Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I Learned from an Aging Dog

The longer I live the less confidence I have in drugs and the greater is my confidence in the regulation and administration of diet and regimen.
~John Redman Coxe, 1800

I mentioned in my last post that I had learned about alternative health from a former dog we had. This is a reprint of an article I wrote over ten years ago:

When I first met my husband, I also met Suziebelle, his Brittany Spaniel. Suzie had a few health problems. She had a congenital heart condition that caused fluid to build around the heart and lungs periodically. She had to take a daily hormone because she was incontinent after the surgery to spay. She also had a harmless fatty tumor about the size of a nickel in diameter on her breast bone.

This picture is Suzie at the age of four. You can see she is pretty healthy at this point. Like most responsible pet owners, we fed her a higher quality commercial dog food and she received yearly shots, that is, until she was 13 years old. At that time, Suzie had many other problems. She had lost some of her hearing and her bark sounded more like a cough. She was coughing more often due to fluids building in the lungs and some nights she could barely lie down to sleep. The fatty tumor had tripled in size in just a few months and warts were appearing everywhere, even on her eye lids. She had cataracts so bad that she was beginning to walk into furniture. The incontinent problem was no longer controlled by the hormone and the hormone, unknown to us at the time, had robbed her body of calcium; not only was she losing teeth but she was in great pain with arthritis. Because she was in so much pain she began to get snappy and mean.

When it came time for her shots, my husband and I discussed the subject. We had observed in the more recent years of how sick the shots made Suzie and how she never recovered to her previous energy level afterward. We feared that she would become sicker or even die. Having agreed on that point, we decided against the yearly shots and took her to a holistic veterinarian to see what could be done for her in alternative medicine.

This was our very first experience with alternative therapies; we did not know what to expect. What we learned nearly made us cry. The food and shots were suspected to be the main culprits in Suzie's illnesses. It was explained to us that the yearly shots have two types of ingredients, a weakened or dead virus that the body was to supposedly overcome resulting in immunity, and chemicals, used as fillers and preservatives. What is basically unknown is that these substances build up in the body. From her general health condition and the warts, it was obvious to the vet that Suzie was no longer able to contain nor rid herself of the toxins and viruses to which she had been exposed through the shots.

The vet explained that she was so weak he did not know if Suzie would make it through a detoxification program but if we were willing to give her the extra attention she would need, he was willing to work with us. He prescribed homeopathic remedies and supplements. We changed her hard food to Hund-N-Flocken, a Solid Gold product. It was mixed with a homemade soft food including organic rice and other grains, organic vegetables, ground free-range turkey and fresh garlic.

During Suzie's detox, we were expected to give weekly reports to the vet. It was frightening to see how low her energy would get. After a few days, she could barely walk or lift her head but I think Suzie's love for my husband made her fight for her life. To detox her, we would give her the homeopathic for one day of one week and then she would rest another week. Each time she recuperated from the detoxing effects, she seemed to get stronger. The main part of this process took about ten weeks.

During the detox we began to notice changes in Suzie so this report of her condition after beginning the detox program did not happen instantly, but considering how long it took her to get in the unhealthy state she was in, it seemed like nearly overnight. Suzie's cataracts had improved by 50% and she was no longer walking into furniture. She could hear noises that she had ignored before and her bark was strong. The fatty tumor reduced to its original size. She had a tooth that was very loose at the beginning of the program that we were sure she would lose but it tightened up and stayed put. ALL the warts disappeared! Suzie began running around like a puppy with no apparent arthritis. Her temperament improved to her sweet old self -- I should say, new young self. She no longer coughed and the fluids were at normal levels around the heart and lungs. We had stopped administering the hormone and she also was no longer spotting! What's more, Suzie's coat was the thickest we had ever seen it. Her fur was shining and we even had to begin trimming her "feathers" for the sake of hygiene.

We were so surprised at how much she improved! We vowed then to never give any animal or child shots and would provide the best diet we could afford. Suzie lived three more happy healthy years! Most people mistook her for a puppy; a real example that you are never too old to learn to be healthy and have energy.

At nearly seventeen, Suzie had about ten days when her health plummeted sharply. She could not lie to sleep and coughed all night the last two nights. The holistic vet had educated us about the signs of healthy animals nearly the end of their life span, when the body just could not support their lives much longer. Healthy animals die in a relatively short time and do not suffer with chronic problems for long periods as Suzie had done years before. Evaluating the situation of her immediate bad health continuing downward regardless of efforts, her age and previous care, we felt that her time was near. My husband decided to put her down rather than to have her suffer. To do that we went back to the original vet who had cared for her all the years before the last three.

We will never forget what the vet said to us that day. First, he looked at her file and asked if Suzie was really nearly seventeen years old. Then he said he was surprised that she lived that long as he has never seen any dogs of her breed live pass thirteen years in all the years he had been in practice. Alan and I looked at each other and smiled. We honestly were convinced that Suzie would have died at thirteen years if we had continued conventional care and had not tried an alternative way to improve her health. It is a difficult thing to say good-bye to a loyal loving pet but when we remembered that we had given her three additional years of good health, it eased our minds.

This picture was taken when Suzie was 8 years old. At this point she was only four years older than the previous picture, but the white on her face and the general look of the eyes shows that her health had been to deteriorating and she was in some pain then also. Although her health declined during the next five years before the detox at 13 years of age, this was generally how she looked 8 years after this picture. It was almost as if she had reversed the aging effects! The only noticeable difference she showed at 16 years of age in comparison to this picture was that her hair was much thicker and she was a little more white around the eyes, which sparkled with energy and youthfulness.

~ My Lord, thank you for Your guidance, even through a dog, to help me learn about alternatives in health. ~

1 comment:

  1. I've been trying to comment on this particular post for forever! lol Anyway, as you know, our cats are shelter animals & they smelt really bad for a long time. It spun me out because I've never had cats that smelled. I added rae chicken necks to their diet, hand groomed them constantly & took them both outside for part of each day. It took nearly 12 months but the smell is completely gone from Kirby. Marlow, who is less active, more an indoor cat, & has longer silkier, hair still has a faint odour but I am hopeful that too will eventually go.

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