Posts filed under ‘Vet visit’

Dermatology stuff

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 …


Animal Dermatology Clinic


Boogie: “this place is boring”

I was given three options:

1. Allergy testing + shots
2. More steroids
3. Atopica

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…


Medrol schedule for the next 60 days

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”.


waiting for the vet


October 10, 2013 at 9:48 am 5 comments

Trying out Darwin’s Pet food – eating “rare”

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.


Left: empty container; Right: that’s 4 x 1/2 lb packets of food (Beef)


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


Left: raw, sealed food Right: Cooked RARE

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…

July 27, 2013 at 8:25 am 6 comments

Still trying to break the cycle

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.

“Please… can we go home now?”

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.

“Would really like to leave now. Please”.

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. 😦

October 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm 8 comments

Helping dogs to be brave, Another vet visit.

I am subscribed to the posts on the Functional Rewards (BAT) Yahoo group and I really love some of the wisdom I find on here.

This question recently came up in the group:

if the dog shows a calming signal and you move the dog away, doesn’t that mean that you are afraid of the situation too cause you are moving away? a trainer told me to just go pass the person or dog to show that it does not bother you so the dog will think no big deal either.

Two responses below. First by Jude:

Moving away from a scary thing is a perfectly normal thing to do.  If the dog knows that s/he can always retreat, the scary thing becomes no big deal and eventually loses its charge – exactly your goal!

However, if the dog knows s/he must go near it, then it remains a source of concern.  Imagine being afraid of a poisonous snake hanging from a tree branch outside your front door and knowing that you can easily avoid it by using the side door vs. knowing that you must pass close to it each time you leave home just because your partner isn’t afraid of it and expects you to be unafraid, too.

Trying to calm an aroused animal by showing that you are not afraid does not work as a general rule and can increase an animal’s fear and/or shut down the animal. We have seen this on TV!

And by Susan Mitchell of C.A.R.E. for Animals :

I can understand what the trainer you spoke with is saying.  I agree that dogs take their cues from us and that they often interpret something based on our responses (verbal and behavioral).  (Sort of like kids do!)  But if BAT is done correctly, it is done with the handler demonstrating calm, and even confident/happy behavior…. and in response to the DOG’S behavior.  This conveys to the dog that 1- we can handle this, no need to freak out, and 2- I’m not going to be forced to ‘suck up’ my fear and face that thing over there.  It really becomes a “game” or sorts for the dog that they come to understand and maybe even enjoy.

Furthermore, I love what Susan has written below in response to another group post:

I really do believe in my heart of hearts that our dogs do their absolute BEST to do what we ask of them.  Sometimes it is just REALLY hard for them and they just can’t always do it.  It is our job to understand what they are communicating to us and help them out.  Just like they let us know when they need help…. they will also let us know when they don’t need it.  And while I know others don’t agree, I personally believe that the more we offer help, the more the dogs learn to trust us, the braver they become, and the less they actually need the help. 

I think this is really wonderful and inspiring, in that our ultimate goal is to help our dogs  feel brave, independent, make good choices (vs. simply doing as they are told or behaving on cue). Susan adds that in teaching self-control and relaxation to our dogs,  it is OK to go slow, be methodical, ask for advice along the way.

On the right is a photo taken today at the vet. This may not seem like a big deal to anybody with a normal dog, but I want to point out something quite amazing. Boogie is LYING DOWN in a room where there are dogs that he doesn’t know. There are three dogs and two cats in the room at the time this photo was taken (Later there were 6 dogs). The pup at the back is off-leash and very well-behaved. When Boogie is in a room with other dogs that he doesn’t know, he is never THIS relaxed. He will sit but never lie down like this.

This week, on two previous occasions I took Boogie out to busy public places and rewarded him with treats for lying down calmly by my side.  I have also moved Boogie’s bed closer to my desk so I can reinforce calmness and quiet while he is lying down. Before, the bed was too close to the window and he got distracted very easily… couldn’t relax for long.

“Please, can we go home now?”

In other news, Boogie is suffering again from skin issues. Dr. R said that there is no staph infection this time. The allergic reactions have not (yet) progressed to a staph infection even though Boogie’s itchy skin,  hot spots, hair loss, ear infection and goopy eyes don’t look so good. I told Dr. R that Boogie has also been acting sluggish and slower than normal.

Dr R: “Allergies are exhausting.”

