Incurable skin disorder... how can we boost the immune system?

My baby girl is 4 yrs old, will be 5 in May. She is purebred AKC registered Pembroke Welsh Corgi. She has been with me (well, we got her the day after we got engaged, and we're now divorced) since she was 6 wks old. She is my first dog on my own and I wanted to do everything right. I lived in the country growing up with lots of animals and dogs. But, she was my first on own after college. She went through Puppy Head Start at PetsMart, picked up on everything quickly, very social b/c she went with me any where I could take her. This included once a week every 2 wks, she spent at a doggie day care that she LOVED. She literally would drag me to the door, then to the gate, her whole back end wagging for one of the staff to let her in. She would play so hard during the day that she crashed when we got home. It was great.

When she was 1 1/2 yrs old, we noticed one day out of the blue that her nose began to blister. Immediately she went to the vet. Even though she went through months of testing and medication, it got worse where her skin blistered and oozed on her face and on some spots of her body. Her face looked raw. Thousands of $ later and a special trip to a dermatologist, they diagnosed it as auto immune disorder histiocytosis. There was a time I thought I was going to lose her. For about 2 yrs she was on meds 3x a day: Tetracycline and Niacinamide. On top of these, the biggest difference was when I combined this with colloidal silver. Not all of her hair grew back on her face, and she snores something awful because one of her nasal passages didn’t completely open back up to normal.

Last spring something new came up. One of her back legs turned black and the hair fell out. Her skin (foot and leg) began to blister. It got so bad that it blistered around to the bottom of her foot; it was eating her toes away and the pads of her foot. More vet trips, finally back to the dermatologist, more skin scrapings and biopsies. More medication that would seem to be clearing it up, but then it would get bad again. We're talking this starting back in April until half way diagnosed in Aug or Sept. She couldn't walk on that foot. We were trying different orals and topicals, wrapping her foot during the day and unwrapping it at night to air out during the night. This was done by two of us trying to hold her and deal with her hollering in pain. It was horrific. Again, this went on for months and the whole time she lived in her e-collar. I went back and forth on whether or not to put her down because of her quality of life. This was my little girl that loved to run and play and go places, but could no more. She's always been my life (my four-legged fuzzy children), but really was all that consumed my time except for work and the commute. Of course I don't care, what ever it takes, except when it comes to the quality of life. The dermatologist was stumped and wasn't giving up. Literally the day before I was going to put her down, I got a call from the dermatologist that the dr. at the lab in Florida who received the second biopsy and records of the past few months, said he was willing to go out on a limb as to what it could be. I told her I was tired of her being their guinea pig for meds and her being so miserable. The dr. at the lab said it had all the symptoms of "Rose grower's disease", which is caused by sporothrix schenckii (fungus). The more research I did, I found it to be a true disease and she wasn't pulling my leg. (googled the disease and found someone else's story with it and their cat Anyone and anything can get if pricked by a thorn at the right time and right place. We put her on Ketaconazole and another med or two (which escape me at the moment) and her leg was dry within 2 wks. I couldn't believe it! We have slowly weaned her off of some things and eventually she will only be on prednisone to keep the first diagnosis under control. So while it's difficult to treat at first, this fungus is curable. Not all of her hair has come back yet, and she did have some trembling in her back end muscles, but her quality of life is so much better. We have now put her on Fluoroconazole and her trembling seems to have stopped. She is now on this med once a day, and half of a prednisone every other day.

I am all about natural remedies, and my dogs eat better than I do. Currently she is on Avoderm Lite and my lab/blue heeler mix is on Blue Buffalo. I REALLY want to learn how to make my own dog food, and with vitamins that are specific to each of my dogs needs. Suggestions?

Anyone else ever dealt with anything like this before? I’ve heard that a lot of times pure breds can be more sickly than mutts, which seems to be true in my case. Sad thing is that I know my breeder, I went to school with him, still keep in touch, and still know some of the puppies of the litter who are all perfectly healthy. No history of anything like this.

