Need some help brainstorming because this one has me stumped! Sorry it's long, just want to give the full backstory to see if anything makes sense!
2 year old female pit mix, had mild allergies that come and go since we've had her-biting her paws, dry itchy skin, head shaking. She's been on a wide variety of dog foods(high quality), not a history you would expect for a dog with food allergies. Long story short, we put her on a new food, she did well on it for awhile, but then we took her out of town for christmas with us, she was worked up being in a new place and didn't really want to eat much. When we came back, she decided she hated that food and refused to eat it for hours until she got REALLY hungry(and normally she would inhale it). Nothing was different, it was the same large bag we'd already fed halfway through, and she'd already been through a couple smaller bags of the same stuff. Nothing was different about her, physically but then one day she started gulping and smacking her lips at night. I thought she was just thirsty and didn't want to get out of bed to drink (yes, she is really that lazy).
A few days later, we woke up and she had exploded in hives. All over her face, chest, armpits and legs. Vet gave her a steroid, told us to put her on benedryl and she wasn't sure of the cause. We took her off that food immediately, just gave her some turkey peas and oatmeal. The hives stayed away all day, but then overnight they came back. This cycle went on-she would start gulping late at night, the hives would be there when we woke up, then they would go away all on their own, even if we didn't give her anything, only to reappear overnight.
We took her to a different vet and she said it was a food allergy and not a contact allergy, based on the location of the hives. But it doesn't make sense why she would be only having trouble at night? She sleeps in our room, usually on our bed but sometimes in her open crate or on the floor. We wash all our blankets and hers (including the blankets in the living room and in her crate) in the same detergent, we've used it before with no problems and we switch that up a lot too, it wasn't new. She can spend hours in her crate on those blankets while we are gone during the day, and sleeps on the bed or on the blankets in the living room all day when we are home. We tried having her sleep on the floor thinking it was some product on us making her break out, but that didn't help, neither did locking her out of her crate overnight.
She is an apartment dog and because of leg issues and her fear of the outdoors, she only goes outside to the same spot to do her business, so she's not getting into anything outside. We switched her to a limited ingredient diet (pretty much just fish and potatoes) and have weaned her off the benedryl. But the cycle continues. If I stay up late and she is in the living room with me, she will be fine until usually after 11pm. Then she would start gulping and getting dry mouth, even when she hadn't been in the bedroom at all. So it'ls not something in there, it's literally her being allergic to the night!
The severity varies greatly, she usually starts swallowing hard and lip smacking late at night, most mornings now she is okay except for a small bump or 2 on her face and some swelling in her ears, but it quickly goes away on it's own during the morning. Some days it's worse, some days she's totally fine. Just when she seems like she's getting better, she gets worse. Then better. Etc etc etc. I started giving her fish oil after reading about it's benefits for allergies and after 2 days she woke up bump free, thought we had found a cure. But then this morning she had several hard little lumps on her face and above her tail (which now seem to be the common places she gets lumps, in addition to swelling in her ears).
We are just stumped. I just cannot think of ANYTHING that is different except that it is nighttime. That's it. We are going to get her allergy tested, but I imagine it's going to be one of those things where they say she's allergic to EVERYTHING. I just don't understand what would cause this sudden onset of issues and why it would only occur at night, and it's frustrating when one day it's fine and the next it's bad and there's nothing that we've changed, making it harder to pinpoint anything.
Sorry for the extended version but I guess it's necessary to explain why I'm so frustrated. Anybody have an idea what the heck could be going on?
I have absolutely no idea, that's incredibly bizarre and sounds like a nightmare! Just wanted to suggest that it might be helpful to keep a journal of her symptoms along with anything else going on so that maybe you can identify another trigger? Also, someone on here, to whom I will be forever grateful, told me about a homeopathic product called Leaks No More for my incontinent dog. I'll admit I was pretty skeptical, but it does seem to be helping her significantly. I believe the same company makes something for allergies, might be worth a shot.
I know your vet said food allergy, but with what your explaining I would not totally rule out contact allergy. Mabey she has both. Ok This is way out there, but you said she sleeps in your bed. Do the human ocupants in the bed wear any purfume, strong smelling deodorants, etc. The reasoning being is bed time the only time she is that close to a human for an extended length of time. There is alot of people that have purfume allergies , why not a super sensitive dog like yours. Once again bizzare idea, but wow unusual case. Good luck.
Totally random: is she reacting emotionally to something about night time? is she afraid of the dark? is there something in the house that clicks on or off at night (water softener? something electrical?)? do you have a neighbor who works nights who comes and goes at odd hours and makes her nervous? skunks in the bushes outside? raccoons?
If it's an anxiety reaction, can you try something soothing like bach flower rescue remedy, melatonin, even a tramadol?
