Are we hunting wabbit?

At last report, Reggie needed to be stable to move to a food challenge. Rabbit. Did we do it? Nope. We did lamb. My gut said rabbit was not going to work on this guy.

He finally got some stability and we were ready to start the transition to a limited ingredient diet of lamb and sweet potato. Given his tendency towards gastric distress, he kept the same wet food and a ratio of 3/4 : 1/4 with the dry food (existing to new). It was a very small amount of new food mixed in with the existing food. The plan was to keep that ratio for a week or more before bumping it up.

It lasted for three days. He started eating less and less and by day five he was on a full blown hunger strike. So I decided to pull the new food from the mix. I didn’t get a chance to see if this worked because on day six Reggie woke me up at an obscene hour of the morning (a Saturday to boot) to go outside and dine on grass. Poor guy felt so bad he vomited bile three times. At this point he wouldn’t eat anything and we had to do the pills the hard way.

However, the next day he felt better and ate! Amazing recovery! He began eating right away- only the prescription food and no new food. This was a light bulb moment. Reggie will never go back to regular dog food. He will be on prescription dog food permanently now.

The goal is minimizing, and hopefully eliminating for the longest stretches possible, the gastric/intestinal inflammation. It’s not in his best tummy interest to cycle through different foods and hope they work, they most likely won’t. I understand why the prescription food is designed to work and thank goodness he likes it!

So we’re not hunting wabbit…or lamb…we’re hunting hydrolyzed proteins 🙂

Relapse…and recovery

Yikes! I’ve been gone for a while. It’s well intentioned though. Reggie has been very sick, and of course I have been taking good care of him.

Last summer he had an awful bout with a new development, irritable bowel disease. He stopped eating (literally, zero food) for several days and took little food for about three weeks. He developed a skin infection then had a terrible reaction to the antibiotics. It took about two months to fully recover but he did, and I thought we were past it.

Um, no.

Irritable bowel disease is akin to an autoimmune disease that has periods of flare-up, and periods of remission. Reggie went into remission. Also, it is very common for dogs with food allergies to develop IBD later in life.

Right at the new year, Reggie developed a skin infection again. He gets itchy, then he scratches and licks, and it develops into a lesion. More and more frequently these scratchy spots are becoming infected more easily. This time, one of the lesions became infected with staph, a staph infection. He stopped eating again, he had to get a monster shot of antibiotics, and recovery was slow. But, recover he did.

Then it happened again! Reggie is fond of hunger strikes and a month ago he decided he was over this whole eating thing. He got another staph infection- this one was worse, even the staff at the vet’s office noted that he was not his usual bubbly self- and another monster shot of antibiotics. He lost six pounds in a month (that’s 10% of his weight- that’s a big deal), he was dehydrated, his proteins were extremely high (due to malabsorption in his inflamed intestines), and he had a seizure due to the lowered threshold. Yikes.

He was started on a common G.I. anti-inflammatory medication to “calm down” his intestines. He also started eating prescription hypoallergenic dry food in addition to the hydrolyzed protein wet food he was already eating. Problem was, it wasn’t working, and he didn’t like the food.

So now we have a different medication that seems to be slowly working, and a new hypoallergenic food that he likes. He has gained four pounds, and his immune system is stable enough that he was able to get his vaccines. But what is our goal? We need to be striving for some sort of normalcy.

There is a plan. Reggie needs stability on this medication and food for 3-4 weeks. No G.I. distress, no infections, and continued weight gain. Then we have to do G.I. challenges with different foods to establish any reactions. Reggie will never eat his duck food again. We had a good run with it, but your G.I. system changes over time and his is saying “no” right now. The thinking is that duck is too close to other poultry that we know he is allergic to (chicken, turkey). The difference here is that we are not doing a true allergy challenge, but a G.I. challenge which requires less time and is looking for different reactions. He will also have all dairy eliminated from his diet because he is allergic to beef- milk and cheese still come from a cow.

