How should I deal with alopecia in small furries in practice?

image of How should I deal with alopecia in small furries in practice?
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: Small furries are less commonly seen in small animals practices than dogs and cats, and those that present with alopecia may be slightly daunting to many small animal vets. Small furries are by no means small dogs – however, certain principles apply to all species. Alopecia is a common presentation in small furries and patients affected by it need to be worked up systematically, as we do for canine patients. In house laboratory tests, such as cytology and skin scraping, can be used in small furries and are quick and cost-effective ways to collect valuable diagnostic information. Common alopecic conditions and the general approach to these cases are discussed.

: Alopecic small mammals are a regular presentation in practice. As in dogs and cats, this condition can be frustrating to investigate and this may be long, involved and expensive – in an older animal it may be difficult to resolve within the expected lifespan of that pet. Particular difficulties include the range of possible prognoses – in many cases, the likely treatments may be worse than the disease – whereas in others, alopecia may reflect a major systemic disease (e.g. demodicosis secondary to internal neoplasia) or skin tumours, e.g. mycosis fungoides; possible welfare issues- especially if pruritic; possible zoonoses – especially dermatophytosis – this is important that many are in the care of immunonaive children; lack of managed expectations – a survival time of 1-2 months in a mouse with a usual lifespan of around 18-24 months for a managed mycosis fungoides case may be a clinical success, but will not be viewed as such unless the client is properly informed; possible budgetary restrictions. The latter factor does not always apply – in which case a thorough systemic and dermal investigation may be carried out. However, where it is a factor a more practical approach based on likely diagnoses should be undertaken, which is the approach discussed in this talk.

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