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Can This Dog Be Cured?

That is a loaded question, for which there is no one answer when it comes to skin disorders in dogs. We could not possibly fit everything there is on this subject into one article. And, even though we plan to do a series on the subject over the next few issues of The New Barker, again it is a subject too daunting to ever be complete. –by Anna Cooke

Chloe, our Cockapoo is around 13 years old. She doesn’t look or act her age. We have always called her our per- petual puppy. Happy. Full of vim and vigor with a personality that is unmatched. Affectionate, cuddly and just downright adorable, anyone who meets her falls in love with her. She is the product of a backyard

breeder. Someone in a neighborhood had a female and decided to breed her dog with a neighbor’s dog. They all thought the two dogs would make “adorable puppies.” Of course, no one contemplates the consequences of making a decision like that. Chloe has had chronic ear prob-

lems since she turned two. At the onset, the itching and scratching occurred seasonally, and were fairly easy to con- trol - mostly with steroids. Yes we were merely treating the symptoms, not the problem. Once we moved off the beach and around more oak trees

Chloe shows her approval to Dr. Mark Brown, Central Animal Hospital, St. Petersburg. Rachel, a Certified Vet Tech is holding her.

inland, the problem seemed to worsen. But, we are not certain she has an allergy to the trees. Over the last few years her condition has worsened. We have tried many remedies and treatments, including acupuncture, all under the guidance of different veterinarians. We have tried many different diet combinations, all store-bought. No home cooking, yet. Although, I am not opposed to it. I would do anything to help make Chloe feel better. During the last year, Chloe’s ears became inflamed several

times. She also developed crusty lesions on her skin, along her spine. The situation was out of control and the poor thing was miserable. Apparently, there are more than 160 different skin disorders

that affect dogs, some of which create chronic difficulties. There are few challenges in veterinary medicine more daunting than treating for long-term skin disorders. Chronic dermatitis cases take up about ten percent of animal hospital file folders, with multiple pages of patient history – lab test results, biopsy reports, medications, supplements and more. Of the two kinds of skin disorders in dogs - curable and

incurable - Chloe’s appears to be incurable. Since it takes a new, healthy skin cell about four weeks to mature and be present near the skin surface, even curable skin diseases may take weeks to resolve. For the incurable cases, managing the disorders through selected diets, medications, shampoos and supplements might be the best we can do for Chloe. The challenge to help us make that determination, has


fallen on Dr. Mark Brown of Central Animal Hospital. I was intrigued when I found out their Boston Terrier, Olli, who has suffered for years with skin disorders, was doing well with an aller- gen specific immunotherapy (ASIT). Wow, the cure all to end all? Not so fast, my friend. Before making a diagnosis, certain

diagnostic protocols must be conduct- ed so that we have a clear understand- ing of the pathological processes impacting Chloe. In other words, “itchy skin” or “allergy” is not a diag- nosis. Dr. Brown explained that we need to find out what is actually caus- ing the itchy skin and/or allergy. No small task, we began the

process back in December, 2013 after treating the infections in Chloe’s ears and skin. We have been diligent in

feeding her a prescription diet, the protein being venison, for three months solid now. At the onset, I was instructed to bathe her three times a week with a medicated shampoo, and contin- ue using the Zymox Ear Solution. For the first time in years, Chloe’s ears have remained

“calm” with no itching for a couple of weeks now. (I am almost afraid of putting this fact in writing, thinking it may jinx our good fortune). Her skin issues have lessened somewhat, but she still has the crusty lesions, and continues to lick and/or scratch. I keep a shirt on her to prevent her from scratching herself raw, which seems to be helping. Bathing with the medicated shampoo also provides some relief. I am looking forward to our next step in helping Chloe

overcome her skin disorder. Do we have the ear disorder under control? Will she be a good candidate for ASIT? We have an appointment with Dr. Brown this week to find out. Of course, everyone has had an opinion as to what we

should or shouldn’t be doing. But, this is a process I need to trust. I owe it to Chloe, and Dr. Brown. Admittedly, I have been sporadic over the years in the

follow-through and follow-up of treatment modalities for Chloe. Once and for all, I hope to get to the bottom of all this. If, indeed it is a food allergy, we could be on our way. If not, our next step will be to determine whether it is a contact or inhalant allergy. Once we discover the offending antigen, will her chronic dermatitis miraculously vanish? I hope to have good news to write about in the summer issue of The New Barker. In the meantime, send me your thoughts on how you are dealing with your dog’s skin problems ( U

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