Zoey’s Story: When dog allergies strike

Zoey’s Story: When dog allergies strike - Sweet Lilly's

Ching, Ching…Ching, Ching. For days and nights, that was the sound we heard as our 5-year-old Miniature Schnauzers’ tags chimed together. Zoey began gradually itching and scratching, but within a few short weeks it became uncontrollable. My husband and I would roll her onto her back and feverishly search her belly for fleas, ticks, sores, anything! Day after day we came up empty handed. I don’t mean for that to sound as if we were disappointed. She was breaking our hearts and we wanted an answer.


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As most of us do these days we immediately ran to get help from the one and only Doctor Google. I’m sure you can guess that the search results were not extremely helpful in narrowing things down. The crazy mom in me read things like “food allergy, dry skin, and anxiety” as “her ears could fall off, she may crack open like dry desert land, and keep a close eye on her she may try to run away.” I took every scenario from Dr. Google and thought the worst. We narrowed some of the possibilities down and began giving Zoey one children’s Benadryl each morning. After no luck with that trial run, we switched her food from a chicken protein to lamb. Zoey was very sad to find out she couldn’t have Droodles anymore, and we were devastated to have to withhold her favorite treat. We went to the store and bought oatmeal shampoo and a conditioner with lidocaine in it. We were consistent and persistent for a solid month or more before we couldn’t watch her be miserable any longer. By this point, Zoey was itching so much that she had cuts and red spots all over her body. It was time to see a real doctor.


We made an appointment with her vet and were told to bring notes and logs of everything that we had tried. We sat down with the vet and went over dates and showed her pictures of Zoey’s sores at different points over the past several months. There was no denying that things had gotten progressively worse. Assuming it was a food allergy, Zoey was put on a strict new diet. Remember me telling you that we had already changed Zoey’s diet at home? Well, Veterinary diets are prescription only foods that are made with hydrolyzed proteins. This means that the proteins’ amino acids in the food are broken down into extremely small parts. Because the proteins are so small, the body does not recognize them as a threat that causes the allergic reaction. I am here to tell you, the food is not cheap. But, we were willing to do whatever it took to help her get relief. Everything else had to be eliminated from her diet. Everything. Not a single bone, other type of kibble, bite of banana with her Dad (as they have done each morning her entire life), nothing. They require the food trial to last for 12 weeks before determining whether it works. Unfortunately for us, it was a LONG and heartbreaking 12 weeks as she continued to itch with no relief.


"I never realized that a "Vet Derm" is a thing."


At that point, our veterinary agreed that it was time to write Zoey a referral to see a Veterinary Dermatologist. I never realized that a “Vet Derm” is a thing. She was referred to them and we set up an appointment. We were sent instructions and told not to feed her past midnight the evening before since she would be put to sleep for allergy testing. She was dropped off early one morning and picked up the same afternoon. When we arrived that afternoon to pick her up, she was still groggy from the anesthesia and had a large patch of fur shaved off her side where they did the allergy testing. Turns out, our girl is allergic to many things! The list ranges from bugs, trees and grasses to molds, feathers, and wool. Since food allergies was ruled out, she could resort back to a normal diet. Zoey was so happy to have Banana Droodles again. My husband and I made a trip back to the dermatologist to get lessons on giving her allergy shots once a week. She also gets a fish oil capsule daily, one Zyrtec tablet each morning, a bath weekly and her feet wiped off with baby wipes each time she is outside. The baby wipes help wipe off the allergens on her paws so that they do not penetrate into her skin. Overall, the shots are working. It has been a rainy spring which has caused various molds to grow outside, and made it difficult to keep her entirely comfortable.


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Just like humans with allergies, we try to keep them in check daily but she has certain seasons and environments that cause the occasional flair up. We have gotten rid of wool scarves, sweaters and rugs and try to dust more often. Overall, we are just happy that she has found relief and can finally enjoy some of her favorite all natural treats again


Morgan Smorgala


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