Poor Larkie. She has quite a few skin issues. I talked to my regular vet about them, but eventually went to a veterinary dermatologist. (McKeever in Eden Prairie if you’re local.)
She has three main issues. At first I thought they were all connected since they all present at the same time, but turns out that is just coincidence.
Pattern baldness. She loses hair on her neck, her buttocks, behind her ears, and recently down the fronts of her legs. Apparently this is common in rat terriers. At some point the hair might not grow back, but at this point it still does (and then she loses it again). Her fur is thin at best, so she wears a sweater or fleece most of the time. I’ve found that the fleece suits that go down her legs work best because they keep her warmer, and they don’t irritate her skin by chafing. I’ve since cut the turtleneck off this one to make it more comfortable, and we have another similar in grey.
Her spots. In the winter her skin is white underneath her fur, but in the spring her spots start showing and by summertime, she is as spotted as a dalmatian. Turns out she has extra melanin in her skin and it comes to the surface when she is exposed to more sunlight. Nothing to worry about luckily!
Allergies. She gets pretty itchy, which we’ve been assuming is seasonal allergies. We treated them with various medicine last year, but my hope was to be able to pinpoint what she’s allergic to with allergy testing, and then do allergy shots year round to avoid the medicine. Allergy shots are more natural, more specific, and work better than medicine. The vet did allergy testing in July and oh man, that was rough. They shaved her fur and injected 54 different allergens into her skin. I had to keep her calm through 54 pricks! It was not good. Worse, she reacted to nothing! Oddly enough, I had awful seasonal allergies but also never reacted to anything with allergy testing. Turns out my inflammation was from gluten, which made my histamines react to seasonal allergens. Lark eats a grain free diet so that shouldn’t be her issue, but we repeated the allergy testing on Saturday (for free!). She’s been itchy lately, so it seemed like a good time to recheck.
This time I was smart and asked them to sedate her. She did much better with the allergy testing, and they were able to do it faster since she wasn’t wiggling on the table. And she reacted to things! A few weeds (that bloom in the fall, which explains why she didn’t react in July), dust (you’re in the wrong household for that allergy!), and mice. Now that we know what she’s allergic to, we can treat it appropriately. She will get diluted allergy shots every two days and then sometime in March or April it switches to every 20 days and a non-diluted formula. I think that her itching and her anxiety are at least somewhat tied together, so hopefully this will help all around.
Lark is the one I worry most about. Annabelle certainly gets anxious in situations, and Midas obviously has his quirks, but overall, those two lead relatively normal lives. Lark is always waiting for the other shoe to drop kick her, even after a year and a half with us. She has made huge strides in that time, but still gets scared every day from every day noises. I have a trainer coming in at the end of the month and I’m hoping that will help us help her. I just want to give her as many peaceful moments in her day as I can, and if that means $400 vet bills, so be it. (I did however make sure to get some free advice on how to treat Midas’ seasonal allergies this spring.)