Sorry to inflict upon you another tale about Max’s feet. This will be the last one as by now you must be incredibly bored.
From here on out, I might from time to time note any major improvements or problems but the seemingly endless blogging of paw problems ends here. For those interested, this post will provide a comprehensive update; for those whose tolerance to dog foot issues has already exceeded its sell-by date, leave now and save yourself.
You’ve been given fair warning.
This is not to say that the Maltese paw issues have resolved. Not at all; in fact, they have worsened but at least there appears to be light ahead.
For a couple of weeks we tried a plethora of home remedies to help heal Max but the results were unsatisfactory. We were somewhat timid in our experiments. Despite all of your great suggestions, we kept our ministrations mild because we were hung up on the principle of “primum non nocere”, meaning “first do no harm.”
Doubtless several of you more astute readers will have read that and immediately proclaimed, “Yuh huh, the Hippopotamus Oath”.
By the way, most everyone thinks that all medical students, as part of becoming doctors, are required to take the Hippocratic Oath which promises, among many other things, to “first, do no harm.”
That’s not entirely true.
While the quote is correctly attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, it isn’t a part of the Hippocratic Oath at all. It is actually from another of his works called “Of the Epidemics”. Furthermore, whilst some medical schools do require this oath of medical students, many others use a different oath and some use no oath at all.
But I digress.
the consistent failure of our home remedies and much research, we identified a husband and wife team of Veterinarians who possess exceptional qualifications and skills in veterinarian medicine as practiced in both Western and Eastern disciplines. A blend, if you will, of scientific and holistic approaches encompassing everything from high tech diagnostic equipment to Reiki to doggie acupuncture and nutrition counseling. (Yeah, that loud noise was my credit card screaming in agony.)
The Malt’s exam took well over an hour. The news wasn’t good. First, we were advised that the prescription of strong steroids over almost two years had damaged Max’s immune system and led to a possible early case of Cushing’s disease.
Next, we found out that the previous treatment plans were doomed to failure because they not only did not address the underlying cause of his foot problem, they exacerbated the problem; namely a severe case of demodex mites enabled by a severely suppressed immune system.
Mites! Yes, the skin scrapings confirmed he’s got plenty of the little monsters. So let’s talk mites, shall we?
When first informed, I suggested to the Vet that, based on the extent of the infection, they must be Mighty Mites! There were no snorfs. As I got the hairy eyeball from the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF), the Vet said, “Have you any idea how many times I’ve heard that?” I took his question as rhetorical and shut up.
I learned we all have mites. Everybody’s got them in one form or another: man, woman, and dog although the AJF contends that Japanese mites are more polite, bow before biting, and say arigato when done. Max probably has a genetic pre-disposition to demodex mites and likely got his original complement of blood suckers from his mother while nursing. Thanks, Mom.
Demodex mites are not visible to the naked eye or, for that matter, an eye wearing a cute frock and Christian Laboutin heels. Under a microscope the mites look a bit like deformed alligators.
There about 65 varieties of demodex mites including two that like to hang out in human eyelashes. Max’s version is Demodex canis which is not contagious to other dogs and is not considered zoonotic; in other words, does not transfer from dog to human (whew!).
Whilst all dogs have mites, this is normally not a problem because said pooches are protected from the effects of mite bites by their immune systems. However, when a puplet is immuno-compromised (like our hero) the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of the dog become exorbitant, causing skin lesions, incredible itching, inflammation, hair loss and worse.
Take a gander at these photos of the FurButt’s feet and cringe.
Together with the Vet, we’ve developed a very detailed treatment plan to help the Malt recover.
We have to wean him from the steroids that he took in the past to suppress itching caused by allergies. This will require a tapering of medication over the next three weeks.
But wait! Like a late night infomercial, there’s more! Max also has been put on anti-fungals to reduce complications from a yeast infection that apparently came along as a BOGO – buy one, get one free disease package.
He also received a slew of other medicines for the systemic elimination of the mites themselves, various palliative products – shampoos and lotions – to alleviate discomfort and a schedule for when and how to apply these goodies.
Max was delighted when the Vet’s better half – Mrs. Vet – recommended that he be fed home-cooked meals only, henceforth eschewing packaged kibble and products with high carbohydrate content. The Pupperoni allowed as he would be courageous and accept steak, burger, stew and other delights lovingly prepared by the AJF. Also, take out from the Lazy Dog.
The Vet thinks that the recovery plan may take months before the negative effects of the steroids are diminished and Max’s immune system is again strong enough to combat successfully the mites. Meanwhile, it will be meds and booties, socks at night, special grooming and feeding and lots of attention.
Sounds like the AJF will be busy. Hehe.
As for me, I’m planning Max’s next Halloween costume. Can you guess what it might be?