by Lee Juslin
Jackson came into rescue as an owner turn-in. Despite the owner’s claims that she had been treating this now six year old Westie since he was a puppy, he was in about the worst shape that Aggie and her colleagues at Sunshine State Westie Rescue had ever dealt with.
He was devoid of hair with bare, itchy skin, he stunk, and he was obviously very ill. Beyond that, he was lethargic and could barely move. The vet diagnosed him with Demodex or mange and a variety of yeast and bacterial infections over his skin and in his ears. A vet dermatologist did a number of tests to isolate the specific bacteria infecting Jackson, and they began a series of antibiotics and changes in diet. Nothing seemed to help. Desperate, Aggie went to yet another vet who discovered Jackson was allergic to chicken. In addition, the vet did a T4 thyroid test, which is beyond the usual thyroid test, and discovered that Jackson was also suffering from hypothyroidism.
Once Jackson’s food was changed to Wellness Simple Salmon and Potato, which has no chicken and no chicken broth, he began to improve in a matter of days. Then, treatment for his thyroid problem, which is simply one pill per day, eliminated his lethargy.
Today, Jackson is happy and healthy. He’s a sweet friendly boy who loves to play with toys and interact with his humans.
“We learned a big lesson with Jackson”, Aggie said. “When you’ve got a dog with severe skin problems and a lack of energy, don’t give up. Get a second, even third opinion. Some vets simply don’t recognize a relatively simple problem like a food allergy. And, if you have a lethargic dog, take the extra step and get the T4 thyroid test because sometimes the simpler, more standard test does not always show that there is a thyroid problem. We learned in dealing with Jackson, that a thyroid problem can cause negative personality traits like lethargy and even aggressiveness. So, a dog that bites and that you think is a hopeless case, may be that way because of irregularities with his thyroid. In Jackson’s case, he was always a sweet boy but very low energy. Once we treated his hypothyroidism, the change to a happy, active dog was pretty amazing.”
Jackson has been in rescue since June of 2013. Aggie knows despite his great personality he will be difficult to place. He has a significant bald spot on his back which is a result of the years of skin problems going untreated. He also needs a daily pill which, though not expensive ? about $14.50 per seventy count ? sometimes turns off potential adopters. In addition, most people who want a Westie are looking for a good looking Westie so Jackson’s bald spot causes him to be passed over.
However, Jackson is in a great foster home where he gets lots of attention and it would not be surprising if that became his permanent home.
Check out more animal rescue & therapy animal stories in our Pets section.