White Dog stopped me on my way out. "She is going to be all right? They are not going to hurt her?" I brushed the fur on the side of WD's face. "All will be well, we just want to solve the problem while it is still slight."
Puff was on her way to see Dr. Julia. Our Little Old Lady was having a skin issue that we could not seem to get a handle on. We had tried all the tricks we knew; it was time to call in Dr. Julia's superior knowledge.
Many of you may remember over a year ago when White Dog Ranch became infested with Walking Dandruff, actually mites so tiny that they are noticed by the movement of the dead skin they carry. It took us months to go through the protocol of making sure all of the White Dog Army tested free of mites and we did a remediation on the house/yard that was thorough, extensive and left our house mite-free.
Late in December Puff began exhibiting signs that she was once again afflicted. These mites are unusual to begin with and are highly contagious between dogs. We immediately began the protocol of medicated bathing, followed by a week of combing, then a second bath, and two weeks later a final bath. None of the other White Dogs showed any signs of the mites and the protocol did not seem to have made a difference.
Our girl has very thin furs and delicate skin in her elder state. We feared overuse of the shampoo with its flea and mite toxins would absorb into her skin. We attempted to just "spot treat" areas as they showed up...except it was a temporary fix and then the dead skin flakes appeared elsewhere.
Puff is stoic and does not scratch or bite at these areas but clearly they are not comfortable and hair loss results. We considered that this might be something other than Walking Dandruff and set up an appointment with our wonderful vet.
Dr. Julia looked at the baggie filled with hair and flakes from the morning's brushing and said, "Doesn't look like Walking Dandruff. Lets do a few slides." As Steve held Puff, Dr. Julia and the tech took scrapings from three different parts of her body and made slides. Then they went to the lab to look at what they had captured.
When she came back she said, "We found one mite. The infestation is not big but she does have walking dandruff again." "Why have none of the others been affected?" I asked. "Let's face it," Dr. Julia replied, "Puff's immune system sucks. And she is the one always most interested in dead birds which usually have mites. The others don't bother with feathers and cat leftovers AND they have better immune systems."
"So back to shampooing?" Steve questioned. "No, it's not working and I don't want her to keep absorbing the treatment into her skin. I'm going to give an injection that should work and will have less impact in terms of toxic effect. Bring her back in two weeks for a followup but this should do the trick. Oh, and go ahead and give soothing baths like with oatmeal just to heal the skin."
Puff flinched as the needle slid in but then it was over and we were on our way home.
She was mobbed when we walked in by every pup wanting to make sure she was all right. All were relieved that the problem was solvable with some extra washing of Puff's sweaters, soothing baths, and avoiding interest in dead bird carcasses.