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See Spot. See Spot Scratch…

Last week, any hour that I was not sitting in class, I found myself isolated at my desk in my bedroom. On Wednesday evening, I was studying small animal dermatology (for one of my two tests that week). As I was repeating the four types of feline allergy/pruritus reaction patterns, I heard the jingling of my dog's collar as he scratched his face with his back leg. This is a common noise that usually doesn't alarm me; however, that night I happened to be studying dermatology. You see, as vet students, we have an awful habit of projecting whatever conditions we're learning about onto our animals. I actually heard from a doctor at the student health center that med students become hypochondriacs too, but that's a different story…

As I listened to the jangle of the tags on Wheeler's collar, I thought to myself, "Why is my dog so itchy?" The longer the noise continued, the further my thought process progressed. "My dog has to be pruritic (itchy) for some reason. What are some common reasons for canine facial pruritus?" As I started going through the list of bacterial and parasitic infections, my loveable dog stopped scratching his face ("Thank goodness!"), and then proceeded to start licking his paws ("Oh no!"). Again, my brain was in fast forward with this new symptom. "Licking is another sign of pruritus (itchiness). What's the first thing you think if dog's have moist, itchy paws?" I thought to myself, with the sound of licking in the background. As the answer to what was ailing my poor dog appeared in my head, one of my roommates (and fellow classmate) walked into my room.

"Does Wheeler's skin seem inflamed to you? I think he may have a yeast infection between his toes because he's been licking and scratching and…" I fired off as my roomie leaned over to pet Wheeler. "Kayley, he looks fine." She said as she scratched behind his ear. Her comment snapped me out of my dermatological delusion. Of course my dog was perfectly normal; he was just a victim of me studying one subject for hours on end. As I got up to get coffee (because I definitely needed a break by that point), Wheeler raised himself off his bed to follow me. As he was getting up, I heard a popping noise coming from his knee. "Oh goodness," I thought, "I don't take orthopedics until next block…"