In case I haven’t mentioned it in the last hour, my dog is a medical mystery. About a year into his awkward life, he broke out in full body hives. He has since seen three vets and one animal dermatologist (yes, they exist, and just like human medical specialists, they ask the same questions and charge twice as much). And we still don’t have a concrete answer as to what exactly he is allergic to. But boy do we know “he’s really allergic!” Thanks doc.
Every few weeks for about six months he would break out in hives. Really, really intense hives that would get infected and smell super yummy. The routine was the same every time: sicknasty allergic reaction, vet shakes head and reminds us that this is definitely an allergic reaction, steroid injection, directions to give Bryson 5 Benadryl tablets every 19 seconds for the rest of his life and “that will be $more money than you paid for college tuition.” It was a frustrating and expensive cycle.
The dermatologist started us on allergy injections. Meaning every few days we my husband fills a syringe with what we assume is a magical cocktail of pollen particles and cockroach feces, squeezes his sweet puppy skin folds and shoots our snugly dog with a long, sharp needle. We realized that giving him slice after slice of cheddar cheese eases our guilt and makes him pretty eager to get punctured like a lab rat.
The allergy shots can take up to a year and a half to work, so in the meantime we have to keep him on low doses of steroids, which counteract his allergic symptoms. It’s a trade-off, and we only plan to keep him on the meds short term. We had finally weaned down to a very low dose of steroids that had no noticeable side effects. But, right on schedule, the weather changed, a butterfly flapped its wings and Bryson blew up in the worst allergic reaction to date.
The vet was as helpful as ever, assuring us that this “was definitely an allergic reaction and I hope you have some distant relative about to kick the bucket and leave his million dollar estate to you so that you can afford this visit.” The typical routine followed, except that in addition to the usual steroid injection, Bryson also got shot up with a big-dog dose of Benadryl.
The last few days have been reminiscent of Bryson’s high-maintenance puppyhood in terms of attention and effort required to keep our furniture and sanity in tact. Except that now he weighs 88 pounds. So scooping him up and tossing him out the door any time a pre-pee whimper is heard is no longer an option.
The side effects of the steroids are increased thirst and, naturally, increased urination. I don’t know if the pharmaceutical professionals have actually looked up the definition of “increased.” The warning “may cause AN UNPRECEDENTED AMOUNT OF THIRST and AN INSANE NEVERENDING URINE STREAM” would have been more appropriate.
Puppy puddles we could handle. Waking up to a raging river of Bryson piss flooding the kitchen is a bit more challenging and requires several dozen more towels. He takes down his entire 1.5 gallon water jug in one day, a feat that used to take at least three days. And while my Mama Hen gene just wants to pick him up and say how sorry I am that baby has to potty so much while nibbling on his floppy ear, dude’s 88 pounds. So I just sit in the corner crying as I stare at him. He repositions himself so that he doesn’t have to look at me. Oh, and the last time we had to up the steroid dose, he gained 10 pounds and probably an eating disorder.
The steroid/Benadryl combo has totally screwed with his energy level and personality. I’m not sure if he’s peeing all over the house because he can’t hold it or because he’s too sleepy to actually get up. Either way, I can’t wait until my big boy is back to his goofy, galloping self.