Pup Update: Sterile Panniculitis

It started with a puffy face around 2pm on a Wednesday. This was something we had encountered before, an allergic reaction of some sort, so we immediately gave him Benadryl. Some time passes and hives begin to appear along his back. A little more Benadryl.

This continues through the night, and concern keeps us awake until about 4am, when we can’t take it any more because the welts are huge, especially on his tiny body, and we find an emergency vet who will give him a steroid shot to speed up the healing process.

We are told that it could take up to 48hrs to see any result, and so we wait the allotted time, which runs us into the weekend when we can’t take him to another vet, and the hives continue. Five days of Benadryl and watching hives flare up and work their way through his body.

Then new things begin to form.

Thinking he may be fighting off an infection, (what we think is) a gland in his neck becomes swollen almost overnight to about the size and feel of a marble. More cause for concern, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.

We finally get him into the vet and tests begin.

Things happen on a weekly basis, usually on the weekend when we can stress without resolution. Red bumps appear above his eye, on his chin, on the underside of his tail. His inner ears are inflamed. We find out later there are blood blisters and he gets a cone to hinder scratching. He develops a rash in the groin area that feels solid underneath. A spot on his nose develops and, in a terribly descriptive phrase, appears necrotic. Probably made worse because it’s accessible to licking.

And worst of all, as if that’s possible, a consistent breathing issue called a “reverse sneeze” started. It is something we’ve encountered in the past, it was rare, usually from overexcitement, and it is worrying the first few times you hear it, but this was different. It lasted longer, and looked like he was having difficulty breathing.

Immediately back to the vet. More tests. Medications that make him into a little zombie. He has no energy, no appetite, and just wants to be held or sleep. I did not care for that. He looks pathetic and it makes our hearts hurt.

The “C” word is tossed around and the thought makes me sick.

Finally…biopsies. More waiting and rushing test results because it’s been over three weeks and what is going on with him?! He’s given new antibiotics and he doesn’t have to take the zombie-inducing meds anymore, and when he comes home from undergoing surgery, he’s almost immediately back to normal.

He runs around a bit and has an appetite. It was like he had turned a corner.

Within a few days, our wonderful vet calls with resolution. The biopsy results narrow down that he has a rare inflammatory disease known as Sterile Panniculitis. It’s so rare that she’s only seen it once in seven years.

That’s our special boy for you.

He will have to undergo at least a couple more tests to determine the source, if there is one, because apparently this type of disease can just appear. Dachshunds are fairly susceptible to it, it’s hereditary, and although his sister looks more like a little sausage, clearly the Doxie is strong in him.

The Sis, now armed with a name, goes into research mode and into a long conversation with our vet. It comes down to an autoimmune issue. From this point forward, he will no longer be able to receive any vaccinations and can’t be exposed to any situations that might increase his potential for disease.

He’s basically a bubble boy.

His sister is fine, thankfully, and she will need to be kept fully vaccinated for not only her well being but his as well. Such a strange turn of events. I mean, The Sis and I already enjoy our solitude and were pretty socially distanced, even before the pandemic, but this gives us further cause. Oh, how we enjoy being loners.

There was a precursor that we should have paid more attention to but didn’t understand.

When we moved into our new apartment, there was the traditional “marking of their territory” but Loki continued well after. We couldn’t figure out what had happened to cause him to continue having accidents. Maybe he was annoyed that we had moved and his situation had changed. We thought he might be pouting. Because of their size, we’ve always left a pad accessible, and we were taking them outside often, and yet he would come inside and do his business.

This sort of act is actually a warning sign, and a way for them to communicate something is wrong. We learned this a little too late because had we known, maybe we could have had him looked at sooner, circumventing some of his discomfort and prolonging the treatment.

I thought this was an important detail to share. If your dog is doing something out of the ordinary, there may be an underlying reason.

So he’s been sick since we moved. Really reconsidering this whole thing now.

I wanted to share this story because if there’s more information available, maybe it will help other pet parents. As we learn more details, I’ll share an update because…

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