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acute allergic reaction in dog?

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  • acute allergic reaction in dog?

    Any help from the pool of COTH wisdom would be great, as this has me and our vet stumped. Here's a history, then the questions.

    The dog in question is a spayed 8 1/2 yellow lab I've had her entire life. I knew her parents and grandparents, none of whom had any health issues or allergies other than some mild arthritis as they aged.

    The dog in question, Taiko

    Taiko has never had any health problems, injuries or illnesses her entire life, but 2 weeks ago I noticed her licking her right hind paw and when I checked it out, she had a huge gash between the two middle toes. No idea what she cut herself on, but we were up at my parents' house for dinner the best guess is the dog may have stepped on something in my Mom's garden. Full thickness cut but she wasn't even limping when she walked! We ran her in to the vet who got everything fixed up.

    We had them do a full bloodwork panel before putting her under sedation to fix the paw, all values were completely normal other than a very slight elevation in liver values. It was small enough that the vet wasn't worried about it and said she wouldn't even recommend follow-up testing until Taiko's regular annual exam comes around (September).

    She was on 500mg cephalexin 3 times a day for 10 days, with Tramadol for pain management.

    The last day of antibiotics was on Tuesday. Wednesday morning I woke up to see her standing by the bed, eyes completely swollen shut and hives all over her head. She has her own bed and sleeps in our room at night, so we couldn't figure out what she got into, the vet's guess was a spider bite sometime in the night? She got a shot of dextramethasone at the vet's and we put her on 50mg of benadryl morning and night, with the last dose being Friday night.

    Took her in this morning to get stitches out, no problem. An hour after we get home from the vet, she started making a wierd noise when she breathed, then started breaking out in hives again. Still restricted to just her head, but we gave her benadryl before heading back to the vet's office. Her breathing cleared up a bit on the way there, but she got another shot of dextramethasone and we're supposed to continue with benadry 3 times a day for the next 48 hours, then stop giving it and see if she has another reaction.

    Other than getting injured for the first time in her entire life, literally nothing has changed for this dog. Because she's been on such restricted exercise while her paw heals, she has only been outside for leashed potty breaks so I've been with her and I know she hasn't gotten into anything outside. We haven't gotten any new cleaners/chemicals, the cats are indoor only so they haven't brought anything in from outside, she doesn't get into the trash or countersurf.

    I am at a complete loss as to what could be causing this reaction - the vet has no idea either. Any ideas? It scares me how quick the reaction was both times and that the second reaction was worse than the first. What if she has another reaction while no one is home and goes into anaphylactic shock? Any ideas about what could be causing this? We completely cleaned the entire house this afternoon - vacuumed everything, wiped down surfaces to get rid of dust, washed her dog bed, etc. Anything else we can do?

  • #2
    Hmmm. She's getting into SOMETHING but what?

    Until you can sort it out, I'd plan on crating her when you're not home to minimize the possibilities.

    If you have the ability, I'd put a webcam on her so you can check in on her during the day.

    I have no idea what it could be. You've already covered all of the bases I can think of.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    • Original Poster

      Thank you for the crating-while-not-home suggestion, she's normally so good in the house I forget crating can be to keep stuff away from them as much as to keep them out of stuff! We'll have to get her expen out of the garage tomorrow.

      Since the hives have been restricted to her head, any ideas if this would indicate contact allergy vs. something she's eaten?


      • #4
        Originally posted by EKLay View Post

        Since the hives have been restricted to her head, any ideas if this would indicate contact allergy vs. something she's eaten?
        I'm not a veterinarian and I don't play one on TV so take anything I say with a grain of salt....

        It is my understanding that angioedema (the swelling of the face and eyes) and an anaphylactic response can be induced by contact with a substance, inhalation, a sting or bite, an injection, etc. You may initially see a localized response in the case of a sting, injection, or contact that might be red, swollen and itchy but with anaphylaxis, you'll have the increased heart rate, the breathing difficulty, etc.

        So just because the hives and swelling were limited to her head doesn't necessarily rule anything out (or in for that matter).

        I see you're in Colorado so to me, that rules out a lot of things like plant/pollen or many different creepy crawlies, bees, etc. You're still in winter, right? LOL

        Is your pet on flea preventative? If so, what kind? A severe flea allergy could be on the list. Or a spider as you said.

        Angioedema can have other causes besides allergies I believe. I think that you can have acquired (allergic) or hereditary. But if it occurs due to allergy, it's usually going to happen within 15-20 min of exposure. So maybe that can help narrow down what she may have been exposed to? If hereditary, wouldn't expect her to respond to antihistamines but it can be triggered by stress, trauma, etc. And in humans at least, hereditary angioedema's list of symptoms can include stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

        I'm pretty stumped!
        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

        Might be a reason, never an excuse...


        • #5
          Colorado is definitely NOT still in winter (High Country excluded). Many of us never even had winter this year! It very easily could be pollen...or not. I'm not sure where in our RAD state the op is, but it's too early for scorpions and tarantulas in my area, so that's likely ruled out.
          But the honey bees have been out in force! Could that be it? Or early yellow jackets? Any very recent exposure to rabbits or prairie dogs? What about bull snakes? The reaction isn't right for rattle snakes...
          The fact this never appeared until the dog was on Keflex makes me wonder...of course, something could have been introduced in the cut, but what?
          I don't know what to say, op. I'll keep jingling, though!
          "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique


          • #6
            you're in Colorado? this is for people, but http://www.pollen.com/allergy-weather-forecast.asp says Colorado is in high allergy season right now. All the trees are in full pollen mode. What kind of trees are around your house?


