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Leo the Boston Terrier Medical Update: Pet Parent Warnings, Cushings, Medications and Second Opinions

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Leo the Boston Terrier Medical Update: Pet Parent Warnings, Cushings, Medications and Second Opinions

*AS NOTED IN PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS I AM NOT A VETERINARIAN OR DOCTOR OF ANY SORT.
**I AM A COLLEGE DEGREE HOLDING PET OWNER THAT BELIEVES ALL PET PARENTS NEED TO BE PROACTIVE, DO THEIR RESEARCH, FOLLOW THEIR INSTINCT AND ADVOCATE FOR THEIR PETS. IF IN SHARING OUR EXPERIENCES AND LEO’S STORY WE CAN HELP OTHER FAMILIES IT WILL MAKE US FEEL LIKE WE CONTRIBUTED TO THE WELLBEING OF THE PETS AND THEIR LOVING FAMILIES.
As most of you know Leo had an anterior luxation that caused acute glaucoma and had to have an eye removed in May of 2013. In October of 2013 we noticed some symptoms in Leo that lead us to believe he may have Cushing’s Disease. Symptoms at the time included: weight gain in belly, fur loss on lower back region, panting and a slight increase in water intact. We took Leo to the vet and expressed our concern stating that we thought he may have Cushings and requesting he be tested for it. At this point in time that vet told us that the symptoms Leo was experiencing were common signs of a thyroid issue. They tested his thyroid and told us it was low at which point he was put on Soloxine. A few months later we took him back in to the vet for bloodwork to see how his levels were and Leo was diagnosed with a non-specific liver and kidney issue as a couple of his liver enzymes were elevated and he had 3+ proteins in his urine. Leo was then put on Denamarin to assist with liver function. More time passed and bloodwork was done two more times by this vet, both times Leo still had elevated liver enzymes and protein in his urine. Finally, we were able to talk them into testing for Cushing’s Disease as Leo had an increase in Cushing’s symptoms. They ran the test and it came back negative for Cushing’s Disease. We then continued to monitor Leo’s liver and kidney function with no definitive answers as to what was going on, what was causing the issue or how to effectively treat the issues. At our final visit with this vet they diagnosed Leo with high blood pressure and attempted to put him on medication for that…at this moment I decided to follow my gut and seek a second opinion from a holistic vet in our area.
Upon meeting the holistic vet and having him examine Leo and go over all of his records he noted that Leo’s thyroid was fine and that he did not need to be on the thyroid medication Soloxine in the first place. When testing the thyroid there are three numbers that come back, many vets only focus on one of the numbers, but all three numbers need to be taken into consideration. Our new holistic vet explained that thyroid issues are often times over-diagnosed in dogs. At this point in time we decided to take Leo off of the Soloxine as he didn’t need to be on it in the first place and it was what was probably causing the increase in blood pressure for Leo. A month and a half after taking Leo off of the Soloxine we took him in to run blood tests and check his blood pressure. Leo’s blood pressure was perfect! Leo’s thyroid was perfect! A couple of Leo’s liver enzymes were elevated and Leo did still have protein in his urine. We put Leo on some Chinese herbs to help with liver function and decided to do more bloodwork the following month. The next set of bloodwork came back with Leo still having increased levels of liver enzymes and protein in his urine, Leo also had increased calcium levels. At this point with all of the bloodwork results all of the signs were pointing towards Leo either having lymphoma or Cushing’s.
As concerned pet parents we were not good with the idea of Leo having lymphoma, so we started researching Cushing’s again, at which point I made a few very interesting discoveries. The following is the exact (minus the blocked out names) email that I sent to our holistic vet sharing the information I found and seeing what his thoughts were:
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Dr. ___________________,
I apologize for the length of the following email, but also know that typically I am better at explaining things in writing than I am verbally…so it is a bit of a read, but I feel there are some good points. Goal is for Leo to be as healthy and happy for as long as possible. I know that there is a chance that Leo has lymphoma, but looking at all of his symptoms, etc. I feel that he probably has Cushing’s Disease.
The symptoms most commonly seen in dogs with beginning Cushing’s include:
Increased thirst and urination (which can lead to the symptom of incontinence): When monitoring Leo he does drink significantly more than our other two dogs. During daytime hours they drink nearly the same amount, but Leo is up at least three times every night drinking water. Leo also requests to go outside far more often than the other two dogs. We have been lucky thus far and not had any incontinence issues.
Increased panting: When first bringing up the concern of Leo possibly having Cushing’s with old vet I did inform them that Leo was panting much more than normal. Leo, at that time, could sit and just pant, even with no physical activity prior. Leo is currently not doing this anymore.
Weight gain in the abdominal area, in spite of a reduction in calories (pot belly): The main symptom noticed with Leo, other than hair loss, was that he was getting or had a Buddha belly that was mainly noticeable when he was sitting, but was also quite noticeable when he was standing (he appeared almost pregnant).
Thinning skin and change in the pigment of skin, from pink to grey or even black; bruising: Leo’s skin does appear to be thinning, especially in the belly and neck area. Leo’s skin pigmentation has also changed in his ears turning to the greyish black color.
Hair loss and dullness of hair: Leo has significant hair loss on his lower back. Leo has also lost much of the sheen of his coat.
Irritability or restlessness: We’ve not seen much irritability out of Leo as he is typically very good natured. We have noticed a lot of restlessness.
Increased hunger: No increase in hunger noted.
• Seems very tired and inactive: Leo does at times seem very tired, but still has a great amount of physical activity and enjoys playing. We associated his decrease in activity with an increase in age.
Gets skin infections: Leo is suffering from ear margin dermatosis that he has never had before, this is new to him.
Decreased Muscle and bone mass: Leo’s muscle tone is lacking compared to how it used to be, we just associated this with aging.
Much less common are symptoms of rear limb weakness and blood clots. Leo has shown signs of weakness in his rear legs. Old vet noted that he did not immediately move paw back when she curled it under and stated it was “nerve damage.” We have witnessed Leo having episodes of back leg shaking and this has been increasing. Noticed it for the first time about 6 or so months ago. There are times that Leo’s back legs or hind end will shake while he is standing, but this does also occur sometimes when he is in a seated position.

