Important Considerations in Veterinary Dermatology when Recording History of a Pruritic Dog
- By: Susan McKay
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Age of onset.
Atopic dogs tend to be between 1 and 3 years of age. Food allergic dogs, interestingly, will develop this very early in their life, before the first year. And then you'll see some of them developing it later on in life, 6, 7, and 8. So you can have a dog that's been pretty normal in its skin, and then suddenly it develops an itch, think about food allergy there. Obviously, also endocrine problems happen as the dog gets older, as do neoplastic problems. Try and ask the question, What are the people in the house, and what are the other animals like in the house? If everybody's itching, there's a good chance that there's a parasitic problem here. I like to know a little bit about the living accommodations. Dust mites are one of the common causes of atopy. Quite often people are living in houses with central heating with lots of carpets, and fluffy beds in which the dogs can sleep (sometimes they are sleeping in the bed with the owner). All of these can give you an idea of what sort of lifestyle the dog has. Sometimes people go away on holiday and put the dog in a kennel for two weeks, which is outside. When they get the dog back it's doing a lot better. It's simply not been in as dusty an environment. It is useful to know when the dog was acquired. Do we know all the history from very young, or is it a rescued dog so we don't really know what happened early on? Is it seasonal or non-seasonal? Often pruritic problems can start as a seasonal problem and then as time goes on the problem generalizes.
Diet I think is very important. I like to know exactly what they are feeding before I put the dog onto a food trial. And then I can be very strict about knowing what they've had previously, so that when we challenge the dog a month later because it's improved so much, we don't miss food elements out. Clients will tend to come back and say, You know, I think it was the milk, so I'm not going to give milk any more. I actually like them to give the milk again to see if the dog worsens. Because it really makes it very clear in their mind that this is something that they should avoid. Veterinary dermatology is about being precise and a bit of a detective.
Obviously, look at the distribution of the pruritus and where it's happening. With parasite control, we know that the average client uses about two doses of Frontline a year, instead of nine to twelve. So it's good to make sure they're applying the flea treatment at the required rate. And I would say if you've got an itchy dog, I want that being done monthly, and also the cats as well.
Check on general health. Is there vomiting or diarrhea or excessive drinking? Is the dog still wanting to exercise? How long has the problem been going on, and is it episodic or continuous? Is it a chronic problem or an acute problem? And then look at the various treatments and managements, and how those treatments have helped. So often I get the dog or cat coming to me as a second opinion case, and okay, it was getting steroids. Did that help? How about Atopica? What worked, and what didn't? And we can learn a lot from that.
After this has been done it is time to perform the physical examination in the veterinary dermatology consultation.
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Anthony Chadwick runs a referral veterinary dermatology(http://thewebinarvet.com/webinar-category/dermatology/) practice in the North of England. His aim is to provide fantastic value in veterinary cpd(http://thewebinarvet.com/upcoming-webinars/) in the comfort of your own homes without the hassle of travel and very late nights. Please let us know if you have any problems accessing the software. We have found it to be very versatile