Dog Health and General Info

Overall, Bentley has been a healthy dog and we haven't had to deal with too many issues. But we have had to deal with some serious, life-threatening and chronic issues.

These are the health problems & medications we've dealt with:

  • Allergies - diet, medications (prednisone, antihistamines, anesthetics, antacids, acid reducers)
  • Heartworm & Flea prevention (Heartguard, Advantage, Revolution)
  • Arthritis - hip problems, difficulty walking (Rimadyl, Cosequin)
  • Spleen removal
  • Senior dog issues

I keep their health records current, with copies of all lab tests and a summary page of their current health and care information.

The information presented here is from our experience and is not intended as medical advice.  If you have questions about your dog's care or health, please seek the guidance of your veterinarian. 

Allergies

Bentley's allergy problems effect many aspects of his life. Controlling them has involved medications, a prescription diet, and changing heartworm & flea prevention medications.

When Bentley moved into the Indulged Furry House in July 2001, his allergies were causing a lot of skin problems. His skin was very red, bumpy, and itched so much that he would bite large raw spots into himself. His vet said Bentley was probably allergic to many things, and one of the few things I could control was his diet. Bentley's vet prescribed a diet of Eukanuba Response FP, which is a fish & potato based food.  He was also put on oral prednisone. Bentley responded very well to this treatment and his skin started to return to normal. Eventually, the prednisone was tapered off and he was put on oral antihistamines (Benedryl), which have fewer long-term side effects than prednisone but helped alleviate allergic reactions. Bentley's skin improved so much that even the antihistamines were stopped. Bentley tends to have allergy "flare ups" in mid-summer. I don't know if something in the area is putting out a lot of pollen that he is allergic to or if the heat plays a role (it gets 100+ degrees here in summer). 

Insect bites cause severe skin reactions with Bentley. I can watch a red area spread over his skin and it becomes hot and very itchy. If I don't catch it, Bentley will bite his fur off and bite into his skin to try to alleviate the itching. To help prevent this skin damage, I use a home remedy of a mixture of topical 1% hydrocortisone cream & baby Orajel (active ingredient Benzocaine 7.5%).  I rub it on Bentley's skin where wherever it's red, and it helps soothe and numb the area.  We also have a spray bottle of liquid hydrocortisone that I use.  If the reaction is severe, I give him a small dose of his prednisone (we keep his prescription refilled and have some pills on hand for immediate use) to help stop the inflammation.  Note, this was before he started taking Rimadyl for arthritis. Since starting Rimadyl, I do not give prednisone, but use antihistamines if needed.

Another problem Bentley has that's related to his allergies is an upset tummy.  He doesn't vomit, but starts licking and "gulping"...almost like he has something stuck in the back of his throat and is trying to swallow a lot.  I described it to the vet as "doggy post-nasal drip". The vet said this is probably caused by his allergies, and it's really acid reflux and he's trying to swallow to help ease the discomfort.  What we do to help him is to give him a couple of Tums antacid tablets. He thinks they're a treat, and it helps settle his tummy.  As the symptoms worsened, the vet advised us to give him 10 mg Pepcid (famotidine) with his morning and evening meals.  It helps control the stomach acid and prevent reflux. 

Heartworm and flea prevention are essential for all dogs. For 2 years we used Heartgard chewables for heartworm prevention, but I noticed Bentley would have his tummy problems after eating his Heartgard. We changed his heartworm preventive to Revolution, which also offers flea control.  Flea control is very important for any dog, especially one with allergies who reacts badly to the flea bite.  Before using Revolution, we used Advantage topical flea control, which worked well. 

