adventures with the vet · puppy

Vet-bill-a-palooza: mystery dog illness

I don’t talk about my dog all that much but rest assured, I’m at least as obsessed with her as I am with Tristan. Hence why it’s been a difficult couple of weeks, because just as Tristan was getting better she also started getting really sick.

Arya’s two natural states: 100mph and sound asleep. 

I had written previously that she started getting hives literally within the hour of when I arrived home after the first night of Tristan getting sick. Those hives continued all that week, coming back like clockwork when she was due for her next benadryl dose.

She was a pretty miserable little dog. Her skin was hot to the touch, and the hives were everywhere. We did lots of cold baths. I washed everything she could possibly be touching in case it was environmental. Nothing helped; by the end of that week, I made her a follow up appointment with her regular vet for the following Monday morning to talk through other options.

Well, that weekend my husband took her to New Hampshire for a few days of visiting his parents. On Saturday afternoon, he noticed a small bump on her nose, just about the size of a pimple. You can’t even really see it on this picture he took of her that afternoon.

By Sunday morning, it had opened up into a blistering sore. We treated it with a baking soda and water paste, because our best guess was that she had either gotten exposed to some particularly nasty plant or a bug bite / bee sting.

It kept getting worse.

Thankfully, we had that vet appointment on Monday, and the vet was duly very impressed. Her best guess was that it was a staph infection, so Arya started on cephilixin, a pretty strong antibiotic, and she went in a cone to keep from getting at her nose. She kept on the benadryl to hopefully keep some of the itching down. She was a really miserable pup.

She didn’t get better. By Wednesday afternoon, she had also started opening up bloody lesions on her legs – similarly pimple-sized spots that, with no outside intervention, blistered open. Because she had the cone on, they didn’t get irritated into huge hot spots like her nose had, but they still kept opening up. She had as many as a dozen on each leg of varying sizes and severity. Most of them opened up and scabbed over pretty quickly; only a few of them were actively pussy and bloody like her nose.

Thursday, we went back to the vet. She should have at least paused in her progression on the antibiotics, and we were seeing none of that. So we did a barrage of tests. The vet pulled urine to test for canine blastomycosis, and after listening to her lungs, also ordered radiographs for that same reason. Her nose was too raw and open – she had managed to rub it when I took the cone off for two seconds – to culture, but they took biopsy punches of her nose, two legs, and one ear. They sent me home with a topical treatment to apply as I could, and then we waited.

Through that weekend, she finally started seeing incremental gains, but also some setbacks. Her nose finally started to scab over and heal, but she opened up new lesions on her ears, and her legs still had some lumps and scabs. Her ears continued to progress and her nose continued to heal all through the next week.

We got the urine test back first, and the second opinion from the radiologist: no signs of the blastomycosis, thankfully. That still left quite a few possibilities, though, and one that was looking increasingly likely was some kind of auto-immune disorder like pemphigus, in which her immune system was attacking and breaking down her own skin. That was our most likely worst case scenario. Fast moving skin cancer was still on the list, but looking less likely as she healed a little bit.
Two weeks after her first vet appointment, we went back to get her stitches from the biopsy pulled, and they finally had the biopsy results: deep bacterial pyoderma. In other words, a bacterial infection that had started on her nose but wreaked merry havoc systemically. Actually a pretty good case scenario! We added prednisone to the mix, and the vet put in a call to a dermatologist to get a secondary consult to make absolutely sure we had covered all the bases.
she did not think the comfy benches should be just for people.
She’s been on the prednisone for about a week now, and is waiting to start her taper & to go off the antibiotics. We’ll hopefully be able to do that soon. We’re waiting on the dermatologist’s opinion and to make sure she has no more scabs. She’s still got one or two on her legs and her ears. Mostly, she’s just down to bare skin in those spots; we’ll see what grows back in!

Life on prednisone is not a ton of fun; she’s drinking and peeing constantly, and lethargic. But she’s spending more time than not out of the cone, and her personality is mostly back. She’s clingier than she was – she will not let me out of her sight – but has occasionally started wreaking havoc again, taking apart her toy box to find exactly what she wants to chew on, leaving nylabones where we can step on them in the middle of the night, and waking me up to tell me all about her morning walk when she gets back from it.

So that’s been my life for the last few weeks. She and Tristan were actually neck and neck for vet bills for a little while – small animal diagnostics: they are not cheap! – but with the most recent bill from the barn for supplies, Tristan has pulled ahead again, sigh.


Shameless Plug Time

So! I have an adorable puppy. Well, young dog – she’s a year and a half old now.

She loves to hike mountains, which is good, because my fiance loves to hike mountains too.

(I like to ride up mountains, but the going up on my own two feet is…not my favorite. I morph into whiny 5 year old about halfway up and the view is not enough of a consolation for me.)


Fiance is writing a witty, eloquent, and thoughtful blog about his adventures hiking with the puppy. If you’re into reading about that kind of thing, I can recommend it with a clear conscience. (If it sucked, I would not be inflicting it on you, I promise.)

