Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bumps and Allergy Testing

A couple bumps on her ears
Over the past year Whiskey has been getting bumps that appear pretty quickly and disappear just as fast. The bumps never stuck around long enough to get to a vet and so we put on our detective hats to find out what the problem was.

small ear bumps
Her bumps were concentrated on her upper head, ears, and the front of her legs and were raised but not red. They would get better within 15- 30 mins once we took her away from the environment she started showing symptoms in, and would rarely show for more than 1 hour. At the least, they were a couple round bumps on her ears, at the worst her whole face was swollen to the point she couldn't even see, but even then, her bumps would fully vanish within 2 hours (so no time for vet). When the bumps were at their worst, (as happened about 3 times) she would be very quiet, tired, and sad looking. They didn't seem itchy, and she would be back to normal as soon as they went away. They were like bee stings and we did try some Benadryl but it was hard to tell if it helped because the bumps always went away so fast either way. We also tried a holistic Allergy Supplement, as well as local raw honey but neither seemed to show much improvement over several months.

a medium-bad example
It was pretty clear from the get go that these were allergic bumps and since I feed home made raw, it was pretty easy to eliminate food as her allergy source. We noticed a pattern after a couple months that was interesting; if we took her to a park several times a day, only sometimes she would come back with bumps (even if we took her to the same place on the same day). Most of the times if we went into forests or mountains she would be fine, so in general she had more bumps in the city, or close to the city. I have to emphasis that although these pictures look absolutely terrible, the bumps at their worst only stuck around for about 20 mins and in 2 hours, they were gone. I hate seeing Whiskey like this and I'm only posting this as I hope this may help another Vizsla or puppy.

the worst it got with us (about 3x ever)
the worst case only happened when it rained
Something else that was interesting was the worst cases were when it was raining and if she wore a jacket, she would have no bumps where the jacket covered (a strong case for environmental allergies). Also, she had more bumps on the front of her legs, not the back of her legs where she was more exposed to water spray, or where she would have a higher chance of touching allergens. From my research, I found out that tree pollen becomes more concentrated when it rains, and comes down from the air in rain droplets. People that have tree pollen allergies react more in rain as well. Also, in the city, we plant mostly male trees so when pollen is released from male trees, there aren't enough female trees to capture pollen so there is more pollen in the air causing allergy issues in humans (says Scientific America and Vancouver Sun).

Anyways, since we've both been working a crazy amount of overtime, we finally had a chance to book Whiskey in with a pet dermatologist (yes that's a thing!) about a month ago. I find when visiting vets, I've learned I need to really stand up for my beliefs. Vets love to prescribe loads of tests and medications "just in case" and many times these are not needed, and not only will cost more, but you are also giving your pet unneeded chemicals. Now, I'm not expert but I do know my dog so we opted to test Whiskey only for environmental allergies (I had to insist it wasn't food related) and I opted out of flea control (twice) since I was absolutely sure these were not fleas. We did both a skin test and a blood test. The skin test unfortunately, called for her side to be shaven, a grid to be drawn, and 40 plus tiny allergen injections to compare reactions to a placebo.

Poor girl is also on her heat
Her side is shaven and a grid is tested
Whiskey was given a reversible sedation and I was able to watch the whole procedure. Afterwards we needed to wait 3-5 more weeks for blood test results, and then depending on the results we would have to order either drops or injections to give Whiskey to help her allergies. We ended up with drops and the ordering took another 3 weeks, so a month and a half later, we picked up the drops. At the moment we are just giving her a little drop a day in her mouth and that's it. We are supposed to see noticeable results from 3 months to 1 year and this is all covered by insurance 80% (I really recommend insurance). Whiskey's highest reactions seem to be to a mold and some tree and weed pollen. Without insurance this would have cost about $1400 (for all tests and 5 months of drops).

she was half sedated and I was there every minute
For the past 3 months though we've not seen seen much allergy reactions at all so we are wondering if this is more a fall/winter thing (or wet season thing) but we are trying the drops (one set lasts 5-6 months) for at least a year to see if this improves. For the time being, we are taking one sided photos while we wait or Whiskey's hair to grow back!

little square on her side

still my beautiful princess

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feb 2016 Vizsla Meetup

I'm so late in posting this but I've been working like crazy. Here are some photos and video of our latest Vizsla meetup in Vancouver. We met at Cypress Falls this time, and we were about 29 Vizslas!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Limping episode resolved!

At Whistler for her treatment
Awhile back, we had a scary episode where Whiskey was suddenly limping and wouldn't use her left hind leg. We had taken to her to emergency and had no answers after a rather large bill (xrays were fine).  It strangely only lasted a day and she seemed 95% back to normal by the next day.

her first limping episode
However, this happened again a couple months later in late November and while we didn't go to ER again, we did keep a very close eye on her and like before, it resolved within 24 hours. At this point, I really wanted to get to the source of the issue. We've had two tentative diagnosis as a back stress injury (reason why the recovery was so fast, from our vet), and/or soft tissue trauma (ER vet). A friend had a recommendation to a well known vet/surgeon that specialized in lameness assessments as well as chiropractic therapies and orthopedic surgeries, so we called him up to make an appointment. Let me tell you, this is a very rare find indeed!

all is well now!
We made the date to head to Whistler (about 2 hours away) and took Whiskey for her first appointment with Dr. Lane. My goal was to pinpoint the underlying issue that was causing her periodic lameness and hopefully treat it without any drugs. I know many people might think that this issue "isn't so bad" since she doesn't consistently show symptoms; two days of limping isn't the end of the world, especially with active dogs. However, I would much rather solve this now then wait 5 years and have this become a chronic issue. Also, we are covered by insurance (80%) with Pets Plus Us, which I highly recommend since we've tested their claims very very thoroughly.

Vizslas are pretty active
Since Dr. Lane is extremely busy and was only working once a week, it took about 1.5 months for us to secure an appointment. He started the appointment by listening and recording our issues and watching our video of her which we had filmed to record the limping event. We then took Whiskey out for a walk to demonstrate her walk, her trot, and then went up and down some stairs. Dr. Lane noticed that going down stairs, she had less "wiggle" in her lower back which seemed tight. He started treating her by feeling with his fingers all over her as well as extending her legs. Whiskey wasn't too sure of this strange man so we needed to bribe her with treats. Acupuncture as well as massage, lasers and chiropractic therapies were all used and we even ended the session with some IMS. At the end of it all, poor Whiskey was ready to leave, hugging the door with sad eyes :(

acupuncture and laser treatment
Dr. Lane narrowed down the problem to a hip misalignment that was causing her to put stress into her back that would eventually lead to a limping episode after too much explosive activity (ie jumping and sprint starts). The activities we toned down were jumping and continuous fetch although we never did too much to begin with. He thinks that perhaps there was an incident that caused her hips to move out of line and over time her body just got used to it. We were working to correct her hips and let her body 'remember' the new alignment by having less activity for awhile. This was pretty easy since she happened to have also started her heat, so it was on-leash walks away from other dogs for a month anyways.
her second heat has her very mellow
After the initial consultation, we went back twice more and were given the all clear (and to come back 6 months-1 year just to check up). After every consultation, I could see a difference in the way Whiskey was running (less so on the last one). She seemed a bit looser. We've not had any limping since, and hope this is all over. At the worst, we've got a clear explanation and someone that can help us out if anything happens again. I think the hardest part was not knowing the problem and throwing money at an ER vet that didn't have a clue.

All better!