Posted by: Dennis | March 23, 2009

Rx for Rest

A few years ago, in the locker room of the local 24 Hour Fitness, a fellow gym-goer watched as I pulled out my cell phone to answer a page for a typical mommy-call.

Hi Janet, this is Dr. C-surname, I was paged…  Hi, this is Dr. C-surname.  What’s going on with Freddie?…  Uh, huh… okay… so, he doesn’t seem to be feeling well at all today.  is Freddie eating okay?  has he thrown up at all?…

Hearing the one-side telephone exchange (in the pre-HIPPA days) where my questions were directed at a third party, the guy commented, ‘You must be a vet.”  Actually not, but as a pediatrician, I guess I’m a vet of the human world and have some background to approach a puppy’s health issues.

Crawford has been thriving at home, continuing to bond with us, gaining confidence with an array of dogs, and getting bigger himself (hovering at the 30 lb mark!)  We first noticed that he had been scratching at his ears several weeks ago, but did not make too much of it.  But it seemed to become more of distraction for him.  When we let him out of his crate to potty in the backyard, he would spend the first minute or so only taking a few steps before stopping to scratch.  Sometimes, even in mid-stream, he’d have the urge to try and scratch.  The insides of his ears were red and inflamed with superficial marks from his scratches, but without any drainage or foul smell.  We decided it was time for a visit to the vet.

At our visit to Dr. E, she took a swab from each of Crawford’s ears to have a look under the microscope (for hyphae?).  Dr E’s DDx: yeast infection, allergy, or both, and to cover the bases prescribed a 5 day course of a topical ear solution containing the combination of an antibacterial/antifungal/mild steroid and a 3 week trial of the antihistamine Benadryl 25 mg po (by mouth) bid (twice a day).

The sedating properties of Benadryl are pretty well-known, and have created a market for the second-generation antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra, Alavert, etc.  Some docs specifically warn against driving after taking Benadryl.  On the other hand, sometimes a little sedation is not a bad thing.  Muahahahahahaha (evil laugh)!  Which brings us to another issue- Crawford still isn’t getting through the night in his crate.  Typically, besides barking to indicate a need to potty around 4 or so, to our dismay he’s usually up by 5:30 and refuses to settle.  After dosing him with Benadryl, I felt a little like the moms we read about who sneak a vodka shot into the baby bottle (or worse, ether fumes) so that the baby will sleep longer and they can get some rest.  Plus, the Benadryl dose is about twice what I’d prescribe for a human baby of Crawford’s size.  Oh well, Dr. E’s the professional.  Who am I to go against her plan?

Floppy, happy ears.

Floppy, happy ears.

Anyway, about a week later, Crawford’s ears look great and he rarely scratches at them.  We still have him on Benadryl, but, alas, it hasn’t had any obvious change on his sleeping habits.  Problem solved… or at least one of them.  Maybe a little something from the liquor cabinet?



  1. Perhaps he will sleep better here like everyone else – 2 and 4 leggeds alike! We are really looking forward to his visit!

  2. When Rocket was a youngster and got up around 4:30-5:30 am for a wee and would not settle afterwards, we made up a comfy bed on the living room floor {before we went to bed in the p.m.}. After the early a.m. wee-wee, whoever took him out would curl up with him on the living room floor. We also learned the first rule of the early a.m. wee-wee is DON’T say a word. Just go through the motions. It seemed like the more we talked to him at that hour the quicker he switched to ‘ON/PLAY’ mode. The only word we used at that hour was “do business”. Now he practically wees on command. But when one of us would curl up with him in the early a.m. he would sleep another 3 hours easily. He’d been alone all night and just wanted a snuggle buddy. We thought it was a fair trade.

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