June 11, 2006

Poor Ferris

Ferris is very itchy. He gets open sores and he scratches and bites at himself constantly. The vet hasn't been able to figure out the cause of the problem but treatment has cost a fortune so far. Taking advice from the vet, the breeder and our dog walker, we have tried different foods, supplements, shampoos and medications. I have even cancelled Ferris' weekday romps in the park, which often involved him splashing about in ponds and not being dried properly afterward.

Ferris in healthier days

Worse than the itchiness (although Ferris might disagree) is the fact that blood tests have revealed high levels of something called alkaline phosphatase, which may indicate the presence of liver disease. (Apparently, Bernese are prone to certain liver diseases, in addition to cancer and hip and elbow dysplasia.) The vet performed a bile acid test last week and we expect the results tomorrow. If those are positive, there are at least two more sets of increasingly complicated and costly tests before we get a firm diagnosis. I don't want to think any further ahead than that.


Anonymous said...

Skin allergies. Have you tried a short course of steroids? We have four large dogs and an eighteen year lod cat and each have had the odd bout with this problem and it's always been cleared up by this treatment.

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Sammy sends Ferris a big hug!

Calamity Jen said...

Steroids are an option the vet will try if nothing else works. We really want to determine the cause of the problem first (environmental allergies, food allergies, etc.) so that we can eliminate the offending factor. I appreciate your suggestion, and I'm glad that steroids worked for your pets. (FOUR large dogs? I'm impressed!)

Heather and Sammy, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Our vet in Toronto, we now live in northern Ontario, used to call it Exhibition itch because it always came around that time of year. This was the Animal clinic now on Mutual St. It was always caused by seasonal allergies and one course of steroids cleared it up. You can't eliminate these allergies and if you don't get treatment your pup will continue to suffer mentally and physically.If it were me I'd want the itch gone first!! I have known numerous people whose pets have suffered needlessly while their owners have done what you are doing and eventually steroids have been the only cure. By the way we have a wildlife and animal sanctuary here and I'm not some weirdo just rambling with my ideas!!!!

Calamity Jen said...

I definitely didn't think you were some weirdo, and I really appreciate your input. Unfortunately, I've read that steroids can cause elevated alkaline phosphatase levels, so we'll need to determine the cause of Ferris' current elevated levels before we take a course of action that can elevate them further. I called my vet this afternoon but they didn't have the test results yet, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow.

One of our cats occasionally suffers from eosinophilic granuloma, which manifests itself in a very swollen lip (making him look sulkier than usual). My old vet used to give him a shot of steroids to clear up the problem. Our new vet is very much against this treatment, as it significantly increases a cat's chances of developing diabetes. It's impossible to know when you're getting the best advice from a vet, and when you're just being charged for your compassion.

You are living my dream. Running an animal/wildlife sanctuary is the one thing that would get me to leave my home town. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Great talking to you, this a is a subject very dear to my heart. Don't let your poor pup suffer too much longer before you give him the cure!!

Calamity Jen said...

It's been great talking to you, too. I'm a former foster caregiver for the Toronto Humane Society and my three cats are all former fosters, so animal welfare is close to my heart, as well.

Thank you again for your advice.