Terii’s Cycling Babble

Well, Now We Know…
March 3, 2014, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Misc

It’s only taken nearly 9 years, but finally we’ve managed to figure out the source of Loke’s issues.

Wednesday, I tortured Loke with a bath. He’d abruptly gotten a little smelly so, into the bath he went. While scrubbing the smell away, I noticed how red he was all over where the water parted his fur down to the skin. I also saw the same crusty red on his belly as he gets on his paws.

A call to the Stockholm vet clinic and a desperate plea to ease Loke’s suffering netted results. Katarina, for Loke’s sake, kindly slotted us in at the very end of her appointment’s at the Uppsala animal hospital. The Wednesday or Thursday before it would have been the 2 week mark since his last treatment with any kind of cortisone, so Friday the 28th was perfect.

While waiting for our 4 pm appointment, we met a stunning and HUGE Doberman Pincher. He was as bouncy and eager to play with everyone of the two or four legged variety. Clearly he was a favourite of the clinic staff as well. Vets and vet techs came out to greet him at regular intervals. He had two spots shaved on either side of his chest. Finally, I asked what had happened to him.

That 2 year old, big beautiful bundle of bouncy love had been hit by a car! Amazingly, no broken bones! But the impact had traumatised his chest, bruising his lungs and causing them to fill with blood. He’d been at the hospital for a week. Clearly, he was fully recovered, or very closely, with all the energy and enthusiasm he was showing.

Katarina appeared about 15 minutes before 4 pm to show us to an exam room. She made sympathetic sounds as she looked at the red, swollen angry mass that was Loke’s lower lip on the left side of his muzzle. She said she was glad I called because it would have been bad to let it go on much longer, especially as miserable as the furry one was.

Katarina was baffled why it was so bad and so extensive for the first time ever. Taking up a scalpel, she scraped his lip and tummy while using tape to take samples from his paws. She was actually hoping to find what she called ‘scabies’ (aka mange) which would explain the itch. It would have been quick to treat and easily taken care of.

But, no such thing. Under the microscope, all she found was yeast. She even took me to the microscope room and showed me the nasty little culprits. Once sure it wasn’t a simple case of mange, she had Loke sedated and began the test. A spot on his side, just behind his front leg was shaved and marked with about 30 dots. Then a tray with 30 small syringes was brought in. One by one, she injected tiny little amounts of potential allergens. Then we waited.

This current episode he’s been suffering is because Loke is essentially allergic to himself in some fashion. For those who don’t know, ‘endemic’ flora or fauna is by definition, animal or plant life native to a specific area. Blue jays are endemic to North America. Wildebeest are endemic to Africa. Well, there are countless types of yeast and bacteria that are endemic to skin of every mammalian species. They’re with us from birth and can never really be gotten rid of completely. Quite a few of them are even required for our health. If they were to get out of control, they can cause problems, but generally the immune system keeps them under control and they’re harmless.

Loke however is allergic to the yeast we found in the scrapings. His immune system can’t deal with them, the numbers went through the roof and start breaking down the skin. Then the histamine kicked in making him itch furiously.

The yeast isn’t the only external, environmental trigger. The dot pricked with a combination of pollen from Birch, Alder and Hazel trees also reacted. It was very slight, but still there. It’s is yet very likely that he’s still allergic to various food items. For all we know, it might have been some kind of food that started a cascade reaction. Or perhaps this episode was so bad because his allergy simply worsened rather like someone who’s been stung by bees over the years has no reaction and then one day, they’re suddenly being rushed to the hospital for anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, dogs very rarely suffer anaphylactic shock. Mostly, they just get miserable and itchy like Loke.

Once the test was done, the sedative reversal was given and I had prescriptions in hand. Unfortunately, they were in Jens’ name so I couldn’t fill them out and he didn’t land back in Sweden until it was too late to get them. Still, after his lips scrubbed with an antiseptic and sprayed with a topical cortisone, Loke felt SOOOOO much better! He even had several cone-free hours right after the appointment where he didn’t try scraping his lips off! The shaved spot on his side didn’t fare so well, but a circle of plastic around his neck and head wouldn’t have stopped that.

Now he’s on cortisone tablets and I’ve been treating his lips topically along with his stomach and paws. He also had a medication to specifically target the yeast, but there was none to be found in all of Uppland. It had to be ordered and Jens should be getting home with it any time now.

As for long term treatment. I guess Jens and I need to decide our options. There’s hypersensitivity treatment. 1 in 3 dogs don’t respond and most often those who fail to get any benefit from it are older dogs, a category Loke now falls under. So, the odds of it working for him are probably worse than 50-50%. We might just have to try and mange the yeast with scrubbings, close observations and pounce on what looks like an outbreak with topical countermeasures. Keeping him under constant oral medication has the potential of nasty side effects like liver failure.

After we get this outbreak under control, we’ll need to figure out what food allergies he has, but that’s more of a trial and error thing. Introducing foods little by little  and see if he reacts. Give time to get his system stabilised if he does have an allergy response and try another. It will take a while. Hopefully though, he’ll be able to have something more than bland, hideously expensive veterinary food and reindeer.

So, here’s to moving forward to improving the quality of life for the fuzzy one! So very glad we didn’t have to make him suffer for another week before getting the test done!


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