Design. Create. Decorate.

Design. Create. Decorate.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dogs, Allergies, and Veterinarians

As you may already know, the Quince Cottage team includes two Jack Russell Terriers of the Irish, short-legged variety. Their names are Daisy and Buster. Before we had Jacks, we had a whippet whose name was Sophie.

Sophie Snugglebug © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Now whippets aren't exactly blessed in the fur department. Most have virtually no hair on their underside. The poor cold things become heat-seeking missiles in winter, sunbathing in front of south-facing windows, curling up by the fireplace, and burrowing under bed-covers with great determination. Sophie's fur began to thin once she hit middle age, first on her tail, then her thighs. By the time she was a senior she looked like a leggy Chinese crested, without the crest. We asked her breeder about whippet hair loss, we read online articles, we tried over the counter remedies and food specifically formulated for healthy skin and coat. We took her to the vet, who eventually conceded she had no good suggestions--it was most likely allergies. This led to a consultation with a canine-allergy specialist veterinarian. Hundreds of dollars later we learned it was probably genetic, and without lengthy allergy-testing for specifics we'd never really know for sure. So, bald she remained. We loved her anyway, of course.

Daisy © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Fast forward to Terrier Time. Both Buster and Daisy have allergies which cause itchy ears. Buster's seem to be fairly well-managed by a limited diet. Daisy's have been harder to treat. We've tried ear drops (which help during critical periods), steroids (stopped the itching but led to lots of drinking, followed by many potty accidents), antihistamines (no effect) and a new medication, Atopica, which actually seemed to make it worse. Our vet said allergy testing could be done. We declined. She also suggested yet another protein source - kangaroo. Ack! For the price we should have been getting a bag of gold nuggets. We declined that too. This vet wanted Daisy in for an exam whenever we wanted a prescription renewal (ear drops) or when we wanted to try something different.


Based on a friend's recommendation, we brought Daisy to a different vet for a second opinion. He examined her ears, looked at her history of treatment, and came up with a number of possible medications we could try - including a GENERIC, LESS EXPENSIVE version of the ear drops, and a pill that had less prednizone than the one that caused the excessive peeing. Additionally, he named a few other Rx drugs we could try and suggested we switch to a grain-free fish-based diet and put down a cotton blanket wherever she naps regularly. His advice regarding testing was, "Don't bother, it's likely to turn up something like dust mites that really can't be eliminated from a dog's environment." He said that if the ear drops and new medication don't help, to stop in and he'd set us up with one of the other alternative medications he'd mentioned. He also told us about a new drug that takes 7 months to make, and is expected back on the market in April (apparently the company ran out of it a while ago).

All of which leads us to say, if you're not happy with your vet, for whatever reason, try another one! If your vet is suggesting expensive treatment or is out of ideas for treatment, consider getting a second opinion. Ask if the medication being prescribed comes in a generic form. Advocate not only for your pet, but also for yourself.

Our final piece of advice: when you don't know what to do about a problem, take a walk on the beach.

Daisy (front) and Buster at the beach in Maine © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Or take a nap.

Drowsy Daisy © Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
Quince Cottage believes any house can be transformed into a beautiful home that reflects the unique taste and personality of its owner. In our own place, we mix vintage Southern style with some global spice. 
We also believe pets are part of the family, and should be treated as such. Played with, allowed indoors, and loved like the little fur-children they are.

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