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Old June 12th, 2008, 06:20 PM
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Acupuncture

Well, it's official... Tommy is now receiving way better health care than I am.

We went to a vet who specializes in holistic/homeopathic stuff and traditional chinese medicine. According to her, Tommy suffers from problems with his spleen chi (otherwise known as the gu chi - gucci - considering the money he's cost us, I can't stop laughing at that). While I may not believe the chi stuff and other things, the stuff that she said really does match his symptoms - everything from his vomiting and poor eating habits to his sleeping habits and many other things I just thought were just his personality. Apparently problems like this lead to a condition the Chinese call 'cold stomach', where the stomach has to work extra hard to digest things. So basically, while we have ruled out every illness known to western science, Chinese medicine recognizes that sometimes the system just isn't working properly even though nothing in particular is broken.

She has prescribed acupuncture treatments (we've had our second today, she doesn't necessarily think we'll need another), a super-strong (horse strength!) probiotic, continued use of our digestive enzymes, and an herbal supplement called Xiao Yao San or Rambling Ease Powder (anybody familiar with herbal remedies here?). The powder is supposed to strengthen him generally inside; googling it shows that it's used for calming the whole body, increasing energy, easing anxiety, strengthening the liver, tonifying the blood, and improving the spleen-liver-stomach.

Something I found interesting... when she asked what we fed him, I told her that we had tried raw but he wouldn't eat it. She was not surprised, and basically said that 'cold stomach' patient wouldn't want that at all. While she's a firm believer in feeding dogs 'real' food, she would prefer him on home cooked food instead, NOT raw.

I must admit that when she was throwing around all the mystic-sounding 'chi' stuff, I was really doubtful about her. However, the other stuff she said made real sense, and she's not trying to push her treatments for life or anything - she really thinks that 2-3 acupuncture treatments combined with the herbal remedy is really all he needs. The fact that she didn't just try to shove raw down our throats was nice, too - although she does believe in it a great deal, it seemed to give more credibility that she thought something else would be better for our situation.

I don't know if you guys believe in energies and chi's and all that jazz... but really, could it be this easy? She truly believes that while he probably won't ever be 100%, he should be a great deal better with all of this. She's totally confident. While she's never seen a case quite this chronic, she was quite surprised that I kept asking her if she truly thought he could get better. Could it actually be this easy after all? We've thrown about $15,000 at vets, specialists, and e-vets over the course of his little life, and he's only 22 months old - I have such a hard time believing that a few hundred dollars worth of pin-sticking and natural herbs could really be the solution. But here's hoping!!

Anybody have any good sites for homecooking, by the way? I keep finding sites that give you the ingredients... but I'm at a complete loss as to how to actually fix a balanced meal, much less a balanced weekly menu - I have trouble even doing that for myself. I mean, I have meat, it's cooked, what do I do now, LOL. I have the supplements she recommended for it, like the omega oils and the kelp, I just don't know what to do with them exactly.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 07:19 PM
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I think more and more western medicine is becoming aware of thing like what is referred to as 'chi' is TCM. I honestly don't think it's crazy hippie insanity, it's just another way of understanding the systems within the body. Why do I have this opinion? Because like you it makes a whole lot of sense when I look at my dog as a whole and start to put various pieces together (like "personality" traits being linked to physical conditions for example).

I'm so interested in how this will work for Tommy. I hope you can keep updating as time goes on.

There are a few books you might want to look for with regards to home cooking.


Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog, Better Food for Dogs: a complete cookbook and nutrition guide and my favorite standby/bible Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs and Cats. All have pretty easy to follow guides on the what needs to be included for a complete homemade diet, Pitcairn especially does a good job of covering calciumhosphorus ratios and lists specific supplements you may want to use. All those books, in my personal opinion, are a tad heavy on the grains, but that's just me.

Another book you may find helpful, and which also talks about feeding home cooked, is Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs.

