Thursday, June 02, 2011

Urticarial Vasculitis

Thank you very much for your well wishes sent to Dozer!

He is doing much better today, and today we have a fancy name for his crazy allergic reaction: urticarial vasculitis.

"Rhymes with treat!"
We went in today and the dermatology vet got her first look at Dozer after his hive attack.

The hives themselves are pretty much gone. Dozer looks totally normal when he's standing around.

Clearly feeling fine today.
The derm vet glanced him over and noticed the smaller bumps on his rear leg and said "Okay, so these are the hives?" Translation: "I don't get it. Why are you here?"

I said, "Those are some leftover hives, but you really should look at his stomach." We got Big D to lie down and stretch out, and I spread his rear legs for the full effect.

Day 3. Now looking rather like poison ivy or ringworm.
The redness is not quite as purple today, but it has spread so that you can see it all the way down his legs, even through his fur.

For the first time ever, I heard a vet say "Jesus Christ!" Followed by a lot of "Oh wow... Wow... Wow... This is so red... wow...."

I said, "This is day three. It looks different every day. I have photos of the last two days on my flash drive."

"I... wow... Oh my gosh..." It went on like this for a while as she and her assistant stared at the train wreck that was my dog.

After she had gotten past the shock and awe, the vet asked if she could take Dozer in the back and show him to the interns. She also took my flash drive and copied the photos, evidently wanting to use them in her lectures.

Which was all fine and good, but I really wanted to know what the heck my dog was suffering from.

Other than goofy-adorable syndrome, of course.
Anyway, after she brought Dozer and my flash drive back, and after consulting with interns and a few other vets, the derm vet said that Dozer had an episode of urticarial vasculitis.

Basically, urticaria is a serious case of hives, and vasculitis is when the blood vessels get inflamed and leak blood and fluid into the skin. In other words: Dozer's hives were so massive that they caused extensive bruising. Vasculitis also explains why the redness expands and turns interesting shades of purple, green, and brown over a period of days--the same way a bruise does.

Why and what to do about it are the harder questions to answer. The derm vet said that it could have been caused by a bug bite, a drug (like the cephalexin), or food allergy. Since D is on the rabbit-based food only, we don't think it's food. It could be a reaction to cephalexin, so we've decided to stop giving that.

But the most likely culprit is a bug sting, of any kind, from tiny fire ant to big red wasp. A bug sting would explain all of the previous hive outbreaks that Dozer has had, because he has always developed the hives after going outside for a potty break.

No matter what caused it, the vet has recommended that we try giving Dozer a daily antihistamine. That should put a damper on his daily allergies, and also stop these hives before they have the chance to go nuclear.

Most dogs would get Benadryl, but we are going to try hydroxyzine. You would not like Dozer on Benadryl. Nobody likes Dozer on Benadryl.


jen said...

even the specialist was floored, that's when you know!

I'm assuming in your region fire ants are a problem? My sister in law's GSD got a permanent welt on its, um, man bits from a fire ant attack. Scary buggers, huh?

Kari in WeHo said...

does Dozer get sleepy or crazy on Benedryl?


happypitbull said...

Kari, I wish he got sleepy! Instead, he gets whiny. God-awful nails-on-a-chalkboard whiny. :) I think the Benadryl makes him feel funny and he wants to tell us about it. Constantly.

Jen, yes, Texas is well-known for fire ants. They're quite established here. Their stings can put you in the hospital if you get enough on you, or if you're sensitive to stinging bugs. But usually it only takes one bite before you realize you're standing in a nest or a marching line, and you need to MOVE. I've been stung many times--it's unavoidable, unless you never go outside ever--and it is very unpleasant, but not as bad as a wasp sting IMO. (Dozer may have a different opinion about that, though.)

forsythia said...

Dozer, you look so much better today. So glad!

H Ski said...

I love what the vet said. It is always a little scary when the vets are surprised.

But I am glad to hear he is doing better today. And he looks much better too!!

DianeTaylor said...

Hi Dozer - I am so glad the doctor has a name for your breakout - ouch, I still have trouble looking at those pictures! You are adorable - even with.....whatever the heck you called it....I hope they go away soon. And tell those nasty bugs to stop biting you!

I hope they go away soon - bye!

who wouda thunk it?? said...

my whit bully had skin problems quite often when he was young, all due to allergies , luckily for him, they seemed to decrease as he aged, and after seven or eight outbreaks were not very often. Hope same goes for your boy. The PBBBHHHTTTTT shot is priceless

happypitbull said...

Alas, Dozer is ten years old, and his allergies are much worse nowadays than when he was young. :( I expect this will require continuous management until the day he passes on. I hear that white dogs are particularly susceptible to skin allergies.

Daisy Dog said...

Glad to hear that there is a name for Dozers skin issues!! Wow! Daisy was on hydroxizine for quite a while, we recently switched to benadryl it seems to help. She also gets her monthly allergy shot, hers are not even close to the severity of Dozers, and are from environmental stuff, pollens etc. Give Dozer a big hug from us here in California! So glad I have never seen a fire ant!

T2 - My life with pit bulls said...

I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm entertained when I my girls can come up with something that elicits a "Wow" from the vet. Makes me feel like those times I took them in for "umm, it's nothing" have been evened out. So glad Dozer is recovered!

Anonymous said...

Oh that poor baby! My Dozer has allergies once a year and breaks out in hives and it's just terrible!


PoochesForPeace said...

oh dozer. i love this dog! Hope he's over these hives soon :)

Tinx said...

I need to tell you that the likely culprit was actually the cephalaxin. Terrible hive reactions are not uncommon with that antibiotic (and antibiotics in general). If you do a simple google image search of hives from antibiotics you will see some photos similar to the ones of your dog. On humans mostly but there are some horses and dogs in there too. I'm actually quite surprised your vet didn't direct you to immediately discontinue the drug as it seems a classic case of an allergy to an antibiotic. Anyways, glad to see he's better. I had the same reaction to two different antibiotics before. It's not pleasant.

happypitbull said...

Tinx--Thank you! The derm vet hasn't ruled out the cephalexin as the culprit. It's just that Dozer had taken cephalexin on several occasions before without these results--which means he would have developed a new allergy to cephalexin. That seemed less likely than some sort of insect sting, from which he has gotten urticarial vasculitis before. But nevertheless, the vet and we agreed not to give him cephalexin anymore, just in case--and now his file has a big red sticker on it that notes his possible drug allergy. :) Thanks very much for your information! It makes me feel more confident about our decision to stop the cephalexin.