By Dr. Becker
Each month during the past year, I've written about one of my clinic patients and explained how I was able to help him or her using primarily holistic, alternative healing therapies, sometimes in combination with conventional treatments.
This is the essence of integrative veterinary medicine – bringing the safest, most helpful conventional and alternative medicine tools to the treatment and prevention of disease in animals.
One of my primary goals here at Mercola Healthy Pets is to inform and educate pet owners and pet healthcare professionals about the importance of complementary and alternative medicine in helping pets get well and stay well.
The patients I select for my monthly Real Story features are the honest-to-goodness living proof of what I know, what I practice, and what I'm talking about when I discuss the value of holistic and integrative veterinary care.
The following is a brief look back at some of the wonderful, courageous animals, who along with their dedicated owners made my job so incredibly gratifying in 2012.
Angel, a four-year-old Husky with a serious autoimmune disease
We kicked off our real stories series in February this year with Angel, a gorgeous four year-old male Husky who suffers from Masticatory Muscle Myositis -- also called Masticatory Myositis (MM) -- which is an autoimmune disorder.
Conventional treatment for MM is a long-term, high dose of Prednisone, a powerful steroid. Angel's owners, Kelley and Bruce, were very familiar with the drug and its long list of disturbing side effects. They viewed treating their sick pet with Prednisone as a situation in which "the cure is worse than the disease."
Fortunately, Angel's parents opted to try to find a safer, more holistic way to treat their dog, which led them to me. And I'm happy to report we were able to stabilize Angel's condition using non-drug remedies coupled with a raw diet and appropriate supplements.
Tate, a senior Norwegian Elkhound with incurable liver cancer
Fortunately, after learning Tate's cancer diagnosis, her dad researched options for treatment. He discovered that chemotherapy and surgery, while still recommended by many vets, have not proved statistically beneficial for hepatocellular carcinoma, and can ultimately reduce the quality of life that remains for the patient.
Tate's natural healing protocol is extensive. We can't cure her incurable tumor, but by supporting her primary organ of detoxification (the liver), and assisting her body's ability to recognize and address abnormal cell growth, we are extending the quantity and quality of Tate's life.
Anubis, a 12-year-old Husky girl and breast cancer survivor
Not only did I need to remove Anubis's mammary tumors, I also had to discover the reason for her toxic estrogen levels -- the most likely trigger for the cancer.
Following the surgery, I put Anubis on a natural agent to reduce her estrogen levels, we improved the quality of her diet, and started her on an immune support supplement which she'll take for the rest of her life.
Anubis has now been free of additional mammary tumors for over a year, and her estrogen levels remain normal.
Myra Moonbeam, an adorable Boston Terrier who developed a terrible autoimmune disease following a Lyme vaccine
After her diagnosis of granulomatous meningoencephalitis, or GME, an inflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, Myra was placed on high doses of two powerful immuno-suppressive drugs.
Myra's smart mom researched the side effects of the drugs and realized she didn't want her pet on those medications long term.
My healing protocol for Myra centered on cleansing her body of the toxic effects of vaccines and the immuno-suppressant drugs, and supporting renewal of nerve tissue damaged by the GME.
Fortunately, Myra made a full recovery from her GME. She's now a healthy lady of nine who enjoys her raw food diet and a wonderful quality of life.
Bubba, a "designer" Bulldog with a horrible skin condition
I met Bubba in July 2008. He was completely 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.
I discovered poor Bubba had, by the age of three, already 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.
Bubba made slow but steady progress under my care. But then he developed elbow dysplasia. Fortunately, we were able to deal with that issue without the recommended surgery.
The wonderful thing about Bubba is despite his genetic predisposition (theoretically speaking) to weak DNA and a lifetime of physical misery of one kind or another, his owners refused to give up. Despite the odds, they were determined to give Bubba the best possible quality of life they could manage for him, and at age 7, their dog is the healthiest he's ever been.
