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Old March 1st, 2009, 05:32 PM
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Sib.HuskyMom Sib.HuskyMom is offline
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Perianal Fistula in German Shepherd

Hello all,
I'm looking for some information about this dreadful disease, and hoping some of the wise ones here can help me out.

My in-laws have a 3 year old German Shepherd, and about a year and a half ago, he was diagnosed with Perianal Fistula. They've tried a variety of treatment options and have spoken to 3 different vets about it (2 here in Ontario, and 1 in South Carolina where they spend their winters).

They've been told that surgery options have a very low success rate. So right now, they're mainly treating it with a daily dose of prednisone, which seems to be working better than anything they've tried in the past. The problem is, the prednisone is making the dog gain a lot of weight.
He's up to 125lbs now. Granted, he's not a small-framed boy to begin with, but idealy, he should be around 105-110 for his bone structure.
They've recently cut back on the dosage of prednisone, and he still seems to be doing ok, so hopefully he can start to lose a little weight.

My question is, is there anything else that people have heard of that work in fighting this disease? Any alternate treatment methods?

The vet also told them to keep him on a food that is potato and duck based, and then they just add in a little bit of pumpkin puree with each meal to help regulate his stool.
Is there any other dietary suggestions that people have heard of to help?

Just hoping to hear some suggestions on how I can help my poor "brother-in-law"


Last edited by Sib.HuskyMom; March 1st, 2009 at 05:51 PM.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 01:03 PM
kandy kandy is offline
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I don't have any personal experience with the disease - but it is immunologic. Have they tried the topical drug tacrolimus instead of the prednisone? I know that the pred is cheaper but apparently the topical works very well and doesn't have any systemic side effects.

Has the dog ever had duck as it's protein source? I have read that treatment requires a novel protein source. Since the disease is related to colitis, IBD, and the like - I would suggest a grain free food (or grain free homecooked). Grain and fat seem to be the biggest problems for dogs with these kinds of digestive problems. I would also recommend a probiotic enzyme.

I hope things go well for them!
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 02:58 PM
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Sylvie Sylvie is offline
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I have had 2 dogs with this problem. Not very pleasant for them. The fact that he is gaining weight means that he is eating more. They, unfortunately, are starving on pred. Depending on the dosage.

My male was put on a study in Guelph, (can't remember the name of the drug) (they give it to people who have had transplants to shut down the immune system) It worked, he was free from the problem for over a year. Unfortunately, he passed away from cancer. A result of the drug, don't know.

Then, my female Shepherd ended up the same problem. Tried to get her on the program at Guelph, but now they were amputating the tail. Did not want her to go through this, so I was able, with the help of my vet, to get the medicine, although it was very expensive, but she was worth it. However, it did not do anything for her, so we were stuck with the preds. She did grow out of it, don't know why, but she lived to the ripe old age of 14.

Good luck with your bil dog. Advise them to watch what he eats, that is what makes them gain so much.

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Old March 3rd, 2009, 01:01 PM
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corky/max corky/max is offline
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Perianal fistulas

Will quote frm my vet book: Fistulas are draining tracts in the perianal skin caused by infection of the skin glands in and around the anus. Initially they appear as draining puncture holes. Later they coalesce to form open sores and draining tracts. The discharge is foul-smelling. Occasionally fistulas connect internally with the anal sacs.
Perianal fistulas occur more often in German Shepard dogs. There may be an association with breeds that have a low-slung, broad-based tail.
Symptoms are similar to those of an anal sac infection. There may be a foul-smelling discharge. The diagnosis is made by visual inspection of the perianal area.
TREATMENT: Surgery is the most effective treatment . Perianal fistulas are difficult to cure and are associated with postoperative complications and recurrences. Early treatment offers the best chance for success. (End of quotes)
German Shephards have a problem with getting the nutrients out of their food. Please go to http://www.i-love-dogs.com/forums/ and see a post I made there -- go to the forum titled Dog Health and Nutrition--page 3--Find post called German Shepard-Nutrition (by me, Corky/Max) This dog should definately be on probiotics since it is on prednisone (I hate to see any dog on that stuff--prednisone). I have a feeling that feeding equal portions of pure pumpkin (not the pie filling--just plain pure canned pumpkin.) and plain yogurt--with the acidiphillus and other good cultures--check the label for these active cultures will be beneficial to the dog. Not being able to get all the nutrients that they need causes a lot of health problems for these poor German Shepards including skin problems of all kind. Prevention is the key.--- Read post I have in other forum. From the sounds of this problem that this Shepard has (preventative measures prob. too late--but ---there should be some kind of other improvements---as proper food is everything to trying to keep a dog healthy!!

Last edited by corky/max; March 3rd, 2009 at 01:41 PM.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 04:04 PM
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Sib.HuskyMom Sib.HuskyMom is offline
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Thanks everyone for your help and resources.
It's been several months since Phantom's last outbreak, so hopefully we can keep it that way. .
Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the treatment he was on before. It was costing about $5-600 / month and really wasn't helping at all. They thought they were near the end for their young boy, and tried the prednisone as a last resort / shot in the dark.
Thankfully, it's been the only thing that's helped, so I know they're pretty leary to take him off it.

I was doing a bit of reading last night and found that alot of people seem to recommend a fish and potato diet, so I'll definitely look into that some more and I'll take a look at your post corky/ max too. Thanks!
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