Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Our Hershey Bell and His Allergies :(

Our poor Hershey Bell!  He's been about to itch and lick himself crazy!

For the last couple years, we've dealt with his itching and licking and when it gets bad, we'd take him to the vet, get him some medicine, and he'd get better. It wasn't until this last year (2015), that the itching, licking, and biting had gotten progressively worse.  I felt like every couple of weeks we were at the vets office.  And because of that, he got lots of car rides!

Our journey towards allergy injections started back in March 2015.  Hershey had been itching, and had some mosquito looking bites on his upper chest area that wouldn't go away and when you scratched him on his chest, he would start shaking that back leg like crazy.  I took him to the vet and they put him on Hydroxyzine 25mg, one tablet every 12 hours to help control itching.  This helped for a little bit, but by May, he was back to itching and licking again.

I had asked on Facebook if any one's dogs had allergies and how they treated them, and a couple people told me about a new allergy pill called Apoquel, and people swore by how wonderful it was.  Since it was so new and so popular, some vets weren't able to carry it.  However the day I called my vet to inquire about it, they had just gotten a new shipment in and were able to get me a prescription for Hershey.  Because he's such a little dog, and his skin wasn't that bad, they put him on a maintenance dose which was one pill a day.  And since the medicine was so popular and they only had a limited supply, I had to make sure and call before I ran out to get a refill, otherwise, I would be moved to the waiting list.  Since the medicine was working so well, I made sure to stay on top of ordering it.  

Hershey was started on Apoquel on May 16, 2015 and was to take 1 tablet by mouth daily.  This medicine really seemed to be helping, and I got refills on it in June, July, August, September, October, and November.  He was on it for a couple months and seemed to be doing great with it.   

In October we went out of town on vacation and Mom and Sassy came and stayed at our house to watch the dogs and Molly.  I instructed mom to make sure and give him one Apoquel pill once a day.  When we got home from vacation, he was back to itching really bad again.  We took him to the vet and they gave us a prescription for Temaril P to take once a day for 5 days, and then one pill a day every other day for 5 doses, along with the Apoquel, and then to give Benadryl every 12 hours as needed.  After all he seemed to be doing somewhat better again.

Then in November at Thanksgiving time, we went out of town again this time to Shawn's parent's, and mom and Sassy stayed at the house to watch the dogs and Molly.  Hershey was still on the allergy medicine so I instructed mom to keep giving him the one pill a day.  When we got back, he was back to itching again.  I thought, well maybe mom isn't giving him his pills.  I called the vet and they gave us another prescription of the Temaril P.  I gave him this, along with the Apoquel, and then Benadryl when needed.  

Because this happened a couple times when mom and Sassy was here, I wondered if Hershey wasn't allergic to mom or Sassy.  I knew Sassy didn't have any fleas, and I've never seen fleas on either of my dogs or in the house.  I even called the vet to see if Hershey could be allergic to mom or Sassy.  They suggested maybe that it was something mom and Sassy were either bathing in, or possibly the detergent that mom was using.  

By the end of December, Hershey was on two different allergy medicines now and they just weren't working.  I called our vet to tell them this and they suggested maybe seeing a doggie dermatologist since the allergy medicines weren't working.  They gave me the name of the one that's near us,  Animal Dermatology Clinic, however it was in Louisville, which was two hours away.  I knew it wouldn't be a big deal to go there, since we go to Louisville a couple times a year for various other reasons.  I got on their website and did some reading about who they are and such and found out that every other Thursday they come to Evansville and work out of the All Pet Emergency Clinic here in Evansville.  I called them to find out when they would be in the area next, what all the costs would be, and to find out how the visit would work.  I got all the information I needed, called Shawn to discuss it with him, then called them back to make an appointment.  They were actually going to be in Evansville the very next day.  Blessing!  I made Hershey Bell an appointment for 3:30, and I met Shawn there.  This is what HB looked like when Shawn and him rolled up in the car.  LOL!

All Hershey Bell was concerned with was sniffing for other animals and looking for treats on the floor.

We explained Hershey's problems with Dr. Reeder, and then he explained the way allergy testing worked, the two types of testing they could do, the benefits of the testing versus continuing to be on pills, and the costs of everything.  I'm sure we were overwhelmed with everything and trying to process it all.  I think Shawn was concerned with all of the costs, and I was only concerned with getting my dog some fast relief, I didn't care how much stuff cost.  When Shawn heard the prices of the two types of allergy testing they do, he asked what our other options were.  I must of flashed the stink eye to Shawn around that time cause he asked me what I thought.  I told him I wanted my dog to get better and started tearing up.  That must of done it for him, cause he looks at the vet and says "whatever she wants to do, we'll do".  HAHA!  

