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Need a Vet's advice

October 28th, 2006, 01:55 PM
Hello, I am the owner of a 6 yr old West Highland White Terrier. Recently he has been having a problem with his skin. After taking him to the vet and $400 later, they say it's a yeast problem. Under his skin on the lower part of his body he has two large red spots that must be causing serious pain because when we touch him there he yelps (which he never does), anyway we bought a shampoo and a leave in conditioner and used it today so we will see. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? What about any natural remedies? I love my dog but I also feel that the vet takes advantage of the situation. Thanks in advance for any help. Denise

October 28th, 2006, 04:25 PM
Westie's are prone to skin problems and allergies. First things to take a look at are:
1. What are you feeding?
2. What treats are you giving?
3. Do you supplement with omega 3?
4. Do you bath your dog often?

I have a fair amount of experience with skin issues and unfortunately am getting more knowledge than I probably care to have as do many others on this board. So if you answer those questions, then we can all help you with dietary suggestions etc to help the healing process along.

It must not be very severe if all he gave you was a bath product as generally a course of antibiotics and a script for anti-inflammatory/antihistime is given for 10 days. Unless he did that and you've just not mentioned it?

October 28th, 2006, 05:39 PM
No the vet did not mention any meds beside the shampoo. At this point I really don't know how much faith I have in the vet anyway. As far as I can see there have been no changes here except the cold weather. Simon eats a food called Sensible Choice all natural, I don't bath him, he goes to the groomer a few times a year thats it. Please let me know about the omega 3. How should I give it- pills? Also how much should I give? Again thank you so much for your quick response - Simon is so much a part of our family!

October 28th, 2006, 10:17 PM
When dogs have re-occuring skin problems there is usually a root cause, it could be allergies either contact or due to something they are eating they are allergic to, it could be caused buy underlyling auto-immune problem or due to hormone imbalances, as well as other causes and can be very frustrating to find whats causing and with auto immune diseases or contact allergies treating and trying to prevent the flare up. the major issue is with skin problems if not dealt with properly they can turn into nasty infections, which is why I am not going to recommend anything for treating the skin yourself.

Skin conditions are not only frustrating for pet owners but to vets as well , because owners want quick fixes and unless the root of the problem is found the dogs keep coming back to them with often angry owners in tow who are complaining about having to spend so much money and having a problem that keeps re-occuring , the vet can give meds that will help to calm the symytoms for a tiny but they symptoms come back again an or the vet has to risk asking the client to having doing a test, but if that test does not reveal the cause the client may not be to happy to have spent $300 and be no farther ahead, then they have to suggest another test which may cost $200 and it is possible again to have is come back negative and the owner is even more frustrated and believing the vet is just trying to take advantage if him/her. The problem is there is no one test the vet can do to give them all the answers they need, if they are really lucky the first test they do could prove positive or they could run 5 different tests before they have an answer.
If you choose not to do testing, the vet will then have no choice but to try and keep your dog comfortable as possible and it often means using steriods like prednisone to relieving itching and swelling to prevent the dog from scratching which is turn could lead to infections. Prednisone is fine for ocassional short term use, but if used on an ongoing basis over a long period of time can result in organ damage and failure, If a vet senses a frustration from the owner over the cost of treating the dogs, they may very well be hestitant in suggesting doing tests, the reason it is better the dog have at least the meds to ease their discomfort and avoid mass infection with a grumbling owner, than have a owner get even angrier at cost of tests done that provide no answers and then possibly decide to avoid taking the dog to the vet altogether, which means the dog suffers. So the vet has to walk a fine line of not pushing testing to ensure the dog at least gets some care even though over the long term it can damage the dog but it will give the dog a few good years, more than it would if the owner got peeved and decided not to take their dog to the vet, thinking the vet is a crook. So if you want to get to the route problem of what is causing the skin problems, you may have to be the one to initiate the discussion with the vet and being willing to accept that some tests will only rule out what is not wrong not what is and it could as little a $200 to get an answer of maybe $1500 or more depending how many test are needed before one shows up as a positive.

It would be great is animals and people were designed like some of the newer cars where you just plug in a cord to a machine and the machine would tell you exactly what is wrong and where exactly, but until medical science evolves to that point, doctors have to rely on symptoms to find answers, some symptoms or combo of symptoms can be dead giveaways to what is wrong but other symptoms such as skin problems is common to a large range of disorders and illlnesses and the only way to narrow done the possibilities is with tests in the end it may be a very simple fix or it may be a permanent condition that will require on going lifelong management.

Some of the possible causes are as follows

A food allergy can develop at any age some of the more common food allergens are corn, wheat, soy and sometimes a particular source of meat eg chicken. Some pet food companies have came out pets foods that are free of the main sources of allergies, have very few ingredient and just one source of exotic meat(vension, trout, salmon, rabbit) an only one starch normally rice, potato or sweet potato)

Example of foods , best to pick something that is totally different in ingredients than what you are already feeding )

With a food allergy you may need to try a couple foods to find one that works
or you can go to the vet and have a allergy blood test done to find out what foods they may be allergic to, often people whose dos have multiple allergies have to go this route

For contact allergies finding the source can even be tougher , it could be fibers in your rugs, it could be a shampoo, the detergent or fabric softner you use to wash clothing and bedding with, it could be grass, certain weeds, fleas, cedar resin (cedar chips is put in some pet beds), a cleaner you use on the flooes etc
There is an allergy test that can check common contact allergies, but often it is hard to avoid sources of some contact allergies so there may be a need to use antihistamines

For auto immune disease some tissue may need to be taken and anaylsized if positive, your dog will need to be put on a life long treatment as there is no cure when flare up occurs there are till often problems and you may need additional treatment. and often get worse with age

Hormonal such thyroid disease blood work is done, again if positive treatment with hormone replacement lifelong is needed but improvement is fairly rapid and problems go away, it is necessary to retest the hormone levels yearly to see if any adjustment is needed but unlike the autoimmune diseases you don't have the flare ups and ongoing problems and the meds are very inexpensive. If you are going to have a medical problem this is one of the nicest ones to have.

Other diseases like tick disease can mimic autoimmune diseases so if your dog has been subject to ticks, often symptoms show up 3 to 4 years after the bite by an infected tick, then a tick blood panel is worth considering.

Microscoptic parasites can also cause, a skin scraping of affected areas checked under a microscope would reveal if any are present.

So you might want to start trying a different low allergy foods to see if that helps, , think if yu start using any new products in the house eg detergents that the dg mays be coming in contact with and change back to what you were using prior to see if it makes a differend, if that does not help then best route to go is get testing done to learn what the root cause is that is causing the skin problems to develop, If you are lucky it will be a simple fix if it is an automimmune disease such as Lupus or Pemphigus which I really hope it is not, your vet is going to become your best friend because you will be seeing a lot of him/her especially as the dog ages as they are tough diseases to manage, so if you don't like your current vet or they don't explains thing to you well you may want to find a different vet. There are different treatment protocols and some can be very hard on the dog, so you need a vet you can feel comfortable talking to one another and you want a vet who is willing to discuss treatment options with you and you should also make yourself educated in, I have lost one dog to and now have a second with, this link is one of the best internet resources I have found it covers a lot of different forms of skin related diseases so even though the main focus is on autoimmune diseases it has info and links on other conditions as well

and article on hypo thyroidism