Dog Allergies

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.

Like what you're reading? Well sign up below to my email list and not only will you be kept up-to-date with blog posts, you'll also be first in line to receive any special offers or promotions before they are released to the general public.

[convertkit form=5131288]

Posted by 4 Legs Photography in Uncategorised

In sickness and in health – my Layla’s journey into adulthood

This week’s blog is all about Layla, my furry kid, and her journey back to health after her puppy vaccines.

I first saw Layla’s mum when she was pregnant and regularly saw Layla as a puppy, visiting her every 10 days until I picked her up at 8 weeks old.

6 week old whippet puppy

I did a lot of reading before her vaccinations and spoke to BAHVS (The British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons) about the safest way to vaccinate. Layla’s mum had not been vaccinated and her breeder had relied on homeopathic vaccination with Nosodes.

After reading the recommendation on the vaccine manufacturer’s site saying vaccination should be at 10 and 12 weeks, I chose to follow their recommendations and informed my vet of my decision and they agreed.

She got plenty of socialising before she was vaccinated as I carried her everywhere. She would wriggle like mad if I just held her but if I put her in a bag then she’d just settle and watch the world go by. So in a bag she stayed when we went out and about, and she acclimatised to the world.

whippet puppy being carried in a bag

Layla’s problems started after her first puppy vaccine. Her first vaccine at 10 weeks seemed uneventful, although she developed diarrhoea within 10 days. I took her back to the vet to get it checked and she received her second vaccine, still with an upset tummy.

The bouts of diarrhoea continued and after a stool test, it was found she had Giardia. Giardia is a protozoan parasite that infects the gut of a dog and she was treated with Panacur paste to try and rid her of it.

Even after treatment, she still had problems with intermittent diarrhoea and would get it every 2-3 days and she was going through tubes of Pro-Kolin like no-one’s business. She was put on a bland chicken and rice diet but that didn’t seem to clear it up and neither did chicken and pasta.

She was put on an exclusion diet by the vet and went on Royal Canin Hypoallergenic D2 kibble. She was on that for 6 weeks, no treats, no titbits, nothing but the kibble to allow her guts to calm down and her stools to return to normal. After the exclusion period was over, and with the guidance of the vet, I started reintroducing foods to her diet. The plan was, whilst keeping her on the hypoallergenic kibble, to reintroduce foods one at a time with a 4-day window between new introductions to allow time for any reaction to occur. Chicken was the first introduction and went smoothly, then we tried wheat and that was jet propelled out of her rear end like something out of the exorcist...needless to say we found she had a wheat allergy. After her gut calmed we carried on reintroducing foods and only other major reaction was to egg.

My journey into pet food started. I tried her on Nature’s Diet trays of rice based, or, grain-free wet food, Wainright's grain free trays and many other variations on the theme. Her guts seemed settled most of the time unless she stole something she shouldn’t – which was more often than I was happy with. It’s not that she just has diarrhoea, but she obviously got a stomach ache with it as she would bow a lot trying to relieve the pain.

Everything seemed to be fairly under control until March 2 years ago. I couldn’t find her in the lounge, where she was usually found roaching on the sofa. I found her in my room and couldn’t believe how she looked! She was covered in lumps on her face and had a few on her legs as well. She was cold to the touch and her gums were pale and slightly tacky. I was at a loss as to what to do and called the vet who suggested she was having an allergic reaction. By the time she got there the lumps had all but dissipated leaving the vet with nothing to see. She was given some Piriton and I took some home with me to try out.

Whippet with hives on muzzle
Whippet with hives on muzzle

To cut a long story short, these flare ups continued with varying severity for a good few months, until the middle of the summer when, after trying 3 different types of antihistamine we found one that worked. I thought antihistamines were all the same, but it turns out there are 7 different types available (for dogs at least) and they all act differently within the body. Piriton didn’t provide any relief at all and one other provided unacceptable side effects. Now, when she has a bout of hives I could give her an Atarax and she’d recover fairly quickly with the only side effect being that the Atarax was also an appetite stimulant and would turn the mild mannered Whippet into a greedy Labrador. 😉 Layla also underwent allergy related blood testing which showed no reaction to wheat, although if fed her guts would very obviously react to. It seems a blood reaction to an allergen can be different to that of a gut based reaction. So even though her immune system did not react to the wheat her gut did.

At the same time, while I was looking for answers, I visited the Natural Medicine Centre in Potters Bar and saw Richard Alport, who is an holistic vet. He treated Layla with homeopathy and supplements including Royal Jelly and, together with my conventional vet, managed to stabilise Layla’s reactions. I found that when Layla had a hives reaction I could give her homeopathic Apis and the hives would usually subside but if not I had the Atarax as a backup.

The hives continued on and off, along with the diarrhoea, and my conventional vet and I came to the conclusion that Layla required further investigation and was referred to a specialist dermatologist at the Davies referral centre in Bedfordshire. Layla underwent intradermal (under skin) testing which is considered more accurate than the allergy blood test Layla had undergone the year before. I couldn’t believe the results she’s reacted to:

• Mosquitoes
• Storage Mites
• House Dust Mites
• Pollens and grasses
• Cats
• Spiders
• And of all things a mild reaction to Dogs!!

So it turns out my little furry kid was pretty much allergic to life. The dermatologist vet suggested I try a home cooked chicken and potato diet and to see whether that helped calm her immune system and guts. It sounded like a bit of a faff but I was prepared to do anything to get her well. I started by preparing 2 weeks at a time and soon tired of that as it was so time consuming. I ended up buying a 25 kg bag of potatoes (from my local potato farm), getting the local chippy to tumble them for me and then boiling mashing and portioning them all in one day. Needless to say potato day was a big deal!

potatoes portioned in take away dishes

Two months later and I’d hardly touched the antihistamines or homeopathy. 18 months on and she’s still on home cooked chicken and potato with ground eggshells every other day to keep her calcium levels ok. She’s still on Royal Jelly which helps calm her immune system and also zinc to make sure she doesn’t become deficient. In addition to the chicken and potato she has linseed oil to supplement her omega 3 and 6 so she gets enough fat and I also have her on ‘golden paste’ (a turmeric blend with anti-inflammatory benefits). Last but not least, she also has Yu-Digest by Lintbells that has really helped firm her stools. She is regularly complimented on how good she looks and what a great condition she’s in. No one would know the problems she’s had to go through, but she’s made it out the other side and has not had a bout of hives for a year. She does still suffer from the occasional bout of dodgy guts but it’s usually something she’s eaten and it resolves once it passes through.

After all is said and done, my vet now agrees that Layla’s illness has all stemmed from her initial puppy vaccinations and has agreed that to vaccinate her any further would be a detriment to her health.

I realise this is a longer post than I usually write but I’ve met so many people who have dogs with allergies that I thought it useful for others to hear how we have dealt with the symptoms she’s presented.

Posted by 4 Legs Photography in Uncategorised