Posts filed under ‘Vet visit’
An update on where we are at.
Last month, Boogie’s skin got really bad and his coat was thinning drastically. We had already been through two courses of antibiotics and steroids… the symptoms went away, and then they came back. So I decided to take Boogie to the Animal Dermatology Clinic for a second opinion and expert treatment.
Here is what I was told:
Boogie’s allergy is definitely environmental and seasonal (I already knew this). It’s unlikely to be food-related. He already eats very good food – grain-free, raw/rare food from Darwin’s Pet, and Nutrisca kibble. Supplements: probiotics, Brewers Yeast & Garlic, Apple Cider Vinegar. The topical remedies: Chlorhexidine shampoo, Resicort lotion, and essential oils. Sometimes also EV Coconut Oil. The problem is that the constant scratching and licking leads to infection and inflammation. (well yes, I already knew this too) and he is going bald because his skin was severely inflamed all over.
Boogs was put on Medrol, Simplicef and Ketoconazole for 30 days in addition to the topical treatments. I didn’t see any changes for the first two weeks. Poor Boogie was ravenous, restless, and his skin looked WORSE. In the third week, his skin was looking better (no bumps, redness, crusty bits, flakiness) – though his fur still hasn’t grown back. And then I noticed that he was obsessively licking his paws for most of the day and waking up in the middle of the night to do this.
This week we were back at the Animal Dermatology Clinic with a follow-up appointment …
I was given three options:
1. Allergy testing + shots
2. More steroids
I couldn’t afford the allergy testing (I don’t have a spare $600-$1000 lying around) and Atopica… also a pricey option at $100+ per month. So I chose the option that I could afford that I felt would be the least complicated or with the least side effects. Boogie is now on Medrol steroids again for 60 days (!) and I am also to give him Zyrtec (Aller-Tec) everyday. Look at this crazy schedule…
I hate seeing him so hungry, thirsty and restless on steroids – sigh. I hope the meds work and that he will get some relief. The ONLY advantage to his current state of constant starvation is that he is extra food-motivated and therefore easier to “train” and “lure”.
We were at the vet again last week. Boogie is now on Cephalexin (antibiotics) and Temaril-P (steroids). 30 days of Cephalexin.
The itchiness has stopped but Boogie’s skin is still splotchy. Hopefully it won’t take too long to heal. One side effect of Temaril-P is increased hunger, so the poor little dog is constantly starving. Walks are frustrating. He has become obsessed with scavenging off the sidewalks (“Leave it” only works 50% of the time) and at home he often sits looking up at me, pleading for treats. He won’t even play fetch or tug. He would rather eat.
The upside is that Boogie is paying no attention to his usual triggers on the street. He is ignoring other dogs and scary humans and concerned ONLY with finding food scraps on the ground.
I told Dr. F that I cook for Boogie, and she mentioned that she orders her dog’s meat from Darwin’s Pet . Knowing that Boogie does not eat raw meat – he has either walked away from it, or eaten it and vomited later – I at first figured that this wouldn’t be something worth trying out. But when Dr. F told me that she cooks the meat and that it is ok to do so, I placed a trial order…
The prices seem really good. I spend about the same amount of money each week at the local market anyway; and the meat from Darwin’s Pet is organic, antibiotic-free and already mixed with organ meats, bone meal, veggies, apple cider vinegar and supplements. In the photo above – our first shipment of 10lbs of food – $15. When the box arrived, my first thought was – there is NO WAY THIS IS GOING TO FIT IN MY FREEZER – but then I realized the contents were mostly dry ice. The meals comes sealed in 1/2 lb packets. They include a fed ex slip for you to send the box back to be recycled.
Interestingly – the instruction sheet says that if the dog has a compromised immune system, he should not eat raw and it is advisable to cook the meals…
This evening I started transitioning Boogie over to Darwin’s Pet food… I sauteed 1lb of food – as you can see in the photo the meat is still red in color – definitely rare – and added 2oz of this to his usual fully-cooked mix of meat and veggies.
I have a question – does “rare” meat keep longer than “raw” in the fridge? This is a transition period so I won’t be feeding all of this rare meat too quickly but I don’t want it to go bad sitting in the fridge for too long… How many days is safe? I suppose I could cook it some more…
Boogie is now officially seeing a new vet. I feel that we deserve a second opinion, and The Village Vet is so much closer to home, way easier to get an appointment here, it’s clean, modern and uncrowded. As much as I like our previous vet, Dr. R , the place was just way too small and crowded. Boogie is now also on pet insurance.
The hair loss, the bald itchy patches on his skin… Sigh.
Boogie is eating grain-free meals. I bathe him once a week with medicated shampoos. I spray or rinse him a couple times per day with a chlorhexidine solution. He has also been on fish oil, an immune system supplement and probiotics. Dr. F said that in spite of everything that I am doing – which is good, Boogie still needs to be on antibiotics or steroids to keep the whatever-it-is under control. Dr. Fuller has prescribed a different kind of antibiotic: Simplicef – 14 days. She also suggested bathing Boogie more often and gave us a ResiCort lotion/leave-on conditioner.
Tomorrow, we get the results for Boogie’s “Geriatric Blood Panel”. He’s growing old, this little Boogie.
Dr. F suggests allergy testing – which is also something that Dr. R brought up. Sigh. I keep putting this off because I can’t afford it, and I don’t think the insurance will cover it. Boogie’s skin troubles are a pre-existing condition. 😦
The bath time “counter-conditioning with treats” strategy doesn’t work on Boogie. When he hears the sound of water running, he is already in cowering-under-the-nearest-table position (even if I am running a bath for ME). When he is in the bathroom, he won’t eat. Even after his bath, when he is freshly showered and I have rubbed him down with the towel, he turns his nose away from any stinky food in my hand. Or he takes the treat and spits it out, reorienting towards the closed door. “For f’s sake, open this door”.
