Monday, May 10, 2010

cuts, stings, hives and stink: home care must-haves for summer misadventures

We've barely broken a sweat with the warmer weather, and already our dogs have been majorly skunked, one ripped a toenail bloody and another broke out in hella hives. Yay Summer!

These mini-emergencies all required multiple trips to our doggy medicine cabinet, and now, a trip to the drug store to replenish our supplies. Here's a shopping list of items we keep on hand for dog misadventures, with some advice that might come in handy, for first time dog owners especially....


Hives!

If your dog walks in the room looking like this one day - try not to panic. As horrible as this looks, it's just a bad case of allergy related hives. They're so common in our sensitive breed that they've come to be called "bully bumps" by many.

Our more 'delicate' pit bulls seem to get a bad case at least once a year, especially in the spring when allergens are peaking. If your dog develops hives practically overnight, think of where he rolled, romped or played recently. Out on the freshly cut lawn maybe? .. thru a weedy field at the park? Sally rolled herself alllll over a clump of prickly weeds after being skunked to get herself these attractive bumps. (Sigh. Skunk fun ... another emergency - Remedies below)

The hives usually come along with a flame red belly and feet. Since it looks awful, many people freak out and rush their dog to the vet for an expensive office visit and shot of cortisone. Not really necessary.

What to do? Most longtime pit bull owners keep Benadryl in their cupboards for these special occasions. Benadryl (or, diphenhydramine) is a first-generation antihistamine that can also be a life saver if your dog is stung by an insect.

Our vet advises dosing 1mg per pound of dog every 8 hours until the symptoms are gone. So, a 50-ish pound dog would get 50mg - or, two pink pills. (To be honest, we use three pills for our 55lb girl) While it's considered to be one of the safer over-the-counter remedies for both dogs and people, there are always caveats, so do your research and make sure and buy the pink pills rather than the off-shoot products that Benadryl sells, like kid's formula, etc.

Hot Tip: If you or your dog are stung by a bee, make a paste using the powder inside Benadryl pills with a few drops of water and pack it unto the sting site. Works like a charm to bring immediate relief.

Allergies can make your dog truly miserable, which pushes all our "fix-it-now" buttons. While you wait for the Benedryl to kick in, try giving an Aveeno oatmeal bath to soothe the flaming red belly and paws. Even better if you can follow by rubbing on calendula-based diaper rash cream (find it at your healthfood store). Treat your baby like a baby -- Lots of cooing and "poor doggie" talk helps. Our girl Sally rolls over and falls into a state of snoring bliss when she gets herself some belly rubs with calendula cream. After napping away the rest of the day (Benadryl acts as a mild sedative) she usually wakes up calmer and with happier skin. In the photo above, it took about 12 hours for the hives to disappear.

Be aware that good nutrition is really the best thing you can do to minimize or eliminate your dog's hyper-reaction to allergens. A dog that gets hives all the time is telling you that her immune system is out of wack. To support it, you can shop some of the better kibbles that avoid preservatives and fillers, or - if nothing's working - you may even want to take the plunge and feed raw diet. The raw diet is controversial in some circles, but it's been a life saver in ours. We swear by it.

Skunk Season

These three items are a miracle cure for stink. If your dog gets sprayed, make a mayonnaise-like paste out of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and a little dish soap and work it into his fur as best you can. Let it sit on his coat for a few minutes while you take photos of his sorry, depressed, and very naughty face. We soak our dogs' collars in this solution too, and they've come out just fine with only a slightly musky smell leftover.

Torn Pads and Smaller Cuts

Every self respecting pit bull over-does it at times and ends up with an owie or two on his feet. A vet will charge you crazy-money for first aid care that you can do at home, so make sure and have some vet wrap and antibiotic cream on hand for the basic paw pad cuts you'll be dealing with this summer.

If you keep your dog's wounds clean and covered while they heal, you shouldn't have to load him up with antibiotics - a bad thing for anyone. But do prevent him from licking while it seals. As a rule, the faster you clean the wound and apply the antibiotic cream, the quicker it will heal (that goes for your cuts, too).

