amandalee27 avatar image

Anaphylaxis--unknown cause

To start, I'd like to thank all the regular posters on this forum. Even though this is my first post, I've been reading for years and have gotten a ton of wonderful advice. I'm posting now because I haven't been able to find any other bulldog owners who have had the a similar experience to our recent one.

Rebel is a 9 1/2 year old male. Over the years, his main issue has been allergies. He's been tested and we know he does not have food allergies, but is highly allergic to basically everything outside. Through lots of trial and error working with our vet and help from sites like this, his allergy issues have been very well controlled. About a year ago, he had a severe reaction to something where he went from normal to covered in hives, eyes swollen shut, and wheezing in just a few minutes. I loaded him up with steroids, Benadryl, and Zantac, and we took off for the ER. By the time we got there, he was fine. At that time, I asked for and received an epi pen from my vet for him. Although the vet thought it would never happen again and explained that dogs aren't like people and rarely have a typical respiratory collapse with anaphylaxis.

That brings us to New Year's Eve. Rebel was fine. He vomited (not totally abnormal for him to do occasionally), but didn't seem himself like he usually does. We closely watched him and he vomited a second time-and we thought maybe he had a stomach bug. But then he tried to stand up and he collapsed and I also noticed his gums were white. We headed to the ER, about 20 minutes away. By the time we got there, his pulse was weak and thready. The vet's diagnosis was anaphylactic shock. We were lucky and Rebel was fine. My vet concurred that he thought it was anaphylaxis as well. This was a more typical dog presentation. He then sheepishly asked if I still had the epi pen.

Sorry for the never ending post, but my main concern is we don't know what caused any of this. And all the what ifs? What if we hadn't been home? Or had been asleep? Now that I know this was related to an allergy, I will have the epi pen next time. But is still terrifies me to think it could happen when we are gone. I'm pretty sure we won't be able to train his sister (a basset hound) to administer his epi pen. Anyone ever have a dog with life threatening allergies?

Kathy Chester Newman and Jessa's picture

We had something similar happen with Chester...

He has always seemed to be a good breather, but we took him to the park one day and he was sniffing around a pole and suddenly starting wheezing and snuffling like he was having trouble breathing.  He threw up some white foam, several times, and as the evening wore on, he seemed to get worse.  We took him to the ER vet and he said his throat was swollen and they wanted to do xrays.  I kept telling them to give him steroids, but they insisted on doing the xray first which stressed him even more.  They finally gave him steroids, but he was so far gone, they had to intubate him and somehow he made it through the night and we transported him to a surgeon, who happened to be in his office on super bowl sunday, and he said that his palate was extremely long and the allergic reaction to whatever made his throat swell almost shut.  The did a palate resection that day, and he's been fine ever since.  Have they ever checked your guy's palate?  I know it's scary leaving them alone knowing what has happened in the past.  Hope you find some answers.

amandalee27's picture

Thanks for the response. Yes

Thanks for the response. Yes his palate has been checked and is fine. Actually, this time is was his circulatory system that was in trouble and his breathing was fine. Since he had none of his typical allergic symptoms I didn't even think allergy. When the ER vet came out and said he was in shock and she was pretty sure it was allergic shock, I was surprised.

ArchimedesMommy's picture

SO glad Rebel is okay!! With Meaty, we've had two

incidences where we *think* he was stung by something, (OR---perhaps it was a sudden allergy attack???)

What happened both times is that his FACE started swelling----and one time it seemed like his breathing

was starting to get a *little bit* labored----but that could've been my anxiety---thank the Good Lord we were there and noticed

it right away......both times I gave him 2 Benadryl and we rushed him to the vet, where he got an injection of

Dexamethasone, and thank goodness, was fine both times!  Like you said, what if we;d been asleep or not



It's very interesting that your vet said it probably wouldn't happen again and that dogs don't usually go into

respiratory collapse.  I wish I knew the answers to this, but what I CAN tell you is that our vet is one that

shows/ breeds/ owns and LOVES bullies, and he told us that one of their bullies was bitten by a centipede

and died within MINUTES----he and his wife were rushing the poor bully to his office to give her the injection,

but she didn't make it  :-(    Since hearing about Meaty's two times of facial swelling, he sold us a "Bulldog

Rescue Kit" which has a syringe full of Dexamethasone and a bunch of Benadryl tabs.  What upset me was

that he never offered us this kit until something bad happened  :-( ....  


Like I said before, I am SO glad that your sweet Rebel is scary!!  I'm going to ask our vet

about what your vet said about the typical anaphylaxis signs/ respiratory failure, etc.....I'd also prefer to

have actual epi pens on hand, (that are LABELED and actually from a pharmacy) only beacuse that

random syringe our vet sold us bothers me----we don't REALLY know what drug is in there, who drew it

up, did they do it accurately, when it EXPIRES,etc....(I only say that beacuse the tech TOLD us when

it expired, but how do we REALLY know?   (oh dear, I'm too much of a worrier!).....


Our three JOYS !!!  

Sophie,  Meaty,  and, Professor   (adopted in March 2016, went to Rainbow Bridge Dec. 2016)  

Our sweet Archimedes "MEATY" Bones (or as we say...boneSHHH!)    ---born 11/28/08---- our first bullllyyyy!!!

And  SOPHIE  Bubbles *Rapscallion*   (LOL!) ---born 4/3/11----our second bulllllyyyy!!!!  

amandalee27's picture

To clarify, the vet did say

To clarify, the vet did say dogs can go into respiratory distress with anaphylaxis, but the more common presentation is what Rebel did this last time--vomiting, followed by circulatory collapse often with no hives or swelling.

I'm a pediatric nurse, so to understand I try to draw parallels between dogs and kids. My vet helps me see the differences. The no hives threw me--I knew he was in shock, but I never suspected allergic shock or I would have used that epi pen!

As a nurse, I would imagine that the decadron drawn up in a syringe would not remain stable for very long or sterile for that matter. I would think it would be better to have an epi pen ($150-$200) or an entire vial of decadron with a sealed syringe and instructions on how much to draw up.

Now that you mention centipedes...we do have a lot of small black caterpillars around. I wonder...Rebel is not an explorer; he literally barely gets his feet off the concrete patio to go to the bathroom. He also doesn't tend to eat strange things (not since his puppy days) so it really bugs me trying to figure out what caused all this.

Thanks for the support. I'm glad I'm not the only crazy person! I hope Meaty doesn't have any more serious attacks.

Pegsy's picture

no not crazy me

no not crazy me my archie had a an infection under his nose once and i thought i was gonna pass out b/c i didn't want him to hurt or be in pain or agitated in distress in anyway...
smoochies the scrunchy face

Pegsy's picture

ay...poor thing i'm glad he's

ay...poor thing i'm glad he's better!