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Posts Tagged ‘Pemphigus foliaceus’

The last few months have been really tough for Little Bear. It all started with the mystery wound on his leg in September that elicited the trip to the emergency vet one Saturday night. Within days, he was gnawing at his feet and belly. The vet prescribed Piriton. It didn’t help. A second vet suggested medicated shampoo and oils to add to his food. That failed to stop it too. A third vet put him on Apoquel and, as I mentioned in my last post, the itching stopped, but so did Bear. He became a shadow of himself, not wanting to eat, play, or even walk. It was horrendous.

Here was our otherwise sprightly little chap, deteriorating before our eyes and we were just being told to ‘keep taking the meds.’ All concerns about the side-effects, poo-pooed. After reading about the drug myself and checking that we could stop it without ill-effect, I took him off it.

He brightened up in himself, but went back to chewing his paws in earnest. I also found a small scab on his head, but dismissed at as a one off. We took him to our groomers as he was so hairy it was hard to see what was going on with his skin. His paws, she said, were thickened. While he was being groomed, I was on the phone to the head vet, arranging for him to see her.

By the time we could see her later that week, his paws had gone from slightly thickened to puffy and sore. Whatever was happening, it had hockey-sticked in severity during that last 24-hours and it was no surprise that they admitted him on the spot for skin biopsies. With the warnings of ‘potentially something more sinister going on,’ ringing in our ears, we left him at the vets for four agonising hours.

There was good news when we collected him. Various scans had showed no evidence of any tumours, so the diagnosis was that of a common bacterial skin infection, easily treated with antibiotics. The working assumption was that the symptoms had been masked by the Apoquel, allowing the infection to run amok.

Still drowse from the general anaesthetic, his feet shaved to bare skin and still shivering from his medicated bath, he was in a sorry state when we collected him. However, with the help of steroids and antibiotics, he picked up quickly. By the following day he had his appetite back and was woofing at the postman. We were thrilled.

Sadly, the improvement didn’t continue. As his feet healed, the rest of his skin became covered in scabs. They’re now everywhere – even in his ears. With the biopsy results back, the vet now suspects Pemphigus foliaceus, which is the most common autoimmune disease in dogs. It can be treated with steroids, but until the right dose is found to put the disease into remission, it leaves them depressed, lethargic, and generally feeling unwell.

We’re off to see a specialist next week in the hopes that we can speed up the road to recovery. We have lots of questions – not least, what part Apoquel played in making an otherwise fit and healthy dog so desperately unwell in his golden years. We also want to know why this wasn’t suspected far sooner.

There are some glimmers of light. On Christmas Eve, he found a ball and decided to have a play. Today, he grabbed a teddy and we played chase around the living room for a few minutes. He’s enjoying his new diet of scrambled egg, fresh chicken and vegetables, particularly if I hand feed him. He’s more than capable of eating it by himself, but I think he just likes the improved level of service.

We have, I hope, many more Little Bear years ahead of us, so whatever we have to do now to return him to wellness will be worth it. If you’ve got some love and prayers to spare, please send them his way. x

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