Torn toenails can be extremely painful, but if your dog allows it, pull off the broken piece (quickly - it hurts!) or trim it with clippers. Then wash, disinfect and bandage to curb the bleeding and prevent infection. If the nail is up too high near the base and/or neither you or your dog trust your hands, then your vet can help. People with a longtime history with dogs tend to treat broken nails at home, but we know how scary this can be your first time - especially if your dog is a squealie drama queen.

We keep small cotton socks around in addition to vet wrap for those footsie emergencies. To hold everything in place and prevent the inevitable chew-fest, use duct tape. Yep - Duct tape ... a thousand and one uses.

It doesn't hurt to have a plastic cone-of-shame on hand either so you don't have to stand watch over your dog 24/7 those first couple of days after a cut. And of course, don't forget batteries for your camera. Pathetic much, Sally?

The wound will need air to heal completely, so remove the bandage for keeps once it's started to seal. Hopefully we can all keep our little emergencies to a minimum this spring/summer. Best luck to you with yours!

40 comments:

Liza Zandonella said...

GREAT info! Thanks.

Robin said...

duct tape? really?
don't get me wrong, i love duct tape, for a variety of fixes. i know about using it w/ moleskin for hiking blisters, but, on a hairy leg?
i would think the adhesive that makes it so valuable in certain circumstances would take plenty of that fur w/ it when time to change sock?

Donna said...

Robin - I know - crazy! But it's turned out to be one of the best helps to keeping bandages on around here. Pit bulls barely have much in the way of hair on their ankles -- not sure i would use it on a long haired dog though.
I think Sally has wide masking tape on in the photo. Silver duct tape tends to be very sticky, but you can kick back the adhesive by sticking it on your pant leg first.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the timely info. Our pit-mix Keiko started showing hives this week!

Diane said...

Great info!

Also, the health food store has caledula gel, which I use for hot spots as well as the uses you had for calendula lotion. My understanding is you do not want to apply lotion to hot spots but applied in gel form the calendula is soothing and healing.

The Aveeno bath is great tip. Need to try that.

who wouda thunk it?? said...

Love your humor on this topic!

Two Pitties in the City said...

This is great info...thanks! I always panic when these things happen, so it's great to have the information upfront.

Cindy C said...

My dog lost his first toe nail a few months ago. I've never seen so much blood in my life come out of something so minor.

Use Flour or Baking powder to get the nail to stop bleeding, then GENITALLY wrap the paw with the bandage because it is VERY EASY to wrap it too tight and to end up cutting off the blood flow completely to the bloody digit.

Lack of blood = expensive vet visit.

Thanks for tips Donna!

Jen & piddy Bianca said...

some pits & other 'like' breeds can have an adverse reaction to Benadryl...
I don't believe its to serious, and it still works to curb the allergic reaction.
It just doesn't have any sedative effect -
QUITE THE OPPOSITE:
My little piddy-girl got wicked hyper and raced around the room like a spaz for about 4hrs.

Donna said...

Good tip on the flour or baking powder, Cindy C.
I have to confess that I put my dog outside and let him bleed til it clotted when his toe nail broke recently. He was so baby-wah-wah, that getting near him with flour was adding to his drama. But if you have a dog that will put up with some touch after an injury - yes - a form of styptic powder is a great idea and will make for a quicker road to recovery.

Hey Jen - just a thought - I'm not sure how fast Benadryl is supposed to work on high energy dogs like pit bulls, but I'm wondering if Bianca was reacting to the allergies more than the Benadryl during her freak out? Our Sally was running around like a frenzied maniac for a couple of hours during her recent hive crisis until we finally got the Benadryl in her, and then it took some time before she chilled out. She was just miserable and acted like she was covered in ants. She didn't feel right until the drug finally started to take hold and do its job...maybe two hours or more after she took her first dose. Maybe a vet is reading and can fill us in on timing with Benadryl?

Meg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ponytailmom said...

Cornstarch works GREAT for clotting. you could put cornstarch on a washcloth and wrap it around the toe. Since cornstarch is cheap, you can pour a good amount out and not cost $$$. The washcloth is soft, so hoping it wouldn't hurt when the foot is wrapped for a few minutes.
If you want, you can buy regular medical 2 inch paper tape at any drugstore. It holds well.
love my "grand pit" Francis and his companion Cassie, a Weimie.
Barbara

Donna said...

Thanks for both tips, Barbara!

Claudia said...

