Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Locked out of my own blog!!

Through a series of password mishaps, I've been locked out of my blog for the last few weeks. I'm thinking if I did have any loyal readers, they've now given up all hope of my ever posting again....Well - finally I'm free...and can update what's been going on since we got back from FL.

As I'd said, as the weather got warmer, we were noticing an increase in Jack's itching without changing anything about his diet, which was concerning and discourging. Also Amos was/is scratching as well. The specialist we see is in MA and only travels to ME once per month, so sometimes getting an appt with him is tricky but we can communicate via email.

We wrote and expressed our concern about Jack as well as our concern that the 60 day elimination diet time period was just about up. We were worried about reintroducing "regular" food again as we would not be able to tell if his increased symptoms were due to the external allergens or the new food. He agreed with us about staying on the diet, but as the diet is not 100% nutritionally complete, and is only intended to be used for a set amount of time, we need to add some supplements. We're consulting info found on for what's needed.

Additionally, his scratching got so bad week of 3/22 that we resorted to a steroid shot to give him some relief. Unfortunately those only last so long - I expect to see it begin to wear off again in another week or so, poor guy.

We've discussed all of this with the specialist and he does want us to continue with the injections but we are also going to do a skin test for allergies, either to cooberate (sp??) results of the blood tests or get clearer info on what exactly the poor guy's allergic to! We're doing weekly oatmeal baths to help keep the allergins from accumulating on his skin and he can be rinsed off daily to accomplish the same. Right now he's rinsing himself in the muddy stream that runs thru our property in the spring! He "rinses" a couple times daily....

We're not quite ready to tackle Amos' issues but when I do move to a regular (albeit likely home cooked) diet for Jack, we'll move Amos to the same food, and that may help.

So kind of nothing conclusive to report - long, sort of frustrating process to deal with....stay tuned to see where we go next.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just checking in - back in ME

Got back today, lots of rain here and no snow...grass is likely to begin doing it's thing. Let's see what that does to Jack's scratching. I need to contact the dermatologist vet this week and will post what direction he gives me regarding timeframes for continuing the elimination diet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In FL - Still Itching...and some new tips on recipe prep

Not much worse though - the house we're in does not have a lot of grassy landscaping, lots of bark instead so no grass to roll in and make things worse. Jack loves the beach and rolling in the sand, and while we know that's probably not the best thing, he's having so much fun doing it, that we hate to stop him. He also may be scratching from the salt water of the ocean. We do rinse him off after each swim but w/all that fur, it's hard to be sure we're getting him totally clean. Since he swims every day, fruitless to do a full bath each day.

Unrelated to the itching, last time we cooked up the ostrich, things went much smoother. No quicker, but smoother. I decided to brown the meat on the stove top a few lbs at a time vs. trying to do in the oven. Definitely worked better - consistency of the meat was much more even. We ended up doing the sweet potatoes 1st - getting them roasted and then peeled and cut, and then doing the oatmeal so it was ready to go. As the batches of meat were cooked, we'd dish up portions a few pounds at a time. Worked much better. I've also given up using the tupperware containers, as they take up too much space and the stuff freezes to the consistency of granite. In the zip loc bags, it defrosts better and it's easier to mush everything together before putting in the bowl. I hate the idea of filling up the landfills w/all that plastic, but sometimes I guess you have to go with convenience.

When we get back from vacation, I'll check in with the allergist and see what next steps are on the elimination diet - we'll be about 60 days in at that point and should see where we go from here.

Off topic a bit - while down here, we're seeing more signs of what our younger dog Amos will be like as an adult. He'll turn one tomorrow so his full personality is emerging more. He seems to be less confident and more skittish than Jack. He barks a bit more and is a bit timid. We're using this trip as opportunity to socialize him further around new places, new people, etc. He's sort of your typical second kid - why do anything when the older sibling will do it all for you - get the bumper, pave the way...I'll just sit back and take advantage of his work.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warm weather = Itching Jack....

Trend of seeing increase in Jack's scratching does not seem to be a coincidence. He's definitely scratching more...I'm kind of bummed about this. Snow fell yesterday and more is expected maybe today but it's been really warm and he's definitely showing an increase in needing to scratch. Dewey gave him a bath yesterday after a swim in the ocean, thinking it might help a bit but we're not noticing a change.

Staying consistent on the diet, which does help. Off to FL at the end of the week where everything is green....we'll need to monitor whether he starts scratching more or not. Also Amos is scratching a bit as well. Please don't let us have TWO allergic doggies!

Need to make more of Jack's food today so we have enough to bring with us on the trip. Trying a different method on the cooking of the meat this time. I'm going to brown in batches on the stove and see if it's a bit easier.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Less snow - more itching....

UGH! It's been so warm and spring-like, that there's a lot of bare grass and fact in the warm spot along the foundation of my kitchen, poor little tulips and crocus are trying to emerge. Hello - it's February!! It still could snow (a lot!). Don't get me wrong, I love the warm weather, the last two days or so, Jack has started scratching a bit again...A bit frustrating - while we think we may have the food allergy somewhat under control thru the special diet, we still have the external allergens to deal with. If when spring fully hits and he's scratching like mad still, we will have spent a full year doing the allergy shot injections possibly for nothing.

We leave for FL in 10 days or so - all green grass down there - it'll be interesting to see what happens to him. Does he resume itching like he did all fall? Or fingers crossed, maybe no....we'll see I guess. BTW, how many dogs get to go on vacation(s) with their family? Montana & Wyoming last summer, FL this spring....while we know we can't always take them, it does definitely add to the fun having them with us. Actually really looking forward to it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Milkbone Incident

I am reporting this incident second-hand as I've been in CA all week and Dewey's been home with the dogs. When I spoke to him a couple nights ago, he told me how when he picked the guys up at daycare, the staffer there was quite concerned to report that a breech had occured in Jack's strict compliance with the elimination diet (e.g. nothing but the 3 ingredients should cross his lips).

Apparently, at "snack time" when all the dogs get treats and Jack gets his lovingly prepared dehydrated sweet potato slices, he just couldn't stand it. They were passing out the milk bones and Jack just lunged at the lady and snatched one straight out of her hand. They apparently tried to grab him and retreive the stolen treat but he swallowed it whole, and proceeded to wag his tail happily, as if to say "I'll fix me those dumb sweet potatoes!".

Because our daycare operation is so conscientious, they were really worried that the whole test was sunk now, but we figure it's probably not, and if suddenly he begins to scratch again, we're determined milk bones are the culprit. So bottom line, funny to us....and probably no real harm done.

Jack's little brother has his "procedure" at the vet today, or as it's been referred to in the Far Side cartoons his "tutoring". So Dewey took Jack along to the vet's office when he picked Amos up. Vet came out to say hello to Jack and check his progress. He was amazed at how much better Jack looks - coat is shiny & thick, muscle tone is better, he's put his weight back on, etc...He complimented us on sticking with the diet, which was nice and did mention the same as I alluded to in an earlier post...after the conclusion of the test, what next?

Stay tuned...we'll figure it all out I guess!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jack's coat continues to improve

I had the daycare place do a bath on Friday and they commented how much better he looks, how much less he's shedding (like none right now). Music to my ears! It was at daycare early in January when he had a bath that we realized how bad things were as they commented then how much fur was coming out, etc...this proved to be the catalyst for the trip to the dermatologist vet that got us started on the road of the special diet. So now 3+ weeks in, we think it's definitely helping! What happens at the end of the 8 week trial period is the next question....but we have several weeks to work that out and at least one more opportunity to go thru the prep process for the meals (ugh!).