I supplement with fish oil and kelp (I just plop the gel caps in their bowls and toss some powdered kelp in there along with it), but Basil and Streets are probably 5 times the size of Tommy, so I'm not sure what the dosage would be for him
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Old June 12th, 2008, 07:36 PM
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Thanks, Pitgrrl... I'm going to look for those books tomorrow. I'm the kind of person who needs cookbooks that say 'now cut this into this type of pieces... put on dish beside this... LOL.

Isn't it weird when you start looking at the entire picture the way chinese medicine does? Things I had never considered - like him being snarly when picked up, sleeping late in the mornings, hating the cold weather, being scared of almost the entire world, startling easily - are possibly part of his condition. It's an interesting view of things, and when I was googling the herbs it was neat to see what a wide range of conditions they cover.

She gave me the doses of the fish oil and kelp, I just wasn't sure what to do with it - I mean, right now if we make a food that he can eat we save him a bit of meat, cut it up for him (he has chewing issues because his jaw is very undershot), and then put his plate down. So would I just take the meat pieces, mix it with the fish oil and kelp and other supplements like some kind of marinade and then give it to him that way?

I must admit, I was pretty doubtful after our first visit... Tommy vomited every single day for a week after his acupuncture. The vet says that's normal though, that sometimes they can get worse before they get better. He's shown some other signs of improvement, though. He's had a bit more energy this week, sleeps a bit less than usual in the evenings, he's a bit more playful. He's a bit more alert in the mornings too, although he's still a pain to wake up and get out of bed for the morning business! The biggest change though is his drinking habits. He used to drink almost nothing all day, then pull a camel act in the evenings drinking for a good 20 minutes at a time. Ever since the first acupuncture treatment he's been drinking little sips of water all day long - that may not mean a lot to anybody else, but it makes ME feel better, since usually the only thing he gets treated for is dehydration.

Another thing I really liked was that she offered to show me how to give him sub-q fluids if he gets really bad again, rather then having to keep him at the vet's office on an iv for a couple of days. Not only does that save a ton of money, but stress seems to make him worse and what's more stressful than being stuck in a cage at the vet's! She's a mobile vet, so she can come to our house for stuff too.

I love our regular vet, and I'm not thinking of leaving him at all... he's just a fabulous doctor whose love for animals just radiates from every fibre of his being. If I can keep the traditional Chinese medicine working in combination with our regular vet, I'm hoping we might find a balance that works best for Tommy.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 07:52 PM
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You're making me want to drive to Ontario to see the same vet if only.....

Basil and Streets will just eat the fish oil caps like a treat, but usually I either poke a hole and just squirt in on their food or toss the whole pill in. Start slow though and work up to the full dose, otherwise you might have some nasty poop to deal with. the kelp too just gets tossed it, they seem to like the fishiness of both.

The first three books I mentioned all have actual recipes to follow. Better food for Dogs is like a human cook book, complete with dishes like Lamb Souvlaki in a Pita. It's a fun book and has good nutritional info, but I found it the least helpful for Streets as it's too much variety for him to deal with.

Between Pitcairn and th eHolistic Guide though you should be able to make up a menu suited to Tommy's needs. Actually, Four Paws Five Directions might be good too as it lists which meats and grains are cooling or warming, season and health condition appropriate, etc. which may be considerations for you.
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Old June 12th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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Tommysmom "I don't know if you guys believe in energies and chi's and all that jazz... but really, could it be this easy? "

I do believe in the energy meridians and in energy healing but whether I do or you do, or not - if what the vet is doing and suggesting is working - go with the flow! I wish you every bit of luck possible and I hope everything works well for you.

