Bishops Stortford Pet Photographer

My dog had a swollen face – major allergic reaction not the usual hives!

Last week was a bit of a shocking week for me. As many of you who read this blog regularly will know, Layla (my whippet) has multiple allergies (see this post for an explanation). Usually her allergies are displayed as itchy ears, an upset stomach or at times, hives on her head (and rarely her body). This time she had a major allergic reaction causing a swollen face!

Whippet with hives
dog with hives on muzzle

Last Sunday was another hot and humid day and I left it until 6:30 pm to take her for her walk.  As it was so humid I didn’t take her too far but I let her off on the lane down to the church. The lane has fields either side, which this year contains barley.  Layla just happened to meet up with a doggy neighbour, Maddie, whose mum had the same idea as me (short walk to the church as it was too hot for more).  Maddie and Layla went off for a bounce in the field.  Yes, I know, some of you have issues with dogs bouncing in fields, but dogs will be dogs and if that’s the worst of my crimes then I don’t think I’m doing too badly! Anyway, they were only on there about 30-40 second in total before we carried on down the lane and then returned back home 20 minutes later.

Lane leading to church during the Bluebell ride

When I got home, I left Layla lounging on the sofa, whilst I went out to water the plants in the greenhouse. No more than 10 minutes after returning home Layla came running out of the house and into the garden looking a little agitated. Even from 10 meters away I could see her face didn’t look right and I knew she was having a reaction to something.

Our usual routine is for me to give her homeopathic Apis (as prescribed by her homeopathic vet) and then if the reaction is uncontrolled, give her an antihistamine. I could see this reaction was more severe than usual so I gave her an antihistamine straight away and supplemented with Apis to help control the reaction. It took 2 doses of Apis (at 15 minute intervals) for the symptoms to subside. Her face was hot to the touch, red and she was incredibly itchy (a typical Apis reaction).

Whippet with swollen face - allergic reaction
Dog wityh swollen face - allergic reaction

Once I knew I had the reaction under control I put her in the shower to wash off whatever she was reacting too. She had an all over shampoo and I made sure her face was thoroughly rinsed with cool water. I’ve never seen her tolerate water on her face like she did while she was having the reaction; it must have been so cooling. I also rinsed her eyes with an eye wash that’s usually reserved after trips to the beach when her eyes have sand in them.

CleanOcular eye wash for dogs

Usually when she has a reaction it makes her cold and her gums go pale.  She is often improved my rest and being tucked up under a blanket on the sofa to warm her.  This time, after her bath, she chose to go in her cosy cave and sleep off the worst of it.  It is obviously exhausting when this happens to her. I know when the reaction has reached its peak, and the Apis is working, when the swelling starts to flatten and spread – as you can see from the photos below.

Layla in her Cosy Cave
Layla sleeping off her allergic reaction

That night I went to bed with a whippet that looked like a Shar-Pei….and woke up with an English Bull Terrier!

Whippet looking like an English Bull Terrier the morning after an allergic reaction
Dog with a swollen face the morning after an allergic reaction

I took 4 days for the swelling to subside. I noticed that as the days went on the swelling reduced from the top of her head first, then her muzzle, and then her jaw. All the time it seemed to be draining down her neck giving her what I can only describe as a ‘waddle’ (anyone remember Ally McBeal?)

Finally, by Thursday my gorgeous girl has her beautiful whippet face back and her normal exuberant personality.

dog with 'waddle' after facial swelling starts to subside
Day 1 post allergic reaction,
Day 1 Post allergic reaction - generally puffy face
Day 1 afternoon post allergic reaction - face swelling starting to subside
Day 2 post allergic reaction - most of the facial swelling has gone - just a bit left around the lower jaw and neck

I’ve stopped and thought about what it was that she reacted to, my initial conclusion being the barley pollen. But after further thought I wonder whether the long spell of dry weather has somehow concentrated the chemicals, sprayed on to the fields, into the leaves of the barley. As she ran through the fields it was this chemical she reacted to. My only consideration for this comes as I remember when I kissed her muzzle it made my lips tingle. I also remember that while on that fateful walk, I picked some pollen from the corner of her eye, then rubbed my cheek and my cheek also tingled. I thought nothing of it at the time due to my own odd chemical sensitivities. Though I do find the chemical hypothesis to be a valid one, truth is I’ll never know.

