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Dexter taking a nap

I write from time to time about our special needs dog: Dexter. We knew he had skin issues when we adopted him out of the Humane Society. Of course, we did not realize just how involved his care was going to be. Dexter has food allergies, and perhaps environmental allergies as well. And we needed to escalate his care to a Veterinarian Dermatologist. Yes, there is such a thing. (His doctor is awesome as well.)

This came as a surprise to me since the last dog I shared my life with was Blackie. And as I have written in the past, he was my childhood dog, before the age of Purina. So he ate meat, rice, and veggies every day for 17 years. And whatever we snuck him, from the mommy approved list. That miniature poodle died from real old age. And no, there were no specialists back then. You either got a good vet or a bad vet. Blackie had a good vet that my mother chose. She also took him to his appointments and made sure the dog was healthy. We mostly played with the dog. Later on, I took on some responsibilities, including giving the dog meds when he was sick. When he was elderly I tenderly took care of his accidents. One day my mom took him to the vet, and he did not come home. We knew why, and it was a mercy for the dog.

Dexter was extremely itchy and losing hair like crazy. We were seeing a regular general vet, and while she recommended some of the treatments that Dexter is on, not to the extent that the treatment has evolved. Baths for the dog are now a daily thing, from the tip of the nose (almost) to the tip of the tail. He gets daily cold showers, with me. His medicated shampoo makes him less itchy if the water is as cold as both of us can tolerate. And he gets toe massages, as some of the issues are in between his toes.

Yes, he is still going bald on his flanks, chest, and legs. But it seems that is slowing down. Some very fine hair seems to be growing back as well. His primary doc did some of the diagnosis and gave him medicine for the itchiness. This medication has to be repeated every so often. And it works by modulating his immune system. It is a biologic for dogs.

His first appointed lasted hours, as they checked him for all that could be wrong with his skin. It was a very comprehensive exam like you should expect if you go to a dermatologist. I suppose you can say, it itches here, so that will be a shorter visit. He also could be allergic to fleas, which his mom is also allergic to. So we both share that. He will get his meds for that, for both our sakes.

We left the office with a treatment plan. We also left the office with a vegetarian soy-based diet for the doggie. (Wait, WHAT? Aren’t these obligate carnivores?) We want to find out what animal protein he is actually allergic to. So, as you would do with humans, he is on an elimination diet. So we are starting him with the most radical thing, and it is part of the protocol. I have been reading a lot into his condition so I can become a better partner in his care.

We had no issue switching him to this prescription diet, and as we started to reduce his exposure to chicken protein, he started to be less itchy. Since Saturday he has been on a fully vegetarian diet. His level of itchiness has gone down by orders of magnitude. His skin also looks less red and angry. He is a happier dog I suppose. It is hard to tell, since he has looked happy from the beginning. Since I do have a food allergy as well, I have full empathy for the dog. Mine never got that bad, at least with the skin. It had other effects, that were even less pleasant for those around me.

He also has a fungal infection, a bacterial infection and an ear infection. The fungal he is already getting meds for it, systemic. He is starting antibiotics, after tests were done to see what would attack them. And he gets meds for the ears twice a day. Three if I count his ear flush. It is work, don’t get me wrong. But he is an awesome dog!

And when we adopted him, we knew we were adopting a special needs dog. He is a lover and likes to cuddle. He was a good addition to the family. Will this run a medical bill as well? You betcha. What I wonder is whether we are seeing more allergies in humans, dogs, and others? With all the things we have put into the environment, we will pay a price. And perhaps we are already starting to pay for our folly.

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