So since November we have been dealing with a recurring eye rash around Chopper's eye, which has been pretty time consuming and expensive. After FOUR months, a skin scrape and a biopsy (and stitches) he finally got a diagnosis of Autoimmune Skin Disease. Today we went to the vet and the stitches came out (without any sedatives!) and he is starting on a new medicine, cyclosporine that will hopefully help keep the disease from attacking his skin (and not be harmful long term the way steroids might have been). He's really been a trooper over the last few weeks (he's had a cone on 24 hours a day since February 26th until we took it off at the vet a few hours ago).
Even with all the scabbing and itchiness he has had the last few months not much prepared me for picking up the dog from the vet after the scrape and biopsy - the skin around his eye was pretty bloody and gross and the friend I brought along for moral support (who actually bought me Chopper as a birthday present almost six years ago) started crying when she saw him so then he started whining. So I had to hold it together for everyone.
This disease is apparently rare in dogs and getting the diagnosis was a long process. At first they didn't want to knock him out for the biopsy so we were on antibiotics and steroids for months. Then we though it could be a type of localized mange which would have shown up on the scrape. Finally the lab results came back with the diagnosis of Autoimmune Skin Disease.
Some this sounds like it could be pretty serious but he is good health otherwise so I'm trying not to worry and to look at the positives: 1) While it is a little costly, I can afford the medicine to keep him healthy; 2) He doesn't have to wear that cone anymore (he ran into everything wearing that cone); 3) In the process we ended up switching vets for a variety of reasons and he seems a little more cooperative at this office than the last; and 4) He doesnt' need to wear the cone anymore (I really hated that cone).