Thursday, December 21, 2006

Shot through the heart and you're to blame

Peanut doesn't seem to be adjusting well to our recent nomadic ways - first we were huddled in the living room trying to stay warm around the fire, then we went to a hotel downtown for the night, then spent a few days at Aunt Susie's house. He was a bit more clingy than usual and kept one, if not both, of us in his sight at all times. He also wasn't eating regularly. We could get him to eat in the evening if we put some pepperoni or beef jerky in with his food (ok, so maybe he's just training us) but he wouldn't eat all of his allotted 4.5 cups. This happens sometimes when he goes to "dog camp" aka the kennel, though I doubt they entice him to eat with pepperoni.

Today was our first full day at home, and he slept all day in his bed at the foot of ours. I too was in bed all day so it was nice and cozy. He turned up his nose at breakfast time, but then ate everything in the evening, so maybe he's settling back in to his routine. Poor guy.

The other reason he's not hungry could be his allergy shots. Yes, you read that right. We are giving our dog a course of allergen desensitization shots. You may remember several posts from 2005 and 2006 detailing Peanut's mysterious itchiness. We tried different shampoos, different food, to no avail. The only thing that soothed his inflamed skin was a course of prednisone, which isn't something we should give him long-term. Plus it makes him cranky and bloated, and scary to Spike.

So after taking a lot of our money for mysterious Peanut itchiness appointments, our vet recommended we see an "animal dermatologist". I had no idea such a person existed. There are apparently only two in all of Seattle, and the one we called had a 6 week wait to see him. Clearly TJ and I are in the wrong business.

The Dog Dermatologist, Dr. D.D. for short, was a very nice guy and took a lot of time explaining what might be going on with poor Peanut. He decided Peanut needed an allergy skin test so he had to take him into the back room (I'm sure dogs hate it) and sedated him lightly, then shaved a 4" x 8" panel in the side of our dog. He then stuck Peanut with 58 different environmental allergens, plus saline and histamine for controls. Turns out Peanut shows a significant allergic reaction to about 25 of them.

So the result was that they would make up a special allergen solution for us based on Peanut's allergies and we would have to stick our dog every other day for 2 months, then weekly for another few months. At that point, I guess we'll go back for another test to see if he's better, or maybe we'll just monitor him to see if he's still itchy.

Peanut, stoic and impervious to pain, doesn't even notice when you inject him. I'm too queasy to do it, so I'm the treat holder, while TJ does the injection. Peanut is so focused on the treat that he doesn't even notice TJ. Amazing.

We also got a prescription for an antifungal medication that Dr. DD instructed us to fill at a regular pharmacy. He also (helpfully) told us to call around for prices on it since it tends to vary a lot and also mentioned that the Fred Meyer pharmacy will match the lowest price you can find. Figuring it wasn't a big deal, I called our two nearest pharmacies and they quoted me, for 80 tablets, $180 and $95, I kid you not. Intrigued, I called a few more pharmacies and got quotes for $65 to $110. I called Costco and they said it would be $22. Bingo!

Since Costco is a good 20 minutes away and I'm not sure our membership is still valid, I went to Fred Meyer and they agreed to match the price (without even checking, I think they were glad I saved them a phone call). The pharmacist was very confused when I picked up the prescription -- he asked me if "Peanut" was my child. In a tone of voice like "Why would anyone name their child Peanut?" When I explained it was my dog, it didn't seem to help. I guess they don't learn about dogs in pharmacy school. He mumbled some things about not drinking alcohol with the medicine and about taking it with milk. (Um, my dog doesn't drink, and we don't give him milk either...).

This experience got me thinking about what people without health insurance do when they need a prescription. Do they call around? Can they even afford the pills? If I hadn't been tipped off by Dr. DD, I wouldn't have thought to call around, because I didn't realize the same drug could cost anywhere from $22 to $180. That's ridiculous.


  1. Poor Peanut. I hope he feels better soon! 4"x8"?? Both our dogs would be pretty much hairless if we did that :P

    One thing a vet of ours recommended was fish oil (Omega 3 and 6) supplement. Believe it or not, it helps with allergies. I'm not sure how much Peanut would need to take for it to be effective, though. Here's a Drs. Foster & Smith writeup (of course, they're interested in selling you the stuff, too, so read it with that in mind). Maybe Dr. DD can comment if you ask him next time you see him.

    Funny about the Fred Meyer pharmacist, but I guess they must be required to warn about the medications they dispense...?

  2. Kudos for TJ for being able to stick Peanut. I couldn't do it. I have "issues" with needles. God forbid Pookie (the cat) ever need injections. I'll have to hire a nurse.

  3. @LL - yeah, we should try the fish oil supplement, but I don't want to give him any pills until the allergy shots are done.

    @Jenn - Yep, I am very glad to have someone else do the sticking. I guess I could if I had to, but really don't want to.

  4. Hi there, I came across this posting suring my search for an animal dermatologist in the seattle area. I called one in Ballard and they have a 6-week wait. My Saint Bernard has an issue that's almost reached a crisis level. Could you give me the name of Dr.DD that you took Peanut to? Thank you so much!

  5. The place was "Animal Dermatology Service" but I'm pretty sure it was in Ballard. There's another guy in Seattle, but I don't have his info anymore - check with your vet. (or you can call Redwood Animal Hospital in Redmond and ask them for the referrals).


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