March 31, 2013

Right Diet and Allergic Dogs

How important is right diet for an allergic dog?

This is Bea (pronounced "bey-uh".) Last year, she was pulled by an Austin breed-rescue group from an infamous animal shelter near Houston. Almost 300 dogs were housed there, stacked on top of each other in crates. Their health conditions were appalling.

Like many of the dogs removed from Spindletop animal refuge, this one had been fermenting in her own wastes, the hair and skin around her paws discolored from urine burns. She was malnourished, had massive ear infections, skin infections, tested positive for heartworm and had rotting teeth.

Immediately after she was pulled, she was re-vaccinated and put through spay surgery and hernia repair. This was followed up by aggressive heart-worm treatment, extended crate rest and antibiotics for ear discharge and skin eruptions.

Bea's demeanor improved, but she was left with terrible skin problems. Moist pustules broke out all over. She lost hair in patches everywhere, scratched constantly, chewed a hot spot on her leg until it was bloody and smelled awful.

Conventional drug treatments combined with fish-oil supplements proved useless in arresting the skin issues. Thus began aggressive treatment with energy medicine including a homeopathic remedy - hepar sulphuris - several times a day for multiple days plus colloidal silver and a flower remedy.

Hepar hit the keynotes of Bea's skin eruptions such as red, weeping lesions, but it wasn't addressing her emotional history, most of which we could only guess.

This dog had undergone a degree of stress many of us could not imagine or survive. There was no telling what she went through before the Spindletop refuge, no telling how long she had been living - neglected - in a crate and the squalor of her own waste. There was some evidence that she'd been bred, but no telling how often or how she lost her litter.These ordeals were followed by an extended medical ordeal.

"Angry" is the primary keynote of hepar sulphuris. "Anxious" was a better description of Bea. And the more anxious Bea got, the worse her symptoms.

After several months TLC from her foster-family, Bea spent a weekend with a potential forever family. They loved her but would not take on her health issues. She scratched and chewed herself constantly. Soon after, her foster mom spent a weekend away, leaving her dogs at home with a sitter. Major skin eruptions when she returned.

At this point, the best advice I could give was "stop." Stop everything.

Hepar wasn't helping. If anything, it made Bea snappish with the other dogs in the house. Was this a case of the remedy "proving" a symptom? Or was it simply that she felt ill, ill at ease and threatened?

We couldn't get a clear picture until everything settled down.

Since hepar worked marginally, we gave Bea one dose of a homeopathic remedy in the sulphur family. Then the plan was to do nothing more than support healing. Frequent baths. Natural ingredients, low or no chemical components. Soothing emollients to keep the skin from becoming too dry. Absolutely nothing harsh.

Living with a loving family and socializing with the other dogs in the pack would provide everything else Bea needed to thrive - attention, affection, nourishing food, plenty of play and tincture of time.

After about 10 days, Bea's symptoms looked much worse. More symptoms means more information to work with. But the healing response would not "hold."  This told us that something else was at work. The remedy. Vaccinosis. Environmental or food allergies. There were many possibilities.

Now comes the detective work.

To get this information, Bea's foster mom consulted a holistic veterinarian who tested for allergies and food sensitivities. Sure enough, Bea's immune system was over-reacting to environmental allergens including mold, dust and pollen. More, she was sensitive to many common proteins dogs ought to be able to eat. Well, to every protein dogs ought to be able to eat.

Getting right diet made a world of difference.

Today, Bea is happy, healthy and training to become a therapy dog. She continues to see the holistic veterinarian for allergy treatments. But she's now able to eat some common proteins without a reaction. And her skin and coat are looking and feeling like black velvet.

Follow Bea's continuing progress through The Journey Project, a community outreach program designed to educate, promote and assist in the public awareness of animal safety, health, and over-population. 

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