            • Original Poster

              Definitely not in winter still, unfortunately! Thanks for the info on the angioedema, that seems to fit well with the research I've been doing.

              There's some kind of flowering pear out front, one neighbor has a huge privacy hedge (no idea what kind of plant it is), then just regular pine trees. A couple people nearby have several cottonwoods. I doubt it's a plant allergy; she's lived in CO her whole life and never had any allergies before.

              She is not on flea preventative - no one in this house has ever had fleas and we don't tend to frequent places where she'd be likely to pick them up. We use Flys Off before we take her out hiking, but the last time we used that was back in February.

              Kenike - you said that her being on Keflex recently made you wonder? Have you heard anything about antibiotics triggering allergies after going off them?

              No one saw her cut her paw, but we're sure it had to have happened in my Mom's garden. She's got a bunch of metal cages/trainers/lattices for the plants to grow on and normally Taiko doesn't run through there, but we're thinking that since the plants are so tiny right now, the garden might have looked empty to her so she might have gone exploring. My Mom makes her own compost and had just dug that into the soil, so it's really possible she got something in the cut. :-( The vet said they scrubbed the gash out very well once they put her under, so I hope there's nothing trapped in there!

              Thanks for the help and the jingles, I really appreciate it!


              • #8
                I don't think it's the cephalexin given the fact she was on it for 10 days then off and still had a reaction. The reaction you describe normally occurs within 20 min of exposure to a foreign protein.

                It's not out of the question that she could have an allergy to the antibiotic, but I'd have thought she would've had that much sooner. Not a week after being off of it.

                Don't discount the plant allergies though. First you have to be exposed to something...only THEN can you develop the allergy. That's why you rarely see allergies until they get a little older.

                She could've seemed fine for years but now have a problem. Are you close enough to CSU to go do an allergy panel?
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  It just makes me wonder if its a delayed reaction to the antibiotic, or if it awakened something by killing another? I just finished antibiotic sensitivity and resistance in microbiology so my mind is in overdrive.

                  My dog promptly sliced his paw on that stupid steel edging everyone here seems to use as soon as we moved in. I promptly ripped it out as soon as my son was born and I could bend over or kneel again. Thankfully, it was only the front yard (we put the backyard landscaping in with NO steel edging. I got lucky that it didn't require vet treatment! (Sliced is generous...it was like a paper cut, but I wasn't taking chances with my baby!)

                  I don't use flea prevention, either. At least not purposely...Trifexus happens to have it in it. But we're not exactly in need here (unless they're notorious rabbit and prairie dog catching fools!). This doesn't sound like flea or tick. Spider or scorpion, maybe...but it's still too early for scorpions.

                  I don't know! My cottonwood has started dropping its seed catskin things, my apple tree is about to leaf, my maple is blooming...but even my daffodils aren't open yet (late!!)...but the pollen counts are high. It could be anything!
                  "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by Kenike View Post
                    It just makes me wonder if its a delayed reaction to the antibiotic, or if it awakened something by killing another?
                    This is more what I was wondering about with the antibiotic. However, she's been completely normal today, without benadryl, so I'm hoping it's done with.

                    We're definitely close enough to CSU to go there if necessary - I did my undergrad there and still have a bunch of connections with the equine and vet departments. I asked my vet about taking her to CSU for an allergy panel though and she said if she has another reaction it'll be worth it, but for now she wants to keep an eye on her and see if things improve on their own.


                    • #11
                      I would've thought it was the abx too if it weren't for the fact she'd actually been OFF the meds for a bit before the first reaction. Normally these reactions happen within 20 min of secondary exposure. But I suppose it's still a possibility.

                      Just doesn't quite fit.

                      Good luck! You're lucky to have CSU nearby.
                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                      • #12
                        My dog had a similar reaction after she had her vaccines this year. She is 2.5 years old so has had the shots several times. I had taken her to the vet in the evening about 6 for walk in clinic. Went home, she was fine. Put her in her crate for the night( I work nights). Got home in the morning she was out(my roommate had let her out to potty. I fed her breakfast(same food as always) and I sat down to eat my breakfast. I noticed her rubbing her snout with her paws. She seemed to have a few hives around her eyes, so I gave her some Benedryl. Went in to get ready for bed and about 10 minutes later she came running down the hall and hit my bedroom door so hard it popped open. She was huffing and throwing herself on the floor and rubbing on the floor. I looked at her and her face was very swollen, eyes almost swollen shut. I jumped up, threw clothes on and piled her in the car and called vet as I was heading there. A couple of times I thought she had stopped breathing as I was speeding to the vet. Got there and they took her right in and gave her some dexamethasone and more Benedryl. She had an RX for steroid pills for several days plus Benedryl. They thought it was her Lepto vaccine as she had not been exposed to anything new and it was still winter(February) so no pollen or bug issues.