LeeL, I read your story when I searched before posting! That does sound like an awful night! The original problem gradually snuck up on us, and we live in a pretty rural area with sparse vet coverage. My vet 35 minutes away is the nearest one I would trust, and it's going to be a trek to get to a specialist. It makes me long for my college days when my apartment was a block from the vet school!
Thankfully he's keeping the eye open more today. And I'm so glad I taught him early how to take medication.
Long time, no post! Cooper is now 8.5 years old! He's doing well with his allergies (off a lot of meds,eating more foods to supplement his hypoallergenic diet, has clear skin and coat). He's also enjoying his role as big brother again. Our second son was born in January… I never expected a dog (especially a Basenji) to be so in love with babies, but he is so great with ours.
This winter/spring we noticed him pawing at one eye but didn't think much of it... After all, we had a new baby, and I'd broken my wrist and had surgery on it, so vacuuming wasn't a priority. He seemed to respond to extra antihistamine and a good housecleaning. When the eye got cloudy, we immediately got him to our vet, who stained the eye and found an injury of some sort (we suspect a self inflicted scratch from allergy irritation). Two rounds of topical antibiotics later, we thought it was under control. Because Cooper is so good at learning new behaviors, I kept him in a cone for a bit to make sure we broke the habit of scratching at it.
I've been checking the eye for redness and cloudiness regularly, and it didn't seem abnormal until Sunday night. The cloudiness was back with a vengeance and there was a red circle near the outer edge of the iris. Our vet stained it again and we're trying one last round of topical and oral antibiotics before venturing to see a specialist (that's going to be a 1-2 hour drive each way). The vet is checking in with us every 2 days by phone, and we will be going back in Monday for another stain check.
I'm not optimistic that this is going to clear up without seeing an ophthalmologist, and I'm not looking forward to dragging the kids along for a day long trip, but we do need to get this taken care of. What should I expect at a consult with a veterinary ophthalmologist? I've read about both inpatient and outpatient treatments... I'm nervous about having to leave him so far away if he has to stay!
Cooper is a rescue of unknown origin (found as a stray, in a shelter for their maximum time, then to an all-breed rescue group). His ears are somewhat offset at resting position and his tail was docked before he was found as a stray, but he otherwise looks and acts like a trindle basenji. We occasionally entertain the idea that he may be part rat terrier or something else of similar size and color, but he has to be at least 75% basenji.
Oh, yes! Dogs can have seasonal allergies!!! Mine has seasonal (weeds and grasses) allergies, food allergies, and is even allergic to humans. His allergies are considered pre-existing conditions now, so pet insurance is not an option for us.
Your vet will probably start your dog on Benadryl, but we've also had prescriptions for hydroxyzine and Zyrtec for our dog (only use these with your vet's dosing instructions).
A simple thing you can do is to wipe off your dog with a damp cloth to get any pollen off of her paws and belly. It will keep her from tracking outdoor allergens inside, just as you would prevent by taking off your shoes at the door.
He tested positive (from VARL labs test this time, we used Heska on his original test) to human dander, so there he is allergic to a protein found in human dander. I already vacuum regularly due to my husband's allergies, so his major exposure was from diving under the sheets on our bed. At my parents' house, he slept on his bed or on a couch. I was pretty good before about regularly washing blankets that are shared between him and us on the couch to rid them of our dander on a regular basis (we have a leather couch and let him up on it on blankets), but I do keep a closer eye on it now.
We still have him on a hydrolyzed protein diet (prescription Hill's Z/D Ultra). I would eventually like to get him on something else to get away from the preservatives in it, but my options locally are rather slim at the moment. I make my own recipe of chicken liver training treats for him (with oats, blueberries, and rosemary… he goes bonkers for them!). Because I have to cook all of the human meals already (husband has multiple severe allergies, too... Cooper adopted the right family!) and I have a 21 month old, homemade and/or raw isn't something I can dive into right now.
I think the simple change of sleeping quarters has made a huge difference, and I feel less stressed now knowing that if he snags crumbs in the kitchen, he's not always allergic to them! Here he is enjoying the new bed!
It's been a while since I've been on… LOVE LOVE LOVE the new look!
We had Cooper retested for allergies this fall, and the results were surprising, but very useful. His original test, a few years ago, only showed him as being allergic to flea saliva and storage mites. We did allergy injections, and kept the house clean and controlled fleas to combat these issues. He still seemed to react to foods, so he's been on Hill's Z/D Ultra. His skin reactions still happened all the time, even though he was on antihistamine and cyclosporin (which was a miracle in getting his hair back!).
Well, this round of tests showed he's allergic to an odd list of foods (duck, potato, barley, peas, yeast, turkey, beef, rabbit) which explains why he can't have any commercial food. He's allergic to many weeds and grasses, which explains the seasonality to some of his reactions. And he's allergic to us! We got the results right before Christmas, and he stayed with my parents for three weeks while we visited my husband's family. When we got back, his coat was in the best shape I'd ever seen and we determined that it was either from not sleeping with people or not getting any toddler crumbs, despite our best efforts. We tested it and stopped letting him sleep with us. He now has a burrowing bed and hasn't had a bump, skin redness, or major hair loss since we came back from our holiday! Wish we'd had these more accurate results sooner!
I'm going on year five of dealing with allergies in my B mix. First, find a vet that you feel really comfortable with. You need to be able to ask questions, and they need to be able to explain what's going on in a way you can understand!
There are all sorts of approaches to dealing with allergies in dogs (because they can't always tell us what's wrong, and they also react differently than we do to allergens). From my experience, the simplest things you can do to start are:
- Find a vet you trust. This is the most important!
- Use a simple, but very high quality, food. Your trusty vet and an experienced pet store employee (ask a manager!) can help you sort through this. There are also great threads on food here. Prescription food is also an option if food allergies are suspected, but a good quality food will help your dog's skin stay its healthiest if you are dealing with an environmental allergy.
- If an environmental allergy (like grass, mold, etc…) or reaction to chemicals sprayed on your yard is suspected, wipe down your dog when you bring him in after walks. Pay special attention to the feet and belly.
- Double check medicine names and dosages with your vet. Also check your flea prevention program with your vet, as flea saliva is a common allergen. If flea bites are causing a problem, you may need to change your flea prevention.
I hope this helps!
Patricia McConnell (author of The Other End of The Leash, dog trainer, and animal behaviorist) is running a photo contest for her newest training booklet. She wants a photo of an adopted dog for the cover!
I know lots of you have gorgeous adopted Bs and mixes, so I thought I'd share the opportunity (even if it means Cooper has less of a shot at it!). I think Bs are so striking, one might just make an excellent cover photo!
Here's the link with the requirements for the photo: