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A health update is called for, as we’ve had a titch of trouble recently.

Last Wednesday, I brought Bowpi in to the vet. She’d been cough-wheezing for a while. It’d reportedly started in November, when I was still in Taiwan. I certainly noticed it when I came back — a sporadic, whuffing sound that came on when she was balled up, either getting into or just emerging from sleep. RJ figured it was due to the unusually dry winter we’ve been having in California, and as it seemed to come and go, we just kept monitoring her.

The cough suddenly got louder and more frequent over one rainy weekend, so I had her in ASAP. Basically, she was whuffing and chuffing in several, continuous, uncontrolled rounds, and doing a lot of this in addition:

… yet, she wasn’t coughing frequently enough that I could count on her to demonstrate her symptoms to the vet. So I took video. Even on the day that I brought her in, the rain had cleared up, and she hadn’t coughed for over 12 hours. And Bowdu, as you can see, has been his usual, doofy self, so it didn’t seem to be a highly contagious condition.

20140305 Palpated

Based on the video, manual palpation, my description of the symptoms, and Bowpi’s overall age and stature, the vet’s diagnosis was partial tracheal collapse, aggravated by a secondary infection of kennel cough. She spared me the X-rays for a more precise diagnosis, since she was pretty sure that was what was going on, and her condition wasn’t severe. She was able to recreate the coughing sound in the examination room by pressing on Bowpi’s trachea, and noted that the condition was not in the esophagus, so there was some process of elimination going into the diagnosis too.

20140305 Heart and hand

So we were sent off with a round of Doxycycline for the cough, and a harness for Bowpi is already on the way. I definitely feel some guilt, wondering if this all could have been prevented if I had just been walking Bowpi on a harness to begin with. Like pretty much every Basenji I’ve ever walked, she’s always been a puller, jerking with great determination (for such a small dog!) towards the object of her scrutiny. This is much less of a problem when she’s off leash, as the vast majority of our daytime walks tend to be.

Obviously, I can’t always walk her off leash, so I’m doing what I can to minimize the harm that’s already been done. Like the doc predicted, her cough cleared right up after a week of medication, and her chuffing has subsided to very occasional, and minor disruptions. Neither her energy levels nor appetite has been affected, and otherwise she remains in great shape, so we carry on, and will follow up by phone in a couple months.

I am transparent about pet finances on this blog, and since veterinary fees can be one of the most inscrutable costs, I present the itemized bill:

  • Office call, $56 $50.40 (minus 10% student discount
  • Doxycycline (strength: 25 mg/mL), 28 mL, $30
  • TOTAL: $80.40

Meanwhile, Bowdu was off his flea medication schedule for over two weeks, as I’d forgotten about it in February’s flurry. This is atypical of me, and poor Bowdu is the one that had to suffer for it.

20140304 Bowdu isn't happy about having his bald chest exposed

Due to what I think were some flea or bug bites, Bowdu got really itchy in a couple spots on his chest, resulting in the loss of large swathes of fur. I didn’t actually see any bugs, though I saw the bite areas, and I didn’t find anything on Bowpi, whose short fur is usually quick to reveal any such problems. However, knowing that Bowdu does react pretty intensely to bug bites, and given the intensity of the fur loss (most of it came right out within about a two day window), my first response was to get both dogs back on Comfortis, ASAP.

Bowdu fur loss

This does coincide with a seasonal fur blow, which is already pretty intense in its own right. Since a few years ago (with the diagnosis of canine hypothyroidism), I’ve noted that Bowdu does tend to lose his fur in big, bald patches when he’s shedding. Pictures from February 2011 for comparison:

20110204: Hair loss neck and armpit20140203 Hair loss neck area

Pretty much always the same areas around the neck, chest, and belly, but never his back.

20140304 No problem back here

This is clearly the worst Bowdu has had it in years, with raw red skin and hyperpigmentation and everything.

Underside with bug bite

I gave him a bath with some medicated shampoo to try and ease the itch and speed along the shedding process. I think it was actually a little too intense and offset his skin oils, because he’s felt greasier since the bath. I’ll give him another week or so, and try again again with a gentle shampoo.

Meanwhile, he’s been getting generic diphenhydramine (Benadryl) about twice a day, with breakfast and before bedtime. He’s got his skin and coat supplements: the usual fish oil and vitamin E, and additional Honest Kitchen Sparkle (which is being discontinued due to “regulatory challenges combined with low sales” — time to formulate our own herbal blend!). His itching seems to be under control, he just looks and feels rough, and is a bit cranky about being touched in certain ways.

At least he’s not too self-conscious about showing off his precious, slightly bald tummy.

20140313 Not self conscious