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:
Did a trainer fit it for you or did you fit it yourself? Proper fit is essential!!! Also, lots of treats.
Gentle Leader also makes the Easy Walk harness. I added blaze orange fleece to the O-rings at the shoulders to keep it from rubbing. Fit is important for it too, but not nearly so much as the head halter.
ANY collar/halter/harness will result in the dog pulling IF you let them. The key is consistency (watch the GL DVD several times if you have to). Never keep moving while the leash has ANY tension on it. That just rewards the dog for pulling. Always stop and get the dog's attention to loosen the lead before moving on. Most owners have dogs who pull because they continue to pull on their dogs!
As for people remarking on it being a muzzle, tell them that it works like a horse halter. You wouldn't dare walk a horse with just a collar; with some dogs you just need the extra help to get physics on your side!
Hide and Seek!!! It's also a great way to reinforce Come with increasing distance and distractions.
I personally distinguish between Stay (I return to you to release you) and Wait (I may release you from a distance, or you may get up on your own).
I put Cooper in a sit or down wait, then move to the other end of the room and call him. Repeat with increasing the distance and your dog's ability to see you. Work up slowly to such feats as finding you behind furniture, up/down stairs, under a blanket, etc. Start these harder ones by letting them see where you go, then calling. When the dog does not see where you have gone (later on), call a second time if needed to locate you by sound.
If your dog is easily distracted, start slowly, or have another human help him with a long line (I used to teach Come this way in a pet store… lots of fun to see them searching the food aisles for their owners!).
You can also use another human staying with the dog to teach such commands as "Go see Mom/Dad" or "Go upstairs/downstairs." Have the human with the dog give this command just before the hiding human calls the dog.
We got our boys to pose for holiday photos yesterday. Cooper was a bit confused that we went through the fuss of putting on his Santa suit and he didn't get to open any presents.
Cooper turns 5 this winter, to the best of our knowledge (where did all the gray hair come from?!?!) and Isaac will be 6 months on Christmas.
I'm putting together a wish list for Cooper, and I've been thinking about training him to use a backpack for hikes or for fun around the house. He also walks the half mile to the post office with me every day, and now that I've usually got the baby in a front carrier for the trip, I sometimes run out of room to put the mail. It would be awesome if he could carry it home for me in a backpack. I think he'd like the idea of doing the extra work, too. Our walking route is boring!
We live in a little town and everyone stares at us anyway. Cooper's one of the few dogs in the area who gets walked regularly, plus he has that cute little basenji prance and wears sweatshirts when it's cold. So I'm not worried about getting funny looks for that.
I searched the threads for backpacks and saw a few pics, but no specific brands mentioned that work really well.
Any recommendations on brands and sizing for a 23 pounder?
I just came back to the boards after a year's absence… And we've had a baby who is now four months old (see pics under the Cooper update thread on show off your dog).
Things have gone really well for us, but we worked hard at it. It's great that you know he's already good with kids and babies! Start thinking right now about how your life and routine are going to change, and get Zumi used to some of those new things:
-Let him see/sniff everything that comes in for the nursery, and set limits of what he can play in/with (you should discourage any further use of the bouncy seat).
-Start sitting in the rocker/chair you'll be using with the baby. Set up a nice cozy dog bed nearby. I often nurse on the couch or propped up in bed, and Cooper loves to curl up by my side and enjoy quiet cuddles.
-See how Zumi reacts to you fussing over a baby doll and ignoring him or to hearing baby cries from the crib (rig up speakers or a laptop). Work on desensitizing him if needed.
-Think about all the things you will have to do for him one-handed! Can he sit for you to put on his leash? Is he a good walker? Will he sit for you to stop and tie your shoes, check the mail, or greet another person on a walk? Does he know a command to go to his bed or crate when you need him out of the way? Does he know a "leave it" command? Is he scared to walk by a stroller (you can practice with a shopping cart at a pet store long before you purchase a stroller)?
-Think about his safety! Cooper seems to be fascinated by disposable diapers, but doesn't care a bit about the cloth ones we usually use. The absorbant gel in disposables can kill a dog if ingested, so be careful with the diaper pail.
-Walking is great exercise while you're pregnant, and very enjoyable for your dog. Walk, walk, walk! Incorporate obedience work into your walk if you don't already to make life easier. Put a good ergonomic baby carrier on your registry (Moby and Ergo are safe and comfortable), so you can walk the baby and dog and have both hands free.
Hope this helps!
Cooper had some great experiences with babies a few years ago, and we're always working with him on new training skills, so we did our best to set him up for success with a baby (a big turnaround… when we first got him, he got nervous when he heard babies on TV). When I was pregnant, Cooper and I tried to walk every day, and did obedience training on our walks (loose leash walking, sitting for stops, sitting to watch kids go by on their bikes, laying down while I get my mail at the post office or look at books at the library... it's a small town and he's allowed both places!). He got to sniff and inspect every new baby item that came in the house and got to smell a baby blanket while I was still in the hospital. When we put the crib together, I'm pretty sure he thought it was a new crate!