Arthritis

At about 13 years old (Jan 2005) Bentley started having more difficulty with his hips.  Off and on, he had not been putting full weight on his left hind leg and was not putting any weight on it at all for a few days.  I checked his paw for a sliver or cut, but didn't see anything.  I thought maybe he bruised his foot during playtime and continued to observe him for any signs that it was not improving. A few days later he had an episode of pain & lameness where he could not stand up and was whining.  Bentley is very stoic and his whining told me he was in extreme pain.  I had to lift his back end up using a large towel as a "sling".  I called the vet, who told me to give Bentley his prednisone to help with inflammation until our vet appointment.  When the vet examined him, he thought Bentley has had arthritis for quite a while because he had less muscle mass on his left hind leg. Bentley winced when the vet manipulated his hip (poor doggie!) The vet thinks Bentley probably injured himself in the yard (maybe he slipped and fell) and caused some of the damaged cartilage in his hip to nick or tear and that's what was causing the rapid onset of pain and lameness.  He prescribed Rimadyl, and recommended Cosequin, which has been shown to help rebuild joint tissue. Bentley's hip healed from the traumatic injury and he is able to get up and go for walks like he used to. He's still a 13-year old slow-walking doggie, but he'll run and jump in circles when he's really excited, so he can't be in too much pain!  We've discontinued the Rimadyl for now.

 - July 2005 - we started the Rimadyl again because my old doggie's hip was really bothering him.  He gets 1/2 of a 75 mg chewable tablet daily.
 - March 2006 - Bentley has been on the Rimadyl for about 8 months now. He still gets 1/2 of a 75 mg chewable tablet daily.  
 - June 2007 - Bentley is almost 15 years old and his hips are weakening and causing him more problems, so we've increased his Rimadyl to a full 75 mg tablet in the morning, and either a full or 1/2 tablet in the evening. He seems to be more active and tolerates the higher dose.
 - 2008 - Bentley needs a full 75 mg tablet in the morning and evening to help with his arthritis. He tolerates the Rimadyl without any side effects. 

 - 2009 - at 16-3/4 years old the vet decided it would be a good idea to add anther medication to Bentley's routine.  Rimadyl is mostly and anti-inflammatory drug and helps only a little bit with pain. The vet added tramadol, which is specifically for pain control.  It has helped Bentley quite a bit and he is a little more active.

A word of caution, ask the advise of your vet before giving Rimadyl and prednisone together, or switching between the two. The combination may cause gastrointestinal problems if your pet is predisposed to these issues.

Spleen removal (benign tumor)

June 2005.  Bentley has been panting a lot lately.  It's warming up here for summer, but it's not so warm yet that he should be panting all the time.  He's panting for no reason - while just lying around the house, or even as he's snoozing he'll wake up and start panting.  This didn't seem right to me, so I took him to the vet. The vet could feel something in Bentley's abdomen, and an x-ray showed something was wrong.  The vet was concerned, so three days later (the soonest appointment) Bentley was seen by the radiologist for an ultrasound. Bentley had a large mass on or near his spleen. The vet was quite concerned that this large mass could rupture and Bentley could bleed to death!  So, 2 days later, Bentley was scheduled for surgery.  Within just 5 days, my healthy, but panting doggy was having major surgery. The mass turned out to be a non-cancerous overgrowth of his spleen. Bentley's spleen was twice as large as normal, and was taking up so much space in his abdomen that it was interfering with his breathing.  The day of surgery, Bentley came home for recovery. He had to be kept quiet for several days....the vet wished us good luck with that! And he was not allowed any exercise, not even walks, for 7-10 days in order to prevent any unnecessary stress on the healing blood vessels and tissues.  Bentley recovered very quickly, and without any complications.  The vet gave me instructions on how to remove his stitches.  His incision stretched almost 6 inches - from his sternum to just above his penis. There were only 2 pieces of suture material, but about 22 "stitches" through his skin.  Bentley was very patient and got lots of petting from dad while I removed his stitches.  Within a few weeks the only evidence that something had been wrong was a shaved belly. 

The only indication I had that something was wrong was that Bentley was panting a lot. But it seemed odd to me so I had the vet check it out. This shows how important it is to know your dog, know what's "normal", know what seems suspicious, and get it checked out by the vet as soon as possible. Trusting your instincts when you have a suspicion something is wrong may save your pet's life.

Senior Dog Issues

So many now they have their own page!