Friday, July 29, 2011

A Whole New Dog

You guys, I am a TERRIBLE dog mom. Seriously. Awful. And it's all because I'm stubborn. And, you know... always have to be right.

But in this case, I can admit it. I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

See, Casey has allergies. I've fought with these allergies ever since she was over 2 years old. Summertime comes and she gets all red and itchy. And it's been getting progressively worse, as allergies tend to do. The first year it was just itchy paws and red eyes. The second year it was more itchy, chewed upon paws, and some red splotches on her stomach. The THIRD year, it was all of that PLUS hives that then caused her to lose hair in patches all over her body.

I would like to say that I didn't let it get to the point where I called Casey "leprosy dog" but I would be lying. The thing is, the cheapest and fastest remedy for an allergic reaction is a cortisone shot. And when Casey gets a cortisone shot, she turns into MONSTER DOG. I do not like monster dog. I do not like her at all. So last year, I tried a WHOLE SLEW of at-home remedies. I tried Benedryl. (fail) I tried fish oil pills. (somewhat fail, somewhat success) I tried bathing Casey every other day. (fail.) I tried a new shampoo and bathing every day (more fail.) The one thing I DID NOT DO that was suggested to me over and over was changing her food. I stubbornly would not change Casey's diet. Why, I reasoned, would that make a difference when Casey eats the same food all year round, but only has allergies in the spring/summer? I mean, I know my dog, and she definitely is not allergic to her food.

Finally, at my wits end, I took her to another veterinarian with a different perspective on antihistamines. Namely, this take was that the antihistamines (paired with an antibiotic to heal the already apparent hives all over my dog) would help. This vet said that they had taken a skin scraping and found that my dog was "yeasty" and had also found staph. (Which is always present, but apparently her "lowered immune system" due to allergies was causing the staph to make the hives infected. Hence leprosy dog.)

And lo, all was well.

As an added bonus, I got ZOMBIE DOG instead of MONSTER DOG. A trade I was more than willing to make.

So this year, we started the antihistamines early. Like, April 1st early. And there's been more success in staving off the allergies this year than at any time in the past. However, as the summer progressed, the hives did appear on Casey's stomach even if they didn't appear all over her body. And her nose, paws and eyes were pretty red from being scratched/chewed/rubbed from the itching.

I still counted this as a success. Seriously. If you had seen leprosy dog, you would understand.

But last spring, I took a course in microbiology. And this summer? A course in animal nutrition. And then came a suggestion from a friend whose dog has similar skin problems to Casey. And it seemed that everything at once clicked. Like, my dog is yeasty. And what does yeast eat? Sugar. And what is the second ingredient in most dog foods? Potatoes or Corn. Which are starch. And what is starch made of? Sugar.


Of course, this food that Casey has been eating for the first six years of her life is either free (yay!) or very very low cost. So it's the best food I could get for the lowest price. Which is, of course, why she's been on it for so long. And why I was so reluctant to change it. But I love my dog. And she's allergic. And, well, why not try this change?

So a friend recommended a dog food to me that had tapioca instead of a starch as the second ingredient. A dog food that is $41.99 for a 25lb bag. O-U-C-H.

But four days on this food, and Casey looks like an entirely new dog. More pink, less red. Sores disappearing. Overall just... healthier.

And BOY does she love this food. If Tyson even gets NEAR it, she gets ANGRY.

But still. $41.99/bag. Sigh. And me entering vet school where they give you dog food for free each month. Double sigh. Something tells me that they food they'll be giving me won't have tapioca in it.

I swear. This dog.


zlionsfan said...

You're a terrible mom because you couldn't diagnose your dog's problems correctly, even though you don't (yet) have any vet experience?

Sorry, I'm not buying it.

ems said...

Please note that I ignored suggestions to change her diet several times from several veterinarians. Le sigh.

punkinmama said...

Can you just get the expensive stuff for the worst months & go back to the cheap stuff when it doesn't really bother her?

Does that make me a bad mom for even suggesting that?

And also... I wonder if the same holds true for humans... hmmm... Sam with NO sugar would probably be a dream come true...

ems said...

punkinmama - I totally thought of that. Truly. I fear that on a student loan budget, this is exactly what I'll have to do. Casey would understand... right?

So no. You're not a terrible mom. Unless I am. :-)

I don't know if NO sugar is possible. Casey still gets her pills in peanut butter. But just cutting out the majority of the sugar in her diet made a huge difference. So I guess every little bit helps...