And so I am applying Traimcinolone Cream to Boogie’s raw itchy (sometimes bloody) skin, and giving him Temaril-P – which is a steroid med – for 10 days. I really hate the side effects of steroid medications and I’m not happy about this.

I am currently researching supplements to help boost Boogie’s immune system. I am very interested in Canine Immune System Support & Doggy GOO. Any doggies out there familiar with these supplements? I’d love to get your thoughts.

When I was in the vet waiting room, a Yorkie owner advised me to give Boogie Cold-pressed Coconut Oil orally & topically – this will take care of hot spots and infections because coconut oil is anti-bacterial. Elsewhere I have read that Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with water can be used as a flea-repellent spray because of the acidity.  Can anyone confirm this info? Anyone tried these natural remedies with success?

August 4, 2012 at 1:31 am 18 comments

First visit to our new neighborhood vet

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?

June 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm 10 comments

More Cephalexin.

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…

November 23, 2011 at 12:23 am 5 comments

Summer allergies, staph again :(

It’s that time of the year – skin allergies, relentless itchiness, infections, bleh.  Last week, we came home from the vet with another stash of medications.

Triamcinolone Acetonide
Gentocin Otic

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.

September 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

Home from the vet.

At Clicker Expo earlier this year, I remember Kathy Sdao saying that if there is a behavior that we like in our dog, that we want to see more of, we “capture” it with the clicker, and reinforce it. She told the story of a client (?) who clicked and treated whenever her dog did a play bow and sure enough, the dog was offering more play bows and the client was very excited and impressed. Before long, Kathy Sdao heard from this client again, this time in a state of hysteria: “Help. How do I make him stop?” The dog had turned into a play bowing monster.

* I will soon be updating this illustration with more poses & expressions!

I was reminded of this story when I took Boogie out for a walk this morning. When we got out onto the sidewalk, Boogie stopped and turned his head away from me. I called him, he looked at me and turned his head away again. He walked a few steps forward, then stopped and looked away again. We did not get very far and I was worried that he wasn’t feeling well because not only did he not seem enthusiastic about going for a walk, there were also lip licks and eye blinks. (Hello, Calming Signals!)

So we turned around and I led Boogie back towards the apartment, but he stopped again, didn’t want to move forward… more head turns, eye blinks and lip licks. OK, this little dog does NOT want to go home. What’s going on?

So I changed direction again.. OMG, Mom got it right. Suddenly Boogie sprang to life and trotted forward as though nothing was the matter. So THIS was the direction he wanted to go in… and off we went (he was walking politely on loose-leash too). When we got onto Rodney Drive, Boogie stopped at the tree where he saw that squirrel a few days ago.

The squirrel wasn’t there but Boogie had to check.

My dog has mastered his polite calming signals, but I am clearly not his Cookie….

This photo was taken at the vet today. Boogie did not want to be on that table.

So, Dr. R prescribed some Clindamycin antibiotics for his skin infection. Boogie also had a nail trim, his anal gland expressed,  parvo & rabies shot updates, and a new batch of Comfortis.

In other news, I am still doing Susan Garrett’s Recallers online course (see previous blog post & comments). It’s hard.  I am probably  going to be slower than everyone else while I recondition myself not to “click” or “verbally mark” everything.

March 31, 2011 at 11:06 pm 6 comments

Off-leash dogs!!! Argh.

Why is it that whenever an off-leash dog runs towards us, the owner always says  to us –  “Don’t worry! He is friendly!”?

I hate that. The reply I have in my head is usually “Your dog is not friendly. He very impolitely charged at us”.

But instead, what comes out of my mouth is a hurried attempt to explain that my dog is in training for his reactivity blah blah blah… and that even though the off-leash dog may be friendly, MY dog isn’t and he may lunge or bite when rushed at by an unfamiliar dog, so please for goodness sake, keep your dog away from mine.  I hate that Boogie is made to look like the bad guy but how do you explain to a stranger that their lovable excitable dog was displaying extreme rudeness and NOT friendly behavior? And besides, why the heck was their dog off-leash in a public place?

