Allergies be gone – a look back

picture of a dog and cat veterinarian service

I’m taking part in the Caring For Critters Round Robin hosted by Jodi from Heart Like A Dog. The Round Robin is like a relay race, each day a fellow blogger will share a post about a specify injury or illness they have experienced. Please keep in mind, I am not a vet and this is not advice on how to handle any illness your pet might have. This is just my experience. Always consult your veterinarian before choosing any course of treatment.

August, 2011:

My dog Cali has terrible allergies and she has had them since she was a young puppy (I always joke that she is allergic to the world!). It all started with little red bumps on her cute little puppy belly. She has always eaten a high quality food and we have tried EVERYTHING to ease the itch. Every year the itching seems to get worse, and the “off months” where she doesn’t chew on herself has gotten shorter and shorter!

We have tried antihistimines, allergy shots, a raw diet, topical skin treatments, fish oils . . . you name it, we’ve tried it. Two summers ago I worked with a very highly recommended Holistic vet. Cali ate a raw diet and took so many supplements that it was hard to keep track of. It got to the point that she decided that she just wouldn’t eat – she didn’t like having all of the pills tossed into her food, and she looked TERRIBLE! The vet said that she was just “detoxing”. One night we came home and she was in a panic – her face was swollen and she was covered with red welts (we still have no idea what caused it) and we had to take her to the emergency vet for a steroid shot and pills. About a week later she got a terrible bladder infection (it always happens on a Sunday too . .so off to the emergency vet we went again!). I spoke with the Holistic Vet the next day and she told me NOT to give her the antibiotic, that she was still just “detoxing”. I was angry – my dog was peeing blood (and if you’ve ever had a bladder infection you know how painful it is!) I was not about to make her suffer through it. Unfortunately, that was the last time I spoke to the Holistic Vet.

I truly believe in holistic health. I want my dog to be as healthy as possible, but I decided that I couldn’t rely on all natural solutions when my dog was in crisis. I thought we would try again when she wasn’t in full blown allergy mode, but that never happened. Last year, it seemed like her allergies lasted all year and when she got terribly uncomfortable I would take her in to get a shot of a slow release steroid. The shot gave us about three months of sanity and I decided that since she was 11 years old, I was going to do what I could to make her comfortable, even though steroids can have side effects and cause other problems.

A dog smiling

Six months ago we found another vet that has a theory that some dogs have problems producing the natural steroid in their body which is why their bodies overact to any allergen. (There is a much longer, much more eloquent explanation of this, I just thought I would keep it simple for this post!). We started giving her a very low dose steroid that is biologically similar to the steroid that she would naturally produce and so far we have gone the entire summer with NO ITCHING! I have to admit . . I have a little bit of guilt giving her a steroid. She takes 4 mg of methylprednosilone a day (she’s a 75 pound dog) and has had no typical side effects of steroid use (panting, drinking lots of water, hunger). She looks great, has lots of energy and shows no signs of any problems. Anyone that has had to deal with allergies knows how frustrating it can be. My last vet basically told me that we had tried everything in his bag of tricks and he didn’t know what else to do. 🙁

I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to leave the house and not worry that when I get home, I’m going to have a bloody tail or paw to deal with. When Cali is itchy, she chews. Once she starts chewing, she can’t seem to stop and we end up at the vet. I love the fact that she has been so relaxed and happy this summer. I guess I feel guilty that I didn’t find a “natural” way to do it.

Regardless of my guilty feelings, Cali is enjoying her summer rolling in the grass, chewing on sticks, and swimming in the river! If you have a dog that suffers from allergies, don’t give up and don’t stop searching for a solution . . you never know what will work for your dog!

February 2013:

We started weaning Cali off of steroids because she was starting to have Cushings-like symptoms. As we weaned her off the steroids, she started having days where she would not eat and over the course of the next few months we discovered that she had cancer in her stomach. We lost Cali in May of 2013 at the age of 14 1/2.
We ALWAYS did what we thought was best for Cali and when we finally had to make the very difficult decision to end her suffering, I had so many questions. Did the steroids mask the symptoms of her stomach cancer? Did they cause them? Overall, we feel like we did everything we could to keep her comfortable and give her a pain free, happy life. If I had to do it all over again, I believe I would have done the same thing.
We do the best we can for our babies, right? This is a safe place to discuss what has worked for your pet. I know several people that cured their dogs allergies by going raw, and I really wish it would have worked for us. Does your dog have allergies? What has worked for you? Be sure to share your experiences in the comments – your comments may just help another blogger!

Tomorrow’s Caring For Critters Round Robin is going to be hosted by Kim of CindyLu’s Muse – be sure to check it out!