Decisions, Decisions



Last month, in this space, I spilled the beans: My own dog’s health is precipitous. I’m doing what I feel is best for him, but life with Rupert these days is a bit of a roller coaster. Last week, he looked awful, with red, inflamed skin and tender, goopy ears. This week his skin seems more quiescent, paler. Next week, who knows?

Steps we’ve taken: I’ve found a food that he seems to be digesting well – his poop looks perfect and he’s holding his weight well. I’m giving him herbs on and off – slippery elm to soothe his skin and digestive tract and a echinacea/goldenseal combination that is supposed to boost his resistance to infection. I think they make a difference; his skin is less red.

He’s had allergy tests, so we know what he’s oversensitive to. But I’m holding off on allergy shots – little doses of the antigens that sort of overwhelm the body’s misguided defenders, which are attacking the body itself. I want to give the homeopathy a chance to work without interference before I throw one more thing into the mix. (Oh yeah, homeopathy, too.)

I know that stress definitely plays a part in his response to his itching/scratching cycle; he’s a highly sensitive soul who hates chaos. Send a few kids running through the house yelling, and he’ll dive into a scratching fit, chewing like mad on his forearm, or a patch on his side. So I try to keep him with me every minute, so I can stroke him when he gets nervous.

We hadn’t seen Paws, our wiggly two-days-a-week daycare puppy for a while; he matured and graduated from our care. But he spent a week with us recently when his family was on vacation, and that was apparently enough stress to set Rupie off again. I should say, the stress of having Paws here and the flea or two that Paws brought with him set Rupe off again. Feeling a little guilty, I put some Advantage on Paws, making him the designated flea-killer, and that seemed to take care of that.

I’m painfully aware that there is also a lot that I haven’t done for Rupert. In the past month, my phone messages (and email, and “snail” mail) has been voluminous, as many of you have responded with suggestions for treatment. Many of you have found yourselves in similar straits with one of your dogs, and here is how you fixed it:

• Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET)

• Tellington TTouch, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, energy work

• Adding raw foods; eliminating grains; eliminating any foods that contain pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics

• Commercial food, brand X, Y, or Z

• Supplements, including: fatty acids, fresh garlic, colostrum, cider vinegar, more herbs, and quercitin (an antiviral herb extract)

• Shampoo X, Y, and Z, vinegar baths

• Medication and medicated shampoo to combat a potential yeast overgrowth on the skin

• And many more . . .

I am grateful for your suggestions; I’m learning a lot, and I plan, over time, to give a few of these things a try. I’ll also assign some articles on some of these subjects; we might be calling you for more detail on how they worked for you!

But I’ll admit that sometimes, knowing that more alternatives are available is frustrating. The more you know, the more you think you ought to be doing. And there is only so much that you can subject a little body to at once.

At this point, I totally sympathize with people who have something like cancer, where everyone knows about some treatment that saved somebody once. Frustrating as this is, Rupert and I have to find our own path, and take it one step at a time. We’ll keep you posted . . . and thanks for your support.

-Nancy Kerns


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