Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vizsla Bumps and Allergies

A while back, when I was still new to the blogging world, and mostly new to the dog world, I posted on allergies and issues we were having with Captain. Since then, we have had issues with other types of bumps, so I thought I'd update the allergies and bumps topic, especially since it seems to be one of the most common search terms people use when looking up Vizsla issues.

*Note: I wanted to add photos, but unfortunately I didn't take photos of Captain's main allergy outbreak. If you have photos of your Vizsla's bumps & allergies that you think would be helpful examples to others, please let me know (you can contact me through our Facebook page). Otherwise, I provide links to examples where possible.

Types of bumps we've seen on Vizslas:
  • Clusters of bumps- For us, this has been many small white bumps, covered by fur but which easily pick off and scab; these tend to come in clusters, especially along the body and head. But, we have also seen worse versions of medium/large and many... which may be a combination of the bumps below.
  • Cyst-like bumps, about the size of a pebble to a marble; these tend to appear alone, anywhere on the body, and the bump may be visible through the fur
  • Medium-sized, firm bumps, a little bit like a large mosquito bite; these also tend to appear alone, anywhere on the body, and the bump is firm and mainly covered by fur
I should note that, for Captain at least, none of these bumps have seemed to bother him much, other than being a little sensitive to the touch. The bumps were not itchy in our case, but if they are that may help diagnose the problem, so make sure to tell your vet.
Bump type 1: Small and many:
You can read more about our allergy bump experience in my older post, but basically, when Captain was fairly young (about 1-2 years old), we had recurrent problems with many small white bumps all over his back and and some on his head. We'd take him to the vet, who would prescribe some medication, and the bumps would go away, only to come back again a month or so later. In addition to the meds, the vet also suggested dietary changes- namely, an elimination diet and use of a special kibble. Unfortunately, Captain would not eat the kibble, and lost weight, so that was not a viable option. It also didn't make sense to us that his own kibble would be the source of the problem, when he'd be eating it since he was a puppy and hadn't had prior issues.

*For a good example of what these bumps look like, see Amanda's post on "bad bumpies." ;) She also has updates about their issues with Vizsla bumps, so you may find it helpful to read through her posts as well. I have seen photos of outbreaks of much larger bumps, seeming to plague more of the Vizsla's bodies, in very very serious cases of allergies (you can find such photos through doing a Google image search for "Vizsla skin allergies")

The list of possible causes for the small bumps the vet gave us included:
  • Diet
  • Fleas
  • Pesticides or fertilizer used on grass at our local dog park
  • Laundry detergent used to wash dog bedding
  • Shampoo used to wash dog
The most likely of which she suggested was diet or fleas, although she did also give us a special sensitive skin, hypoallergenic shampoo. For flea issues, she suggested applying a product like Frontline more frequently than the recommended 4 weeks, which I wasn't comfortable with given that I already don't like this stuff, and also didn't make sense because we couldn't find any fleas on Captain.

Luckily, for us, the issue seemed to be a dietary factor that I could identify. As a puppy, Captain was a picky eater, so I'd often "bribe" him to eat his kibble by mixing in things like peanut butter, sweet potato, cottage cheese, or- for a while - Primal Raw Food chicken nuggets. Turns out, when we stopped giving him the Primal, he stopped getting the bumps. I'm not sure if it was the fact that the meat was raw, or that it was poultry (although the kibble he eats now contains chicken), but either way, that solved the issue for us. I have heard dietary and skin allergies are common in Vizslas; the frustrating thing is, of course, trying to resolve these allergies, since the cause of the allergy doesn't appear to be the same for all Vizslas.

Bump type 2: Cyst-like bumps:
Captain had one cyst-like bump on his hind leg a few years ago, which we actually had biopsied to make sure it wasn't cancerous. Luckily, it wasn't, and the bump went away on its own after a few months. These types of bumps may simply be due to fluid build up in particular places, but as you may guess given the biopsy we did, it's important to make sure they aren't cancerous (particularly for older dogs, who may be more prone to such types of cysts).

Bump type 3: Medium-sized bumps:
Like the small clusters of bumps, these are little bit of a mystery. I don't know why Captain seems to get a bump like this every couple of years, and neither does the vet. I've been told by vets just to watch the bump- I think we'd be concerned about increases in size and shape, and if it didn't go away on its own. Captain has had probably about 2 of these kinds of bumps; a few years ago he had one on the side of his body that probably took a year to go away, and now he has one on his back that's been there at least 3 months or so. It doesn't seem to bother him, so, like the vet said, I'm just watching it.... and waiting for it to go away.

*For an example of what these bumps may look like, take a look at Rod's blog - in the second photo of the post, it looks like our little V guy on the left has one on his side/back region- the exact spot Captain tends to get them.

The bottom line on bumps:
Bumps and allergies can be frustrating for V parents, because we just want answers.... and that nice shiny perfect coat ;-) The first step in dealing with bumps, though, is a trip to the vet. Particularly for cyst-like bumps and recurrent bumps, you want to make sure the bump(s) is/are not hazardous to your dog's health (or an indication of something he/she is being exposed to that is hazardous to his/her health). Second, if allergies are suspected, I think it's useful to try elimination diets to "go back to the basics" of what you were feeding your dog before allergies/bumps occurred (ie, get rid of treats, special foods, anything that you introduced or supplemented during the time you noticed the bumps). Be a little bit of a detective and think of any exposures during this time that your dog might be reacting to. Also make sure your dog is getting enough food though! Special vet diets aren't always the answer, as we found out. Finally, some other tips we've learned: particularly for those medium-sized, non-cyst-like bumps (ie, it's not a severe outbreak or cyst-like bump that might be suspected to be cancerous) as long as there isn't a change in your dog's weight or behavior, be patient. Captain has had bumps that simply go away on their own. Vizslas are sensitive dogs, and I think this extends to their skin! It can also help to talk to other Vizsla owners (feel free to leave comments below with your experiences, or check comments in my previous allergies post, or search the pet owner forums); but be aware that each dog's situation may be different.

Resources:
  • Your Vet. Find a good one. He/she may be able to refer you to an animal allergist that may be able to help further.
  • Vizsla Forums, yahoo groups, other bloggers. Google searches can be double-edged swords, though, so you have to take information you find with a grain of salt and determine what's right for your dog.
  • Books- None of the Vizsla books I've found seem to cover allergies in a thorough way (please add comment below if you are aware of a good Vizsla-specific book with allergy information), but I was able to find many books on the general topic of allergies in dogs on Amazon. I can't speak to their quality and helpfulness, but if you are at your wit's end, one or two might be worth checking out.
If your Vizsla has allergies or bumps, I wish you the best of luck in figuring out the issue, and hope it gets resolved quickly!

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