Well, I got this news earlier this week but have been so busy at work I haven't even had time to write it all down...
The bad news is: We still don't know what is causing it.
The good news is: We know that it is not anything within their system, and it's not a fungus, bacteria, parasite, etc.
All vets involved (mine and the ones at UT) are stumped as to what the cause might be.
The UT vet's recommendation was to start all over with the scrapings. My vet knew I was going to flip over that news, so he immediately followed with, "I don't think that would be the best use of your money (no kidding), so I think I need to refer you to a dermatologist."
He suggested the UT vet (but why, if she has no clue what it might be?). I said I thought the next step would be to try to the board-certified dermatologist who is local. He said that would be a good option too.
We talked about whether to do this now, or later. Right now they seem to be getting better, so we agreed that it might be better to wait until it flares again so she can get an accurate idea of what's going on.
A few days later I was booking the boys for boarding with our training director, and I told her about the foot issues and she gave a positively glowing endorsement for the local derm vet. Apparently she's been to her and so have other club members, and it's gone very well.
So, that's the next stop for Cirque de Foot Disease.
I have the lab report from UT. It said something about hormone receptors, and my vet said it made him wonder if it wasn't people spraying their yards, because often those insect growth regulators are hormone-based. I thought this seemed like a good guess. The time frame certainly seems right (3 months between breakouts). But, if whatever people are spraying affects 100% of my dogs, wouldn't it seem that it would affect the greater amount of the dog population? Then why aren't other neighborhood dogs affected?
After thinking (a lot) about this for the past week, I am wondering if maybe it isn't something that is exclusive to our house/yard. But what?
I've come up with two possibilities:
1) Last year we bought one of those Little Green machines for when the dogs throw up. We use the formula that came with it. This is the only cleaning product we use on the floor besides vinegar and water. I am a little suspicious of it because Kevin used it last week and I noticed right afterwards Simon. who had previously looked like he was healing, had a flare-up on one of his feet.
2) You all know what an effort I've made to avoid toxic plants in the backyard. But, there is one possibility I may have overlooked: plants that are skin irritants. Specifically, Leyland Cypress.
I cannot touch these without getting a horrible, itchy rash. My mom recently planted a few somewhere else, and had the same thing. Apparently they shed a sticky sap that is a major skin irritant. Indeed, their feet seem about like I remember my arms being after I hauled ours around.
But, those have been back there for close to two years. And why just on their feet? Maybe because the fur is thinner there. Maybe they lift their legs and brush the branches when they pee. But they don't lift all four legs. But the branches are pretty low to the ground.
It looks like what this is going to come down to is a lot of detective work, and process of elimination.
Interesting story from my training director:
She had a dog whose belly was constantly breaking out and couldn't figure out why. She finally went to above-mentioned derm vet. The vet asked if any of her bedding was wool. TD said no...but when she got home, she realized that a throw on her couch WAS wool, and right below the couch is where the dog laid every night. She threw the throw (lol) away, and it hasn't happened since.
Sorry you haven't gotten a firm diagnosis yet. How frustrating. I hope they heal up and that's the end of it.
I think you need to start with the process of elimination. (I refuse to make jokes on this. )
IMO, it sounds as if the "Little Green" formula might be the first thing to eliminate for a month or so.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Sounds like you are the right tactics lined up. Reading your post, something jumped out at me. Maybe not your house.
You said, 'A few days later I was booking the boys for boarding with our training director, and I told her about the foot issues and she gave a positively glowing endorsement for the local derm vet. Apparently she's been to her and so have other club members, and it's gone very well.'
Is it strange that so many with a common link are going to a veterinary dermatologist? It raied my suspicions!
Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.
What a quandary. I hope you can get to the bottom of it.
ed has a good point - what does the training hall use for cleaning, and what's the flooring?
I really was hoping for good news! I think the process of elimination is necessary, too!I am also suspicious of the training center and the products used on the floors there, in fact that is what I thought you were first going to get at when you mentioned your trainer. I'll keep on Prayin'
Daisy, Hayshaker She's Utterly Unforgettable, CGC
Lola, our mellow yellow gal. Gotcha on 1-7-07
This is so frustrating! Hope you get some answers soon.
~Veronica and Nikki~
Sweet Emma, 16th of February 1996~26th of November 2010
Always in my heart and soul. Together forever, my love....
Nikki 6 months
I think the club is OK. When I said several members had visited this dermatologist, I meant over the period of years she has been in practice, not necessarily recently or for the same type of problem. And, it's not surprising that a group of people who spend a lot of time and money training and showing their dogs would consult specialists. It is a similar demographic to JL - people who are very much into their dogs and want the best for them. And she's the only board-certified dermatologist for miles, unless you drive to UT.
I was briefly suspicious of them maybe having caught it at the club when I thought it might be mange. We do have people in the intro classes that may not understand that if your dog has something contagious, you should not bring them around other dogs. But if we have ruled that out, none of the other dogs at the club that I know of have been having any foot problems. And we're back to, if both of my dogs are affected, seems like most other dogs would be too.
That's what seems to be so puzzling to my vet and the UT vet. The report concluded that "two unrelated dogs in the same household exhibiting symptoms" had to be due to contact with an external chemical or hormone.
I am still thinking it's somethng other people are treating their yards with, your boys pick it up on walks, or it travels with the air and/or birds, and they just happen to be sensitive to it.
Jackie, Champ, and Buddy