[Here’s a YouTube video showing “Polite Dog Greetings” – with calming signals]

Friends have already heard all about the traumatic incident that Boogie and I experienced a few days ago…

I was walking Boogie along the street on Tuesday morning when I spotted an off-leash dog on the opposite side of the street. My instinctual response was to get away ASAP so I called Boogie “Let’s go!” and started running. I realize later that this was a mistake on my part. I should not have run. I should have picked Boogie up but in that moment of panic my only thought was – we need to get away fast. To my horror, the off-leash dog bounded across the street towards us and started chasing us. She was a large dog – black and white markings – perhaps a pit mix. She didn’t look aggressive but she was fast and before you know it, Boogie and this dog were locked in a vicious fight.

Everything was a blur of violence. All I remember is wrestling on the ground with two growly dogs and seeing Boogie’s neck gripped in the other dog’s jaw. I yelled and punched the other dog in the muzzle but she would not let go. The street was deserted and no owner came to claim their dog in spite of my yelling –  “SOMEBODY COME AND GET THIS DOG AWAY FROM ME!!!” I was cussing and screaming, punching and pulling for what felt like an eternity. The dog did not let go of Boogie’s neck and I seriously thought that Boogie was going to die. I kept punching this dog trying to pull her jaw open and I felt a tooth sink into my finger.  The pain was intense but all I could think of was that I had to save Boogie.

Finally, a guy appeared on the street and led the other dog away back into her yard. He said that the dog’s owner wasn’t home and the dog must have got out because the gate was open. Other neighbors emerged from their houses to enquire what was going on because I guess they had heard me screaming and yelling.  Boogie and I were there on the sidewalk covered in blood. “But that dog is friendly”… they said. Hell no. Just take a look at us.

One of the neighbors (a nurse) took me into her house and cleaned us up. After that, we spent the rest of the day at the Emergency vet and doctor’s office.  I think Boogie was probably more traumatised by the four hour vet hospital experience and the cone-of-shame than by the actual dog fight.

We are both fine now but what an experience. Not to mention that this incident is a major setback in all the training that I’ve been doing with Boogie for the past 12 months.

This is the THIRD TIME that Boogie has been injured by an off-leash dog. 😦

I met with the owner of the other dog. He was very apologetic, agreed to get his gate fixed so that this won’t happen again, compensated us for the medical bills and he wishes that his dog and Boogie could have met properly and not under such circumstances because his dog is  “super friendly”. Perhaps they will meet again… and we may do some BAT work with the two dogs… but for now, it’s back to square one with Boogie’s training. He has been extra trigger-sensitive these past couple of days, and his wounds are still healing…

As I was saying to Sarah, we are fortunate that the bite wounds are not deep (compared to one attack by a truly aggressive dog which led to stitches). It is possible that Boogie lashed out first when the dog rushed at him and that this dog was merely defending herself by gripping onto Boogie’s neck for so long and refusing to let go.  Dogs have amazing control with their teeth. If this dog (who, incidentally had zero injuries) was truly aggressive and had seriously intended to mess Boogie up, the wounds would have been much worse.

As for me, the bite on my finger is getting better but my knees and legs are scraped, bruised and painful. Boogie and I are both on antibiotics and we plan to take things easy this week.

Now for some comic relief …  Check out this awesome hilarious blog post on the power of the SQUEAKY TOY.

Boogie will be getting a new squeaky rubber monkey this week.

November 20, 2010 at 10:45 am 12 comments

Another Summer. :(

This happens every summer when the weather warms up. Boogie’s itchiness gets out of control and back to the vet we go, for skin rashes, bald spots, ear infections. Bleh. There isn’t really anything that we can do except “tough things out” because the allergens or pesticides – whatever they are – are in the air, on the grass, everywhere… (Interestingly, some neighbors told me last night that after they relocated, their doggies’ allergies cleared up! I am now convinced that it’s the crap they put on the grass around here).

Dr. Reina was hesitant to give Boogie another cortisone shot because even though this stuff alleviates the itchiness for a couple of weeks, ultimately, it intensifies the problem.

I balked when I saw how many pills he has to take each day for the next few weeks.

Cephalexin antibiotics twice a day (for Staph); Hydroxine pills twice-three times a day (for skin infections); Derm pills once a day (for skin); and Panalog drops three times a day (for his ear infections). And I am to clean his ears every day until the crusty, bloody pus stuff clears up. Boogie is going to freakin’ LOVE that. He hides in his crate or under the coffee table whenever he sees me with the ear wash bottle.

Photo taken at the vet. Boogie is blinking at me with his poutiest face. “Can we go home now, please?”

May 28, 2010 at 10:12 pm 5 comments

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