Itchy and Scratchy


August 14, 2002

So, we have these dogs. Two dogs. Bill and Suki.

Suki is an Akita. When she's in better health, this is what she looks like (OK, maybe a tad bit tubbier). She's a great dog. She's totally devoted to me and has the patience of Job when it comes to all the "training" and "classes" Zoe subjects her to (ballet and soccer being among Zoe's favorites).

Then there's Bill. Next to long-suffering in the dictionary is a picture of Bill. He's a pit bull/pointer mix (or as Zoe says: pimple-pointer mix). Chuck rescued Bill from the pound. Bill is a dear, but he has some issues. He's quite timid, and extremely under foot (he has the uncanny ability to put his body exactly where you want to go three seconds before you go there). But Bill is a dear.

But lately the dogs have had some issues.

Bill's issue is flatulence. Poor, dear, stinky-farted Bill. He rips 'em any time of the day or night. And I tell you, you haven't lived until you've been subjected to one of Bill's farts. He is capable of all kinds: silent but deadly, loud but inoffensive, and loud and deadly. Altogether it's really horrible. I keep a book of matches at arm's length any time he sits near me.

Suki has skin issues. As with most Akita's, she has a tendency toward hot spots and miscellaneous skin issues. We've been dealing with this for as long as we've had her. We generally shave her in the summer and that helps with some of it. We also bathe her and use this spray which helps.

This summer the combination of bad skin and bad farts drove me to make some changes with the dogs. I decided that the problems were all related to the fact that we feed our dogs supermarket dog food. Pedigree to be precise. I figured if I fed them some groovy, expensive, pet store, specialty dog food, we could address the skin and farting issues.

So off I embarked on a long, now expensive journey. I'm here to tell you, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

We tried several high-priced-good-for-the-skin-and-digestion brands of dog food. With each change in food we transition was gradual, i.e., near the end of the first bag, we would start incorporating the next type of food, so as not to disrupt their sensitive digestive systems. The results with each new brand were more dismal than the previous.

Now, not only was Suki scratching, but so was Bill. Not only was Bill farting, but so was Suki. Arg.

And, now Suki smelled really bad.

We have a lot of pets. I'll admit it. But I'm pleased so say that our house does not stink of pets. Normally, it doesn't smell like dirty dog or cat box when you walk in our front door. Then, all of a sudden, the whole house smelled of dog. Ugh.

Off Suki and I toddled to the vet.

Here's the thing about our vet: it's a 24 hour emergency vet. They have regular office hours where you can book appointments 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. But for a mere $10.00 more, you can go after hours. After hours is 7:00 p.m. to about 10:30 p.m. I'm more than happy to pay an extra $10.00 for this convenience.

Suki saw the vet. She got some kind of steroid shot, antibiotics for the skin thing, which had gotten worse and stinky, some topical spray for the bad hot spots, and special shampoo which we need to use on her twice a week. $189.00, thankyouverymuch.

While she was on the antibiotics she was getting better. As soon as we stopped the drugs she got worse and then Bill started getting worse. All you'd hear was the constant sound of licking and biting and scratching.

The best part was when Suki would be leaning on our bed and licking, biting, and scratching. Because then you'd have the whole sensurround experience-bed shaking, dog thumping, licking, annoyingness.

So, Monday night I found myself back at the after-hours vet. Oh, I forgot to mention, my vet offers multi-pet discounts so when you bring in more than one pet you pay full price for the office visit for the first one and less than half price for the second pet.

This time I was at the vet with both dogs. So, two shots of steroids, two courses of antibiotics, and two courses of Prednasone, and $208 later, I think we've solved the problem.

I'm pleased to say I saw results almost immediately. Bill had all but stopped the biting, licking, scratching on Monday night. Suki was still licking occasionally, but not as bad.

And last night I went and bought a 25 pound bag of Pedigree. I threw out the fancy food this morning and switched them over immediately. None of this gradual changeover stuff.

A little canine intestinal discomfort is worth it.

Until next time...