Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The dogs' Christmas gift was cheap this year, but they loved it anyway. :)

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Super-hive" mystery solved

FINALLY! I know what's causing Dozer's insane hive outbreaks.

Two weeks ago, I took Dozer to the regular vet to treat staph lesions that were popping up here and there. The weekly baths and occasional Zyrtec just weren't cutting it. The vet prescribed a standard round of prednisone (to stop the itch) and cephalexin (to stop the staph).

Today, as soon as I saw the telltale pinpricks of oncoming urticarial vasculitis, ("super hives") I called the dermatology/allergy vet. (Well, first I screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo!!!" and then I called the vet.)
What urticarial vasculitis looks like in the first few hours.
After looking back through his files, the derm vet confirmed what we'd already suspected but now seemed pretty conclusive: cephalexin allergy.

Ironically, today, after I reviewed some historical blog posts about Dozer's hives (like this one in 2009, this one in 2010 and this one earlier this year), I saw that he'd been taking cephalexin, an antibiotic, in every case.

Why wasn't the allergy deduced years ago? Because the hives never happened at the beginning of a cephalexin course—only at or near the end. Dozer could go two weeks on cephalexin and completely finish the course without a reaction, only to break out in hives a few days later, while taking no medications at all.

This mystery was also solved today, because the derm vet noted that Dozer usually gets prednisone or a cortisone shot at the same time that he's given the cephalexin. Although the point of the steroid is to cut down the itching from the staph, these steroids stop all allergic reactions. Period. Including the reaction to the cephalexin. After the short steroid course tapers down, there's nothing stopping the hives anymore. Thus the delayed reaction.

Six hours later--not looking too bad this time!
Prednisone and a much larger dose of Zyrtec were the order of the day. I'm loving the Zyrtec (over the Benadryl we used to give) because it knocks Dozer right out. I know the D is loving it, too, because he goes right to sleep. No itching, whining, panting, tummy upset, or any discomfort.

Sleeping soundly... with his face inches from the space heater.
Well, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

First thing tomorrow morning, I'm calling the regular vet to ask them to flag this allergy in his file. No more cephalexin!!

It's Cold!

Well, cold for us, anyway. I reckon you northern folks have something to say about real cold.

But still, it's cold. Star recently learned how to cover herself up with the dog blankets...

And we broke out the space heater, much to Dozer's pleasure.

Star has been somewhat unsure of the space heater (it makes noise, moves, and blows—creepy!) but she's learning to love the free heat that comes from it. As long as she doesn't have to look right at it.

Semester finals are over! I have a short, badly-needed break before next semester.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Photo Shoot

Armed with my trusty tripod and camera, I was determined to get a good family photo for this year's holiday cards.

First was the setup... Getting everyone in place and figuring out where to put the camera.
"Why are we sitting in a corner? Were we bad?"
Looks good. Okay, let's see how it goes...
We appear to be choking the dogs.

Dozer's totally feeling it, but the rest of us...

Oh, man, the dogs were perfect in this picture.

Dozer relocated mid-shot.

"Oops, that wasn't the timer button. Sorry, hang on..."

Aaaand Byrd was officially out of patience!

I did not hear the camera beep.
And then Star couldn't take it anymore:
"... so ..."
" ... done."
We couldn't get her to stand up again. Dozer totally gets the whole photo shoot thing—he'll look at the camera and smile and everything—but to Star, this was clearly some insane exercise that we had devised to punish her, and she sure as heck wasn't gonna take it anymore.

Nevertheless, with 39 shots to choose from, I managed to find a decent one.

About halfway through the photo shoot, I learned that my camera has a self-timer multi-shot function. Omigosh! It really sped up the whole process. What a life saver!