As you might have noticed, there was a bit of a longer gap since my last post. The reason for that is we have a sick puppy in our house, and between taking care of her and recovering from some sleepless nights, we’ve been a little busy. Now that she is on the mend and we’re a bit better rested, I thought I’d put together an update on all that has gone on.
On Thursday (August 18th), we noticed that both of Kona’s eyes were very irritated. The whites of her eyes were bloodshot and there seemed to be some swelling around the top and bottom lids. Both eyes had a yellowish discharge. When it looked even worse Friday morning we made an appointment to see the vet that night.
The clinic we go to has 3 vets. Our vet, Dr. P, was on vacation, so we made an appointment with his co-founder, Dr. B, instead. When Dr. B saw Kona that Friday night he said she had a very bad eye infection in each eye. He gave her some drops that contained antibiotics and a steroid and told us to come back Monday if it got any worse. Later that evening we discovered that Kona also had a rash on her underside. The rash consisted of pustules that were all over the area where her skin is exposed, including on her vulva which was very irritated. We didn’t know if this was a reaction to the medication or not.
Saturday morning the rash was worse and has spread to the top of her nose. We called the clinic right away. Unfortunately, Dr. B wasn’t in that day, but the third vet was. He spoke to us and after hearing about her symptoms said to bring her in. When the vet saw her he was very perplexed. She had a fever of 104.1 (normal is around 101 or 102), which suggested she had an infection. But the rash indicated an allergic reaction. Since it was restricted to areas where she has little to no fur, he thought it was a contact allergy (i.e., from coming into contact with something). He gave her two injections of antihistamines as well as some antibiotic pills to give her over the course of the following week.
The rest of Saturday Kona was very lethargic. She had a bit more energy on Sunday but her rash and eyes appeared to be getting worse. We were very concerned – it seemed unlikely to us that there could be two different causes to her symptoms.
At 1 am Sunday night (Monday morning) I was woken by Kona’s barking. I went downstairs to take her out for a toilet break to discover she had thrown up. At 2:15 she vomited again and P and I began to debate calling our vet’s 24 hour pager. We had decided that P would stay home on Monday and take her to the clinic when she vomited for a third time at 3 am. At that point, I called the pager.
Dr. B was the vet on call, and he returned the page within 5 minutes. I described to him what had happened since he saw her on Friday. He said the vomiting is often part of an allergic reaction, and seemed to agree with the allergy diagnosis from Saturday. He tried to determine on the phone what could have caused her allergy. Had we taken her anywhere new? No. Had she been exposed to a bee? Not recently. Was she on new food? No. Was it a new bag of food? No.
While we were on the phone Kona vomited for a fourth time and Dr. B suggested we meet him at the clinic. So P and I quickly got dressed, grabbed a barf bucket for the car, and at 3:45 we were on our way. Dr. B was shocked at her rash when he saw her. The pustules on the nose had gotten worse, and they had also begun to grow on her eyelids. Her eyes were much worse than on Friday. Her temperature was still elevated at 103. Dr. B gave her an injection to stop the vomiting and went upstairs to look up something.
Thankfully, when he returned Dr. B had a diagnosis – a staph infection. While staph bacteria are very common, suffering from a staph infection is very rare. On top of that, she is having an allergic reaction to the cell walls of the bacteria. So Kona is not only fighting an infection but her body is also allergic to the cause. In the 25 years Dr. B has been in practice he has only seen this one other time.
The good news is it is treatable, and we’ve got both antibiotics (for the infection) and antihistamines (for the allergy) to treat Kona.
Kona is a champ. When we arrived at the clinic at 4 am and she saw Dr. B, she jumped out of the car and tried to run to him, grinning and tail wagging. Her enthusiasm at seeing a “new” person was not diminished by her sickly state. Dr. B commented that labs are the greatest patients – no matter how sick they are their tail is always wagging. When he gave her the anti-vomiting injection, P and I held her because typically dogs really react to this particular shot. She barely flinched. Thanks to a little peanut butter encouragement, she has been taking her pills without complaint. And while she really dislikes the eye drops (who doesn’t?) she doesn’t put up too much of a fuss for that either.
Unfortunately Monday and Tuesday nights she had a hard time settling in her crate. Both of those nights she woke up around midnight because she was too hot and / or had to pee (a side-effect of one of the drugs is increased thirst and peeing). We thought we had learned our lesson, and before bedtime on Wednesday night we gave her an ice cube, and soaked her belly to cool her down. Of course, Mother Nature had other plans in mind, and thanks to the lightning and thunder Kona woke us up every 2 hours for the entire night. Thankfully, each time the barking didn’t last long and she settled herself without us getting out of bed. Last night was better – just one wake up at 12:30 am and it was definitely bladder-related. Hopefully when we reduce her allergy meds to once a day this will get rid of the bladder issues.
Kona’s allergy symptoms stayed the same for Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday night her eyes and the rash on her underside seemed to be getting better. Unfortunately, she has gotten many more bumps all around her mouth, but they are fairly small for now. We are hopeful that she is turning the corner and the infection has been defeated. The allergy symptoms will still remain until all the bacteria cells (dead or alive) are gone from her system and that could be at least 2 weeks or more. For now, her energy levels are back and she seems to be in a lot less discomfort.
One upside is that for the past 2 days she has had excellent manners and obedience on her walks. Since one of the meds also causes an increased appetite, I have a feeling the obedience is food-driven – she wants the treats / kibble more than she usually does. Whatever the reason, we are enjoying the benefit of having a very responsive dog!