After months of testing various hypoallergenic dog foods to cure Boyd's recurring ear infections, JD and I finally decided to try to get a second opinion from another vet. We researched vets in our area and found one that has good reviews. JD was sold when he found out the local police department takes their K-9s there (I mean, if the police do it....)
The vet asked about his symptoms, if he'd been sneezing, coughing, shaking his head, scratching his ears, and/or licking his paws. She took a sample from his ear and examined him. Imagine our shock and horror when she concluded that it was NOT, in fact, food allergies.
"Only about 15% of dogs have food allergies," she said. "And if you've tried several kinds of foods and the infections keep coming back, it probably has nothing to do with his food."
She looked closely at his paws and discovered open sores- SORES!- in between his toes (do dogs have toes?) She concluded it's probably skin allergies caused by an environmental allergen.
I almost started crying; I felt SO horrible. All along, I had nagging feeling it wasn't food allergies. It just never made sense to me, yet I took the old vet's word without a second thought. And when JD mentioned he'd been licking his paws, the old vet barely glanced at his paws, and I never questioned it. So Boyd has been miserable for months, and it was our responsibility to do more for him.
A parent's job, whether it be canine, human, or otherwise, is to be an advocate, and I had failed miserably. I didn't listen to my gut, and Boyd had suffered. We kept doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results (isn't that the definition of insanity?)
I guess I need to try to take the lessons and good that came out of this. First, we have Boyd on 3 medicines now that will hopefully help heal his ears and the sores on his feet. Once we get those symptoms under control, we can start prevention by giving him antihistamines or small doses of steroids daily. Also, since we no longer have to feed him hypoallergenic dog food, we can start giving him the sensitive stomach formula again, which is cheaper and prevents his nasty farts.
I'm really excited we found a new vet (we will be switching the other 2 pups there as well). It's less crowded, which is good for multiple reasons. Not only did the doctor have more time to spend with him, ask questions, and fully understand his symptoms before diagnosing him, but getting him in and out of there was a breeze since there were no other dogs in the waiting room. This visit was free of his infamous dying pig squeal! The doctor was great and she provided a lot of helpful info for us to read about pet allergies. She also made several suggestions on how we can help manage and prevent them going forward.
Finally, I guess I have to take this experience as a lesson learned. Trust your instincts, and advocate for your pets/children/whatever. JD and I don't have kids yet, but we'll get there eventually, so it's good to learn these lessons now.