By Dr. Becker
This month’s featured patient is Bubba. Bubba is a 7 year-old “Victorian” bulldog, a designer breed that is a cross between an American bulldog and an English bulldog. Bubba was purchased at a local pet store known to acquire animals from puppy mills, but Bubba’s parents didn’t know this.
Bubba’s Medical History
I met Bubba in July 2008. He was at that time a 3 year-old male dog who was miserable thanks to the “atopic dermatitis” he’d been suffering with for two and a half years. The poor guy was yeasty, itchy, inflamed and infected.
When I reviewed the reports from his regular vet, I could see that even in his first 6 months of life Bubba was given all kinds of chemicals including dewormers, antibiotics, vaccines, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
As I dug deeper into his records (see my notes in the right hand margin), I discovered poor Bubba had received over 30 rounds of oral antibiotics and 14 rounds of topical (ear) antibiotics. And not once in those 44 instances was a culture performed to determine what type of bacteria the dog was dealing with.
He had also received a tremendous number of vaccinations in his short life – over 37 individual vaccines – and not one titer.
Given the astounding number of drugs he’d been given, none of which had relieved his suffering, it’s no wonder Bubba’s local vet ultimately referred him to Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s dermatology department in October 2007.
At Purdue it was discovered Bubba was positive for MRSA due to flagrant antibiotic abuse.
Bubba underwent extensive allergy testing at Purdue (pages 1-2) and had multiple commercial allergy panels done as well. The results showed he had sensitivities to foods (pages 3-7), environmental allergens, yeast and dust mites (pages 8-10).
Bubba’s owners were at their wit’s end when I met them in the summer of 2008.
They had invested several thousand dollars to help their dog, and he was worse, not better. And poor Bubba was truly miserable. He had open lesions and pustules on his body and a really foul-smelling ear.
My Healing Protocol for Bubba
I completed a blood test which measured Bubba’s innate ability to produce antibodies, or immunoglobulins (specifically IgA), which Bubba failed; he was genetically immune-incompetent. This genetic predisposition set him up, from birth, to struggle with recurrent skin infections.
So with Bubba, I started where I always start: the diet. He had been on “hypoallergenic” food for years already when I met him at the tender age of 3.
He had completed several food elimination trials with no success. He was no longer eating chicken or beef, had been on Hill’s Prescription Z/D, and other hydrolyzed protein diets. Nothing worked.
I selected a novel protein diet again (rabbit and pheasant), but this time eliminating all carbs, including potato.
Bubba’s Slow but Steady Progress
Bubba’s parents weren’t impressed with his progress at his recheck in August. In fact, they still weren’t impressed in September … but things slowly began shifting right around that time.
Bubba was subtly better at his October recheck and notably better by November 2008.
By spring 2009, he had continued to improve, but he had a flare-up of the yeast problem, requiring a protocol change for the summer. He was better again by fall.
A New Problem is Diagnosed
In the spring of 2010, the local vet diagnosed Bubba with elbow dysplasia and recommended surgery. During that visit, his allergies were barely mentioned because he was doing so well. Instead, his health issues had shifted, which is not uncommon for puppy mill dogs.
I suggested trying a more conservative approach first, knowing we always had surgery as an option if we needed it.
We focused on weight control and muscle toning, began supplementing with chondroprotective agents and Adequan, and provided natural pain management.
By his fall 2010 appointment, Bubba was doing great. He was no longer limping and the range of motion in his elbows was normal. His allergy symptoms remained under control.
At Bubba’s most recent appointment in spring 2012, his body was stable.
Bubba’s Owners: Determined to Beat the Odds
The wonderful thing about this dog is despite his genetic predisposition (theoretically speaking) to weak DNA and a lifetime of physical misery of one kind or another, his owners weren’t having it. Despite the odds, they were determined to give Bubba the best possible quality of life they could manage for him.
They began titering rather than submitting Bubba to unnecessary vaccinations. They embraced a raw food lifestyle for him. And they have accomplished what they set out to do – make him happy and comfortable in the body he was given.
Bubba’s parents meet his genetic challenges (most recently the diagnosis of elbow dysplasia) with optimism, determined to maintain his excellent quality of life despite the genetic cards he was dealt.
If you view Bubba’s situation from a statistical perspective, he should have degenerated and succumbed to one or more of his genetic problems long ago. Without the aggressive approach to wellness his owners took, he very likely would have.
Instead, Bubba is the healthiest he’s been in his 7 years of life, thanks to his parents’ desire to give him every opportunity to heal, including in “non-traditional” ways.
Has his medical treatment been frustrating and expensive? Absolutely. Has it been totally rewarding, curative and perfect? No.
But this hasn’t dissuaded Bubba’s owners from the ultimate goal of offering him the best quality of life possible. He still has allergies and elbow dysplasia, but he is able to live his life comfortably and happily.