Here it is: Alpine Dawg Blawg

adventures with the vet · puppy

Arya’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Last week Arya threw up once or twice. She’s a dog who eats many stupid things, and she was acting 100% normally other than that. We registered concern but didn’t take it to heart.

Tuesday night, she threw up again, so I gave her a handful or two of rice for dinner instead. Then Wednesday morning, I woke up to her snuggled next to me with her stomach rumbling so loudly I could hear it clearly. I gave her a very little bit more rice and took a shower.
When I got out of the shower she clung to me like glue, and then put herself into her LL Bean bed – which she likes very much, but rarely uses when we are doing things. She snuggled up and looked generally pathetic, and then she started shivering, hard.
Snuggled up and miserable.
I piled a blanket on her and turned the heat way up and sat with her. She did slow down her shivering after about 15 minutes, but did not look any less miserable. I checked in with the vet before she finished shivering, and they had a 9:30 am appointment. I called work and they could cover without me, so I took the appointment.
I gave the vet her history, and the vet had already pulled her file and noticed she was an idiot dog who had already been a Dog of Concern a few times for eating random stupid things. Her vitals checked out okay, but she was clearly too quiet, miserable, and started shivering again on the exam table. The vet thought that the shivering wasn’t cold, but pain and anxiety.
Way way way calmer than usual at the vet.
The vet said, “If she were my dog, I’d get her x-rayed.” I swallowed back bile, sighed, and said, “Well, then, let’s do that.” The vet tech took her down to the exam room, and they gave her a mild sedative and took some x-rays.
When the vet called me in to talk about them, she pointed out that the colon and intestines looked fine, but there was an area of distension on her stomach that should not be there. The vet thought that there was a blockage – possibly some cloth, as it wasn’t showing up clearly on the x-ray. She confessed to not being an expert at reading the x-rays, and wanted to send it out to a specialty radiologist. We’d hear by noon.
So I left the office with a very wobbly and sad puppy as well as two cans of prescription bland diet wet food. My instructions were to give her about a tablespoon every hour, and to call back about 1:00 pm. If the radiologist agreed with the vet, or if she reacted badly in any way to the food, she would have to go back for a second set of x-rays with barium tracer, to see if her digestive system was working at all.
I had carry her up our steps and place her on the couch, she was so out of it from the sedative. She just flopped on the couch in the most uncomfortable position imaginable. I straightened her out and sat down next to her to keep an eye on her. I had to coax her off the couch for her first little bit of food. She lapped it, turned to stare sadly at me, lapped it again, sighed deeply, and finally ate it. Then back to the couch. She was not enthused about her second feeding either, but she wasn’t in any more pain.
When I called the vet, she said that the radiologist actually wasn’t concerned. He saw the distension but thought it was sort of normal/generalized GI distress. She clearly wasn’t quite right, but it didn’t look like she was going to have to have a second set of x-rays or, God forbid, surgery.
So we set a second check-in time for later in the afternoon, and I kept giving her small bits of the bland food. She started getting up from the couch on her own to take drinks of water, and asked to go out. She peed quite a bit and while she still wasn’t her usual self, she wanted to walk around the yard for a bit and sniff things, and she took a long hard stare into a neighbor’s yard.
I canceled an afternoon hair appointment, drove in to work briefly to pick up my computer, and stayed beside her on the couch. She slowly, slowly improved and by about 4:00 pm she got up of her own volition and laid in front of the heater, which is one of her preferred spots in the apartment. She also started getting excited for her little bits of food.
When my fiance got home at 5:30, she was excited enough to get up and look out the window, and jumped around a little bit with him, then snuggled back on the couch.
I’m writing this around 7:30 pm on that same night, and just a few minutes ago she jumped off the couch to chase the cat. It seems like she’ll be just fine. The fiance is staying home with her tomorrow to keep an eye, just in case, but hopefully she just had a weird bout of GI distress and will be just fine going forward.


Arya had an awesome Christmas, and continues to be the very best of pups. Now that she behaves better in the car, she’s been coming to the barn more often.

The traveling around Christmas was not her favorite, as she’s a dog who likes both of her people together, ideally in the same room and doting on her. She spent some time with my parents while we visited my fiance’s family (triplet toddlers + puppy = inadvisable), and then came back to Vermont with me while fiance stayed in Massachusetts. She kept an eagle eye out the window for him for three days, and was very happy when he came home.

2015 will be all about the recall for her, as nearly everything else is improving. I’m hoping to purchase a 30′ or 50′ biothane long lead for her to drag. I have a 30′ nylon check lead but it’s kind of crap – it gets tangled easily and it’s in terribly shape after only a few months of light use from all the snags. If she starts to do well on that she may earn herself some off leash time at the barn.

She got a new stuffed Triceratops for Christmas, and she loves it. I spent an hour and a half stitching her toys back together over the weekend and she’s already killed two of them again. Sigh.

Here, have some picspam. 🙂