Tag Archives: vet

Dog Allergies

I've read that vets can tell a dog with allergies from a distance due to the tell-tell red feet from licking, here Oscar has some goopy eyes too.

In the almost two years I’ve had my dogs I’ve discovered a lot about dog allergies, one of the main things is how lucky I am. Yes both of my dogs have allergies, both environmental and food related, but neither of them have severe allergies. Rather, they are allergic to LOTS of things, but not extremely allergic to any one thing. Basically, this is like having hayfever versus being allergic to peanuts, in one case people sneeze and curse the seasons, in the other they might die everytime they are exposed. My dogs have the cainine version of hayfever, with added food issues.

When I first adopted Meya, I actually blammed the constant scratching and scabs that resulted on a bad grooming that left abrassions that wouldn’t heal. I tried to treat it at home, but after 6 weeks and the scabs spread I went to the vet. Even then, he gave me a medicated shampoo and a course of steriods (her first and last, Meya becomes incontinent on even a low dosage) and instructions to clean out her ears to stop the infection there. Only later on a third or fourth visit, this time for scabs all over her face, did the vet suggest allergies might be the cause.

In winter the itching decreased some what, and I adopted Oscar during that lull. When I first brought him to the vet he was a mess, I could have written a two page list of the questions I had about him. First and foremost was his coughing, sneezing, and runny eyes which seemed to indicate kennel cough. The vet prescribed some OTC medicines and time, since his lungs were clear. But the sneezing and goopy eyes persisted, and I noticed Oscar was a licker, constantly chewing and licking his paws. Eventually, once Oscar was in better overall health, the vet suggested he also might have allergies.

During the second spring I had Meya, I was convinced to shell out the money for allergy testing, though I had read they were not completely accurate. According to the allergy tests, the two were allergic to a variety of pollens, mold, grasses, dust mites, and a whole slew of foods. They have allergies to different foods, but since I don’t want to risk giving the wrong dog the wrong thing the foods get lumped together. Basically, the tests said they can’t have beef, rabbit, venison, fish, carrots, peas, brewer’s yeast, potatoes, and rice. Whether or not these tests are really accurate, it at least gave me something to start with. I even tried the shots, but giving two dogs shots every day freaked me and because of that freaked them out.

Now the dogs eat a special allergy formulated food, and eat chicken and sweet potato treats. When people say that my dogs must have a miserable life not eating beef, I laugh. My dogs are lucky, they eat chicken jerky and are pampered. Meya still itches in the summer, and Oscar’s eyes are still goopy. I figure the dogs are fine, so long as I can keep Meya from injuring herself itching and Oscar from getting yeast infections from licking his feet. And I’m lucky that my dogs only have doggy hayfever.

Preventative Care and Vet Expenses

Meya spends most summers itching, and most of the first year I had her.

Meya scratched so much at her itchy skin that she created scabs all over her face and throat, when is a dog itchy enough for a trip to the vet?

One of the paradoxes I find in pet ownership is the conflict between not wanting to spend a fortune on them and wanting them to be healthy and safe. When I discussed the need to have Oscar’s teeth cleaned with the vet, I told him that a drawback from having the procedure was that it was SO expensive. Easily running 500$ just for Oscar’s procedure. He told me it didn’t have to be that expensive, that they could just do the anesthesia and the teeth polishing, for about half of the cost. Great news, right? Dental health is important, why shouldn’t I jump right on this?

Well here’s the thing, anesthesia is dangerous, surgery is dangerous. Oscar is an old dog, but he is MY old dog, and my responsibility. Even though I know that bad dental health in a dog can contribute to all kinds of other issues, the idea of hypothetical kidney damage or infection seem less scary then the real danger of a dog going into cardiac arrest under anesthesia. How could I put my dog into real immediate danger to prevent some possible future danger, especially when for a little more money I could take steps to lessen this danger by doing blood tests, IV fluids, and so on when being put under anesthesia? (especially since I read this blog post on pet anesthesia) So I could have spent less and had the procedure, but instead of 150-300$, I’ll be spending 400-600$.

Similarly, a coworker of mine always marvels that I take my dog to the vet at all. When I mentioned the need to get Oscar’s teeth clean, which I’d discussed with the vet when I took Oscar in for his parvo/distemper booster, she asked why in the world someone would go to the vet for a vaccine. She told me her sister showed her how to give the shot and she could get the vaccine from the feed store. Her dogs never went to the vet at all, and they were perfectly healthy their whole lives. While she concluded I might be squeamish about needles, that is not the real reason I take my dogs in for regular vet visits. Do it yourself vet medicine is undoubtedly cheaper, and as I look back, there really hasn’t been a moment where I can say “oh my dogs would be dead if I hadn’t taken them to the vet then.” Even Meya’s eyes probably would be the same with or without the vet and eye drops. But hindsight is 20/20, now I can say the dogs would probably have been fine without a vet, just as Oscar might not need the additional monitoring and tests.

Oscar is too lazy and anxious to wander far, but unless he is in the fenced back yard he is always on a tether--why risk his getting run over?

Preventative medicine is always an unknown value. If you take vitamins and not get sick, did the vitamins help or would you have not gotten sick in the first place. But avoiding preventative check ups or not getting the extra monitoring during surgery, is like sending your child bike riding without a helmet, putting your infant in the back of the car without a carseat or safety belt. Your kid might be fine, they might never fall of their bike or slip off their seat, but if they did and were hurt or died, how would a parent live with themselves. Of course a vet, like helmets and knee pads can’t prevent all injuries, but if taking my dogs to the vet have helped them to avoid metaphorical skinned knees and bumped heads, than it is worth it to me to know that I have done as much as I can. Once the surgery is over, and Oscar comes home fine and healthy, I’ll never know if he really needed those tests and monitors, but I’ll know that I needed them so that I could justify putting him in danger.

Stoned Oscar is Stoned

sad Oscar with his e-collar and incision Oscar is back, as grumpy as ever. But he is not quite out of the fog from the drugs, so he stumbles around and sort of looks vague. At least he has stopped shaking since he got home, but he is still wimpering, which they said he did all day. The vet tech said she hadn’t seen him try to lick the incision, but that was the first thing he tried when he got home. I’m just glad Oscar made it through the procedure, and is now lump free (it wasn’t cancerous or malign, but the vet recommended it be removed), with shinny clean teeth.

He seems unsettled and distraught, not enough to warrent a visit to the ER, but I cancelled my evening plans to keep an eye on him. Though the vet said no food or water tonight, he is VERY hungry, and tried to swipe Meya’s food and inhaled the small amount of soften food I gave him. Now he is making continuous whinning/weazing noises (not an uncommon noise for him, just its persistance, he usually gives up and licks his feet).

Oscar at the Vet

Oscar is at the vet today to get his teeth cleaned and a lump removed. The dental exam is routine, but anesthesia is scary and Oscar is an anxious little dog, who hates with a passion to be in a crate/cage. I know it is something I should try to help him overcome, but in the year I’ve had him he has caused himself injury. He is better then he was when first out of the shelter, but it is hard to leave him. As I walked out the door, Oscar shook and whinned.

So today I’m waiting to hear from the vet about Oscar’s prognosis, so send good thoughts Oscar’s way. I’ll post more later about preventative care like this.