For the cut tape inquiry: we tape it on the sock itself, not the hairy leg ~ one wrap around, leaving enough to fold back over it and it works fine.

RN tip- you need to be able to put your pinkie in the top to assure it is not taped too tight.
Also we have a soft “comfy cone“ brand of e-collar- if we aren’t around to supervise.. Booker our PB tolerates it just fine. The hard E- collars CAN freak dogs out.

K. said...

Our rednose breaks out with the hives almost non stop and it's getting to be pretty expensive with the antibiotic/steroid mix every few months. Is there anything to do when they break out all over their body? Poor Penny needs a break :(

Christine said...

This is great. My dog has been suffering from allergies and the vet is having a hard time determining what she is allergic too. She just recently got hives again and this time I am looking for a natural remedy to help her, rather then the expensive medications he prescribes everytime she gets hives. I'm going to try the Aveeno Oatmeal bath for sure. Thank you for sharing!

Home Health Care said...

Also, the health food store has caledula gel, which I use for hot spots as well as the uses you had for calendula lotion.

belovedbeastsblog said...

What a wonderful article. Thanks! Also for bleeding, yarrow works WONDERS.You can buy it at the health food store. We have a bottle on hand in our camping gear :)

Angie said...

Thank you for all the wonderful tips!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the tips! I was also wondering about snake bites - we're east of San Diego and their are quite a few rattlers out here - do you know if vets sell a snake bite kit for dogs? I will definitely head straight for the vets office, but we're a ways out of town so I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to help on the way to the vets?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - I actually read yesterday while at my vet's office that there's a vaccine that dogs in areas with a high rattlesnake population can get to make them immune to the venom. I would ask your vet about it.

Terry said...

My rednose has really bad allergies. She can't even be in the sun more then 5 minutes and you can watch the hair stand up in spots and its hives all over her body. She will be tested soon then allergy shots. Until then her Dr. has me give her a claritin once a day. She can't even be a dog so thats why I decided to have her tested. Thanks for the great info.

weecyn said...

Slight correction, I think - you stated that "A dog that gets hives all the time is telling you that her immune system is suppressed." If the dog had a suppressed immune system, it would not be able to react to allergies or an antigen challenge of any kind. The problem is that the immune system is hyperreactive, not suppressed. It's in overdrive and needs to be taken down a notch. This happens a lot in allergy season and if the dog is not getting along with her food - the immune system starts freaking out at the tiniest little thing. Benadryl acts to suppress one part of the immunoinflammatory response.

Rivka said...

I love your advice except for a couple of things.

1-I would suggest using styptic pencil or sponge instead of flour, baking soda or cornstarch. My experience with all of those seems to be they form a nice clot but then when they fall of your you take them off you are right back at the initial bloody mess. Plus my pittie is allergic to wheat.


When Brenya was young her paw pads split. I duct taped the paws with guaze wrap underneath and got her into the vet as soon as possible. When the vet saw what I did he told me under no certain terms am I to NEVER use duct tape on her again.

I do have Benedryl and Aveeno here plus I have Dawn dish soap.

This is just been my experience.

Anonymous said...

Great information, thanks. We have an American Bulldog, and she just developed "bully bumps" a couple days ago. Not knowing what to do, we looked online and have been giving her Benadryl. They come and go throughout the day, but have been getting better. We're not sure if it was something inside or outside the house that she got herself into, but with that sensitive "bully" skin, it could have been anything. Thanks for sharing.

Jane Eagle said...

My wonderful vet turned me on to a 95% effective way of getting dogs NOT to chew on a bandage: when everything is sealed and covered, apply some Vicks Vapo-rub to the bandage. They do not like the scent, and almost every dog will leave it alone :-)

Anonymous said...

I have similar issue with two of my 4 Pits. Its an auto immunity disorder. What I learned is that those antibiotics and prednisone is killing the dog. It is detroying their pancres. What I then discovered is that dogs can't take vitamin c as a vitamin but they do synthesize it in their liver when the eat raw meat; that's why raw diets are so good. But for me with 4 pits with weights ranging from 90, 72, 68 and 65 lbs, a raw diet was out the question. What I did do was purchace lean chopped beef cubes that's sold in every grocery store. Its usually labled as beef for stews. Give your dog a cube or two a day. It takes about a week to two before a visible difference is noticed and they never look show ring perfect but they have found relief and I feel better knowing that the treatment I'm using isn't killing them anymore. I helping them cure themselves the was they would do in the wild.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome information! My pittie has already had some run-ins with the summer itchy's - so it's great to know I can treat without making a trip to the vet (and subsequently having to sell my first-born!). I will be taking your advice to heart and get on prepping a Pittie-First-Aid kit!

