Rusty Muse, DVM:
Appropriate topical therapy is really critical in dealing with most cases of skin disease that we see in dogs. To choose the correct topical therapy, it really requires a really complete assessment of the current status of the skin. The most common skin disease that we deal with in dogs, certainly, is atopic dermatitis or environmental allergies. It creates a whole cascade of events that ultimately makes dogs itchy. Most dogs with atopic dermatitis get significant secondary infections with both bacteria and yeast, and that's where topical therapy becomes very important. And, really when we talk about topical therapy, generally we're talking about shampoo therapy. That's by far the most important topical therapy that we as veterinary dermatologist deal with.
To choose the correct topical therapy it really requires a really complete assessment of the current status of the skin. So, an appropriate plan to get a primary diagnosis becomes really important. We're actually able to choose antibacterial, anti-yeast, antimicrobial therapies to be able to help control all the secondary microorganisms that develop on the skin. So by using topical therapy, we're able to markedly decrease the amount of oral systemic therapy that we have to use.
Topical therapy's probably the most underutilized therapeutic tool that we have as veterinarians. It can be so much more beneficial, and I think clients that use topical therapy really do see the benefits. We have a tremendous variety of products that are available to us that can really assist us in improving the quality of life of dogs, and ultimately increasing that human/animal bond.