I firmly believe that Cooper knew exactly what was going on throughout the whole pregnancy. He didn't like getting kicked through my tummy at first, but eventually warmed up to it (it meant more cuddles with me, after all!). And when we came home, he was so happy to see Isaac! I didn't let him get too close at first, and then I realized that he just wanted to meet the baby so badly... So Isaac got a spit bath, and Cooper calmed down right after. He even got up with us in the middle of the night those first few days home, but he quickly learned that there's no need for him to interrupt his precious sleep!
Now when I nurse Isaac, Cooper curls up with us and takes a nap. The three of us go on walks together every day. I've really tried to make sure that Cooper's routine hasn't been too disrupted. I'm sure we'll have some rough spots (like when Isaac starts using a high chair... Cooper's food allergies mean we've installed a gate to lessen the chance of him scavenging), but I'm really happy with the way the last few months have gone.
I just realized it had been over a year since I've logged in… And so much has happened in our lives!
Cooper is approaching his 5th birthday, and we seem to have his allergies and skin issues managed well. We are on cyclosporin, hydroxyzine, and allergy shots with success, and he's on prescription food. When he does have an outbreak, we refuse steroids and do a 14 day course of antibiotics (he seems to over-react to staph, which sets in when he gets into an allergen!).
Cooper has been to more states than most people (he's lived in 5 different ones with us!). He got to travel out to the western U.S. on a multi-week trip in the summer of 2009. He thought the Pacific Ocean was big and cold, but he loved snuggling in our sleeping bag and going on hikes. He lived with us in a hotel room for two weeks while my husband did some research. He wasn't too fond of the cleaning staff, but we usually went out for a multi-hour walk along the Columbia river.
We now live in western NY and don't plan on moving for a while. We bought a house AND had a baby! And Cooper couldn't be more thrilled. He had to give Isaac a thorough spit bath when he came home from the hospital, and he's doing really well with everything, including the occasional whacks in the head by flailing arms (Isaac is almost 4 months old).
Photos attached include Cooper at the Pacific Ocean, Cooper cuddled in our sleeping bag in our tent, and some various ones of Cooper and Isaac (for some reason I can't get the most adorable ones to upload :()
I know there are several members from Minnesota on here, so I thought I'd throw out this question:
Anyone else here from Saint Peter, MN?
In a town of 9,000 I figured that there wouldn't be any other Bs, but I saw one today on a walk as I drove through town (brindle with a stocky body). I was on the main road and couldn't find the B and owner when I finally got off the main road.
With the still-chilly weather, I'd love to make a play date if you're on the forum and willing!
I read in one of my dog books about an interesting grooming trick: you can reduce dander (both large dandruff and small allergen types) by putting a capful of liquid fabric softener in a pitcher of water and putting it over the dog after you've rinsed all the soap out.
I didn't believe it, and didn't even want to try it because of Cooper's sensitive skin. So this little bit of information sat in my head for a few months, and Cooper's winter dandruff just kept getting worse. I was also concerned about his own allergies and finding a fabric softener that actually disclosed its ingredients (apparently most are actually made from beef tallow!).
On my last grocery trip, I was looking for my regular laundry soap. And a label caught my eye… Seventh Generation liquid fabric softener had a bright pink label proclaiming that it discloses all ingredients. So I read them and was satisfied. No beef. No dye. No perfume. There were literally four ingredients, including water, salt, and a preservative. The softener itself was derived from canola. And it was even cheaper than the other brand name softeners.
So when I gave him a bath after class on Wednesday, I rinsed him really well and put a capful of the softener in his rinse pitcher. Then I used his washcloth to sponge it all over him, to make sure it got down to the skin. Just towel drying him, I noticed a difference! He was shinier and softer. And it's two days later with less dandruff, and all of his fur is just as soft as his ears. Even when I brush a few flakes off of him, I'm not stirring up dozens more. I'm not sure if it's affecting my husband's allergies in any way, as he's coming down with a cold (this is a danger when all your coworkers have small children; we all get to share their germs).
Thought I'd pass it on. I'm impressed. I calculated that it adds an extra $0.10 to each bath, and it hasn't shown any adverse reactions on Cooper's skin.
So I searched on the threads for "tmj" and "jaw" with no results.
Cooper woke up at 4 am with his jaw locked open, chattering to try to close it. It made him whimper a bit.
No recent trauma or injuries that we can think of.
We took him into the vet this morning. She said she could feel a grinding noise, and prescribed Cosequin for joint health. She said he could continue eating solid food and that we could massage the muscles to get it back into place when he has an incident.
The locking has continued through the day. I know how to deal with jaw pain in myself (I have arthritis in my tmjs and am missing enough bone in one to cause major problems), but you can just tell a dog to not hyperextend his jaw when he yawns!
Any experience with this?
P.S. It's 50 degrees warmer in Minnesota than it's been in a week!!!! Some little basenji has been very upset at the weather!!!