In this article, a first-time dog owner explains why she invested in vet visits for her Asong Pinoy—something more ignorant pet owners say is “useless” due to the dog’s lack of pedigree.

By Mara Gatchalian

About four months ago, my sister’s friend informed me that she had a puppy that was up for adoption. I immediately said yes because I’ve been wanting to own one since forever.

The puppy was a female ‘AsPin’ (Asong Pinoy or native Filipino dog), and she was less than a month old when I got her. I was a first-time fur parent so I was really excited about naming her. And of course, I gave her a very very special name: Dog Lupo y Burrito de Falchetta.

I call her ‘Dog’ most of the time.

Dog was not really active during her first few days at home. I also noticed that she kept scratching the back of her ears. I used my shampoo when I bathed her. When I noticed the scratching, I decided to buy her a dog shampoo. I thought it would be okay until I saw tiny bald patches on her ears. I got really worried and took her to the vet immediately.

The vet checked Dog’s ears, and I was told that she had canine scabies, also known as sarcoptic mange. It is caused by microscopic mites called Sarcoptes scabiei which can create a variety of skin problems such as hair loss and severe itching. The vet recommended a popular brand of sulfur soap as a treatment. I was instructed to give Dog a bath once a week using that soap, and so I did.

Two weeks passed and Dog hadn’t shown any improvements yet. The hair loss was worse, and she also started to get a crust-like formation on her elbows. Apparently, these were the aftereffects of her intense scratching and biting. I searched for another animal clinic for a second opinion about her condition and treatment.

I found a new animal clinic in Pasig City. The new vet had the same findings (sarcoptic mange), but our consultation experience was better and more convincing. The new vet performed a skin scraping, in which a a portion of the skin on Dog’s ear was scraped using a scalpel, then her ear was gently squeezed until a drop of blood came out. This was put on a slide with a special oil.

Fresh from the vet: you can see the traces of Dog’s ordeal in her ears and balding body.

The vet let me look through the microscope and I saw the reason for my poor baby’s itching. The process was thoroughly explained by our new vet, who put Dectomax on the affected areas, prescribed a cream to be put on Dog’s ears and elbows, and gave us a medicated herbal soap. She told me that the Sulfur Soap that the previous vet recommended was for fungi.

Dog showed a remarkable improvement. We went back to our new vet every week for follow-up checkups, and within three weeks, the scratching and itching gradually stopped. Her hair also started growing back. I was genuinely happy with the result. Because of that, I decided to stick with our new vet. We have gone same animal clinic regularly for Dog’s other necessities like her 5-in-1 vaccination and deworming.

I have learned a lot of things throughout Dog’s mange treatment journey. It’s normal to worry, but I realized that worrying won’t get me anywhere. Young puppies are vulnerable and prone to mange, and that’s why I had to consult the vet immediately for their professional advice. I didn’t want to risk Dog’s health another day.

But you know what they always say: prevention is better than the cure. In my case, since Dog has already been diagnosed with mange and is already cured, I didn’t want it to happen again. I made sure that everything was disinfected: her toys, bedding, and other accessories. We also cleaned the whole house, just to be sure.

Dog growing her fur back after she was cured.

That’s because I remember what our new vet told me: Mange is contagious. It can be transmitted from dogs to humans. Imagine the harm it would bring, not only to your dog but to your family members as well. It can be really bad, especially if there are children involved.

I have to admit, vet visits can be really expensive. But come to think of it, what is money compared to the joy that our dogs bring? What is money compared to the happiness we feel when we don’t see our dogs suffering? And most importantly, what is money compared to the security of knowing that our fellow human family members are safe with our dogs around?

One of the most important traits of being a dog owner is being responsible. If you noticed that something is unusual with your dog, act on it. IMMEDIATELY. Search on the web for possible causes of the unusual behavior because awareness is also very important; ask your fellow dog owners for advice, and most importantly, take your dog to the vet. I’m sure it will be the best for our precious fur-babies.

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s July 2016 issue.