Tip #6 -- Skin Problems
- Malassezia Dermatitis
- Veterinary Dermatologist
Skin problems constitute
the single largest health concern with Westies and probably no other health
issue contributes more to the breed's abandonment or surrender to rescue.
Most skin problems experienced by Westies are hereditary in nature and require long-term medical management. These skin problems may include:
Gengraf (cyclosporine) is a treatment for dogs with Atopic Dermatitis.
Please consult with your veterinary dermatologist to determine if
is appropriate for your Westie.
- Malassezia Dermatitis (Yeast Infection)
- A condition that is often misdiagnosed and
veterinarians unfamiliar with Westie skin diseases is Malassezia
dermatitis. Without proper treatment the condition continues to
worsen leading to many Westies unnecessarily being abandoned,
surrendered to rescue or euthanized.
- Malassezia dermatitis is the condition
that occurs when the yeast normally found on canine skin and ears proliferates
excessively. Westies, as well as several other breeds,
are genetically predisposed to Malassezia dermatitis which
manifests itself as oily, crusty, red, itchy skin with a rancid odor.
If untreated, the Westie will have hair loss and the skin will become
thickened and black accompanied by ear infections.
- This condition occurs
most often when the skin is compromised in some way. Malassezia
dermatitis is a secondary infection. In addition to
treating the Malassezia, the primary underlying disease must also be
found and treated. The skin of Westies
with flea or food allergies, atopic dermatitis, an immune deficiency or seborrhea seems
particularly prone to allowing an overgrowth of the yeast.
Additionally, Westies living in regions with high humidity seem to be susceptible
to Malassezia dermatitis.
- Malassezia dermatitis requires a very specific
treatment course which may include a combination of systemic Ketoconazole therapy,
antibiotics, antihistamines, Malaseb medicated shampoo and/or topical
treatment for ears and skin.
information about Malassezia
- Westies can be subject to a variety of
allergies caused by contact with the skin, digestion or
inhalation. The severity of allergies, which can be seasonal or
year round, varies greatly. The most common symptom from an
allergy is itching which may be localized or systemic. Food
allergies can manifest as gastrointestinal problems.
- When your Westie has an allergic reaction,
it is an overreaction to a particular substance or allergen. While
allergies can not be cured, some can be controlled with appropriate
treatment. Proper identification is necessary to determine proper
- Fleas are a common source of contact
allergies. Flea control can be easily achieved now with use of
monthly products such as Program, Advantage or Frontline.
Additionally, flea control is benefited by weekly vacuuming the house,
weekly washing your dog's bedding, collar and toys as well as combing
your dog's hair with a flea comb several times a week.
Skin problems caused by food allergies are
often helped by a better diet using premium quality dog food.
Preservatives and fillers are commonly the source of these
allergies. A food allergy can be a reaction to almost any
ingredient, however, we recommend that Westies routinely avoid wheat,
corn and soy. See
#4 on Nutrition.
- Many Westie owners have had success
improving their dog's skin problems by adding Omega 3 fatty acids to
their dog's diet.
Other owners have found that Missing
Link® food supplement and Humilac® spray rinse or ResiProx
conditioner have done wonders for itchy dogs and dogs with hot
- Check with your veterinarian about the use
of Gentocin spray and Panalog cream on your dog's skin lesions and hot
Please remember each dog is different and these
products may or may not help your dog's skin condition. ALWAYS consult
your veterinarian before using any new product with your dog.
- Veterinary Dermatologist
- Allergies and skin diseases are not always
easy to diagnose. This is an area in which
a veterinary dermatologist specialist may be needed to properly diagnose
and treat your Westie.
- To save you time and money as well as to ensure
a speedy recovery for your Westie with serious skin conditions, we highly recommend
you consult with the following veterinary dermatologist in the
Carlo Vitale, DVM
600 Alabama San Francisco, CA
Please note that Dr. Vitale also
maintains an office in Walnut Creek, CA. You can call this office at
925-937-5000 or 925-926-0933. Additionally, Dr. Vitale has an office in
San Leandro, CA at 510-483-7387.
To find a veterinary
dermatologist in your area, please refer to the following website:
College of Veterinary Dermatology
- Helpful Links
- We encourage you to be informed
so that you can help make intelligent decisions for your dog’s care should
your Westie have skin problems. An excellent book to read is Guide
to Skin and Hair Coat Problems by Lowell Ackerman, DVM.
- Some helpful websites are:
contained on this site relating to various medical, health,
and fitness conditions of Westies and their treatment is for
informational purposes only and is not meant to be a
substitute for the advice provided by your own veterinarian.
You should not use the information contained herein for
diagnosing a Westie's health...you should ALWAYS consult your