I’ve decided to make an article on dog health, as it can be just as crucial and important as human health as well. Not only do I have health issues, but so does my nine year old West Highland Terrier, Gizmo (or Mo, as we usually call him).
Now, we have only had Mo for about 5 months, but he has seriously become my best friend. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a bond with a dog before. Don’t get me wrong, I love my other dogs, especially Finn who I have had for three years now, but there’s just something about Gizmo. I don’t know if it’s just because he’s a senior dog, and not a puppy, like my year old husky, but he’s the best dog I could have ever asked for. So it’s really hard for me when I see him so uncomfortable and so itchy all the time. When we adopted him from the humane society back in August, he had a long list of about 12 pages of medical history and vaccines he had had. This little guy suffers, for sure. It really broke my heart when I found out that he was adopted from the humane society two years ago, and then his owner brought him back because she didn’t want to deal with his health issues anymore. And the people at the shelter informed me that there is absolutely no way that she did any preventative maintenance or treatment for the entire two years she had him. Before we adopted him, he was already in the shelter for two months. But let me tell you, this boy is ITCHY. Imagine 100 mosquito bites all over you everyday for your entire life, and the itchiness just never ends. Luckily my vets are great and have prescribed him a pill that he takes once a day, to keep his itchiness under control. Because seriously, it gets to the point where he will chew so much on his skin that he bleeds.
I still try to understand what all he has, as it’s a lot, but what we gather is he clearly has really bad allergies. He has been diagnosed with a severe case of dermatitis. He has a history of severe flea allergy dermatitis as well as mange. They informed us he has to be on flea control for life as it tends to worsen severe skin allergies. When we adopted him, he was being treated for a yeast, skin and ear infection, which have all now resolved.
Due to all of this, Gizmo has a mousse formula that we rub through his fur every two days, along with a medicated bath weekly. He also is on a monthly flea preventative and a pill for his itchiness. This boy has been through a lot, and all that matters is he has a comfortable life. He clearly has little to no fur on his belly and arms, along with his butt and his tail. Due to the itchiness and hair loss, when winter time rolls around, we put this boy in warm sweaters because it’s easy for him to get cold. He has his own sleeping spot above my head, with his own pillow, blanket and lizard stuffed animal. It’s great for him, even though half the time I wake up cuddling his butt.
Now, what exactly is dog dermatitis? Atopic dermatitis in dogs (allergic dermatitis, canine atopy) is a hypersensitivity or over-reaction to a variety of commonplace and otherwise harmless substances in the environment. These allergens include plant pollens, house dust mites, or mold spores. Most allergic dogs begin to show signs between one and three years of age. Due to the hereditary nature of the disease, several breeds of dogs appear predisposed to allergies. These dog breeds include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, West Highland White Terriers and other terriers, and Bulldogs. However any dog, including mixed breed dogs, can have atopic dermatitis. (via: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951973)
Ever since adopting a 9 year old dog, I’ve realized how much I love senior dogs. It’s just they are least likely to get adopted compared to puppies, but they deserve a chance as well. I want to be the one who can give them a good, loving home for their remaining years of life, whether it be five years, or one year, they matter. No animal deserves to be alone in a shelter. Same goes for the disabled animals. I’ve told Chris that the only dogs we will be adopting are ones with health issues, or old ones, because it just hurts to know they are all alone in a scary place. So honestly, if you are looking for a dog to adopt, try and adopt a senior one if anything. I know it’s not as “fun” because people usually want puppies. But I mean a housebroken dog is way better anyways. Imagine waking up and not stepping in a big pile of pee? Amazing. But seriously, old dogs are just as great and playful. They cuddle and love just as hard as a puppy would. Losing a pet is always hard, especially one you may not have had as long, but creating those memories with them and knowing how happy that makes them, is 100% worth it.