When a Wolf is ill by Maria Ferguson
On September 25th I noticed that Niko Akni was not feeling well. He seemed to be lethargic and weak. There were flies hanging around on his lower back and tail. I cleaned off the area the best I could with warm water and shampoo but it didn’t seem to help. I went and got Caretaker Don and together we gently hosed off the area. The fur was so thick, long and hard it was difficult to tell what was going on. He didn’t tolerate the hose for long. I thought perhaps he had feces stuck on the underside of his tail and we cleaned that area thoroughly. The flies still came back and wanted to hang around that area. I was in a bit of a panic. This was not good for him. I went to our local Tractor supply store and purchased some fly spray that was safe for canines and other animals. I sprayed the area and it kept the flies from landing but they were still trying to come back. He seemed barely able to walk to the fence to get a drink of water. That evening he ate and drank but was extremely weak. I got in touch with our Vet and we discussed a few unpleasant options. Niko has had an enlarged testicle for 2 years. Castrating him was not an option. He seemed to be doing okay until this episode. The Vet suspected that it may be cancer that had metastasized. The worst possible case scenario was weighing heavily on my mind. He’s 11 years old and I didn’t want him to suffer, however he was still eating, drinking and voiding, so I decided to give it a few more days.
The next day, I noticed the flies were still trying to land on him so I brought out some baby wipes and a comb to try and get to the bottom of this problem. He wasn’t happy with me messing with him. I then noticed that the fur on his tail was actually missing in an area around the supracaudal gland. There were three areas that were oozing pus. I immediately contacted our Vet again. We started him on a course of antibiotics and cleaning the area with peroxide. That always poses another problem with Wolves. They are very smart and with their keen sense of smell can detect the meds no matter what you use to mask them. I was able to use ground meat and cheese for three days successfully before he went, nope! Then I used pizza for 1 ½ days. The other half of the day I used a chunk of red meat. Today, I tried cooking him a cheeseburger. Got one pill down and then he spit out the other. I just got finished making a batch of peanut butter pill pockets and will keep my fingers crossed that he’ll accept those tonight.
The good news is he is getting better. I noticed on day 3 of the antibiotic he had regained some energy and was eating an abundance of food. Niko has always been a thin Wolf and I worry that losing weight with an illness would be dangerous for him. Two of the oozing areas had dried up. On day 5, the oozing areas of his tail had all dried up and there are no flies hanging around. He smells a lot better, too. He is also back to fiercely defending his food by growling and lunging at his packmates. Today is day 6 and I have to get at least 4 more days of antibiotics down him, so wish me well. I’m open to any and all suggestions our readers may have.
When Niko first became ill with this infection, I wanted to get him off the ground and since he hasn’t been jumping up on the den or platform, we bought him an outdoor bed. He has been using it, not all the time but when he wants to. The other Wolves have not messed with it. What a difference in behavior from when they were yearlings. I found an old video from 2008. Wa-ta-chee, Ohoyo and Waya were 3 ½ years old. Niko, Chito, Woha and Nita were 1 ½ years old. We wanted to give them something more than the ground to lie on so we purchased 1 outdoor bed to give it a try. The results were not good. It made me laugh and I think you will enjoy seeing them so young and Wolfie.
The other Wolves are all doing well. Ohoyo is as feisty as ever. She gave me an accidental nip to the tip of my middle finger when I was handing her a meatball with her heartworm meds in it. I did a little dance for about 3 minutes. I have a blood clot under my nail and the whole tip of my finger is swollen and dark. Luckily she got my nail and didn’t break the skin.
Woha finally forgave me for getting new boots. It took her about a month. Caretaker Don had to step in and give her frontline plus last month because she wouldn’t come near me. This month I was able to give it to her and we are now best buds again.
Wa-ta-chee is doing well. He still is very reclusive unless he decides he wants his back or belly scratched.