Dog's Heath Issues Blamed On An Innocent Kitten

TobiDaDog

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My 5 1/2 year old lab mix, Sydney, started getting sick about a month ago. She's always been...a bit delicate. She suffers badly from Cold Tail Syndrome after having baths and often has to have antibiotics to clear it up. She suffers from chronic ear infections. She had the femoral head of one hind leg removed. She's a mess.

I was petting her ears in early October when she suddenly screamed out of the blue. Upon closer inspection (after calming my startled heart down) I noticed a tiny bump under the skin of her ear. ...And on the other ear. In the exact same spot. It was as if someone had measured her ears and pinched tough blisters into them, but they weren't open.

Within a few days the bumps split wide open, making large crusty scabs that hurt her pretty bad. She also stopped eating and started moping around a lot, so off to the vet she went.

They did a scrape of her ears and looked at them under the microscope. (By this point the vet barely touching them made them bleed) She said that there was no parasite, but they were infected. She gave us some antibiotics and steroid cream and sent us home.

Neither of those things helped at all. Poor Sydney got worse and worse, becoming hot with fever, eating none of her food...and growing scabs over her eyes and paws as well. She would lie in bed all day, virtually unresponsive.

My in laws decided on their own that 'it must be the kitten's fault'. To be honest, I've never even seen Reese and Sydney give each other so much as a second glance. They don't even cuddle. They most certainly don't play, and they will pass one another at touching distance without acknowledgement. Still, the parents insisted that Reese was doing it. I took a good close look at the scabs and determined that they do not look like bites or scratches. They're large, bubbling, lumpy scabs. Nothing like a slim claw mark or a puncture from a tooth. It's as if they're bubbling up from inside of her.

They've grown more and more pushy with this idea, even saying that I should clip Reese's claws or have her declawed if she doesn't stop hurting the dog behind everyone's back. I said absolutely not.

We started feeding Sydney chicken and rice in the hopes that she would eat again. (By this point she was down from 70 to 60 lbs and you could see her spine a bit) There was zero hesitation. She snarfed it down as though it were the best thing in the world. Wait, what? I thought you weren't eating!

I quickly realized that she's eating everything except for her dog food! It kind of hit me...maybe the food is what's making her sick and she knew it. She has eaten Pedigree dry all of her life without issue and she was a quarter of the way through the bag but...I decided to toss it and get her a new food. Grain, corn, and soy free flavored lamb food from Nature's Recipe.

She was hilarious when I put a bowl down for her. She sniffed it, then reared back and BARKED at the food, a gentle, whispered 'boof...' as though she was shocked to find something different in her bowl. It took a while to coax her to eat it because she was for some reason skittish of going near it, but the change has been tremendous.

The sores on her ears disappeared almost overnight. The ones on her face are drying up and almost gone, and her feet are blister free. She's eating again and acting like a normal, active dog and her fever has broken. Before she wouldn't even get up from her bed to greet you when you came home, now she runs to say hi.

I don't know if it was just that specific bag or some sort of developed intolerance, but I believe that Sydney wasn't taking her food very well. I don't think it was the kitten at all. If she continues to improve, she will stay on this brand of food. Pedigree is in the past.
 

Kflowers

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I think you're right and it was the Pedigree. You might want to give it a miss for the future. Dogs like humans and cats can become allergic to different things during their lives. Now when you in-laws tell you you're wasting money with the "fancy" food, you'll be able to tell them you're saving money on vet bills. They might listen, but probably won't.

I'm thinking, from what you said, with your in-laws, if it wasn't this, it'd be something else. Don't listen, just live your life. You obviously know how to care for Sydney, the kitten and their son.

BTW - that was a freaky scary reaction. Your vet should have suggested it was an allergy. You might poke around and see who else is a vet in your area.
 

Kflowers

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OH, and removing the femoral head is the current treatment and seems to be rather successful. The surgery should have releived a good bit of Sydney's pain in walking. She might still need a little something for arthritis. I hope your vet can diagnose that, mine flippin' couldn't. She thought it was anxiety and put puppers on anxiety meds which did nothing for the arthritis pain. Bitter? who me?
 

verna davies

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Sometimes our pets illnesses are a real puzzle but it sounds as if you might have found the answer. Well done. Check the ingredients of the old food, it might contain something that Sydney is allergic too. So glad he is on the mend.
 
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TobiDaDog

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I think you're right and it was the Pedigree. You might want to give it a miss for the future. Dogs like humans and cats can become allergic to different things during their lives. Now when you in-laws tell you you're wasting money with the "fancy" food, you'll be able to tell them you're saving money on vet bills. They might listen, but probably won't.

I'm thinking, from what you said, with your in-laws, if it wasn't this, it'd be something else. Don't listen, just live your life. You obviously know how to care for Sydney, the kitten and their son.

BTW - that was a freaky scary reaction. Your vet should have suggested it was an allergy. You might poke around and see who else is a vet in your area.
It was very scary!! I'm surprised too that the vet didn't suggest an allergy..but she was pretty convinced that the antibiotic would work and she didn't even want to try to get to the bottom of the infection. She said that it would have been 'impossible'??

