I want to fix broken things, well, broken dogs. I’m not terribly handy, but when it comes to dogs, I want to help the ones that seem to need it the most. I love to help dogs like Jasper. Jasper entered an overcrowded, rural animal shelter a perfect mess. He was matted with feces, had severe skin issues, appeared to have rickets, was malnourished, and he was hunched over, almost unable to stand upright. His legs and feet appeared deformed. The wonderful women at the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter in Louisiana shelter took Jasper home and they got him to a vet the next day.
Look at him. I fell in love.
He lost a lot of that cute fluff before he got healthy.
Jasper had Demodex mange (or demodectic mange, aka puppy mange, aka red mange). Mange is a skin disease in mammals caused by parasitic mites. Mange is a word that makes most people shudder. Mites crawling all over your pet is pretty gross. These mites are present in very small amounts on the hair follicles of almost all dogs. In young puppies, mites spread from contact with mom. Don’t worry, these mites are host adapted, they are not transmitted or shared through various animal types or people. It is not contagious to other dogs or to people.
Mange typically causes hair loss and the formation of scabs and lesions. The two most common types of mite that affect dogs are Demodex and Sarcoptes.
Demodex is most common in puppies, senior dogs, or immune compromised dogs. Puppies do not have fully developed immune systems and they are unable to keep the demodectic mites in check. Any time the immune system is compromised, the mites can get the upper hand.
Early signs of Demodex appear around the eyes, mouth and forepaws and can include redness, scaling, and patchy hair loss. In severe cases it can result in major hair loss. Demodex is easily diagnosed with a skin scrape test. The vet takes a scalpel blade, scrapes the skin down to a specific layer, then mixes the contents with oil and examines it under the microscope.
Sarcoptic mange, also knows as scabies, a word that makes my skin crawl, is very different from Demodex. It is VERY itchy, and it IS contagious to other animals and to people. Sarcoptes mites are difficult to detect on a skin scrape test. If your dog is intensely itchy all of the sudden, contact your veterinarian immediately. (I’m so thankful that we have not seen Sarcoptic mange in any of our rescues!)
I am grateful that Take Paws Rescue lets me pull the tough cases from the shelter. They take more time and resources, but they deserve happily ever after! Helping Jasper heal has been a joy.
Jasper’s Demodex has been treated with oral medications and many, many medicated baths. The poor boy was uncomfortable and itchy. He would wake us up in the night with his scratching. He was always the 1st dog awake, which causes a chain reaction. It was sort of like having a newborn. We certainly got less sleep.
We kept him in pajamas, socks, and a cone to keep him from hurting himself while scratching and biting at his skin. It was cute, and practical. He handled it like a boss.
Demodex itself is not generally itchy, unless it is severe and the skin is infected. Dogs with Demodex also develop secondary bacterial infections. Jasper did. We treated him with low dose prednisone and antibiotics and even more medicated baths.
For 6 weeks, Jasper has had baths at least 2 times a week with medicated shampoo and about 10 minutes of massage before rinsing. He has been very calm and patient. I think it felt good for him. After the bath, I used a lice comb to removed all of the dead mites, mite waste, and dead skin. That took 20-30 minutes. He was relatively patient for that part too. It just takes time to heal from this. Jasper has been great.
Jasper also had lime-sulpher dips weekly for a month. Lime-super dip is a sulfurated lime solution which kills mites and other parasites (most commonly ringworm, mange, and lice) and also works against fungi and bacteria. It turns the dog yellow and smells like rotten eggs, but it is easy to use, extremely effective and its affordable. The yellow (and the smell) gradually fade as it dries.
This was the worst of it. Yep, it got worse, before he got better.
Boosting the immune system is the first step to avoid and fight demodex. An easy way to lift the immune function is to make sure your dog gets a very healthy diet with plenty of meat protein, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, while also limiting grains and carbs. Jasper was on a special diet that included eggs, ground beef, cream cheese, flax seeds, peanut butter, salmon, plain yogurt, extra probiotics and anchovy oil. He also got massages with almond oil and neem oil at bedtime (so the other dogs wouldn’t lick it all off of him). He smelled like Italian salad dressing. Neem oil is a naturally occurring pesticide found in seeds from the neem tree. It is a potent antifungal, antipyretic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It can be used in small amounts mixed with a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil.
Jasper has thrived on his special diet and is now looking healthy and eating plain, high quality kibble, with only small additions of fish, fish oil, or yogurt, which I add to all of the dogs’ meals occasionally. His hair has grown back nicely and he is looking soooo much better! He feet are slightly deformed, probably a congenital condition made worse by his extremely poor condition and malnutrition. We call him muppet. He gets around just fine and those feet do not cause him any problems at all. In fact, I do not even notice it anymore.
Jasper loves his foster dog family and is great with children. We are so excited that he is ready to find a forever home of his own!!
Look how handsome he is! Those eyes are just incredible.
Jasper is available for adoption from Take Paws Rescue.