A question for you - is Acidophilus one of the digestive enzymes you are using?
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Old June 12th, 2008, 08:51 PM
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if what the vet is doing and suggesting is working - go with the flow! I wish you every bit of luck possible and I hope everything works well for you.
That goes from me too , you have tried so many things ... now you don't have anything to loose , good luck to Tommy
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Old June 12th, 2008, 10:17 PM
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I use Dr. Pitcairn's book for recipes to feed Lukka. I don't follow it exactly as she is sensitive to grains, but I do like that he gives you a health powder (four or five supplements) mix to add to each meal.
I hope you are on the right track to finding a cure for whatever ails poor Tommy.
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Old June 13th, 2008, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by JanM View Post
I wish you every bit of luck possible and I hope everything works well for you.

A question for you - is Acidophilus one of the digestive enzymes you are using?
Yes, we're using acidophilus... just a much, much stronger one than I was using before. Acidophilus and digestive enzymes have actually been the only thing over the last year that seemed to help, so hopefully this super-duper-horse-strength dose will do some good things!
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Old June 13th, 2008, 11:23 PM
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Thanks for the good wishes, Frenchy and Lukka'sma! We've got our 's crossed here that something works.

Pitgrrl, thanks for the book referrals! I picked up the Dr Pitcairn book, along with the Holistic Guide and the Better Food for Dogs ones and I've been reading all night. It's a bit weird to read the holistic one... if you read the descriptions about the seasons/colours/ailments etc, they describe Tommy to a T. Even my husband (the sweetest man on the face of the planet, but he doesn't even believe in acupuncture much less chi and that sort of thing! Bless him though, he took Tommy for his latest acupuncture visit and wrote down everything the vet said to him so he could tell me) was pretty surprised when I read him some of the stuff it said.

It's a bit early to tell if this is the solution or not, but at least it's something... and I think we'll see some definite improvement. I just can't believe I never looked at this sort of thing before. I would not change what we've done in the past to rule out more concrete illnesses and conditions, that certainly had to be done... but this sort of concept seems to really fit our situation. If nothing else, I think much of what I'm learning will help Tommy to get stronger in other ways so maybe his system can deal better with what is wrong with it.
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Old June 14th, 2008, 01:44 AM
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I'm one who firmly believes in the energy in the body - it being there, and also it being affected by things that happen surrounding the animal or person.

Duffy goes to a homeopath vet who has a wonderful way of explaining things. He had suggested Duffy see his college for acupuncture to relieve some of the stress on her kidneys and tension deep within her muscles. I never did get the time to go, but was using a suggested massaging brush (Zoom Groom by Kong). By the next visit a couple of weeks later, she felt better was acting more upbeat & when he pressed into & massaged her back over the kidneys her energy was so improved that the acupuncture was no longer neccessary in her case.

Alot of things affect the energy that you might not realize: moving, the loss of a companion, being attacked, new animals in the neighbourhood, even negative thoughts etc
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Old June 14th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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Good luck! I'm keeping my for you and Tommy.
I think it's great that you are combining western & traditional medicine to find the solution that will work for you.
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Old June 14th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommysmom View Post
If nothing else, I think much of what I'm learning will help Tommy to get stronger in other ways so maybe his system can deal better with what is wrong with it.
Ya know, of all the things I've tried with Streets not all have worked for his specific "issues", or brought a total solution, but they've still been worth it because over all he's in better shape at 7 than he was a 2. Basil too has benefited from changes we've made, so nothing is lost really.
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Old June 14th, 2008, 04:41 PM
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We've used Rambling Ease Powder for our senior samoyed Rose who was loosing lots of hair in her chest & abdominal area and scratching. The holistic vet prescribed an Elimination Diet, and Sea Greens that contains kelp and finally accupuncture. She's better.
The kelp contains sodium so I'm wondering if that's why Tommy is drinking throughout the day.
Good luck with it.
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Old June 14th, 2008, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Tommysmom View Post
Yes, we're using acidophilus... just a much, much stronger one than I was using before. Acidophilus and digestive enzymes have actually been the only thing over the last year that seemed to help, so hopefully this super-duper-horse-strength dose will do some good things!
My heart goes out to you! I, too, fell as if I'm running into a brick wall finding a food that Bobby can eat without a major reaction. We've used Acidophilus, Q10, Serrapeptase (which helped immediately), kelp, - lord knows what else. It's a very difficult time for both you so I hope and pray you're on the right path!
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Old June 28th, 2008, 10:39 AM
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hey tommysmom, how is Tommy doing?
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Old June 28th, 2008, 05:06 PM
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*warning - this ended up way longer than I thought it would be, LOL!