And the parents are usually very kind and adore Reese, so I don't know what's up here. I think they're just very scared for poor Sydney and it's coming out all wrong. Plus they can be tremendously stubborn once they get an idea into their heads.
 

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My first dog was allergic to EVERYTHING. She would break out like that and was just a mess in general. Even when I would find something she could eat, she would develop an allergy/intolerance to the new food after a year or two, so don't be surprised if you have to change her food to something else in the future. But for now, enjoy the reprieve! Poor dog. I don't know why some dogs have so many problems.
 

Kflowers

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Tobidadog, good science and medicine depend on an open mind to consider all the possibilities. I can certainly see where in the world of modern medicine with the miracle of antibiotics, the first response is to throw an antibiotic at whatever is presented and see if that fixes it. Easy way to fix things, easy way to make your fee. But, it's hardly enough and hardly the best science and medicine. AND allergies aren't that unusual.

As for considering it impossible to find the source of the infection...Well, not everyone graduates at the top of their class.

I'm so glad you sensed the possibilities, which you shouldn't have had to, and saved Sydney. Because you, not the vet saved Sydney. Don't ever forget that.
 

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A food intolerance wouldn't surprise me in the least, because that often causes all sorts of ear problems in dogs, especially itching/seeping/welts. It may have developed gradually, or Pedigree may have changed ingredients and/or sourcing.
 

neely

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We changed our dog's food after he had two seizures and it made a difference. I honestly feel some autoimmune illnesses including allergies can be triggered by diet. I'm thankful you were able to help Sydney and figure out the culprit responsible for her health problem. :clap2:
 

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a few months ago she started developing sores all over her body, became fevered, and quit eating. We put her on a different brand of 'allergen free' food and she perked back up and started losing the sores, but now they're coming back full on along with all the other symptoms.
Ok, I didn't want to hijack the recalls thread.
What have the vets tried/recommended? Is she on any medications?

This is what I would do, based on my experience with my first dog, who was a genetic train wreck. Do run it by your vet to make sure they're on board.

First, have full bloodwork done, if at all possible. Get every test available, including vitamin deficiencies and all that.

I'd start feeding her ONLY plain chicken and white rice. You can do this for a month or two without causing any significant nutritional deficiencies. If the problem is dietary, this should cause a dramatic improvement (unless she has problems with chicken and/or rice. If the vet thinks the problem is chicken, try pork chops or turkey). It's pretty easy to boil up a big pot of it all together; dogs don't care if it's gourmet :D. If she shows improvement, than the hard work of allergen elimination starts. If a suitable commercial food can't be found, it's not too hard to find a premix that can be added to the chicken and rice to make it balanced. Hopefully you can find one that doesn't have whatever she's allergic to.

Wash all her stuff with a "free and clear" detergent. Remove all air fresheners and stop using carpet powder, if applicable.

Bathe her every day for 3 days with a hypoallergenic shampoo, then every 3 days for a few weeks, then once a week. This should improve most skin conditions.

Make sure there aren't any fleas or other bugs.

If she's really in bad shape, ask the vet about using steroids for immediate relief. Long term steroid use is NOT good for dogs but if she's not doing well you don't have much to lose.
 
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TobiDaDog

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Ok, I didn't want to hijack the recalls thread.
What have the vets tried/recommended? Is she on any medications?

This is what I would do, based on my experience with my first dog, who was a genetic train wreck. Do run it by your vet to make sure they're on board.

First, have full bloodwork done, if at all possible. Get every test available, including vitamin deficiencies and all that.

I'd start feeding her ONLY plain chicken and white rice. You can do this for a month or two without causing any significant nutritional deficiencies. If the problem is dietary, this should cause a dramatic improvement (unless she has problems with chicken and/or rice. If the vet thinks the problem is chicken, try pork chops or turkey). It's pretty easy to boil up a big pot of it all together; dogs don't care if it's gourmet :D. If she shows improvement, than the hard work of allergen elimination starts. If a suitable commercial food can't be found, it's not too hard to find a premix that can be added to the chicken and rice to make it balanced. Hopefully you can find one that doesn't have whatever she's allergic to.

Wash all her stuff with a "free and clear" detergent. Remove all air fresheners and stop using carpet powder, if applicable.

Bathe her every day for 3 days with a hypoallergenic shampoo, then every 3 days for a few weeks, then once a week. This should improve most skin conditions.

Make sure there aren't any fleas or other bugs.

If she's really in bad shape, ask the vet about using steroids for immediate relief. Long term steroid use is NOT good for dogs but if she's not doing well you don't have much to lose.
The vets recommended a food change to test for allergies, they prescribed her antibiotics, and they put her on steroids at one point, but none of those helped. Right now they're teetering on having to administer fluids for dehydration, but we've managed to get her to drink enough watered down broth to hold that off for the moment.
She's been tested for parasites. Everything came back negative. They scraped her sores and looked at them under a microscope and found nothing. They said that it's just...unidentified infection at this point.
We tried a trial of chicken and rice for about 3 weeks. (And right now she's on lamb food, no poultry) No improvement there, sadly. She did eat it though, which was wonderful. We're still giving her that and wet food when she decides that she wants to eat.