Zena, an American mastiff with diabetes, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and oral cancer
I first successfully treated Zena's diabetes with a pharmaceutical grade natural supplement and a raw, carb-free diet, but she returned a few years later with an incurable lymphoma of the hard palate. The tumor on the roof of Zena's mouth was causing horrifying symptoms and she was suffering terribly.
Since Zena had a number of health problems to address, the first thing I did was formulate a plan to go after the most pressing issues first and work down the list from there.
I'm grateful to report Zena is coming up on two years living a good quality life with a diagnosis of incurable cancer. She has no visible signs of an oral tumor. Zena is an amazing success story thanks to her resilient spirit and her owners' commitment to address her extra-large and aging body's ever-changing needs.
Mandy, a senior soft-coated Wheaten Terrier with chronic digestive issues, pancreatitis and cancer
Mandy, like many pets today, had chronic, long-standing gastrointestinal inflammation. Prior to the pancreatitis, Mandy's owner had tried a large variety of diets in an effort to resolve her dog's digestive issues. She had also been to the vet countless times, year after year. Each entry in her medical record was the same: patient doesn't feel well, is vomiting and has diarrhea.
I was able to resolve Mandy's GI inflammation and the pancreatitis with dietary changes and appropriate supplements. Unfortunately, she developed a nerve sheath tumor the following year, which we also had to work through.
Mandy has remained cancer-free since she completed treatment in 2010. She has had no further episodes of pancreatitis or digestive symptoms. By resolving Mandy's long-standing GI inflammation, my hope is that we have improved her overall immune health and vitality, reducing the potential for uncontrolled abnormal cell growth to recur in her body.
Biddie, a 15-year-old male cat with out-of-control diabetes
By the time I met Biddie in mid-2009, his diabetes had caused dramatic weight loss. But his worst symptom by far was diabetic neuropathy. The poor kitty had spent the last six months dragging his useless hind limbs around behind him.
I treated Biddie by making some adjustments to his diet (only as many as he would tolerate, since it was important that he keep eating), added some targeted supplements, and switched him to a different type of insulin.
By August 2009, Biddie's blood sugar was under control, and the strength in his rear limbs returned. He remained healthy through 2010 and 2011, and in 2012 we were able to take him off insulin.
Of course, it's impossible to say whether Biddie will need insulin at some point in the future, but at this point in time, he is a thriving, healthy, geriatric kitty that does NOT have diabetes, thanks to his very resilient spirit and his very committed guardian.
Cheyenne, a geriatric Chow/Cocker mix diagnosed with terminal mast cell cancer
When Cheyenne's owner brought her to me back in 2001, she had been given just 4 weeks to 4 months to live after a diagnosis of aggressive, incurable mast cell cancer. Cheyenne's mom had decided not to put her dog through the mostly ineffective traditional chemo-and-radiation protocol.
Since Cheyenne was already eating a homemade raw diet, I focused on supplementation that would combat the cancer and support her natural immune defenses. Our goal was simply to keep Cheyenne feeling well despite her terminal diagnosis.
Cheyenne outlived her original prognosis and in the ensuing years, her mom and I managed her overall health to insure all her organs continued to function efficiently. There were some challenges, including the appearance of another mast cell tumor in 2004, but today at 16 years young Cheyenne still chases squirrels, goes on long walks, and continues to draw joy from every day while living with "terminal" cancer.
Rusty, a 9-year-old Yorkie with a rare form of cancer
Rusty was over-treated for oral infections and other diseases before he eventually received a diagnosis of cutaneous epitheliotropic T-cell lymphosarcoma (CETL), a rare form of cancer with a poor prognosis.
By the time I met Rusty in May 2010, the poor little guy had scabs over 60 percent of his body, secondary infections, flaky skin and a coat in very poor condition.
My healing protocol for Rusty included cancer fighting and immune support supplements, a raw food diet, and twice weekly baths. Thanks to his very committed mom, Rusty celebrated 2 years in remission in May 2012.