Newsletter - September 2008
The News At Home
Perhaps I am one of the few people on this planet who had never heard of the Cicada bug, but I have been enlightened. Tori’s stool had been sloppy for days. This is very unlike her, so it wasn’t until I noticed that she was foraging that I grew suspicious. Leave it to her to find a truly novel protein. Ugh! These bugs are repulsive (in my humble opinion) and we had to identify them via pictures on the Internet before realizing they have a shell. Although the bugs themselves, ingested or otherwise, pose no risk to dogs, the shell is hard, and if enough are consumed, can upset the gastrointestinal tract.
A few days of supplementing her diet with acidophilus produced perfect stool quality again, but this dog misses her bugs and keeps looking for them. Tori decided that these pests were truly delicious (we’ll take her word for it), so my friend suggested that if we were really the loving dog owners we claim to be, we’d peel them for her. Very funny, Caroline - very funny.
Mantra of the Month: Get rid of the cause of disease rather than the symptoms
It goes without saying that the statement above makes good sense, but I’m afraid that it’s become mantra for some people who don’t look at hard facts. For example, Tori has moderate hydrocephalus and Syringomyelia with the symptoms one would expect. The only way to get rid of her disease is to remove her brain. Another example comes from people suggesting that getting of rid of yeast translates to removing the cause of disease. The opposite is true. Since yeast overgrowth is exactly that - an overgrowth rather than a new invader - the answer lies in finding out why it overgrew to begin with. Food allergy is one cause but not the only possibility. Suggesting that supplementation with acidophilus and/or L-glutamine can be helpful to strengthen the gut is one thing; suggesting that these supplements be given to a dog with Tori’s symptoms is quite another because although scratching is part of her symptoms, she is not doing so only due to food allergy. Giving her L-glutamine risks seizures (glutamate is contraindicated for any dog prone to seizures, but is safe for “normal” dogs). There is also the case of people saying that food allergies don’t exist and that symptoms of allergy are due to any number of causes, including systemic yeast. I’ve written about the myth of systemic yeast in dogs (it does exist, but is very rare and most dogs die despite extremely serious medical intervention) being prevalent numerous times in books, booklets and newsletters, but let’s not even suggest that food allergies don’t exist. People have died from them, and science clearly shows that the immune systems response in dogs can be extremely strong.
Addressing the underlying cause of symptoms is not a new approach, and while it is everyone’s preference, we need to appreciate what that cause may be and that sometimes, short of removing part of the body, it will not succeed.
Senior Case of the Month
Ginny is a 16-year old mixed breed dog with a sweet disposition. Her energy level fools many people into thinking that she’s half her age. So, when she suddenly slowed down, her owners couldn’t help but notice. Ginny was having a bit of heart trouble, and the very first thing her loving owners did was prepare a home-cooked diet. Certainly, the dog enjoyed her meals more than ever, but once she slowed down even more, a concern about providing a balanced diet prompted her “mom” to contact me. The diet needed some tweaking because it was lacking in B vitamins and a few minerals, including sodium. Wait! - sodium for a dog with heart disease? Yes, all dogs need a certain amount of sodium and restricting this mineral by too much can backfire. The kidneys will retaliate by conserving sodium, thus the bigger plan backfires, causing stress to the kidneys and the heart itself. Once we discussed this fact, Ginny’s owner agreed to add kelp (iodine is important for the thyroid which, in turn, impacts heart health, and kelp added the sodium we needed too), however cautiously. The diet certainly does restrict sodium but not so much that we force the kidneys to conserve it, and the end result has been one of the highlights of the year for me. Ginny is back to being energetic, her symptoms have not progressed, and she’s going to be 17 years old very soon. A balanced diet supplemented with wild salmon oil vitamin E, taurine, and CoQ10 seems to have done this girl some good. Congratulations Ginny. If success leaves clues, you’re certainly leaving many for us to appreciate.
“Life is life - whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.’ -- Sri Aurobindo