I walked out to the consult room and called my next client in – a bull terrier puppy with skin troubles. He was in a bit of a state, I could see that at a glance – his legs and tummy all red and angry – his mum looked tense and worried, too. we all settled into our chairs, while the puppy scratched, itched, and chewed at himself. I looked at his file while we chatted about the weather. He was about 15 weeks old. He stopped itching for a moment, came over to give me a sniff, and then made a spirited attempt to kill my shoelaces.
“So – what’s the story with this little guy then?” I asked.
“Well… He’s been attacking himself, and his skin’s just awful, as you can see,” she explained. “We went away to visit some friends for a week or so, and I thought that he might be reacting to something there, but he’s just getting worse and worse, and nothing I’ve tried – washes, shampoos, salves – is making the slightest difference!”
“When did it start?” I asked, tapping away at my keyboard while she spoke.
“About 2 weeks ago.”
“And what’s his vaccination history?” I asked.
“Well – he had one at 8 weeks old with his breeder, and then he had his second one at 12 weeks old…”
I’d gathered all the information I needed, so I asked her to pop him up onto the consultation table. He was a mess, more read and pink and scabby than white- all his tummy and legs were angry, raw, scabby, hot and damp, and around his mouth and muzzle too. He was a lively little fella! Wriggling, wagging, wanting to play with me. I popped him back on the floor and sat for a moment, writing up my case notes, wondering how to tell his mum that it was the vaccination that had done the harm to him.
“Before the second vaccination, was he itchy at all? Did he chew at his feet?” I asked.
After a moment’s thought, she replied. “Yes, come to think of it, he did, but nothing like as bad as now.”
“I think that he’d reacted a bit poorly to the first vaccination, and then the second one has really upset his immune system and tipped him over the edge,” I explained. “I’ve seen this quite often in bull terriers – they seem to have more skin troubles than most breeds, and vaccination can trigger this problem in a big way.”
“I knew it,” she burst out. “I had a bad feeling about vaccinating him, and I didn’t really want to give him another vaccination, but his breeder was so adamant that he had to have them that I gave in…” She paused for a minute, obviously upset. “I feel awful, because I’ve damaged my little dog.”
“These things happen,” I said. “And it’s quite rare to have such an awful reaction, and you didn’t know about it, so I reckon we’re better off doing what we can to help him rather than you beating yourself up over it. I’ll give him some homeopathic treatment today, and another remedy for you to take home and treat him with. Hopefully, that will unwind the harm done, and he’ll be ok. I’d never vaccinate him again though. We should also get him onto a raw diet, get away from all processed foods, and I’ll give you an antibiotic/cortisone ointment that should help soothe things while the homeopathic get time to work.”
She took a deep breath, and agreed. I sent them out to the waiting room, sat down and finalised my notes for the consultation. It was frustrating to see this lovely little dog who’d been so badly injured by vaccination. I only hoped that what treatment I’d offered would be of help…