Archive for June, 2010

Pugs and Allergies

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Originally Written for Pug Partners of Nebraska – Please visit their website to find out how you can help Pugs!

Good overall health will keep your Pug’s immune system strong and perhaps cut down his or her likelihood of developing allergies. However, allergies probably have a strong genetic component, and many environmental factors are outside of our control. So if your Pug does have allergies, it is not due to anything you should have or should not have done. Maintaining overall health will still help as you manage those allergies.

The signs of allergies may mimic other conditions, so it is important to have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian when problems arise. Itchiness is the most common sign of allergies. Other signs of potential allergy problems include skin irritation, rashes, moist dermatitis (“hot spots”) and hair loss. Ear infections, especially recurring ones, may also be an indication of an underlying allergy problem.

Two main classifications of allergies plague our pets: environmental allergies and food aversions. Common environmental allergens include fleas, dust mites, trees, pollens and grasses. Environmental allergens will be more bothersome to pets in some regions than others, so if you move, your pet’s symptoms may worsen or (hopefully) subside.

To diagnose environmental allergies, a serum test or intradermal skin test may be done. Once testing is completed, hypoallergenic shots can be prepared containing small amounts of the offending allergen(s). These are given every few days in slowly increasing increments, with the goal of gradually desensitizing the immune system to the allergens until they are no longer a problem.

The serum and intradermal skin tests that correlate wonderfully to environmental allergens unfortunately have a low rate of coloration for food aversions. The only direct diagnostic test for food aversions is a food trial.

Food aversions are almost exclusively protein-related.  Your veterinarian will recommend a specific diet to be fed exclusively, a novel protein diet (commercial or homemade), or a hydrolyzed protein diet.  Strict adherence will make or break the food trial.  If symptoms of allergies disappear over the course of the trial, the diagnosis is “official” and you may add foods back in one at a time.  If a reaction is seen, that food will need to be avoided in the future.

Sometimes there are only one or two offenders, and sometimes a pet does the best on a very restricted diet. However, dogs don’t usually mind restricted diets, and it is worth whatever diet maneuvers need to be done to keep your pet healthy and comfortable.

Allergies are often treated symptomatically, either exclusively or in conjunction with more direct treatments. Supportive treatment may include anti-histamines, steroids, medicated baths, diet changes, fatty acid supplements, chiropractic and acupuncture. Use all treatments carefully and in full cooperation with your veterinarian.

Our goal when treating any disease is always a complete cure.  However, with allergies, it is more realistic to aim for chronic management and the lowest effective amount of medicine. If our allergic Pug is comfortable and happy, we have succeeded.

Stephanie Alford’s Typhoon

Pugs Are Cute, But They Do Have Issues.

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Ha!  I thought that title was a hilarious understatement!  Woo!  Still laughing.  I DO love Pugs.  I have never met one who was not completely and absolutely sweet.

My awesome brother Bill and his beautiful wife Cara recently adopted a baby Pug from a rescue group in Ohio.  Another friend has walked her Pug through a lifetime of health issues and is now dealing (with all the grace and compassion in the world) with senior Pug issues.  I just wrote a health series for Pug Partners of Nebraska for new Pug adopters.  Pugs have been on my mind a lot lately.

Cara and Baby Gary : )

Pug Partners of Nebraska currently has 28 dogs looking for forever homes.  Check out their website – they are an excellent group with wonderful dogs!!

Pug Partners of Nebraska has allowed me to reprint the article series here.  So the next several posts will be Pug posts, not that there is anything wrong with that.  If you have a Pug, I hope the information in the Pug health articles helps.  If you do not have a Pug, much of the information applies to dogs in general, so I hope it helps you too.  And I hope EVERYONE enjoys the pictures of my friends’ SUPER CUTE Pugs!!  Really, is there any other kind?

Thank you Stephanie Alford!  You were not exaggerating – You DO have the cutest Pug in the world!

Stephanie Alford’s Very Cute Typhoon : )


Ernie Dog

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

What I am doing this week is spending all the time I possibly can with Mom and Dad and their Ernie Dog.  Ernie is a ten year old four pound Teacup Poodle who is the absolute favorite dog of everyone who knows him.  If you know Ernie, you know I am not exaggerating!

Ernie Dog

This past week, Ernie sustained a very serious neck injury that left his little body very damaged.  Thankfully, he is making amazing strides in his recovery and will soon be back to his healthy goofy little self.

I remember my loudest nay-sayer (we will call him that for lack of a better term) telling me that I get too emotionally involved with my patients, and that I needed to change who I am.  Remembering that,  I prayed I would have the strength to throw myself even MORE into the situation, that I could walk more closely in step with Dad, empathize more with Mom, be more in Ernie’s cute little curly face as he did amazing and courageous things like take a step and then rebalance…eat off a plate…curl in a circle and lay down all by himself.  I am so glad I have not missed any of it.  I am so proud of my parents for carrying Ernie through his recovery, and so proud of Ernie Dog for all of the huge steps he has taken on his road to recovery.

Full story coming soon on …couldn’t talk about it till now, too difficult.  So, with Mom and Dad’s ok, I’m just putting my journal out there, what a sap!  And what an amazing little dog.

I love you Ernie Nelson!