By Monday, February 11, 2019 12 No tags Permalink

I am smiling even as I type the words “canine allergen breakthrough” because finally we can see the light at the end of this miserable environmental allergy tunnel…

Lord knows I have written many times about Harley and his battle with hot spots, support powder, itchy paw products, and even switching food brands


I’d heard about holistic veterinarian health care for several years but never considered it for the Boys. 

Holistic Veterinarian Medicine is – 

A veterinarian who specializes in one or more alternative or complementary treatments which incorporates (but is not limited to) acupuncture, botanical medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, and nutraceuticals. 

Charleston SC continues to maintain her place as one of the top ten pet friendliest cities in the country. What they fail to mention in their description, is the awful environmental allergens that plaque this gorgeous port city.

There are so many activities you can enjoy with your pet in tow, it’s a pet parents paradise…

However there is a price to pay for many dogs in the form of allergies due to said climate.

For more than a year I worked with a conventional vet but eventually I began to realize we were only dealing with the affects of the allergies. We were merely tackling the external symptoms.

While I knew in my heart it was time to try a holistic approach – I still wanted both. A vet who practiced both Western (conventional) and Eastern (holistic) medicine.

In November 2017, I found who I was looking for, and I scheduled an appointment for Harley with Sun Dog Cat Moon.

After a week of antibiotics and a daily regiment of apoquel once a day, Harley began having itch, bite and nibble free days again. 

Twelve months later, Harley developed an ear infection, which cleared up with medication but I noticed he would rub the bottom of his chin on anything with texture. His bed, the side of a fabric upholstered furniture, even his own paw.

When I looked at it, the area was raw. 

Back to the vet we went.


We tried several antibiotics for only seven days, along with an all natural topical ointment, and probiotics.

Nothing seemed to help.

Typically with skin issues – there are certain “go-to” antibiotics a veterinarian will use, but every once in a while – a nasty bacteria shows up that is resistant to the current/more popular antibiotics.

Apparently this one on Harley’s bottom lip area was the nastiest of nasty.

It was time to “up our game” and pay to have it cultured. 

What does that mean?

They swab the area, and send the sample to a lab for several days. There the bacteria is tested by allowing it to grow in two distinct and different conditions – 

  • Anaerobic culture – bacteria without oxygen
  • Aerobic culture – bacteria exposed to oxygen

The results come back with a laundry list of antibiotics recommended to treat the bacteria found on the samples but more importantly – it will also show which ones Harleys body is resistant to.


I cannot lie – I was soooo not happy about giving the vet $280.00 to culture this bacteria. But we had exhausted all other options. So I told her let’s do this and I brown bagged it to work that pay period. #byanymeansnecessary

I held my breath – waiting to exhale once the results came back. 

According to the swab – there are 16 antibiotics that would work with this particular bacteria. However, Harley is resistant to 12 of them.

Yes, 12!!!!

Of the four remaining, three were recommended. Of those three – the vet made the final selection.

He will remain on this antibiotic for 14 days. He also has an ointment that must be applied three times a day to help with external healing. We are currently on day five.


I consider this a breakthrough thus far because for the first time we know what we’re dealing with. #thankyouJesus

Today I noticed he has practically stopped rubbing his face on things all together. This is new – which I see as a good sign. 

Of course I’ll keep you posted as we continue this never ending battle. I’m keeping a journal of the months when he’s at his worst. So far the fall seems to be the toughest months. This is when we experience lots of rain, wet leaves, and damp grass. #ugh

I will say this though, none of what’s going on seems to dampen his spirits. He’s still oodles of doodle love…

Dogs are bundles of love, wrapped in fur ❤️

  • Madison
    February 12, 2019

    Mom has never had a pet with any type of allergies, thankfully, so we don’t know much about it, but it sounds terrible. On the other paw, as a child Mom was allergic to almost everything and was home from school a lot because she was so sick. She was even allergic to milk as a baby! For her years of shots worked. We hope poor Jax continues to feel better. Unless you have suffered from allergies, it is hard to see how they can really ruin the quality of life.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 12, 2019

      Allergies are no fun, but I believe we are on the road to full recovery!

  • Amanda Taylor
    February 12, 2019

    I feel your pain! We’re on the way to the vet for some strange series of bumps that have developed on Wrigley’s back. Poor little guy! Hopefully there’s an easy (or even easy-ish) cure. Wishing you continued success with this new vet and treatment!

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 12, 2019

      Oh no, is Wrigley stretching like crazy? Hopefully it’s not allergies and is only a one time thing. Keep me posted.

  • Shadow's & Ducky's Mom
    February 12, 2019

    Sometimes you just have to try something new (and usually expensive) to get through a challenge. I’m glad for Harley’s and your sake that your something new appears to be working out! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it will continue to work for Harley! Give him – and Jaxson – kisses and snuggles for me!

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 12, 2019

      Thanks – I don’t like to see him uncomfortable – so if this continues to give him relief – I will take my lunch to work forever!!!!

  • Lindsay
    February 12, 2019

    Oh Harley. The price tag makes you cringe but at least you now know what bacteria it is and what won’t work, instead of the frustrating trial and error business.

    I hope he’s all good and healed soon love.


    • Cathy Bennett
      February 12, 2019

      Tell me about the price tag – although I am really enjoying my lunch creativity. I just might keep bringing it to work. Got me a cute new thermal punchbag and all LOL

  • Jan K
    February 12, 2019

    This has been such a long hard road for you and Harley, and I hope you are finally really making some progress. That is so crazy with the antibiotics. It seems that paying for those cultures might have saved you money in the long run, if there were 12 antibiotics you could have tried that wouldn’t have worked!!
    Luke has some skin issues, but it seems to be only in the fall for a few weeks. It’s not nearly as bad as what you go through, that’s for sure, but I still hate to see him being miserable.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 12, 2019

      I am happy that I started keeping journal Jan, now I know the season/months that give him hell so we can get in front of it with medication prior to that time. I am really hoping this is the start of something new – and the worst is behind us.

  • Monika, Sam & Elsa
    February 12, 2019

    Sounds like all the baby steps you’ve taken may be paying off for you. Yay! We’ve got our paws crossed your lover boy sees more improvements and less allergic reactions.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 12, 2019

      Thanks Monika – we’re all holding our breaths as well.

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