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Advice about Allergic Skin Diseases in Dogs

My Vet Rules 2023 Competition Honours Heroic Vets and Vet Nurses of Canine Dermatological Care

The 2023 Vet Nurse & Technician Awareness Week (9-13 October) starts on Monday!

My Vet Rules, a competition by Zoetis Australia, is designed to recognise the exceptional efforts of vets and vet nurses who go above and beyond to assist in life-changing improvements for dogs who are affected by dermatological conditions.

Skin problems in dogs are common, but managing these cases effectively can be a challenge. 

My Vet Rules is a competition specifically created to put the spotlight on the well-deserved efforts of the vets and vet nurses who have enhanced the lives of not only their furry patients but also their owners as they work towards a successful improvement of the dog’s dermatological conditions.

Through the program, pet owners are encouraged to seek professional care for their dogs and through their success stories, be an inspiration to other pet owners to seek help for their dogs suffering with similar conditions.

My Vet Rules Competition runs from 1st March 2023 – 31st October 2023 with one Vet / Vet Nurse of the Month announced each month.

Every month there are prizes to be won, just for nominating your vet! Including a $1000 cash prize and @July luggage for the winning entry announced in November! Not to mention amazing prizes for the vet clinics helping our furry friends.

Kate Doyle from Warwick Vet Hospital, WA was crowned June 'Vet Nurse of the Month'.

Her own dog Moon has been suffering from both food allergies and atopic allergies for ten years and she shared her story with us. 

Moon's Story

Moon, an 11-year-old Shih Tzu has been a part of Kate's life since he was just 16 weeks old and has been coming to work with her ever since. He has become a beloved mascot for Warwick Vet Hospital, featuring regularly on their social media. 

Moon watching over neonate kitten Flea
Kate has a special interest in neonate kitten rescue and have been involved in rehabilitating and re-homing over 200 kittens and Moon has been of great assistance, playing foster dad to those kittens.

Moon has had numerous issues during his life and two years ago he became quite ill. He became lethargic and just not generally himself. I noticed his breathing seemed off and got one of the vets at work to check him over. 

Blood tests taken showed that his cortisol levels were very high so I got a referral from our vet and took him to see a specialist. After lots of diagnostic tests, it was discovered he had tumours on his adrenal glands. The only option was to have them removed to save Moon life. It was an extremely risky surgery, but thanks the specialist team looking after him Moon sailed through it. 

Adrenal glands play a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions. 

Now to maintain a healthy and balanced life, Moon requires daily medication. 
These medications are prescribed to replicate the essential hormones that his adrenal glands used to produce, ensuring Moon's overall well-being and quality of life. He has regular blood tests to measure the levels of sodium and potassium, while also assessing his liver and kidney function, glucose and protein levels. These tests, along with regular physical examinations are essential for monitoring and managing Moon’s condition.

Another issue Moon has had his entire life is skin allergies. When he was 6 months old, Kate noticed that he was itchier than most dogs. He licked his paws constantly causing this red residue to appear on them; his paws also smelled like popcorn. After taking him into work to be assessed she found out that popcorn smell was actually caused by bacteria and yeast; by licking his feet Moon had broken down the natural skin barrier on his paws and caused an infection. 

The 'Dogtor' will see you now...
This is common with dogs with skin allergies. Our vets referred us to a specialist dermatologist who diagnosed Moon with both atopic and food allergies.

Since then Kate has been dedicated to managing this condition over the past 11 years through medication and diet. Over the years, there have been many flare-ups and times when even Kate has been frustrated and overwhelmed in her management of Moon's allergies.

Now when dogs come in itchy at work and are thought to suffer skin allergies, Kate will share some critical information with their owners, to help them navigate life with skin allergies.

10 Top Tips for Allergic Skin Diseases in Dogs

First and foremost, it's essential to understand that there is NO cure for allergic skin disease in dogs. Collaborating with your vet to establish a management plan is the primary approach to treatment.

#1. Consult Your Vet: Your veterinarian is the best person to identify the underlying causes of your dog's allergies. They can also prescribe medications to alleviate itching while conducting diagnostic tests to pinpoint the triggers.

#2. Don't Blame Diet Alone: Many people mistakenly attribute their dog's allergies solely to diet. However, food reactions account for only approximately 10-15% of all allergic skin diseases in dogs. Switching to a grain-free diet won't necessarily solve the problem.

#3. Maintain an Itch Score Diary: Keep a record of incidents such as paw licking, scratching, butt, belly, and face rubbing, as well as any areas of skin that become reddened or thickened. Note the locations and times of these occurrences to assist your vet in creating a management plan.

#4. Try an 8-Week Elimination Diet Trial: Consult your vet for guidance on an elimination diet using a novel protein source. After 8 weeks, if your dog's itch score is under control, you can reintroduce the previous diet. If the itch score increases, it confirms food allergies.

#5. Consider Atopic Allergies: If food allergies are ruled out, your dog may have atopic allergies, meaning it's allergic to environmental allergens. You can ask your vet for a referral to a specialist dermatologist for intradermal allergy testing (IDAT) and HESKA serum allergy testing. A customised vaccine with specific trigger allergens can be prepared based on the test results.

#6. Regular Bathing: Regularly shampooing your dog can help remove allergens from their skin and reduce allergy flare-ups. After shampooing, use a leave-in conditioner to help repair the skin's barrier function. Seek advice from your vet or vet nurse for the best products.

#7. Flea Control: Ensure your dog is up to date with flea treatment because flea bites are likely to trigger allergies.
Simparica and Simparica Trio are recommended options.

#8. Dietary Fatty Acid Supplements: Adding Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to your dog's diet can improve their skin's barrier function. Consult your vet for guidance on the use of products like PAW Dermega skin support or specialised diets designed for dogs.

#9. Stay Patient: Managing your dog's allergic skin disease can be challenging. You may encounter allergy flare-ups and skin infections over the years, but your management plan is crucial to minimising setbacks. Collaborate closely with your vet; you and your vet are a team working to ensure your dog lives its most comfortable life.

About Kate Doyle

Kate Doyle is originally from Ireland and made Perth her home in 2011. She began her veterinary journey as a kennel hand in 2012, earning her Veterinary Nurse qualification in 2014. 

She now works as Practice Manager at Warwick Veterinary Hospital. Passionate about both the veterinary industry and animal rescue, her goal is to educate humans about caring for their animals.

She has helped hundreds of animals through hand raising and re-homing them, and also raises needed funds to help animals in need get access to appropriate healthcare.

About Zoetis Australia

Zoetis Australia is a global animal health company that is committed to nurturing our world and human kind by advancing care for animals.

MEDIA RELEASE, 3rd October 2023

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