Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Canine Pincushion

Monday has become a canine pincushion. She has started seeing Dr. Farr (the same vet that is handling Bourbon's chiropractic care) for acupuncture and herbal medicine to treat her skin issues.

The look fits her don't you think? :)

Monday's Background

When I first adopted Monday she came to me with spots of hair missing (it looked like ringworm) and it actually turned out to be staph infection.

My poor baby...

She was on round after round after round of Cephalexin. Once we had it cleared up and she was off the antibiotics, it would appear again after about a month. We had confirmed the staph infection was secondary to allergies, but Benadryl wasn't helping and I was getting worried about the excessive use of antibiotics. She had also started getting pustules in between her toes on her feet that were bothering her and obviously causing pain :(. She was a mess!


So I did an allergy panel at Iowa State University to help determine what exactly she was allergic to so I could hopefully minimize that in her life. Of course, she was a bit difficult :). It came back that she was allergic to the yeast that commonly affects dogs. So not only does the yeast bother her like it would a normal dog, but it bothers her times two because she's allergic to it. So now I needed to find out how to keep her from getting yeasty! Easier said than done.

She was sad they had to shave off fur :(

I changed her diet first of all - no more kibble. She is fed a raw diet, and hell I think she eats better than we do! That has helped tremendously. She was getting staph infections every other month and now she gets them maybe twice a year if that. I also haven't had to treat her with Cephalexin when she has broken out with Staph because her body's immune system has naturally overcome it. With the diet part under control, I started to look into acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and other holistic treatments.

What is Veterinary Acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points (called acupoints) on the body to stimulate a healing response. Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated. The stimulation can assist the body to heal itself by certain physiological changes. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body's pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid).

Acupuncture has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments and also as preventative medicine. Most vets use it in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal. It's normally used for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain. In addition, regular acupuncture treatment can treat minor sports injuries as they occur and help to keep muscles and tendons resistent to injury. Professional and amateur athletes often use acupuncture as a routine part of their training.

And of course I asked Dr. Farr the common question - does acupuncture hurt? Needles freak me out, and sure these are tiny needles, but doesn't it hurt even a tiny bit? Well for most aimals, the insertion of the needles is virtually painless. And once the needles are in place, there should be no pain. Monday certainly didn't feel any pain and didn't even notice the needles, LOL.

The needles that were used on Monday.

So how does Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine fit in with Monday?

I would still like to see her at a point where she's no longer getting yeasty and also see if we can get her hair to grow back on her hind end and tail. Her tail has just started to loose hair in several places and she certainly doesn't help the cause by having Happy Tail!! (Happy Tail is when the dog wags their tail so hard against furniture, walls, etc. that it breaks open and bleeds. She is excessively happy!)

I made an appointment with Dr. Farr for a consult to see if she thought we would be able to help Monday further or if these were things she would just have to deal with. Which is still better than where she was at when I adopted her! Monday was not an easy patient for acupuncture; needless to say she doesn't really like to sit still outside of the home. Luckily, we are usually the last appointment of the day so there's no one waiting outside to distract her further :).

After the first appointment, we put Monday on the herb Four Marvels. It is generally helpful for a myraid of skin conditions. She was prescribed about a month's worth and then we had a follow-up appointment. At the follow-up she was in the same condition, so it was concluded we should head in a different direction. Next, she was prescribed a blood tonic as she shows many symptoms of a blood deficiency. She only had two weeks' worth of it prescribed because it is rather potent and I would be able to tell immediately if it was working. Nope, that one didn't help either. So she is heading back to try something new.

It is usually a complicated battle with skin issues and of course Monday is anything but typical :). But we will keep trying because she deserves to be as comfortable as possible and can you just imagine how insane it would drive you to be that itchy???

What lengths do you/would you go for your dog's health and comfort?

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