune diseases which can affect the paw pads of many animals.