Late Summer Allergies

We’ve been on a rough ride here, allergy-wise.

First it was lamb. Typical food allergy stuff. I stopped the lamb, and things got only a little better. Then I realized Silas was throwing up because he was chewing a chicken-flavored nylabone. I took away the nylabone (which wasn’t even the “chicken” flavor, it was the original, and who knew that he was eating enough of it to matter?), but he was still breaking out in new bumps.

I tend to call these hives, but they probably aren’t, really. We’ve seen hives. They look like this:


I am thankful almost every day that he’s never had another reaction that bad.

These bumps are a lot more minor, mostly visible as a disturbance of his hair. You can see one here, right behind his front leg:


Or, to be more clear:
hives with circle

Here’s a terrible shot of one on his belly, where you can see what they actually look like:

On average they will form up, stay for a few days, and go away. The problem is that sometimes they form where Silas can reach to scratch them. This is the same bump under his front leg, a place he can easily claw with his back feet, two days later:

The blessing in all of this is that Silas doesn’t appear to be allergic to ragweed. We’re in the very beginnings of fall pollen season right now, and my city keeps precise data. Amaranth (pigweed/tumbleweed/lambs’ quarters) is in the air right now, as is the very first smidgeon of ragweed. Last year, at the very beginning of ragweed season, I noticed the hives, doubled his dose of fish oil, and felt very proud of myself for keeping anything more serious at bay. Ragweed is epic here. Epic.

Year two data suggests that he’s not actually allergic to the ragweed at all, but rather to other thing that’s pollenating right now. Amaranth has a much shorter season and never reaches the extreme volume that ragweed does. I’m not sure there would be medication enough in the world if Silas were actually showing a reaction to ragweed this early in the season, since it will get several hundred times worse.

So that’s a good thing. But in the meantime, he’s still breaking out with new places every day, despite a few attempts to medicate him. I’m going to have to pull out the Temaril, it looks like, if I don’t want him to scratch himself into a skin infection.

Episode Two: Revenge of the Hives

So, the hives are back.

Not the huge, quarter-sized hives, but a sprinkling of tiny hives all down Silas’s back. It started off with one or two. “Is that a hive?” we asked each other, “or just a bump?” Now it’s up to probably two dozen.

There are two likely scenarios, both fairly unpleasant.

1) Silas is allergic to ragweed. On Monday, our ragweed count per cubic meter of air was 6. On Wednesday, it was 68. 6 was “low,” 68 was “high,” according to the reporting service. Wednesday is when we started noticing the little maybe hives. Since then the local pollen collection data has been broken, but the prediction is for an upward trend to continue.

This is bad news for two reason. First, it sets a bad precedent for the rest of our year. That is, pollen season is basically year round here. If Silas is going to develop “year two” allergies, we may be in for a bad, bad year. Secondly, it would mean he’s getting small hives with the ragweed count less than 100. Last year we were in a drought so bad that thousands of trees died, and the ragweed numbers still hit four times that. Year before last, a “regular” year, the number got as high as 850. That’s in one day.

2) Silas is having a mild reaction to his antibiotic. He started a round of Simplicef on August 29. At the same time, he was taking Temaril, an antihistamine/steroid. Tuesday was his last dose of Temaril, and the hives appeared on Wednesday. It’s possible that the Temaril was masking an allergy to the Simplicef. Hives are one of the medicine’s potential side effects.

An allergy to Simplicef is bad because this is the very, very effective standard treatment for his skin infections. There’s also some data saying that people who react badly to cephalosporins may also be allergic to penicillin. I’m not sure if a similar study has been done in dogs.

Because it could be the antibiotic, I’m a little hesitant to give him an antihistamine. That is, I don’t want to mask the development of more serious symptoms. But, because he has a history of environmental allergies that cause this symptom, and there has been a corollary allergen spike, I’m not comfortable discontinuing his antibiotic without veterinary advice. I guess we’ll be back at the vet on Monday. Sigh.