Ear irritation is something we see often in our patients. Kamloops dry and warm days and many rivers and lakes are such wonderful fun for dogs to splash and swim in. Did you know that swimming and bathing can leave moisture in the ear canal which in turn creates inflammation, bacterial and yeast infections? Kamloops dusty air also can create significant waxy build up in the ears. Kamloops also is full of many grasses and weeds that produce seed heads small enough to creep into the ear canals of dogs (and occasionally cats). These grass seeds can slowly make their way down to the ear drum where they can apply pressure (causing irritation and inflammation) and if left untreated can puncture the ear drum (leading to hearing loss and infection). Tessa is a sweet little dachshund who was noted by her owner to have been occasionally scratching at her left ear. Her owner thought it was odd that it was her left ear bothering her and rarely saw her scratching her right ear, so she brought her little Tessa in for an exam to find out if there was a reason for this scratching. Her hunch proved correct as Tessa was discovered to have a grass seed deep in her left ear canal, nuzzled up against her ear drum. Tessa needed sedation to safely have it removed, and a few days of ear medication to take down the inflammation that the seed caused to her ear canal.
Urticaria is a condition more commonly known as hives. It is a result of the immune system reacting to exposure to an allergen. When an allergen is encountered the body releases histamines which lead to inflammation and often itchiness of the skin. The inflammation appears on the skin as raised welts, also known as wheals.
We have recently had a severe case of urticaria in one of our patients. Quite often, given enough time, the hives will regress on their own but in some cases an antihistamine is needed. Piper is a year and a half year old Hungarian Viszula. She did have a history of sensitivities before this as she had a reaction when she was given her second puppy vaccine. When Piper broke out in hives recently she did get some relief when she was given an antihistamine but it was short lived. The hives went away but came back again even worse than the first time. When this happened twice Piper was given an injection of dexamethasone to help alleviate the swelling and to give her some relief from the itchiness.
Chronic urticaria like Piper experienced is most likely caused by continued or re-exposure to the allergen that caused the reaction in the first place. It is often very difficult to determine exactly what that allergen is. It can be something as simple as diet or as complicated as something in her home or even sunlight.
Because Pipers welts kept coming back she has been put on a course of oral prednisone as well as a stronger antihistamine. We have also recommended that she start on a special hypoallergenic diet. In a couple of months we will have her owner reintroduce her original diet and if that was the cause of her hives we should know right away. That would be the best case scenario because if it is not her diet then determining what it is can become quite difficult.
For now we are pleased to have the urticaria and subsequent itchiness under control and can only hope that she doesn’t have another episode as severe as this one.
Pododermatitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the feet or paws. We see quite a few dogs with this condition. The inflammation can be caused by many disorders including infections, allergies, hormonal disorders, immune-mediated diseases, tumors or cancers and environmental contaminants. It is more common in some breeds than others.
The underlying cause of the condition needs to be determined in order to treat it properly. Many animals with pododermatitis caused by allergies develop a secondary bacterial or yeast infection. In extreme cases cavitations or pockets are formed between the swollen layers of skin.
One of our favourite patients, Penny, has this condition. She recently came in non weight bearing on her left front foot. On exam her foot looked just as it always does, swollen and red. We elected to do an x-ray and it became obvious that there was more to her problem than we could easily see. We sedated her and were then able to open the folds of skin on her feet and found impacted sand and dirt in one of the deeper “cavities” between her pads. It was difficult to get it all out but eventually with repeated flushing we managed and are confident that Penny will be walking on all fours again very soon.
Can you guess what these radiographs are of?
1. Beaver 2. A Penny 3. A choke collar
Other Interesting Radiographs
We have recently diagnosed a relatively rare condition that is most often seen in West Highland White Terriers. This condition is also seen in other terrier breeds such as the Cairn, Scottish and Boston and has been reported in some large breed dogs although not as commonly. This condition causes excess bony growth in the mandible or jaw and usually occurs in affected animals between the ages of 4 to 8 months. Often by the time the dog reaches one year of age the bony proliferation stops and quite often will regress. It is an inherited condition that is very painful. Unfortunately there is no treatment to alter the progression of the disease so control of pain and inflammation are the main targets of therapy.
Ryelee, a really sweet 6 month old West Highland white terrier, presented to us with jaw swelling and pain in that area. An x-ray showed excess bony growth on Ryelee’s lower jaw and because of his breed and age it was determined that he has this condition sometimes referred to as “lion’s jaw”. Ryelee went home on pain control and anti-inflammatories and we are hoping that he will not have any lasting problems resulting from the excess bony growth in his jaw.