I open the door, he shoots out of there, does a BT500* around my living room, and gleefully flings toys in the air. Only now will he come running for treats.(*BT500 = Boston Terrier version of zoomies)
On Friday, we went to a new vet clinic in my neighborhood. I haven’t decided yet if I will permanently switch vets because I am very happy with our current vet Dr. R… The only problem with Dr. R is that he is always so fully booked… it is so hard to get an appointment.
The appeal of the new place is that they are bigger, have more technology and staff, are almost walking distance from my home (a huge plus!), and the Dr. is really lovely and comes highly recommended. They also have a very progressive attitude at this place: the consultation forms use “your friend” instead of “your pet”, and there are no metal examination tables in the rooms! The exam rooms are decorated with warm cozy colors – as if you were in someone’s home. And there being no tables, the vets get down onto the floor to examine the animals.
Unfortunately, in Boogie’s case, being confronted with a stranger seated on the floor, in a room (in which there is no escape) is no less disturbing than having to stand on an elevated cold metal surface. At least in a traditional vet exam room, he knows what’s coming. He has been through the metal table routine many times, and he always stands there LEANING his body into me when Dr. R checks his mouth, ears, butt etc.
On the checkered floor of the new fandangled exam room, it was much harder for anyone to hold onto Boogie. When Dr. F called him, he sniffed her, took a treat, then backed away. And then he crawled under my chair and stayed there. It didn’t help that there had been an off-leash (resident) dog in the waiting room so Boogie was already agitated on arrival and all he wanted to do was GET AWAY FROM THIS PLACE. The only way he could have anything examined by Dr. F was if I picked him up and held him on my lap the entire time ….
Dr. F was super gentle and did not want to pressure him to be near her, so in the end, I didn’t feel that Boogie had a thorough enough of a check-up.
She said Boogie looked good though… everything looked fine except for a minor ear infection.
So now we have some new drops for Boogie’s ear infection and two new shampoos (Virbac: Ketochlor & Cortisoothe) for Boogie’s skin issues. I don’t know if these products are better than the ones we get from Dr. R… hopefully they are because they’re way more expensive. We’ll wait and see. Fingers crossed.
Have you ever changed vets for your scaredy/reactive dog? What do you look for in a vet?
Home from another long afternoon at the vet where we spent more time trapped in the waiting room than doing anything else.
It was weirdly stressful today. There were some seriously anxious senior dogs (shaking, panting, drooling) in that tiny waiting room, a cat in a crate that wouldn’t stop meowing, and the Dog Whisperer Show on TV – that famous 1st season “flooding” episode with the drooling dog led across slippery floors. And I was getting a glazed-eye look from the woman across from me when I tried to talk to her about BAT … She said her dog has anxiety issues and would bite visitors when their backs were turned.
Boogie, on the other hand, had no anxiety. He was simply very very bored. He had already (very sweetly and politely) introduced himself to every human, dog and cat in the room and nobody was interested in playing with him. He sat by the door and stared at me with big hopeful eyes and a pouty face.
In the end, we came home with more Cephalexin antibiotics. Staph infection again. Second time this year.
I asked Dr. R about atopic dermatitis, atopica cyclosporine (see previous blog post), should Boogie get a bi-weekly vaccination, should he get allergy-tested, how can we nip this problem in the bud?
Dr. R asked me about our previous experience of Staph: Did the antibiotics work? Did I see any changes? What percentage improvement did I see?
I told him I saw a significant improvement (about 80-90%) when Boogie was on antibiotics. His skin cleared up and he stopped itching. When he finished the meds, 2 weeks later, the itchies returned. Dr. R deduced that if the antibiotics worked, then this proves the problem to be primarily Staph, not allergies, and so he was reluctant to settle for the very expensive Atopica medication, which is specifically for atopic dermatitis and does not treat the recurring Staph problem.
I am to bring Boogs back in 2 weeks to check if the Cephalexin is working. If it works, ie, no more itching and skin improves, then this confirms the Staph problem. If Boogie continues to itch, then we may have an allergy or dermatology problem, and I may want to make an appointment with a Skin Specialist in Studio City. I am also to change Boogie’s diet… from now on, only ONE protein.*What am I going to do with the 2-month supply of mixed-protein dog food in my kitchen?
The thing I like about our vet is that he will only administer hardcore expensive vaccinations/medications as a last resort, when we know for sure what exactly we are treating. Even though it’s frustrating, not knowing for sure what is going on…
Once again, Boogie has been diagnosed with a staph infection 😦 Bald crusty patches on his skin and red pimples on his belly. Dr. R. doesn’t know why unlike most dogs, Boogie is so predisposed to this staph – which seems to always develop in the summer season along with the skin allergies. I am not sure what to do. One option is to have Boogie allergy-tested… an expensive process which doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. I also happen to know that all the dogs on my street are experiencing similar problems. The allergens are in the grass and the air.
As Dr. R said with a shrug – Even if I spend a small fortune on allergy testing, Boogie will most probably end up taking the same treatment anyway.
The Triamcinolone (which is a steroid medication) makes Boogie so hungry. Which is great for Clicker Training games but not so good for every other time of the day. Poor ravenous little dog. Day and night, I see him restlessly scrounging around for food, licking and re-licking my floors where treats were dropped hours ago. On our walks, he inhales crap off the sidewalk. He wants to go for walks ALL THE TIME… also because he is drinking more water and needs to pee a gallon every 2 hours. I really really hate steroid meds!
The good part is that the itching has stopped. His skin is healing up and thank goodness, we’re moving into Fall.