The first vet said that sometimes multiple minor allergies can layer up and turn into full blow reactions like hers, so it could be that, but it's going to make it all the much harder to pinpoint them :-(
We considered it might be us, but she wakes up in bumps even when we've made her sleep on the floor or in her crate. She sleeps at the foot of the bed, not on us. She does want to scratch her back in the early evenings more. We haven't been wearing anything different, I wonder if just being in close proximity to us (like the bedroom) is enough to cause her to react. Going to experiment with that idea a little and see if it helps.
As far as the detergent, the same thing is used on our bed as her blankets in the living room and her crate and she can be fine for extended periods on those without reactions, so I don't think it is that, but we did just switch to a allergen detergent.
No bugs, fleas or antibiotics.
Our apartments are very quiet at night, lots more noise going on during the daytime. But I do wonder if our trip with her stressed her out to the point that her immune system was weakened and all those allergies just opened up and had a free for all, since that seemed to be the big change right before she this all started.
She's been fine all day, all evening, has stayed in the living room with me, and has suddenly started gulping and scratching. Always seems to start around the same time, no matter where she is in the house. I wonder if air allergens like pollen or dust flare up in the evening for any reason? I know that whenever I am sick and have a bad cough (I get mild bronchitis), the coughing can be gone almost all day but as soon as evening hits, the coughing gets worse. I was wondering if there might be any correlation.
Guess I just have to keep searching and trying different things!
Stress is a BIG factor in immune systems. I dont even think the surface has been scratched when it comes to stress, and its affects. Your dog may be hyper sensitive emotionally, and it manifests physically.
As far as bugs I have seen my pets faces swell up from stink bugs, so if we ever find one in the house we get it out immediately, then squish it.
Oy. Because it is happening only at night and because it is happening in various locations within the home, I too would be concerned about bed bugs. They're not just for hobos and slobs...they don't care how clean or nice your place is, they don't care if you're poor or rich, they just want a blood meal and they can be picked up almost anywhere.
Neither of you are noticing any small red bump clusters on exposed skin yourselves overnight?
If you gave her a good bath, washed her bedding in HOT water, and put her in her crate in a tiled room (clean first)...I'd be interested to see if it happens.
Something without any carpet. Kitchen, bathroom, etc.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Ugh, now I've got the heebie jeebies after reading up on the bed bugs. Although it could make sense that they are nocturnal, but we haven't noticed anything on ourselves.
Wouldn't be the heater, it hasn't been on much lately. Although I should keep track of the temperature since it varies wildly here-some nights the heater is on, some nights the ac is on, some nights the window is open because it's perfect out-and see if that shows any pattern.
Going to try overhaulin-give her a bath, wash everything and put her in her crate in the tile kitchen overnight, see if that changes anything.
She would seriously be Dr. House's dream dog lol. We've only had her for a year and every month it seems there's some major problem with her. Poor thing has been through so much. Does anybody have recommendations for boosting her immune system? Wondering if that might help at all too.
in people with environmental allergies, often the symptoms start to worsen at bedtime and regress through the daylight hours- the classic case is the person who wakes up each morning totally congested, then it goes away throughout the day only to start up again each evening and worsen overnight and then go away in the morning. Asthma attacks classically hit late at night. Something to do with circadian rhythms.
I would guess your dog is allergic to something in the environment, and it just gets worse at bedtime due to internal circadian rhythms.
It really doesn't sound like a food allergy.
Allergy testing may be your best approach to identify the offending substance; antihistamines and if necessary corticosteroids can be used to control symptoms if you can't find the cause and eliminate it or it can't be eliminated.
Allergies are caused by over-active immune systems, not weak immune systems.
You can sometimes reduce symptom severity by feeding a non-inflammatory diet- adding fish oil helps in this way. Diets with high levels of grains or white potatoes in them promote inflammation. People often find allergy symptoms get better away if they switch from a diet with a lot of grain or potatoes in it to a higher-protein diet even if the higher-protein diet has some grain or white potatoes in it (simply because it has a lesser amount of inflammatory components), and even if the dog doesn't actually have food allergies. A fish/sweet potato or duck/sweet potato diet would be non-inflammatory.
Have you done a trial of antihistamines and low dose steroids given at the evening meal? It would be interesting to see if that helps. I too think it sounds environmental or immune mediated. Very strange.
keep a diary of the temperatures and whether the heat, window or a/c is on. I'd have her scoped for throat, stomach abnormalities. Night time she is laying horizontal for hours (unlike day naps) and she could have reflex, a build up of mucus etc. I'm thinking respiratory or heart issues. These can be ruled out.
I'd try a night at the vets, first a bath to remove any parasites, then an overnight at the vets (especially if they have metal cages). On the plus side, if she still has hives there, the staff will be able to see it first hand.