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Dog Skin Care

Skin conditions are as varied with their presentation as the pets who are afflicted with them. There are many different causes, and a thorough examination and history by your veterinarian is the only way to really help your pet.

What are the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of bacterial skin infections?

Bumps, rashes, redness, itchy, flakey, hair loss, infected and painful skin can be caused by external parasites (fleas, mites), bacteria (hot spots), yeast (dark, oils), allergies (seasonal or foods) and many different allergies (foods, topical reactions) etc.

What are the causes, symptoms, and treatment for ringworms?

Thankfully this condition is not terribly common in most pets. It is actually a fungal infection, rather than a “worm.” The reason it was initially called “ringworm” is that it appears as a number of round crusty lesions (sores) that can appear over the whole body. Serious ringworm is more often seen in places where many animals are housed together, in stray animals or very young or immunosuppressed pets. Spores from this disease can be spread through brushes and in kennels and can be transmitted to people. Treatments vary depending on the extent of the disease.

What are the causes and treatment of allergic skin diseases?

Allergic skin conditions are very common. We have seen increases in rates of food allergies in our dogs and cats (mirroring what is happening in the human population interestingly). We commonly see allergies to proteins in a particular food, requiring a proper food trial to try and diagnose the cause. We often recommend proper prescription low allergen foods to initiate this trial so that ingredients are certified, and in some cases, proteins are hydrolyzed to reduce reactions. (New paragraph). Seasonal allergies are also exceptionally common. If your pet is quite normal during the cold winter and itching, scratching and irritation start as soon as the warmer season is underway, he or she may be suffering from allergies brought on by blooming plants, trees or grasses. (New para) In many cases, it may be difficult to determine the cause of allergies. There are many treatments available to alleviate the distress of skin disease.

What are the causes and treatment for parasitic skin diseases?

Parasitic skin conditions are best prevented these days with topical or oral medications that keep fleas, ticks and mites from taking hold of your pet, or in the house. Fleas are transmitted by jumping between pets but can be present in the yard for a short time if stray animals pass through. Ticks are blood-sucking insects that are found in grasses, parks, bushes and active anytime the temperature is over 4°C. Mites (ear mites and skin mites or mange) are passed directly between pets. We don’t recommend the many sprays, powders, and collars anymore. Treatment is much easier with topical drops or oral medications.

What are the causes and treatment for hormonal skin diseases?

The most common hormonal skin condition that we see in dogs is hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels). This usually causes weight gain, greasy skin, sometimes hair loss, poor healing and chronic infections. A blood test can determine your pet’s thyroid level. There are certain breeds more prone to the condition, and treatment is supplementing the thyroid hormone back to your pet. (new para) Cats with hyperthyroidism tend not to have skin-related issues. These are usually older cats (especially males) with rapid weight loss and voracious appetite.

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Dog thinking about ticks and fleas

Year-round protection means more peace of mind!

“Tick season” used to mean spring/summer/fall, with a break over the winter – the colder weather meant that we could take a break from worrying about these pesky bugs and the diseases they can transmit. But in the last few years, we’ve seen a change creeping up on us, with the weather staying warm later into the season, and spring arriving earlier each year – and the bugs are loving it! You may have already heard us talking about how any day that the temperature is above the freezing point, ticks are potentially active. This past year, we had days above 0°C in all 12 months! Ticks aren’t killed by the cold, they simply go dormant, waiting until it’s warm enough to come back out – so last year, even January and February had days warm enough for ticks to be active! This means that we are now recommending that all dogs (and cats that go outdoors) take advantage of year-round flea and tick protection. There are several options, our first choice being an all-in-one that protects against fleas, ticks, and heartworm, as well as providing regular deworming against roundworms. One pill, once a month – what could be simpler? If your pet is already on a monthly preventative, all you need to do is pick up a refill and continue throughout the winter months. If your pet hasn’t yet started on comprehensive parasite prevention, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have and set you up with the best option for your pet. What does this mean for testing? The 4DX test that we recommend most commonly screens for heartworm disease, Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes (so every dog in Ontario is potentially at risk – at Westbridge we treat a few cases every year!), and the others are all transmitted via tick bites. We have seen an increase in Lyme-positive dogs in the last few years, one of the reasons we are recommending some of these changes. For better early detection and the safety of your pet, we are recommending annual 4DX testing for all dogs. This simple blood test can be done at any time, although the optimal time is in the spring. Catching disease early is key to successful treatment – and no matter how careful you are with preventative medications, there is always some risk of infection. As always, our veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians are available to answer any questions you may have about the best options for your pet. Email us at info@westbridgevet.com, or call us at 905-285-0002

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Last updated: December 17, 2020

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective May 19, 2020 some restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

2. SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

3. OPERATING HOURS

We are OPEN with the following hours:

- Monday to Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Saturday: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
- Sunday: CLOSED

4. NEW PET OWNERS

Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

Your dedicated team at Westbridge Veterinary Hospital