Friday, November 8, 2013

The Cone of Shame

Since June Harry has been battling back to back skin, ear, and paw infections.  He was prescribed soothing shampoos, omega-3 supplements, and steroids but once finished he would begin itching and scratching himself to the point of creating visible bleeding scratches on his face and under his body.  

In September we called our vet asking for an accompanying antibiotic to fight any infections that were going on due to Harry's scratching and as Harry weaned off the antibiotics and steroid (while we were in Europe) his skin and even his eyes began to inflame which resulted in a trip to Penn Dermatology.
Still snuggles, even with a cone on
Penn Dermatology so far has been so good.  They studied Harry in teams of students and gave us so much information it was actually overwhelming.  Then they sent us home with a packet which covered everything we talked about and more plus a crapload of drugs, treatments, ointments, soaks, and shampoo.  They also recommended Harry wear a t-shirt, and we took it a step further by also having him wear socks.
Harry's "frosted corn pops with marshmallows" aka drugs

So what's eating Harry?  It's not scabies (what we originally thought) and is likely allergies to something unknown.  Right now we're trying to figure out exactly what that is.  Harry's on a Purina diet of Hypoallergenic food which also comes with special treats called "Gentle Snackers" which is probably the worst name for a treat ever.  His food is prescribed and is super expensive.  And all the treats, peanut butters, toothpastes, even nylabones at home had to be put away as they could have an ingredient that Harry's allergic to.  Essentially, by putting Harry on this diet we're conducting an experiment.  The food is the constant, and we're supposed to clear Harry's infections and then observe to see if any scratching or licking occurs.  

After 8 weeks of food trialing, we need to reintroduce Harry to his old food, which for us was Blue Buffalo in Chicken flavor.  If he reacts with extreme scratching and paw licking then we know for sure he is allergic to his food.  At that point we can begin a food trial where we put him back on his special prescribed food and test him on a bi-weekly basis with a different kind of food.  We then observe his reactions and note whether or not he's allergic to it.  Just like scientists!  Harry's food test is the following:

1.  Cooked Ground Beef
2.  Cooked Chicken
3.  Cottage Cheese (or any other cheese)
4.  Soy (yea, we literally give Harry tofu!)
5.  Cooked Lamb (ok classy...)
6.  Hard Boiled Eggs (can't wait for the farts)
7.  Wheat (pasta, cereal, wheat germ)
8.  Corn
9.  Cooked Pork

After the testing is all done - which I feel will take 6 months - we'll have a list of what Harry is and isn't allergic to.  Then we can read ingredients and buy a cheaper food that won't irritate him.  However, if Harry is STILL itching after the food tests it may be due to seasonal or environmental allergies.  Harry's cousin Jager has been blessed with both and has to receive a shot every week.  Luckily his Mommy is a nurse.  I'm not sure how well the Foo and I are going to handle shooting up Harry every week.
So miserable.
We're really happy and Harry's really happy that he's feeling better.  It's been a pricey process, but it is seriously no fun at all having a sick puppy.  Cone of shame has been put away and now we just monitor Harry when we're home.  It'll be exciting to document all the food trials along the way - hope you're looking forward to it!

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