Dear fellow dog lovers, I’m writing this because I’ve been on this board before in the past out of sheer desperation trying to find answers. I know how gut wrenching the feeling is of watching your beloved dog suffer and not be able to help them. Our dog Santino, a half Pomeranian half Chihuahua had been experiencing horribly severe sinus congestion problems for well over two years.
He would be so stuffed up at night, making horrible congested sounds. He could barely breathe. We also had several humidifiers because we so strongly believed that it was the dry air which was a large factor in inability to breathe. We had a cool mist humidifier run all night in the bedroom and we had a warm mist vaporizer in the living room which we would hold him over as needed when he experienced his attacks of congestion. My wife Sarah would follow him around where he went with a saline spray mist inhaler to shoot saline mist up his nostrils for just for some temporary relief.
He would also reverse sneeze a lot and expel countless amounts of green mucus. He’d only seem to get temporarily better after getting the snot out so we would try to get him excited to make him sneeze and then Sarah would chase him around the house with a tissue pulling green snot out of his nose just so the poor thing could breathe. We tried a bunch of homeopathic medicines such as “Only Natural Pet Respiratory Support Herbal Formula” but it only seemed to make him even sicker; liquefying the mucus to the point where it was going down into the lungs instead of coming up and out of the nose, causing a wet cough...
His mucus would get so bad that he would start to become so sick he would need weekly doses of antibiotics, sometimes up to a month. We went to several vets, and after many examinations, a cat scan, and an endoscopy, we were told that he had some form of “non-specific rhinitis”, which essentially meant they did not know exactly what was wrong with him and was therefore placed into this vague category for which there was no appropriate remedy. This was probably one of the most upsetting and defeating aspects of Santino’s condition, the fact that no one had any answers for us and that there seemed to be no known remedies for such an abstract diagnosis.
Does this all feel too close to home and sound way too familiar?
Then one day we had a major breakthrough. We took a trip out of town for a couple of days and stayed in a hotel and for the entire period away Santino experienced no problems, no congestion, no sneezing. On the way back we were on the train and when we sat down on the dusty old seats of the train Santino immediately had a reaction and started one of his congestion attacks. After observing this and conferring with my wife about it, I began to immediately explore the idea that he was experiencing an allergic reaction to dust and the symptoms of allergic rhinitis in dogs.
Although not extensively documented and not even mentioned by many of the conventional dog rhinitis information resources as a source, sure enough there were a few mentions online of the possibility that a dog could experience an allergic rhinitis reaction just like a human could to dust and in particular dust mites. That’s when it really clicked. I started to read about dust mites and how the dust mite feces, in combination with the vaporized dead bodies of the dust mites, could become inhaled once airborne and cause significant allergic reactions. I also learned about how the all homes in the UK have dust mites and that thousands of people experience allergic problems as the result of dust mites. Considering the exhaustive efforts we had made to try and isolate and identify the problem in order to address it, it was almost inconceivable to us that we hadn’t considered this as a possibility; that a dog might be allergic to mites the same way as a human might be. None of the vets we had previously seen had ever suggested the possibility of it being an allergic reaction. One vet we had seen had even done a test once to establish the presence of mites by putting something up Santino’s nose, after which he said that if there had been any mites present that it would’ve taken care of them. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was whatever he had administered was merely a test to determine whether mites were actually present inside of his nose; it revealed nothing as to the possibility of whether he might be allergic to them when vaporized and airborne!
The truth is that we were running ourselves ragged addressing the symptoms all the while completely overlooking the cause. I think we had dismissed the idea of it being an allergy because the possibility of it being an allergy seemed too remote: allergic to what? Pollen? Household dust? We were convinced that he had originally contacted a virus such a Bordatella, which had then morphed into a chronic rhinitis condition as the result of scar tissue in the nasal passages. The notion that it could be an allergy seemed like too abstract of a concept, having no ascertainable way of really honing in on a single source to concentrate on.
Not only were we running around blind without a cane, but after reading that dust mites actually thrive in humid environments we were horrified to realize that we were actually contributing to his worsening condition by running the humidifiers all night in the bedroom, the place where the majority of the dust mites are usually found and the place where poor Santino experienced the most trouble (within a couple years after purchase a new mattress will typically weigh twice its normal weight due to the amount of dust mites that have inhabited it (YUCK)).
The day we returned home I spared no expense (considering the money we had spent on vet examinations it was a drop in the bucket) and ordered a mattress cover, a duvet cover, pillow covers (all specifically allergy tested), a HEPA dust mite and fine particle vacuum with a UV light to kill mites and their eggs, and most importantly an air purifier with a sonic ionizer and UV light to kill all airborne particles. After a few days of pacifying the house and making the necessary environmental changes, Santino’s condition began to drastically improve.
Today Santino’s life is completely changed. He breathes easily and sleeps peacefully at night. He rarely experiences the same kind of difficulties as he did before and whenever he does start to experience congestion we flip on the air purifier and literally within minutes he is breathing normally again. No more vets, no more scopes, no more antibiotics, no more sprays, no more suffering. We are just beside ourselves with relief to think that we have discovered a cure and a way to restore the quality of life to our little boy that he so deserves. It was breaking our hearts to see him failing the way he was, getting worse and worse and not be able to do anything to help, which is why we felt compelled to share this story with others. I know that for some this may not be the definitive answer, as all cases are different, however, if we can reach just one doggy parent who might not have considered this as a possibility and give them the chance to change that dog’s life forever then by god we were going to try. If your dog suffers from rhinitis-like symptoms and you are starting to feel somewhat hopeless then we beg of you to consider the possibility of Allergic Rhinitis to dust mites, and invest in some anti dust mite mattress, pillow and duvet covers and a quality air purifier with UV light. We wish you all the best of luck and as a last word of advice NEVER EVER GIVE UP and NEVER STOP FIGHTING FOR YOUR DOG, the answer might be right around the corner, YOU JUST NEED TO HOLD ON!!!! Best regards Kris, Sarah, and Santino