Skin conditions are some of the most frequent reasons dogs and cats are turned in to shelters and rescue groups. But with an organization's limited resources, they may not be equipped to diagnose, treat, and prevent most dermatological problems.
Dermatitis can mean the difference between relinquishment and a forever home within the shelter and rescue setting. There are more options to treat skin conditions in order to give dogs (and their owners) relief, and to lead a normal life.
This article outlines causes of canine dermatitis, a shelter case study and the successful treatment of a dog presenting with dermatitis in an animal shelter.
Dermatitis Associated with Itch in Dogs 1
There are three main causes of dermatitis:
- Parasites - such as fleas, ticks, and lice are visible to the naked eye, but it also encompasses parasitic mites that can only be seen under a microscope (Demodex, Sarcoptes, Cheyletiella, and Otodectes).
- Infections - such as yeast, and ringworm (Dermatophytosis), and bacterial (Staphylococcal). Bacterial and yeast infections are caused by overgrowth of normal body flora and are not contagious; they often occur together but cannot be differentiated by “looks alone”. Bacterial infections can be misdiagnosed as ringworm or Demodex.
- Allergies – examples include flea allergy, atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies that can occur seasonally or year-round), adverse food reactions (food allergy)
Canine Itch Scale (formally known as Pruritus Visual Analogue Scale) 2
188体育平台The Canine Itch Scale can be used upon intake of new dogs into your shelter or rescue whether coming from a private home, another animal welfare organization, or an unknown history where you need to determine the level of canine itch severity. Itching can include scratching, biting, licking, chewing, nibbling, and rubbing.
The scale, which is used in clinical practice also serves other purposes: to determine whether a dermatologic treatment is working; for clear communication between general practitioners and specialists; and for use in studies evaluating antipruritic treatments.
Canine Dermatitis Case Study – Walter
Walter is a 6-to-8-year-old, underweight hound mix surrendered to Joseph’s Legacy Rescue in Middletown, Ohio. He was covered in fleas and had a history of allergic disease with his previous owner that was not treated, which caused him to chew his skin. Walter’s case stresses the importance of providing itchy dogs relief from pruritus.
Walter’s treatment was out of the Monroe Family Pet Hospital.
- Thickened, red, scaly skin on back down to tail area and on legs; no hair on tail
- Scabs present on back and on back legs
- Odor emanating from skin
- Missing hair all the way down his back and legs
- Possible demodex
Initial Treatment (Pre-Diagnosis):
None; previous owner did not treat before relinquishing to rescue
- Alopecia on back, base of tail head, back of legs, red skin, irritated and thickened; scratched himself raw on the middle of his back; underweight, nails were very long
- Allergic Dermatitis with possible flea allergy
- Suspected bacterial infection
188体育平台Walter was administered flea and tick prevention and Convenia® (cefovecin sodium) and Cytopoint®, both long-acting injectables. He was less red, scabby, and itchy 12 hours later. His reduction in itch after the first injection of Cytopoint showed 90% improvement, according to the attending veterinary technician and his new adopter.
- Marked improvement in Walter’s overall skin redness, scabs, and odor
- Constant itching and chewing on his skin decreased and major improvement was observed
- Second injection of Cytopoint was administered based upon the effectiveness of initial Cytopoint treatment. Apoquel® (oclacitinib tablet) was also administered for approximately one week, and is used as needed. 3,4
- Convenia with bastrotrasin oinment.
- Additional flea and tick prevention administered.
- Terbinatine adminstered after cytology showed yeast infection and staphylococci.
Walter is now given Apoquel® once daily to provide long-term management of his allergic itch and his quality of life has drastically improved. Initial administration of Convenia and Cytopoint helped busy shelter staff focus on pets, and not on treatments.
Walter was adopted by Melissa Rafalowski, Administrative Assistant for Monroe Family Pet Hospital.
“ Walter is now in training to be a therapy dog at our local children’s hospital - just loves everyone, ” said Melissa.
Addressing Canine Itch 1
When dogs enter your shelter or rescue, where do you start when it comes to dermatitis and itching? Ask the “right” questions:
• Is there medical history?
• Does it include disease history?
• Does it include drug history?
188体育平台 • Does it include a history of itching, contagion, fleas or parasites?
Where to Start When You Don’t Have a Clue:
• Is the dog sick?
• Rule parasites including fleas, demodicosis
• Look for yeast and bacteria on ear cytology or on skin cytology
“Does the Dog Itch?”:
• What do you see if you watch the dog for 5 minutes?
• Does the dog “gag”?
188体育平台• Is there excessive shedding?
Unraveling Clues from the Dermatological Examination:
• Itch trumps all other dermatological problems
• Itch almost always leads to secondary infections
• Evidence of “cure it pattern” or evidence of “life-long manageable disease”
• Dermatology TPR
• Skin scraping and/or hair plucking (trichogram)
• Ear swab cytology in mineral oil
• Ear swab cytology for staining
• Skin cytology
• Groom the hair coat
– Easier to assess the skin changes – Improves dog’s appearance
– Easier to bathe
• Bathe at least once a week
188体育平台 – Pre-dilute shampoo 1:4 before applying, then massage, massage, massage
188体育平台Understanding the first signs of pruritus can help your shelter or rescue provide itch relief for animals in your care before cases become extreme. It can also improve an animal's chances of being adopted into a forever home
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to CONVENIA. Do not use in dogs or cats with a history of allergic reactions to penicillins or cephalosporins. Side effects for both dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite/anorexia and lethargy. See full Prescribing Information.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Do not use APOQUEL in dogs less than 12 months of age or those with serious infections. APOQUEL may increase the chances of developing serious infections, and may cause existing parasitic skin infestations or pre-existing cancers to get worse. APOQUEL has not not been tested in dogs receiving some medications including some commonly used to treat skin conditions such as corticosteroids and cyclosporines. Do not use in breeding, pregnant, or lactating dogs. Most common side effects are vomiting and diarrhea. APOQUEL has been used safely with many common medications including parasitcides, antibiotics and vaccines. See.
8 Important #SocialMedia Tips for Shelters and Rescues
Use #Hashtags on your social media posts. A ‘Hashtag’ is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify posts on a specific topic. Your post, when tagged, will appear in searches when people look for those topics or terms.
Here is an excellent example of a use of hashtags on Instagram from @RescueDogsRockNYC.
Share content to get started.188体育平台 Leveraging and sharing related content will create variety on your organizations’s page. Here is an example to get you started:
It’s important to cultivate trust and a loyal following by sharing engaging content and sharing it often. And don't forget, sharing happy ending adoption stories is just as important as sharing animals still waiting for a home. It helps remind the public and your network of helpers that their support is saving lives. Take advantage of this free opportunity to help your shelter or rescue.