Skin problems can be caused by allergies, parasites, bacteria or yeasts and hormonal conditions in companion animals and is often a lifelong condition that needs to be controlled. Diagnosing the underlying problem can often take time and we aim to give you the best treatment for you and your pet.
To get to the cause of the skin disease it is very important to determine when the condition first started and what the skin looked like at that time, as well as any treatments or diet changes that helped. We will often need to take skin scrapes and impression smears to look for parasites such as Fox Mange or Demodectic Mange, bacteria and yeast or fungal infection. If these are clear, we may take skin biopsy and blood tests if we suspect hormonal disease.
Were it indicates that allergies may be involved we will suggest an exclusion diet. This means only feeding specific protein and carbohydrate source, such as pork and sweet potato (with no extras or treats), or feeding a hypoallergenic diet. The pet shop hypoallergenic diets can work in occasional cases but often are not formulated to a high enough standard to help to begin with. Most of the prescription hypoallergenic diet are hydrolysed, which means all of the component ingredients are broken up to much smaller molecules which are less likely to cause any inflammation in the gut. Only by ruling out parasites, all the other infections on the skin, hormonal disease and food allergy can you say that your pet has Atopic allergies.
Atopic allergies are often to environment components such as house dust mites and pollen etc. There are blood tests that can help to indicate which things they are allergic to but are not diagnostic on their own, as normal dogs can show reaction to the blood test but have no skin disease, so false positives can occur commonly.
Skin disease can be very distressing for your pet and for you and unfortunately in many cases there is no quick fix and you will need to treat your pet for a long time; there are however many different treatments available which need to be tailored to your pets needs and yours. You may be asked to come back for a longer appointment so that we can take samples and get a full history of the problem with you.