Boss’ itchy issue

(Most) Dogs may be covered in fur, but just because we cannot see their skin doesn’t mean they aren’t hiding rashes, lumps or bumps.

If this does happen, just like with humans, our pets need to visit a dermatologist. Luckily at SASH we have our own Dermatology team to help dogs like Boss, a nine-year-old Shar Pei cross.

Boss has been seeing Dr Linda Vogelnest from our Dermatology department since 2008, with a persistent year-round itching – a problem that started when Boss was only a few months old.

Treatments such as antihistamines and steroids had minimal improvement, so Boss was put on a strict food elimination diet to see if a food allergy was the source of the itch. But there was still no change.

With the food allergy idea out, Boss had an allergy skin test, where a tiny droplet of the possible allergen is pricked or scratched onto the skin. Boss recorded strong reactions to almost all the airborne pollens tested, meaning he was allergic to them. The next step was to use allergy vaccines to try and desensitise Boss to the pollens (called desensitisation).

Boss received the allergy vaccine for approximately 18 months and initially improved. He also had fewer reactions on the repeat skin test, but was still a very itchy dog. It was at this point that Boss was enrolled in a new drug trial where the dogs involved were either given a drug called cyclosporine or the new drug. As it was a blind study, his owners didn’t know which drug he would receive.

After completing the three month drug trial, Boss’ skin was significantly better and it was revealed that Boss had been receiving the new medication. Fortunately, his owners were offered the opportunity to continue using this as part of an extended evaluation, as they waited for the drug to be registered for use in Australia.

Boss’ story is just one example of how the Dermatology team at SASH can help patients with skin allergies and work to find a suitable treatment for your pet.