Crazy Case # 5- Keep Your Nose Out of Other People’s Business……and Weeds: Harley’s Story.

“So, how much did that cost ya?”, “You saw him with WHO?”, “How old are you really (asking a woman… yikes!)?”. No no, not that kind of nosey. Although, you know what they say: if dogs could talk…. This is a tale about one happy, spotted guy named Harley who was trying to follow his nose to greener pastures, but it lead him here instead.

As humans, we try to keep our heads held high and eyes forward to the tasks that lie ahead. For dogs, keeping your eye on the prize often means keeping your nose to the ground (this also applies to people steering clear of an angry boss). And for Harley, keeping his nose to the ground resulted in weeks of sneezing fits and numerous trips to his veterinarian. When Harley’s antibiotics weren’t helping, his doctor suggested that he come and see us for some x-rays and to scope his nose. Sneezing can be caused by many different things. Dogs often sneeze for the same reasons that we do such as allergies, irritating smells, and infections. They can even do something called a reverse sneeze which actually sounds more like a snort than a sneeze. Heck, we’ve even seen pets sneeze out of excitement! It is easy to forget that sometimes animals can have the same symptoms as humans. So when our pets show obvious symptoms such as Harley’s sneezing attacks, we often jump to the conclusion that there must be something stuck in their nose. And in most cases, there isn’t. But Harley was an exception.

When Harley came in to see Dr. Steen, it was obvious that he had something going on. He was sneezing violently and his left eye appeared to be winking (even though Dr. Steen is a looker, we were sure this was probably related to his sneezing issue). After Dr. Steen examined Harley and spoke with his family, he was brought back to our treatment area to get the ball rolling on finding out what was causing Harley’s sneezing. After an IV catheter was placed, Harley was placed under anesthesia and taken to radiology for a digital X-ray of his nose. An X-ray would help us see and rule out something like a foreign body, nasal cavity mass, or a tumor. After reviewing his X-rays, they appeared normal and Dr. Steen did not see anything that could be causing Harley’s sneezing. This was good news for Harley, but we still had yet to get to the bottom of his issue.

Next, we took Harley to our special procedures suite so we could scope his nose with our vetscope. A vetscope is a camera at the end of a speculum that allows us to view its images on a monitor. It can be used to look inside of an ear canal or the inside of a dog’s nose in this case (we assured Harley that even though the camera adds 10 pounds, this wouldn’t make his nose look big). First, Dr. Steen used the vetscope and viewed the inside of Harley’s right nostril. Other than some slight irritation from his sneezing, it appeared normal. Then, he viewed his left nostril with the vetscope.  We could tell immediately what the problem was: a weed. Because in most cases there usually isn’t a foreign object found, you can imagine our excitement and relief that we actually found what was bothering Harley and causing his left eye to wink (clearly not Dr. Steen). Dr. Steen then proceeded with a long, flexible alligator forceps to retrieve the weed. An alligator forceps is a small forceps designed to grab or grip things in small/or delicate areas. Once he retrieved the weed, we realized it was a foxtail weed. After double checking with the vetscope to make sure that his nasal passages were clear and there were no remnants left, Harley could be taken off of anesthesia to recover. Nobody is sure how Harley got such a big weed in his nasal passage!

Harley’s family was thrilled that we found the issue and were able to resolve his sneezing. Harley was sent home with some preventative antibiotics and would be just fine. When Dr. Steen called Harley’s family to see how he was doing, they informed us that the sneezing has stopped and that he was back to normal and doing great! We hope Harley continues to do great, and can enjoy sniffing around the outdoors with maybe a little less enthusiasm. It just goes to show you that being nosey, even for a dog, can lead to trouble- and leave people tired of saying “Gesundheit”!

This was the Foxtail weed being extracted from Harley's nose.

The image of Harley's nasal cavity via the Vetscope.

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