Because of all the medicine Hershey had been on, they recommended the blood testing versus the skin prick testing.  The blood testing was a bit more expensive, but would be the most accurate, and definitely the less painful way to go, so we choose that.  They took Hershey back to draw blood, and then brought him back.  They explained all the things they would test for and how it would work, and then they returned with our bill and charges, and then instructions on how to give the shots, a sample schedule of when to give the shots, and other literature about environmental allergies.  They had to adjust the bill a couple times for us, since we have a Sharps disposal container at home (from my fertility injections) and weren't paying for another one, and then we weren't paying for shipping the medicine since they were going to bring it with them when they were in Evansville next.

The testing would take about two weeks to get the results back.  Once they had the results, they would make up his allergy medicine, and then call us when they had the medicine ready for us to pick up.  

In the meantime, Hershey Bell got worse before he got better.  These sores were from licking and itching himself like crazy.  I felt like I was pumping him full of Benedryl all the time.  

I was going to buy him a t-shirt, but Walmart didn't have any.  I thought if he was wearing a shirt, it would keep him from licking and help with the scratching, and then when he was outside, the shirt would be a barrier between his skin and the grass.  So then I got the bright idea to make him a t-shirt from one of Gavin's old t-shirts, but it was too big for him, and he wasn't having it.  

I ended up getting 4 different shirts from Petsmart, but he wasn't having any of them.  He's so helpless and pitiful when he's got clothes on.  He just stands there and looks at you and doesn't move.  But the second you take the shirt off, he's a wild hooligan dog again!

Hershey and I spend lots of snuggle time on the couch with me rubbing his belly, chest and underarms to keep him from licking and scratching it himself thus making it worse.  He's such a spoiled dog!

So we finally got the results of his allergy testing back and have picked up his medicine and needles, along with the schedule of when to give the allergy shots.  The ladies at the dermatologist office said Hershey Bell is a very highly allergic dog!  Yikes!

We got two vials of allergens to give him.  The first vial is a diluted version of the allergens he's allergic to, and the second vial is full strength of the allergens.  The first time I gave Hershey his shot, I just picked him up and put in in Shawn's chair and had him cornered in the chair and gave him the shot.  The second night, that didn't work so good since he knew what was happening and he darted through my legs out of the chair.  We've now started tag-teaming to give the shots and it's definitely a two person job.  One to try and corral the wild dog, and one to be the bad guy and give the shots.  Thankfully each time, Hershey's been the one to get the injection and not Shawn or I.  That dog definitely doesn't want to hold still for the shot.  I've tried treats and everything.  And it was way worse when I took the medicine directly out of the fridge and gave him the shot with cold medicine. The ladies at the office gave me a call the other day to see how he was doing and offered to me the suggestion of letting the medicine sit out and warm up some.  This has definitely helped.

I was going to type of the schedule we have to use, but figured a picture would be easier.  HA!

 I've listed the results of his testing below.  

He was tested for different allergens that are common to our area.  The results are based on a scale of 0 to 6:

6 - Ultra high level
5 - Ultra high level
4 - Very high level
3 - High level
2 - Low level
1 - Very low level
0 - Absent or undetectable

Of the 40 different things they tested for, Hershey was allergic to the following and some were in the very high level range (I'll also include the things he wasn't allergic to as well):

In the Weeds category:

Short ragweed - 4
Russian Thistle - 4
Giant ragweed - 3
Dandelion - 1
Lamb's quarter - 2
Rough pigweed - 2

He didn't react to the mugwort, plantain, cocklebur, sorrel, goldenrod, or yellow dock.

In the Trees category:

Maple - 3
Pine - 2
Mulberry - 2

He didn't react to oak, walnut, red cedar, birch, elm, or sycamore.

In the Grasses category:

Bermuda - 4
Rye - 3
June - 2
Timothy - 3

He didn't react to orchard.

In the House Dust Mites category:

D. farinae - 2

He didn't react to D. pteronyssinus. 

In the Molds category:

Penicillium - 3

He didn't react to aspergillus, alternaria, cladosporium, or mucor.

In the Insects category:

Flea - 2

He didn't react to cockroach, black ant, or housefly.

He was also tested in the Epidermals category, but didn't react to anything in that category which was cat dander, human dander, or sheep wool.

So this has been our journey thus far with allergy shots for Hershey.  Hopefully after we finish the vial of medicine we have, he'll be alot better and won't have to get the injections so much and will feel so much better.  I had seeing him in discomfort, and I hate being the bad guy giving the shots.

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