Dealing with Dusty’s Allergies

So itchy!

So itchy!

Last summer, we discovered just how bad Dusty’s allergies are. For nearly two weeks—while we were trying to find something to assuage the itchiness—Dusty barely slept because he was scratching all night and all day. We used Benadryl first (pills and topical solution—Dusty wore a T-shirt to prevent licking), then Reactine (recommended by the vet while we were away on holiday), and finally we resorted to putting him on steroids. It took a few doses of the steroids before we noticed a difference, but, finally, Dusty stopped scratching nonstop. Still, every time we took him for a walk (two or three times a day), we noticed, he’d be itchier again. And his skin was so red!

Ultimately, we resorted to paying the $500 to have an allergy test done. We were shocked to learn Dusty is allergic to every single kind of grass tested for (see Dusty’s results here).

Dusty's needlesBy November, we thought we could take Dusty off the steroids. Being on steroids for any length of time can cause all kinds of long-term problems, and that outcome we definitely wanted to avoid. When we weaned Dusty off the steroids, his itchiness returned, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Still, through January, we were surprised to find, he was itchy.

We made the decision to resort to allergy shots. Allergy shots are not ideal: he will be on them for the rest of his life. However, the alternative of living with such discomfort is much worse.

The company who did Dusty’s allergy test is the same one that prepared his allergy shots (two separate ones). We learned from them that Dusty is the first dog they’ve ever tested that is allergic to every single kind of grass tested for! He’s also allergic to a lot of trees. Basically outdoors = not friendly for Dusty. But Dusty loves nothing better than chasing a ball in the backyard.

2013 Jan 31 Dusty getting his needle (2)In mid-January, we started giving Dusty his shots. Wes and I learned how to do them because for the first two weeks, Dusty needed two shots every two days. He’s now on a stronger solution and getting his shots every ten days. Despite having given Dusty many needles now, I admit I’m still not comfortable with it. I find it really hard to know whether I’m through his skin.

However, I feel that we are doing the right thing for Dusty, so I will persevere. Over the several weeks he’s been getting his shots, we have noticed he’s become less itchy each time.

With the start of the spring thaw (yay!), the true test of Dusty’s allergy shots begins. If all goes well, Dusty will remain T-shirt-free, Benadryl-free, and steroid-free all summer long, despite all the allergens in the air. So, bring it on, Mother Nature! We’re ready for you!

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