Pemphigus is an immune
system disorder, which affects the skin. Airedale's are not on the list of
breeds known for having it. Robbie is our third Airedale. We adopted him at
2 years of age from the breeder where we bought our Teddy. Robbie is Teddy's
actual brother from a different litter and is very affectionate.
He is a kissy face dog and has a tail that never stops wagging. Robbie has
always had a habit of picking up his left front paw. This was always very
cute, until March of '04'. We began to notice that he was picking up his
front paw much too often. I examined his paw and noticed a sore. We cleaned
it applied some topical ointment and it seemed to get better. However, in
April his paw became worse.
We also noticed one of his
rear paws was bothering him.
We took him to the vet and they thought he was having an allergic reaction to
something and prescribed an antibiotic. Meanwhile, I removed some fibrous
ground cloth from along our fence, thinking that this might be the culprit. We
also had recently changed his food in an attempt to get rid of his itchy skin.
The antibiotics helped at first but then his paws took a turn for the worse.
Per the vets instructions, we tried soaking his paws in Epsom salt and changed
his antibiotics. Nothing worked for very long. All four paws were now swollen
and bleeding. He never complained. He is a very stoic dog. He could no longer
walk and was not very responsive.
I was out of town on
business when Robbie stopped walking. My pregnant wife, with the help of
others, got Robbie to the vets. They put him under anesthesia and shaved his
paws. They were in shock at what they saw. His paws were swollen more than
twice the size of normal. They were red, purple, and bloody. He looked like a
severely burned dog. It was mostly on his paws but could also be found on his
front leg up to his elbow, his nose, and on his lower back. A biopsy was done
on one of his sores.
It detected that Robbie had
a very bad case of Pemphigus. He was immediately put on heavy doses of morphine
through and IV, a couple of pain patches, prednisone, and other antibiotics.
The prognosis was not good. My wife called me and gave me the news. We both
cried on the phone. We visited Robbie every day while he was at the animal
clinic. Robbie cried every time we left the hospital. It was extremely
difficult on us because we had never heard him cry like that before. We care so
much for our animals.
In May of '04', Robbie
started his recovery process. He was given prednisone on a daily basis to
control the Pemphigus and hopefully put it in remissions. The sores cleared up
and the swelling went down. He even began to somewhat walk. Unfortunately,
this was all short lived. He quickly began to experience very bad side affects
from the prednisone. He started urinating uncontrollably, lost a lot of hair,
lost about 10 pounds, and lost a great amount of muscle mass. He was all skin
and bones. Robbie started limping again. We took him to the vets. We were
told that Robbie should recover once he was off the prednisone.
We began to reduce the
dosage of his medicine, but Robbie did not improve. In fact, he just got
weaker. He could no longer walk or even stand up on his own. His belly was
also bloated. The prednisone was killing poor Robbie. We went back to the vet
and they recommended getting him completely off of prednisone and starting him
on imuran. But this could not be done too quickly.
We were at our wits end.
I had been carrying Robbie in and out of the house every time he had to relieve
himself. I had been doing this since he was diagnosed back in April. He had
quite a few accidents in the house, but he had little control. At times, he
didn't even know he was going. He just laid in one spot. His attitude was
getting very very down. He was too weak to even lift his head. This was the
lowest of lows. On top of that, my wife and I were expecting a baby in
September. We hung in there day after day with him. He never gave up, nor did
we. His tail never completely stopped wagging.
We checked with other
doctors and they said our vets were doing the right things. We were mad that
his Pemphigus wasn't caught sooner. But research showed it is very hard to
diagnose. We were mad that he was not taken off of prednisone sooner. But
again, research showed that the dosage he was on was not excessive.....normally.
In June of '04', Robbie's
dosage of prednisone was decreased. He limped a lot and was still in a lot of
pain. He moaned and groaned every time I picked him up to take him outside. He
would also moan in his sleep. He never did that before. It took the entire
month of June to wean him off the prednisone and on to imuran. He needed to
build up his muscle mass. To do this, we tried to walk him in the neighborhood,
but he would fall and hurt himself on the cement. So, we took him to a big
grass field for exercise. When people walked by his fence he just sat there and
In July of '04', Robbie was
tested for all kinds of things to try and figure out why he was not walking
well. They checked for a tick disease, joint taps, ultrasounds, and blood
work. Everything came back negative. On the sixth, Robbie had stood up by
himself for the first time since May. We were very cautiously optimistic. He
made very slow progress through the month of July, by the end of the month; he
made it in and out of the house on his own. Robbie had to visit the vet
frequently for blood work. They had to check his various levels to make sure
that they were returning to normal. This went on until January of '05'.
In August of '04', Robbie
began to go for short walks in the neighborhood. He started playing with his
brother Teddy. Teddy has been great through this entire ordeal. He knew
something was wrong with Robbie and left
him alone. He missed his wrestling partner.
In September of '04', Robbie
continued to make progress, until he slipped and fell on the kitchen floor. We
bought throw rugs to cover the kitchen floor to prevent that from happening
again. On the 14th, my wife gave birth to our darling little girl, Mckayla Rose
Leonard. We as a family were on our way!!
At the beginning of January
of '05', Robbie was completely weaned off of imuran. He is just about back to
normal. In some ways he is different. For example, he used to play come chase
me. Now, he wants to wrestle with me and he follows me around all the time.
It's like every time I see him, he is saying Thank You! He still can't jump up
into our SUV like he used to.
Throughout this ordeal,
Robbie has become a bit deaf. His Doctor said this was probably caused by the
prednisone. In time, his hearing may return. Pemphigus is not a curable
disease. It can only be put in remissions using a type of cortisone. We have
to keep a close eye on his paws. Meanwhile, we are just so happy to have Robbie
The wonderful people and
Airedales of Planet Airedale must take a lot of credit. I don't know if we
could of done it with out you all!!! Thank you all very very much :) for you
support thoughts and prayers.
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