I Wish They All Could Be California Dogs…

OK, not really, but I thought that would make a catchy title. 

I met a pit bull yesterday who moved here from Orange County California.  I always feel a little sorry for the California people when they move here.  I’m from Texas, born and raised in Houston.  My brother lives in San Diego, so I go to California to see him every couple of years or so (gotta save up the miles to fly a family of 4 up there!) .   It’s so cool and balmy and pretty up there.  I’m sure I drive my brother nuts because I always bombard him with questions and comments about all the cool plants and flowers that grow there. 

My husband always starts yammering about how we need to move to California (which would kill my mother, she would literally fall over dead if we moved that far away).  Furthermore, the whole time I’m in California this line from a song that was out years ago is running in my head:  Live in New York, but move before it makes you hard, and live in California, but leave before it makes you soft (or something like that). 

I think having all that perfect weather, the lack of storms, the ocean AND the mountains all within reasonable driving distance may muck up their brains a little and make them litigious vapid environmentalist vegans.  I’m totally over generalizing, but I do think that Texans are made of tougher stuff.  We have to be to deal with the crazy weather. 

I’ll stop there before I offend any more people.  Anyhow, this Pit Bull (sweet dog by the way, don’t believe all the hype. The pits I see are generally really, really nice dogs, it’s just that when they’re not nice…they’re REALLY not nice) had a weird rash all over her back, and the sides of her legs.  They were little pustules, and sort of looked like a Staph infection but not quite. 

Being of the scientific persuasion, as I’ve mentioned before, we love to examine bodily secretions.  Thus, I took a sample of the pus in said pustules and peered into my trusty microscope to see what’s happening.  I saw lots of white blood cells, and eosinophils  (white blood cells in charge of allergic reactions), but no bacteria.  Weird.  Your average pustule should contain a vetitable bacteria party. 

Any time I have dermatologic weirdness, I call Dr. Dennis Crow, our handy dandy local dermatologist for advice.  He’s so smart!  I can call him, and describe a lesion, and the dog and he’ll go something like….is it a WHITE dog?  And then, just like that, he’ll diagnose some weird disease.

So I’m telling him about this dog, and I mention it’s from California, and he gives me this knowing “uh-huuuhhhh”, like by golly, he’s Sherlock Holmes and he’s solved the case.  He asks, “is it a light skinned Pit”?  To which I reply “yup”. 

Dr. Crow informs me the dog probably has actinic dermatitis from sunbathing.  Turns out she loves to lay out in the sun.  Something about moving from Cali to Texas makes dogs more prone to this (he says maybe it’s something with the UV index, but any sunbathing dog can have this).  Anyhow, the UV radiation zaps the hair follicles and sort of blows them up, causing an intense inflammatory reaction and dermatitis.  Hence the bacteria free pustules.

Incidentally, he told me that there are studies in humans that show that people who are addicted to sunbathing experience an endorphin release similar to a runners high.  Same thing could be happening to these dogs (there are some dogs that are just nuts about laying out in the sun, and they can get skin cancer just like humans, by the way). 

Treatment for actinic dermatitis:   keep the dog out of the sun.  Duh.

I called the lady and passed on the news. We had talked about allergies, so she had kept the dog inside and her skin was already improving. 

If only everything was that easy…

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