They did blood work thinking that it was possibly an autoimmune disorder but that came back negative. She was worked over for tumors, cancer, mouth sores, urinary tract infection... (they did say she needs a tooth cleaning but that's it)
At this point they're at a complete loss. They just want us to make her comfortable and keep trying to hydrate her.
We have not tried a hypoallergenic shampoo, I will definitely get some of that. That's another thing. No matter how often we bathe her, she stinks. Bad. She smells like she's rotting from the inside out.
 

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I would get the dentistry done. Bad teeth can wreck havoc with everything else about the body and might explain the smell. There is a chance that one or more teeth are much worse than the vet's visual inspection has told him. (Personal experience with my teeth. Only x-rays can show what's going on with the roots. Rotting teeth roots can kill you. ) If nothing else he'll feel a little better if his teeth don't hurt.
 

Willowy

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Oh wow, they've been pretty thorough, hard to add anything to that. I agree that it's not an allergy or food intolerance, or the steroids would have helped. It must be something internal. I hope they can figure it out soon! Mystery illnesses are the worst. :vibes:
 

inkysmom

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My dog has inflammatory bowel disease and food allergies. He'd refuse to eat for days and get awful diarrhea for days, everywhere. He's fully housebroken but if he couldn't wake me up to take him out in the middle of the night he'd have huge liquid diarrhea accidents and be so upset he'd hide in his crate and not come out. His poop stunk awfully.
He refused to eat all the limited special prescription dirts and hates plain white rice. He's actually allergic to chicken so any chicken dog food makes him sick.
He eats a limited salmon and sweet potato dog food and seems fine eating beef and pork canned food and treats
His symptoms are all intestinain and lack of appetite.
My cat has tested allergic to basically every food and environmental allergens out there. He scratches his skin raw and looks like an abuse case. Antibiotics and steroids did nothing for him. He's had allergic reactions of awful vomiting and diarrhea to severe antibiotics.
No soy, corn, salmon, pork or bunch of his favorite foods for him. He can eat chicken, bred and turkey. He and the dog are allergic to oppose foods yet live to steal each other's foods that each can't tolerate.
Cat gets allergy shots subcutaneous that I give every two weeks and apoquel for itchiness every two or three days. Should be twice a week but I've been trying to keep my older cat with cancer eating and gaining back some weight so have been feed him whatever he wants and as much as he'll eat.
So allergy cat is feasting and has gained almost two pounds and is now fat.

My dog had to have his whole stomach scoped for his diagnosis. My cat had to have extensive allergy testing. He had the skin issues similar to what your dog sounds like she has.
Hope some of this helps!
 

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I am covered in eczema myself right now, I have no idea what has caused this outbreak, our beloved dogs and cats can suffer allergic skin problems the same way... I hope Sydney is feeling much better now
 

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I hope she is feeling much better! I had a chocolate lab named Sydney who passed away about 3 years ago and she was always a mess with her arthritis from a young age too (no food allergies though). I had a lab growing up that was allergic to environmental things... especially flea bites, which would make him lose all his fur in the area he was bitten.
 
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TobiDaDog

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Thank you guys for caring about Sydney! It's still very much up in the air. She's eating again, but she has to be coaxed with canned to keep her hydrated. She's still underweight, and still getting sores. Every time one disappears she grows another, or the hair just stops growing over skin. She doesn't seem to scratch, but the ends of her ears are ragged. They will obviously never be whole again. Chips are actually eaten away, gone forever.
Some days she perks up and seems happy, others she is depressed and obviously feels terrible. We are seeking a different vet now, hopefully getting more opinions on what could be wrong with her.
 
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TobiDaDog

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Just thought I'd give you guys an update! We were getting Sydney ready for the new vet today, just putting her harness on her. Trying to get the harness around her leg elicited a HUGE scream. Well lately her front leg has been a little swollen. Today it was nearly twice the size of the other leg. But she isn't limping or anything.

We got her to the vet and told him what happened, showed him the leg, and his face just dropped. He rushed her off to X-rays without telling us many details, then came back later and explained in a much calmer way that his first thought was bone cancer. He said that she isn't cancerous, but she is riddled with infection throughout her leg.

He thinks that the infection is spreading into different parts of her body and making her scratch, shake, and chew on herself until she develops sores. He also said that she had a fever of 105. Yikes.

He flushed her sore ears, gave her a steroid injection and a STRONG antibiotic injection. She's got 10 days worth of those antibiotics in pill form as well. He said that if she's not acting any better by Wednesday, he wants her right back in.
 

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I think I like this new vet. Except for the accidentally scaring you part.

Prayers for Sydney and you.
 

Willowy

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Yeah, vets do NOT like to see anything wacky going on with legs. Osteosarcoma is very common and very fatal.

Well, glad to hear he figured something out. I hope the treatment takes care of it! :vibes:I wonder what caused the infection in the first place.
 
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