Mikki, when rescued was so poisoned by tick venom, infested with so many ticks that she could not move. She had what is called tick paralysis. The person who reported her on their lawn called in for the removal of the carcass of a dead animal - she was not moving and looked so mangy that it was assumed she was not alive.
When the officers picked her up they discovered that she had over fifty (50) groups of ticks hanging in clusters from her emaciated body. She weighed a scant 14 lbs. - a healthy weight would be 22 to 24 lbs. She will need to put on at least 7 lbs. Her gums and tongue were almost white from a lack of red cells.
The shelter people removed the tick infestation best they could, but the embedded tick heads which had broken off, remained stuck in her flesh. Mikki slowly began to recover, able to move slightly. Still, she could barely stand, let alone walk.
She has had several sessions to remove some of the worst heads embedded in her, and will probably need several more. After extensive blood work to determine what areas of her system are in the most need, we are addressing the worst ones first. IV fluids with B-complex as well as B-12 injections, and many supplements and antibiotics have been administered to her. And, she will need blood testing on a regular basis to make sure that all areas of need are being supported. It is still too early to tell what tick-borne diseases she has been infected with, and after allowing for an incubation period, testing will need to be done to check her titers. If positive, proper treatment for this will begin also.
Now we need your help. She didn’t get this way over night, and it is going to be a long road back to health for her. She is certainly showing that she wants very much to live. Won't you please help her?
UPDATE February 7, 2011
The tick head removal continues, but we think we have most (if not all) of them. She has been on antibiotics twice a day for weeks, along with prednisone to damp down the inflammatory process still raging. Her foster home can't even bring any more dogs into the home, as they may inadvertently bring in a pathogen that could take hold and overwhelm Mikki's already compromised system.
Mikki has started walking, albeit slowly, from her crate to her outside exercise pen. And her back, which has been all hunched up, is starting to straighten, telling us that she is much more comfortable. But she is so frightened of everything - any sudden noise, strange people near her crate, just anything. We really wish we knew what she has been through. Whatever it was, must have been horrible. I guess it is not only her little body that is going to need fixing.
Now that she has had a little bit of time to rest, we will start titer testing for various tick-boure diseases that she may have been infected with. There are several, and she will need to be tested for each one individually. Each one is deadly in its own right, and with the number of ticks she was exposed to, and the extended duration of their feeding upon her, we dare not assume that she has not been infected. If positive, treatment will need to begin immediately. If negative, we will need to re-test in approximately 3 months.
In the meantime, she has gained just over 5 pounds, a minor miracle given that we have to proceed so slowly. Her appetite is excellent, but we have to hold back. We need to introduce richer foods slowly, as we certainly don't want to put her into pancreatitis.
She still has a lot of sensitivity to light, probably another effect of the severe malnutrition she had when we got her. And we haven't yet even ventured a guess as to how much dental damage she will end up with; when you are malnourished your body turns on itself to stay alive, depleting it of anything it can make use of.
We are doing all we can for Mikki, but we can't do it alone. Won't you help us help her?
UPDATE May 1, 2011
The first thing we need to do is to apologize for the lack of up-dates on Mikki. Rescue being what it is, we never know when new, and very sick or injured dogs are going to show up on our doorstep. When that happens, our first responsibility is to the dogs and their care, the write-ups and updates come later, when everything else slows down. It is kind of like triage or putting out forest fires. The emergencies come first, followed by the treatments, followed by the regular care, followed by playtime and our families and personal care come last. During all of this time, Mikki has been resting, recuperating, gaining weight, and in general, coming back to life.
Mikki has responded very well to her long-term antibiotic therapy, and has now tested negative (twice) for the many tick-borne diseases she could have developed. New testing will be needed down the line, just to make sure, but we are now more than hopeful that, as bad as the tick infestation was, we got to her and started treatment in time.
We have been adding many supplements to her diet in an effort to give support to her recovery processes. With all of the various supplements her body did not need to pull what it needed from her existing muscle mass and bone, and because of this she did not lose her teeth. Her light sensitivity has also improved, along with weight gain, and improvement in general muscle mass.
Once she had enough weight (she was up to 21 lbs.) we had her cardiac function tested. To our surprise and delight she passed it with flying colors! So, with an extra Vet standing by, her spay way performed, along with a mini-dental, just to make sure all was well in that department.
It took a lot of people, and a lot of time (5 months), but with the help of folks like you life is looking very good for Mikki. Now we just need to check her titers one more time, and, if still negative she will be good to go. She didn't seem to stand much of a chance, but with your help, she is well on her way to a good long life. Thank you all!
UPDATE May 5, 2011
We are thrilled to tell all of you that Mikki has found her forever home. We'd like to thank everyone for helping make this possible!