Tommy is doing pretty well, actually (insert knock on wood here!).

His vomiting is still happening, but less frequently... however, that could very well be due to the time of year, alignment of the planets, etc. We might just be at the end of a pukey cycle.

BUT...

Ever since he started his acupuncture treatments, we've been seeing some other changes, great ones.

He's more alert when awake, more curious about the world around him, and much less scared of everything. He actually goes to the fence now to try and see the doggy next door, rather than ignoring him and rushing inside. If he's inside and hears neighbourhood doggies barking, he wants to go outside to see what the fuss is about.

We went over to some friends' place with 4 other couples. Normally Tommy would explore a bit (he knows their house really well, it's his second home!) and then try to go to sleep on my lap. He spent hours wandering around, and then decided it was time for everybody to give him attention - he actually went right up to people and sat in front of them, and if it didn't work he put his paws on their knees. He even ate treats galore, which NEVER happens if he's not at home! (I know, I know, it's rude to allow your dog to put his paws on somebody, and normally we would discourage it - but he just usually shies away from strangers, even people he knows except for us - people were just really happy to see him do it, and he was very polite about it). While normally he'd be scared of everybody, this time he sat/downed/spoke/high five'd for treats - he was a total show off!

We went to my sis' house too, and Tommy - for the first time ever! - was not scared of her dog. He didn't seem to pay her any attention at all, he was too busy exploring and getting ear scratches from people.

So, this really long winded story is really just to say that while his digestive issues seem to slowly be improving, we have seen some really amazing changes in general. They might be small, but they're the kind of changes that really are important signs in his general well-being. Things that I wasn't totally convinced were part of his 'condition', even though TCM claims they are. I was wrong. My dog is a happier dog.

I'm not sure that acupuncture or holistic medicine is the way to go for everything, but I really, really, really have become convinced that it is going to be the solution for Tommy's issues - he may never get rid of this totally, but the improvements in such a short time have been truly wonderful to see. Now if only I had found all this before spending $17,000 in the last 19 months.

Honestly, Pitgrrl, if you can find anybody there like we've found here, it might help a lot. I know your issues have been slightly different from ours, but also very similar. It really does seem as though TCM is the only thing that has any theory about this kind of stuff and how to treat these issues. I don't know if they have associations for vets who practice this kind of medicine, but if they do maybe our vet can recommend somebody closer to you if there is one? No amount of googling or phoning located one here, I happened to find her by shmoozing with somebody in a raw food store... maybe there is somebody near you that you just haven't found yet. I know you were interested in it, so if you like, I can at least ask our vet if she knows anybody in other provinces.

Oh... and thanks for asking. Sorry to ramble on, though.
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Old June 28th, 2008, 05:56 PM
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I'm glad Tommy is doing well, it's great to hear/read

When I first used homeopathy with Streets I saw similar changes in his demeanor. He became somewhat less terrified of thunderstorms, calmer around other dogs, just a general chilling out all around.

I'm on the search for a TCM vet, I'll let you know if I ever track one down, we can compare notes.
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Old June 29th, 2008, 12:24 AM
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Wonderful update Tommysmom

Tommy's energy being able to flow to previously blocked areas is obviously showing signs of a more relaxed, alert & confident dog.

In time hopefully this will help to reduce the "pukey periods"
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Old June 29th, 2008, 12:39 AM
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Great update Tommysmom ......WOO HOO for Tommy.
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