Do you have any advice for long claws? Kilo's previous owners never cut her claws and the quicks grew out for approx. two years before they got any attention. She's now 8 years old and her claws are so long that even a light jog irritates the nail beds - then they get itchy - then they get infected and the cycle goes on. We are diligent to cut them, but the quicks are just not receding.

To make matters more fun, she is also a Squealy Drama Queen.

Jess Jones said...

Torn nails can be very painful. I would recommend dog pain medication from the vet. Our dog needed to be on pain meds and an anti-inflammatory for a few days when she tore her nail.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes hives do require a vet visit, our pittie got bad hives and needed to be on a steroid and antibiotics. The vet said that if we hadn't come in it would have gotten much worse. Also torn nails can be very painful. I would recommend bringing your dog to the vet. Our dog needed to be on pain meds and an anti-inflammatory for a few days. Sometimes just removing the piece isn't enough--- My dog had to be sedated and had most of her nail taken off.

Luisa said...

To Anonymous 9:27 AM] wondering about rattlesnake bites: you might look into the vaccine made by Red Rock Biologics. A woman I know in your neck of the woods credits this product with saving the lives of several of her working border collies. More info here: Lassie, Get Help: Hello, Rattlesnake.

LorLyGuer said...

Great article! Glad I read this before anything like this happened to our pittie, who we rescued in Dec. I feel like a first time mom all over again...freaking out every time something minor happens (I recently took him to the vet for what I thought was a cracked tooth, it turns out it was plaque). My pup tries to snap at bees/yellow jackets that buzz around him. What should I do if he actually gets one? Should I give him a dose of Benedryl?

Anonymous said...

Noteworthy to add hives with body swelling can also be an allergic reaction to venom and the dog should be taken to the vet.

Roelof said...

HIVES or little black spots: It is not just fresh meat that will help. It also helps to change to a good quality grain/corn free kibble (Orijen, Taste of the Wild, etc). The grain impacts the immune system. In any case most dogs grow over it in time.
A natural tip against mosquitos, ticks, etc: Take 1 litre of water, add a glas of apple vinegar and a spoon of baking soda. Sponge the dog of with this and let it dry up.

Anonymous said...

This is some great info on the hives!
My retreiver/shepherd mix just showed the canine hives tonight, the photo you posted helped with quick identification and saved me a lot of worry!

Laura said...

Im a vet tech and I dont believe there is anything that a vet would send home for snake bites. There is a vaccine for snake nites, it doesnt prevent issues from a bite, it just buys you time to get your pet to the hospital. Unfortunately, the best thing to do is try your best to keep your dog from getting bit. Hard I know....good luck! Ask your vet about the rattle snake vaccine.

Anna said...

Just a warning- My brother's bulldog is INCREDIBLY allergic to neosporin!! He got a little cut on his paw one day and we put some on him and less than fifteen minutes later his face swelled up like crazy and he started having trouble breathing. We gave him a couple benadryl then tried to figure out what could have caused the reaction, and then we realized it was the antibiotic ointment itself!! So I would test a LITTLE bit out first to make sure your dog isn't allergic to the neosporin!

Anonymous said...

My boxer mix was breaking out in hives and it took us forever to figure out she is allergic to "Carpet Fresh" the powder you spinkle on your carpet before you vacuum? Benedryl worked very well! Not only did she break out in hives but her eyes and face swelled too! Scared us to death!

Anonymous said...

My pit mix has had the hives and been stung by a wasp, the Benadryl is a life saver. But now in the colder months she had been chewing and getting a pinkish red patch here and there. Is there something i should try before calling the vet or should i go ahead and pay for it. She is due for her rabies shoot soon and was planning on waiting till then. Any advice is welcome. Oh and the "raw"spots seem to be on the insides of her hind legs.

Holly Dawn Hewlett said...

Dude, great info and love your sense of humor...shows me that you live with these guys just like I do..Bravo!!