Having spoken to our vet, I’m keeping her on antibiotics for a few weeks just to help calm her immune system and get over the worst of the pollen season. It seems there is the option to give her some steroid should the reaction be worse (hopefully there’s not a next time!) and it may be I could keep that at home. I try to avoid steroids if at all possible, and although it wasn’t used on this occasion I would use it if I could not get the reaction under control.

It seems with such a late spring everything is producing pollen at the same time. I really feel for hay fever sufferers at this time of year. Summer is wonderful …..I just wish I didn’t have Layla reacting to things at the back of my mind.

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Posted by 4 Legs Photography in Uncategorised

Do you cut your own dog’s claws? –Bishops Stortford Pet Photographer

There are a few things that a lot of us dog parents have difficulty with, and quite often we end up paying others to do those tasks for us; one of them is cutting dogs nails.

As you can probably imagine, I am part of an active dog community and I wanted to know whether people cut their own dog’s claws, or whether claw clipping was something they left for their vet or groomer to do. I was surprised to hear back that the majority of people do actually clip their own dog’s claws, yet unsurprisingly a few were wary of cutting black claws. If only you could reason with your dog and explain that claw clipping is a necessary task and, if they could just hold still for 2 minutes, it would be over without any stress or pain.

My whippet has always been a wriggler when it comes to nail clipping. I don’t know whether it’s just that she has ticklish paws, or whether it stems back to having her dew claws removed as a tiny puppy. Either way, it usually involves a fair bit of avoidance and repeatedly trying to take her paw away from me as I’m cutting. It’s not really conducive to a quick and stress free experience on either of our parts!

Layla - a wriggle bum when it comes to caw cutting - Bishops Stortford Pet Photographer

I grew up with German Shepherds (GSDs) and cutting their black claws was never an issue. They were lovely and big and their quicks (the nailbed, like ours, that bleeds if you cut the claw too short) were easily to see and feel. They had a very obvious dish shaped under side to their claw and it made clipping a breeze.

Zeke - big black German Shepherd claws - quicks easier to see on big claws

My whippet on the other hand, has these dainty little feet, with tiny claws, no obvious dishing due to their size. Thankfully most of her claws are white, which means that given a bit of sunshine behind them I can easily see her pink quick – it does make matters a little easier!

With a lot of work over the past 4 ½ years she has gone from quivering wreck at nail trimming time to a resigned acceptance. Unfortunately, the last time I cut her nails she moved just as I cut and I caught the end of her quick. Thankfully it wasn’t enough to make it bleed, but I do fear we may have taken a step backwards in the journey to a stress free nail trimming experience.

How to cut your dogs claws - Herts and Essex Pet Photographer

One of the questions I’ve asked my friends recently was what type of clipper they use on their dogs. The overwhelming answer came back as the pliers style cutter like the one pictured. People said that using the guard helped to start with and then once you got the hang of it you could use it without.

I used to use this style on my GSDs with great success; it’s a nice strong tool with a good grip and comes in different sizes. I have personally found with smaller claws that its sturdiness becomes a little bit of a problem as I have trouble seeing what I’m doing as it’s too bulky.

Pliers style dog nail cutters - 4 Legs Photography

With whippet claws I much prefer the scissor type cutters like the ones pictured. I find they give me a better view of what I’m going. They are great for small breeds but also for puppies.

One style of clipper that I have had success with in the past, on small claws, is the guillotine style cutter. This is a single bladed cutter that some dogs prefer, maybe because it creates a more shearing action as opposed to a pinching action.

Scissor style dog nail cutters - Pet Photographer

There are quite a few varieties of claw trimmers out there. Overwhelmingly it seems experienced dog parents use the pliers variety of clipper for large dog claws. I even spoke with a groomer who trims claws for a living, and along with using the pliers style cutter she told me that we should all be remembering to sharpen our trimmers every now and again to keep them at their most effective, and more comfortable for the dogs. You can do this with a knife sharpener like the one pictured.

Knife steel - keep your dog nail cutters sharp

Since I drafted this post at the end of last week, I have once again braved claw trimming on my whippet, with freshly sharpened clippers! With copious amounts of cheese bribery she managed to stay still and endured the experience without disappearing half way through! Very well done Layla, what lovely claws you have now!

Short claws after cutting - you can see the quick
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Posted by 4 Legs Photography in Uncategorised