Newsletter - December 2005

The News At Home

Zoey - our light-haired beauty - has left us. Her heart, tired of battling the mitral valve disease that plagues her breed, was her undoing. The pain is fresh and makes this announcement difficult to write but her life and her lessons deserve to be celebrated. While I’ve been fortunate to have some wonderful professors, Zoey was the best one. It was Zoey who defied the odds so often that some vets began referring to her as “that miracle dog”. After all, she had an endoscopy that proved her colitis when she was nine months old and we were told that she was a poor candidate for life in general much less a commercial diet. Yet she had another endoscopy when she was seven years old, after years of a home-prepared diet, which showed her gut to be in much better shape than in the past. This was just one of so many lessons but her legacy, taught so well and so persistently over the years is this: Every dog is an individual. I first wrote those words in my book about three years ago. They summarize the one thing that Zoey insisted on – respect for the individual dog’s needs. Today, her lesson is parroted by many people and so, in her own quiet way, Zoey managed to help others see reason too. She was, is, and will always be the driving force behind my work and my belief system. Nothing can change that – not even her passing.

Fact of The Month:

IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) Is Not A Firm Diagnosis and Statements about Miracle Cures Need to be Finely Examined

Like Zoey, many dogs have persistent diarrhea and often, some mucus and blood in the stool. When repeated fecal test results come back negative for parasites, the dog may be said to have IBD or perhaps a colitis attack. What exactly does this mean? IBD simply means that there is an ongoing or long lasting problem that is causing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Since the underlying cause of the problem has not been diagnosed, IBD is nothing more than a general statement. That's what got us into some trouble at first because Zoey's diagnosis wasn't precise enough to help point us in the right direction. A scoping procedure allows for a better diagnosis. In many cases, the suspicion of IBD is now confirmed as colitis. In this case, the inflammation is known to be in the lining of the large intestine. The numbers of varying cells gives clues as to what may be happening. For example, Zoey had ulcerative, eosinophilic colitis. The eosinophil cells were the biggest clue that her issues were allergy related. Whether or not the scoping procedure is done, the dietary role is pretty much the same. In most cases, these dogs do best with a low fat, low,or specific type of fiber diet. Of course, this is where Zoey taught me that sometimes we need to break the rules. In her case, more, rather than less fiber helped greatly.

Miracle cures in cases of most diseases, including IBD/colitis need to be looked at critically. Nobody has all the answers. A dog may have undergone a scoping procedure and been diagnosed with IBD. This same dog might have been placed on a certain diet or regime of supplements and done very well. However, without a second endoscopy to tell us what's changed in the gut environment, the only thing we can be more or less sure of is that the inflammation subsided. The disease process itself may very well be continuing beneath the mask of success. In fact, the diagnosis of IBD or colitis may be for the moment rather than a life-long condition. In this case, the dog may improve by simply changing the diet to include a new protein source. This is good news but hardly what we would call a miracle.

Episodic or sporadic colitis attacks are fairly common. Claiming that a product or diet regime is the answer for all dogs simply because one or even a few dogs reacted well may be overly enthusiastic. The truth is that the dog may have experienced a period of remission or perhaps, an episode rather than a more serious disease. Why would anyone put the dog through another scoping procedure if the animal seems improved? Naturally, we wouldn't! It's exactly because we wouldn't that we can't claim to have cured the disease. Symptoms and the disease process don't always go hand in hand so before buying into someone else's miracle cures, remember – every dog is an individual.

In Honor of Zoey's Memory Profits from sales on our Website this month, will be sent to the University of Guelph for ongoing research to help all dogs.

Monica

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” -- Will Rodgers, American Humorist

 
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