annie,  life with dogs

annie’s allergy adventures

[or: it’s a good thing i love her because damn she’s expensive!]

love me

Back in January when I was at the vet’s office with my pups due to the scary food poisoning incident in January, I spoke with our vet about Annie’s respitory/phlegmy problems. I was pretty sure she had some sort of allergy but it was possible that she had other problems. We were treating the symptoms (blocked nose, reverse sneezing (VERY scary if you’ve never seen it before, it’s like she’s gasping for air and can’t breathe!) and coughing up phlegm to the point of choking) with a pink pill (vanectyl-P) and for the most part it worked. BUT.. this medication is very high in cortizone and we really should not be giving it to her as often and as much as we were. I wanted to know if there was something less harsh to give her because the meds really take a lot of life out of my sweet Annabelle and she’s still young (she’ll be 8 in March) and I don’t want to shorten her life with us.

I never wanted to do allergy tests because of the costs and the inconvience to both me and my dog. Having to see a doggie dermatologist would be costly and hard to find. But then my vet told me about this new method of allergy testing that a lab in Ontario does – it’s done only through blood tests! They could do the blood tests at my own vet and the first test was to even determine if it there was an allergy or not. Still on the costly side but I didn’t have to pay specialist fees and Annie wouldn’ t have to have half her fur shaved off for the pin-prick testing method.

Blood drawing – $80

Two days later? Yes, she tested positive for allergies. I had two options now. Check for environmental elements or food-type elements. One was more expensive than the other and since I was pretty sure that it was envrionmentally motivated, I went with that one first and crossed my fingers.

Environmental tests – $300

I got the call last Thursday from Dr. Cloutier – Annie tested positive to a bunch of stuff. He mentioned 2 types of weeds, two types of fungus (mushroom) and mites. There was some other stuff, but it wasn’t as significant. So with my persmission the lab would put together a bottle of um, stuff and then we do the injections for Annie. Go for it. OK, so my first bottle of anti-allergy stuff is about $250. Yuck. And then the second will be $232. This will last me about a year and then Annie should be cured. It’s about 80% chances that we will not need a third bottle. (God, I hope not!)

I also have to give my Belly Omega 3 suppliments which I went to pick up last night. The vet tech that I like a lot (Catherine – nice name!) made me a copy of the allergy test results (which weren’t all that clear so didn’t copy well) and highlighted everything that Annie was indeed allergic to. She told me that anything OVER 150 was extremely significant and that they were told by the lab that even things that weren’t that high were significant because of the time of year… we’re not that big with you know, grass and ragweed and so on right now.

So, in two weeks I should be getting a phone call saying that the stuff is in and then I get to bring Annie in once a week for a while and learn how to inject her with it. Good thing I don’t have a huge needle phobia! The first few times I’ll go to the vet because they want her to wait around 20 minutes or so to make sure she doesn’t have a reaction. The first 10 injections are free, and then it’s $5 a pop – if I don’t feel comfortable doing it myself at home. I am pretty sure Shawn and I can manage once we’re shown how to do this.

I seriously hope this helps my Annie. I really don’t want to give her those pills anymore and I want her to be healthy and happy. Before I get any comments about how “it’s because she’s a pure bred” let me just say that out of all the Finnish Lapphunds in North America Annie and ONE OTHER Lappie are the only two that have a problem like this. Both are from different lineage but both are in Canada! (the other is in Winnipeg and we’re not sure if it’s exactly the same thing, our symptoms are almost identical and she’s on the same medication, but it could be something completely different. I did mention since the allergy tests proved positive that maybe look into that). Any dog can develop allergies or illness, it’s not a pure bred thing. Yes, some breeds are over-bred and this can cause problems, but the number of this breed in North America is small and well controlled right now. So it’s not that!

I have spent more money on this dog than I ever thought I would and I could have put that money to other uses (like paying off my credit card!! or, you know, SAVINGS) but it’s worth it if she feels better and isn’t always suffering and having difficulty breathing. If you have pets, well, you just have to be ready to care for them. 😉 I’ll spend more time this evening going over that paper and trying to translate the results, not only for myself, but I want to send them to Linda so she has a record of this for her files on the breed. You never know when information could be important!

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