While a return to the indiscriminate use of anthelmintics is inconceivable, Dr Sue Paterson is advising that skin problems must be treated using suitable veterinary advice rather than Dr Google.
“Overuse of some drugs such as equine wormers has inadvertently treated problems such as parasitic skin disease but these may now be unmasked with a reduction in anthelmintic usage,” explains Dr Paterson, who is a globally recognised Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology.
Dr Paterson, who founded the telemedicine company Virtual Vet Derms in 2018, says they have seen a persistent increase in enquiries about equine parasitic skin diseases over the past two years.
“This escalation seems to coincide with the increase in use of FWECs rather than outmoded routine worming,” she said. Diseases such as sarcoptic mange, which is carried by foxes, and chorioptic mange appear to be more prevalent, yet market research shows that in many cases a visit to the vet is a last resort and people go to Dr Google or Facebook first, which is worrying.”
It’s important for parasitic skin diseases to be diagnosed early so that they can be treated promptly before the condition escalates and spreads. This will both improve animal welfare and save money and telemedicine can bridge the gap in resources, making Specialist help readily available for horse owners and their vets.
A veterinary Specialist can help to recognise skin disease patterns and clinical signs that the primary care vet may never have seen. With the convenience of a telemedicine service horse owners can obtain general advice directly from a Specialist or their vet can contact a Specialist for advice on their case or arrange a virtual consultation for them. Often, a Specialist can help manage skin problems using fewer drugs because their experience is based on years of treating similar conditions and allows them to prescribe only the drugs that are needed.
During lockdown while vets triaged and dealt with urgent cases, online consultations became a recognised source of support and advice for many pet owners until they were able to see their vet.
“It’s highly likely that this new pattern of operation is here to stay but it’s vital that people know about the virtual services available to ensure they receive qualified advice,” said Dr Paterson.
“Services such as Virtual Vet Derms can provide quick, low cost access to a Specialist Veterinary Dermatologist, as conveniently as using Dr Google but without the risks,” explains Dr Paterson. “There are no waiting lists for an appointment or the need to take time off work and the telemedicine specialist can work with you and your vet to help manage the case more effectively.”
For further information visit www.virtualvetderms.com
Image: Severe self-inflicted trauma on the side of a horse due to sarcoptic mange.