After an emotionally and mentally exhausting day, one thing that I always enjoy is coming home to see my dog do his happy dance as I walk through the door. There are times that I am eager to get a wet sloppy kiss from my dog before I receive one from my human counterpart. Dogs love unconditionally and don’t take it personally when you sit in silence, their only requirement: a belly rub. I squeeze my four legged faithful companion harder on days that I go from one terminally sick patient to the next.
There are some conditions that are treatable, but require the attentive care of the owner. Not too long ago I saw a cute terrier mix suffering from food allergy. The dog had the classic “ears and rears” that is the signature characteristic for the condition. The ears were bright red and painful to touch, a skin infection was apparent on the belly, and the perineum (area around the anus) was irritated. Food allergy, as I explained to the owner, is a condition that can affect dogs after being on the same food for years. Secondary skin and ear infections make the condition worse. The key to treating this condition is client education and owner compliance. The dog went home with a small pharmacy that included antibiotics, antihistamines, and new dog food recommendations with strict restrictions to avoid any other food than the prescription dog food. In 2 weeks, the owner returned for her dog’s re-check. I was nervous to enter in the exam room in fear that the owner hadn’t complied with my recommendations and the dog was no better. Much to my surprise the owner followed all of my recommendations and the dog was 100% better. The owner eagerly told me that the dog’s itching had improved and he had more energy. On re-examination, I reached for the ears that were previously so painful, and much to my delight, as well as the dogs, I found normal looking ears. Excited to continue my exam in hopes of more improvement, I continued. As I sat down to write my notes in the chart, I couldn’t help but write “ears look beautiful” and “skin infection resolved”. I was so happy that the dog was healthy again that I had to put my enthusiasm in the record, permanently.
I wish all cases could have such a great outcome, but unfortunately that is not always the case, but when they do, I always am a happy vet when I see a healthy pet.
By: Dr. Hilary Carlisle