We were in the process of working towards our registration as a Delta Society Pet Partner Team (Animal Assisted Therapy/Activities). She literally used to go to work with me when working with at-risk youth and teens for Camp Fire USA. She even lived and worked with me at a summer resident camp. Now with her immune system, I’m afraid we may not be able to continue these things. (Which is difficult because she misses going places and meeting people)?

Comments or suggestions on any of this?

**to answer someone's question about food... I would like to find a recipe for daily dog food. My lab's immune system isn't shot like Rhya's. So, a food that I can add vitamins and customize for each dog if needed. I know there are recipes out there that are a lot of trouble for one little feeding. I'm hoping to eventually find something that I can make in quantity and store (refridge, freezer, where ever). The girls eat twice a day.

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Comment by Butter on January 3, 2009 at 9:59am
So sorry to hear of this suffering. Only thing with water exercise is that if it is in a swimming pool skin will be exposed to chemicals... I would check with the vet first. Maybe ocean or lake water is fine and ocean water may be great for healing!! Depending on your corgis size, maybe she would fit in a bathtub of water and you could do exercises with her. I don't know anything about this except that I have a medical condition that prohibits me from swimming in pools due to the chemical content. Take care, Joy
Comment by Rhyannon on January 3, 2009 at 12:36am
Thanks. I'll double check with my vet and dermatologist, but all they have been able to tell me in past is what veggies she can snack on rather than making actual food for them.

OH, sorry if it is misleading... her foot and leg are healed as far as dry and healthy skin. Her toenails grew back funny and twisted, and looks like she has a little padding back on the bottom of her foot and on what's left of her toes. She is running, playing, and sassy as ever! Never thought I would see that again!!! But, just praying we don't have a 'flare up' of any kind with either issue she has had!
Comment by Sam Tsang on January 3, 2009 at 12:21am
Forgot to mention, for patients with neuropathy (from type 2 diabetes), we used hydro-therapy, 3 mins dip in hot water (not burning the skin) 1 min in cold water, repeat up to 15-20 minutes. The sudden hot and cold in temperature promotes blood circulation, it helps the blood flow to places where it was once dead, by day 27, our patients often regain sensitivity to their feet and avoid amputation.
Comment by Sam Tsang on January 3, 2009 at 12:16am
I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. Here are my answers:

1." I REALLY want to learn how to make my own dog food, and with vitamins that are specific to each of my dogs needs. Suggestions?"

You may want to consult with a real professional nutritionist on this, You want to find someone who is specialize and trained with your unique situation. Over the counter supplements are not 100% safe, besides quality issues, there's also potential of chemical reaction with your prescription. Consult with a professional.

2. "Anyone else ever dealt with anything like this before?"

I'm not aware of any existing members here have been through this, if anyone know someone who have, please respond to this thread.

3. "Which is difficult because she misses going places and meeting people?"

When I used to work in cardiac rehab years ago, I used to prescribed water aerobics for my patients who cannot exercise with their legs, handicap or on wheelchair. Since the blisters will hurt on a walk, it is important to put the weight off the paws, swimming is your best bet. It will also help speed up the healing. Exercise also help boost the immune system, promote new cell growth.
Comment by Ivy & Bryson on January 2, 2009 at 11:45pm
Sorry to hear about the ordeal you guys had to go through! I don't have any specific advice, but would love to hear what others have to say as well. Our Bryson (*knock on wood*) hasn't experienced any serious illness yet, but he seems to get sick (skin infections, doggie colds, etc) quite often.

Hope your little girl's doing better, and hope she could become a delta therapy dog some day!
Comment by Tauna and Kota on January 2, 2009 at 10:54pm
Oh, what exactly are you looking for in making the food? what exactly are you trying to accomplish with it? Do you only want to boos the immune system or other goals with it too?
Comment by Tauna and Kota on January 2, 2009 at 10:46pm
I will try to do some research and see if i can come up with something. I'm sorry I don't have anything right now. I'm glad things are getting better. You guys are in my thoughts.
Comment by Parker on January 2, 2009 at 10:37pm
I don't have any suggestions, I'm sorry! But, man, what a tough situation! I'm so glad she's doing better!! Thank goodness the docs finally came through for her! Good luck with your little one! Sounds like you're doing all that you can to give her a good life!

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