On February 28th, 2013 a two year old female border collie mix came to shelter as a stray. She was missing most of her fur due to an advanced case of demodectic mange and was affectionately nicknamed Mangy Molly.
According to WebMD, “Demodectic mange is caused by a tiny mite, Demodex canis, too small to be seen with the naked eye. Nearly all dogs acquire mange mites from their mother during the first few days of life. These mites are considered normal skin fauna when present in small numbers. They produce disease only when an abnormal immune system allows their numbers to get out of control. This occurs primarily in puppies and in adult dogs with lowered immunity. Dogs with the generalized disease develop patches of hair loss on the head, legs, and trunk. These patches coalesce to form large areas of hair loss. The hair follicles become plugged with mites and skin scales. The skin breaks down to form sores, crusts, and draining tracts, presenting a most disabling problem.”
This particular strain is not contagious, but since the mites proliferate on dogs with lowered immunity, malnourished and uncared for dogs that enter our stray building with mange are common sights. Depending on age, the condition can resolve itself spontaneously, but the older the dog, the lower the chance of that happening. Molly was already two years old, so we knew she would need treatment to cure her of the mange.
Since her case was quite advanced, the decision was made to put Molly into our Grey Muzzle Foster Program which provides medical care to senior and special needs dogs. She would need a foster home that was equipped to give her extra special care and attention and provide her with the intense treatment needed to heal her skin. We wanted to move Molly out of the shelter as fast as possible and a foster family willing to administer Molly’s daily medication and frequent medicated baths quickly stepped up to take Molly into their home.
Molly’s skin began to heal and her fur started to grow back and an adoptive family was found as her treatments came to an end. Her new family was eager to take Molly home, but since she was still under the care of a veterinarian, we decided to place Molly with them on a “foster to adopt” basis. This status is given to dogs that have found their forever homes but who need continued care before they can be officially adopted. Resolving known medical issues at our expense before completing an adoption helps to give the new family peace of mind and assures us that the animal is receiving proper treatment.
Molly was in her new home for just a few weeks when she started to lose fur again. She was placed back on a daily dosage of Ivermectin, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic drug, with periodic skin scrapes scheduled. These scrapes detect the presence of the mange parasite and we hoped to soon see results with very little to no mange present. Months went by and the treatments continued, but Mangy Molly just couldn’t shake those pesty little parasites. It seemed that this poor collie was never going to recover and find the relief that she so desperately deserved. After a year of Ivermectin and medicated baths, the consulting veterinarian decided that that Molly was going to need more specialized care and referred her to Lehigh Valley Veterinary Dermotology for extensive testing.
Dr. Palmeiro at LVVD took Molly’s blood and looked for the MDR1 genetic mutation, which can be common in herding breeds, to determine if Molly would be able to tolerate a higher dosage of Ivermectin. The gene was not present so Dr. Palmeiro was able to increase her dosage to nearly double what she’d previously been taking.
Molly has another appointment scheduled in five weeks for her first skin scrape to gauge her progress. At this appointment, we hope to see a reduced amount of parasites on Molly’s skin scrape. If all goes according to plan, she will be released from treatment in another four months and will finally be officially adopted by the family that has grown to love her as their own.
To date, the ARL’s Grey Muzzle Program has incurred nearly $1000 in bills to cover Molly’s diagnostics and treatments. We see animals like her arrive in our shelter every single day and love being able to help them get the medical care they need to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life, but care like Molly’s requires a constant flow of donations. If you would like to contribute to Molly’s care, and the care of other animals just like her, please click here.
We’ll continue to monitor Molly’s progress, so check back from time to time to see how she’s doing!