So you might be wondering what he will be eating. Well his protein choices are limited. In discussions with the vet, we are going to try…rabbit. There are actually two sources that I can get quality, commercial dog food in both wet and dry form in rabbit that doesn’t have any of his allergens in it. We’ll see. I’m not sure he’ll eat it but we will try. Way back in the beginning we tried bison and he just sniffed it and walked away! Our other option is lamb. I’m partial to the lamb because I know he likes it and there are many more sources I can get good food from.
So in another month Reggie should be all healed up and eating new food. I’ll be able to report if we are buying rabbit or lamb and how it’s working!

Sleeping it off

Sleeping it off

Confessions of a clean-aholic

My favorite TV show is Hoarders. Why? Because I am a clean freak. Not an obsessive-compulsive disorder (I get the irony) kind of clean freak, but a minimalist, organized, clean, zero knick-knacks kind of clean freak. It’s probably karma that a dog like Reggie came into my life with allergies that require a diligently clean environment to keep him healthy.

So what’s my point? True to my nature, over the years I have researched- for Reggie of course- numerous things relative to cleaning to find things that are pet friendly and actually clean surfaces, not just give the appearance of clean (or smell like clean).

As we approach the new year we clean and purge, and start afresh. I bought a new vacuum, and I’m revisiting my cleaning products to keep my house safe and dust mite free for Reggie.

Ingredients To Avoid
Look at labels and avoid products with ingredients of phenol, isopropyl alcohol, formaldehyde, phthalates, and perchloroethylene.
Phenol is more harmful to cats than dogs, but in either case is harmful to the respiratory system and caustic to mucous membranes.
Isopropyl alcohol poisoning occurs most often from inhaled vapors, and is very common in cleaning solvents. Some dogs like the toilet bowl, what do you clean it with?
Formaldehyde is used in products such as carpet, furniture, building materials, and insulation. If you have extreme sensitivity, and new carpet for instance, the off-gassing of this material could be a problem. Formaldehyde is still used in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia as a food preservative so check where your pet food and treats come from!                                                                  Phthalates are that vinyl smell in plastic items. This isn’t a cleaning item necessarily, but phthalates keep the vinyl soft and pliable. As it leaches into the environment it becomes dry and brittle over time. It can be absorbed into the skin, or inhaled. The damage is to kidney and liver, and the reproductive system. No more vinyl dog toys for Reggie!                                                                The last one is less common for most probably, perchloroethylene, and is found mostly in dry cleaning, rug and carpet shampoos. If you do this yourself be aware that your pets are lower to the floor and breathe at a faster rate than we do.

What To Use Instead
Look for cleaners that utilize essential oils as cleaning agents. However, pine and citrus are toxic to pets so avoid these as main ingredients. Eco-Care has a great stain and odor remover that’s ok if your pets lick the surface. Method, Target’s brand of eco-friendly cleaning products, has many items in it’s line that I use and LOVE.

A Word About Floors
I just bought a new vacuum. One of Reggie’s allergies is dust mites and he had a hard time this past year with reactions. My house is majority hardwood floors, but I do have a couple of area rugs. Bagless vacuums are where it’s at right now, but after researching, I found that HEPA filter bag vacuums really trap and seal the dust and debris the best, and remove (depending on what you buy) 99.9% of allergens. I also looked at steam mops, because I have majority hardwood. It makes sense, right? Hot water, no chemicals, clean surface, perfect for kids and pets. Not so fast. The majority of steam mops run continuous steam at about 160-170 degrees, with steam bursts at higher temperatures which vary by manufacturer- most at around 200 degrees. Most steam mops also claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria…kind of true. At 160-170 degrees you can kill dust mites and you can clean spills or a soiled floor. To clean bacteria (like a spill in your kitchen, or a pet accident) such as listeria, salmonella, e.coli, influenza, etc., the steam has to be 212 degrees for at least 90 seconds.
Bottom line? Steam mops can be great depending on manufacturer and if used properly. I will stick with my new German engineered vacuum and wood floor cleaner.

Here’s to a happy, healthy new year!