Dog Allergies: The Bumpy Truth

These past two weeks have been bad. I’m talking long-lasting, long-suffering, earth-shaking bad. Why? Well, it just so happens that everyone here at the Play Hard Bark Often doghouse was sick. And I do mean sick. Luckily, there was no puking, but there was nausea, coughing (hacking, really), sore throats, runny noses, and congested noses. We were all sick as, well, dogs.

Everyone except Simon that is. Unfortunately for the rest of us Simon remained in tip top shape and fully unable to comprehend that his people didn’t feel good. At all. He would go out in the backyard and stare forlornly at his toy box, making sad eyes at anyone who happened to make eye contact with him, doing his best to make you feel guilty on top of the sore throat, headache, and chest pain. He was good at it, I’ll tell you that much. His darn eyes got to me so many times I would spend every morning hiding from him on the couch and resolutely looking anywhere else.


And like I said it wasn’t just me that was put out of commission, but the whole entire family. Theresa was laid up on the couch next to me, with the other couch taken over by our mother, while our stepdad had been exiled to the bedroom as the sickest one out of all of us. Even Rosee was not immune to catching something this past week. However, her sickbed was quite certainly the scariest of them all.


Yeah, that happened.

Theresa and I woke up one morning, let the dogs out into the backyard so we could feed the cat his morning wet food, and by the time I followed outside to do poop duty Rosee’s entire face was swollen. Her left eye was almost swollen shut, both of her jowls looked and felt like they were stuffed with tennis balls, and she had spots all over her sides and back. Quite frankly, she was a mess!

Now, both Simon and Rosee are sensitive dogs. They roll around on too much grass for a little too long, get stung by a mosquito, come into contact with some chemical sprayed at our local parks and their skin tends to react. They will get bumps all over their backs and itch themselves into a frenzy. The only thing that helps reduce the bumps and calm the scratching is some cheese pockets filled with Benadryl. Yup, that’s right. Benadryl works wonders. Of course, always check with your veterinarian before giving your animal any sort of medicine. So, after consulting our veterinarian we were told it was safe to give our dogs a couple Benadryl pills over a few days whenever an allergic reaction took hold. And Benadryl has certainly been a little pink lifesaver for our two sensitive pups.

Like I said, allergic reactions hit at the most unexpected of times (and some not so unexpected) and it’s nice to be able to have something always on hand to take care of them. Benadryl has always proved strong enough to combat whatever is in the dogs’ systems and get them back to feeling their best in no time. However, this past allergic reaction of Rosee’s was definitely the worst I have ever seen on one of my dogs, and it was really scary!

Right away when we found Rosee swelling up and numerous bumps rapidly appearing all over her body we stuffed two Benadryl down her throat and anxiously awaited them to take effect. They did, slowly, but surely. Since her reaction was so severe we kept a close eye on her and when just about two hours had gone by it looked like her slowing deflating face was starting to get worse again, we stuffed another Benadryl down her throat. However, it became clear that whatever was wrong with Rosee was not going to be halted, let alone stopped, with Benadryl. So, it was off to the veterinarian for an emergency visit.

Our veterinarian was able to squeeze us in and after getting checked over it was a lot worse than we thought. Rosee had an elevated temperature, her ears were swollen and red, and her poor little paws were all red and inflamed as well. Luckily, after listening to her lungs our vet was able to determine that her breathing was fine and unobstructed even though the rest of her was puffy and swollen. So, in order to help her before things got worse the vet administered a steroid shot and gave clear instructions on when to give her more Benadryl throughout the rest of the day. Immediately after the shot her swelling started to go down. Her face became more recognizable and lost the tennis ball-hoarding look. You could clearly see both of her eyes again and her bumps started receding. Things were looking up . . . at least until that night.


By bedtime some sort of negative reaction had taken place within Rosee’s body. Either her steroid shot had worn off and the Benadryl wasn’t doing enough by itself, or the Benadryl and the shot were not mixing together well. The end result however, was even more horrifying than it had been that morning. Rosee’s entire body—back, sides, neck, chest, stomach—was completely covered in red raised bumps. She looked like she had been stung by over one hundred bees. It was terrifying! The poor girl was so incredibly uncomfortable! She would sit down for five minutes, then start running around the house whining. Our mother was so worried. She stayed up with Rosee all night to monitor her breathing, except the poor girl didn’t let anyone get any sleep. She barked and whined and ran around all night, just so miserable in her own skin. By the next morning the veterinarian was called again, and Rosee was prescribed stronger pills in order to combat the bumps. And combat the bumps they did.

After about two days on these extra strength pills Rosee’s bumps had completely disappeared and any sign of redness or swelling was long gone. The girl was healed! In fact, after being so swollen she looked positively small once back to her original state. I was ready to stuff her full with tons of treats if only to make her smile more.

Back to her normal-sized, sleepy self.

According to our veterinarian the cause of Rosee’s ordeal was most likely some sort of bug bite or bee sting. Now, Simon and Rosee have been stung before, Simon has actually picked up a fallen bee and eaten it (getting stung in the mouth of course). They have also received numerous mosquito bites when, during the summer months, we sit out in the backyard for too long, too late in the evening. When they have gotten bitten or stung in the past bumps rise right where they were bitten, but don’t spread over the rest of their bodies. So, I find it hard to believe that Rosee’s dreadful allergic reaction was due to a lonely bee sting, and considering it was 9 o’clock in the morning, there were no mosquitos around. Also, we don’t use chemicals in our backyard (no weed killer or anything like that), no spiders (like the dreaded black widow!), and nothing weird that the wind may have carried over the fence. It’s like her allergic reaction just materialized out of thin air, which is really disturbing because we’re all afraid it could happen again. So far it hasn’t, but knowing that her allergy could be that bad certainly makes all of us keep a closer eye on where and what both Simon and Rosee get into. Caution is the new rule of all our lives, so cautious we will be.

Clearly, allergic reactions in dogs are serious business, just as they are in humans. Allergic reactions, whether to bug bites, bee stings, food allergies, in dogs should be monitored and treated because they do have the ability to get worse and have quite severe repercussions. Our veterinarian made it clear that Rosee’s airways could have swelled and made breathing difficult. Any sign of wheezing was dangerous. Also, overheating for a dog is a very serious matter. An elevated temperature can start killing brain cells and affecting your dog’s quality of life, not to mention it’s not always an easy situation to rectify. In the years that we have had Simon and Rosee we have learned what foods, treats, and toys are off limits because of their sensitivities and have been lucky that no truly life-threatening reactions have occurred. This last reaction of Rosee’s has certainly been the worst that either dog has ever experienced, and I am glad that our local veterinarian could take care of us so quickly and efficiently.

Bottom line: red, swollen bumps bad; normal smiling faces good. Be wary, but prepared. Learn your dog’s sensitivities and allergies—it could save his/her life.

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