ASK THE VET

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY

QOur 10-year-old Cav­a­lier King Charles Spaniel has de­vel­oped lots of crusty pim­ples all over his back. He is very thirsty and hun­gry this last few weeks, and he’s get­ting very fat! He seems happy enough though. Do you think I need to get him looked at, or is it okay to leave him? The spots don’t seem to bother him.

Saman­tha, Belfast

AI think it is highly likely that the symp­toms you’ve de­scribed are all con­nected. Most crust­ing rashes have a bac­te­rial com­po­nent, pos­si­bly what is called a py­o­derma (lit­er­ally pus in the skin!).

Most nor­mal adult dog skin doesn’t get such in­fec­tions, cer­tainly not as wide­spread as you de­scribe. I would be look­ing for an un­der­ly­ing or pre­dis­pos­ing cause for the break­down in nor­mal skin de­fences.

There is a rel­a­tively com­mon en­docrine (hor­monal) prob­lem called Cush­ing’s Dis­ease (hy­per­a­dreno­cor­ti­cism) which in­volves a high level of stress hor­mone (cor­ti­sol) in the blood. This steroid hor­mone af­fects im­mu­nity, re­duc­ing his nat­u­ral re­sis­tance to in­fec­tions, and al­lows the py­o­derma to de­velop.

Weight gain, thirst and hunger are all com­mon clin­i­cal signs of Cush­ing’s. The thirst is of­ten the most dra­matic, and is the com­mon­est rea­son for an owner to present the dog to the vet.

This dis­ease is com­pletely con­trol­lable in the ma­jor­ity of cases with sim­ple oral med­i­ca­tion.

Please take him to your vet, armed per­haps with a fresh urine sam­ple and a record­ing of his wa­ter in­take over a full 24 hours. It is re­ally worth treat­ing her, be­cause left un­tended Cush­ing’s Dis­ease will ad­vance dra­mat­i­cally and cause ir­re­versible harm.

One painful con­se­quence of long stand­ing dis­ease is called cal­ci­nosis cutis, where cal­cium de­posits de­velop un­der the skin and are very in­flam­ma­tory and painful.

A sec­ond ter­ri­ble con­se­quence is when a clot forms in the lung (a pul­monary throm­bo­sis). Pul­monary thrombi are painful and dis­tress­ing and, in our pa­tients, of­ten fa­tal too.

None of th­ese things hap­pen if he gets treated on time: early in­ter­ven­tion can re­turn him to nor­mal, so please do let your vet in­ves­ti­gate his prob­lem. Good luck.

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