Saturday, January 07, 2012

Observing, Shifting... holistic dog care over time

Managing a long-term condition like Vida's cancer is a lesson in observation over time. Watching for and acknowledging the importance of the subtle changes is the foundation of good care.

Dogs don't come to us and tell us about these little changes. We have to look for clues in their behavior, body topography, movement, eating & drinking habits, elimination, fur,etc.

Vida's been on her current supplements to control her tumors since August. The primary one is Beta-Thym, a "natural cortisone" that is what reduced the size of her tumors this summer and has continued to do so without fail. 

It seems, though, that after getting the tumors under the control the plant sterols started wandering around the body to find more to do. For the last couple of months she's been looking and acting a little "cortisone-y." By that I mean looking like dog that's on synthetic cortisone (like prednisone) - hungrier, thirstier, rounder, sheddier. Her harness was tighter, though her legs and face were still lean. I was filling empty bowls of water instead of replacing dirty water as I've done for years. Her fur was shedding off of her in a way that it never has. She was even less active.

So I made some adjustments. I cut back her Beta-Thym by 25% - 1/2 tablet in the morning & a full tablet in the evening. After two weeks I saw only the smallest improvement so I started her on coconut oil. Almost immediately, much more quickly than I expected, her drinking reduced and her torso got thinner. She's also resumed her active behavior level.

It's been about two weeks since I started the coconut oil and everything still looks good, except she's still shedding. Not quite as badly, but still abnormally. I'm going to give it another couple of weeks before I consider cutting her Beta-Thym again. 

This micro-adjusting is totally normal. At least it should be. So often owners land on a routine for long-term care and then stop paying attention to the subtle shifts. By the time they reassess the situation something is really out whack - which is harder to rebalance and sometimes results in a new or renewed problem that requires serious care.

Endocrine imbalances, inflammation....these are often ignored in our own bodies, so imagine trying to see it in your dog. That's why making observation a habit is so important. It's the changes you'll notice.
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