Cushing’s is an over production of cortisol which is the stress hormone. Leo didn’t start showing any symptoms until October of 2013. In May of 2013 was when Leo had his eye removed, which could have been a trigger as he had been in a lot of pain prior to surgery and losing half of your vision, plus your depth perception, along with running into things, etc. has to be very stressful on him. The increase in cortisol can affect immune function, “trigger a glucose release from the liver” (thus making the liver work harder and I would assume knock liver enzymes, etc. all out of balance). “Cushing’s dogs get referred after a misdiagnosed liver disease. The liver of an animal with hyperadrenocorticism gets overtaxed from trying to process the excess cortisol in circulation throughout the body. This causes an elevation in the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and the inducible liver enzyme, alkaline phosphatase (ALP).”

There are two major types that affect dogs:
Pituitary dependent. This form is the most common, affecting about 80% to 90% of the animals who have Cushing’s. It happens when there’s a tumor in a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, called the pituitary.
Adrenal dependent: This type comes from a tumor in one of the glands that sit on top of the kidneys, called adrenal glands. About 15% to 20% of diagnosed dogs will have this type.

When we first took Leo to old vet with concerns about him having Cushing’s they diagnosed him with a thyroid issue and put him on Soloxine. The following are cautions linked to Soloxine:
Cautions:
Soloxine should not be used if your pet has ever had thyrotoxicosis, or an uncontrolled adrenal gland problem. Tell your veterinarian if your pet has heart disease, anemia, diabetes, or problems with the pituitary or adrenal glands. If you give your pet insulin or diabetes medication by mouth, dose adjustments may need to be made.

Being that Cushing’s Disease in dogs has two primary types: Pituitary dependent and Adrenal dependent and that the above states that Soloxine should not be used in cases where the animal has issues with pituitary or adrenal glands I question if Leo being on Soloxine when the Cushing’s test was done could have affected the test results.

Depending on your opinion I would really like to re-test Leo for Cushing’s Disease, or start to treat him for Cushing’s Disease to see if it would help him.

Sincerely,
Roxanne ______________
SOURCES:
http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/cushings-syndrome-dogs
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/21/cushings-disease-caused-by-pet-stress.aspx
http://www.1800petmeds.com/Soloxine-prod10138.html
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/21/cushings-disease-caused-by-pet-stress.aspx

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Our holistic vet received this email on Monday November 2 and by Friday the 6th we had Leo in testing him for Cushing’s a second time. As you remember from above the old vet tested him and it came back negative. This time Leo was not on unnecessary medication (Soloxine) that would skew the results. On Monday November 9th we received the call that confirmed that Leo DOES have Cushing’s Disease.
Leo has now started Vetoryl, one of the only FDA approved medications to help with Cushing’s…not a cure, but a help. Leo has only taken two doses so far.
Now our adventures in diagnosed Cushing’s Disease begins….we will be sharing Leo’s story along the way.

**PET PARENTS:  PLEASE FOLLOW YOUR GUT.  FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT.  GET A SECOND OPINION OR EVEN A THIRD IF NEEDED.  DON’T BLINDLY TRUST A DIAGNOSIS IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT COULD BE SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  DO YOUR RESEARCH.  ASK QUESTIONS.  ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PETS–YOU ARE THEIR VOICE!!!

Leo the Boston Terrier with his sister Kuki and brother Doc.

Leo the Boston Terrier with his sister Kuki and brother Doc.

Quinoa Spiced Oatmeal

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Quinoa Spiced Oatmeal

3 cups water

Dash sea salt

BRING TO BOIL then ADD

1/2 cup quinoa (we used a tri-colored quinoa)

TURN HEAT DOWN TO MEDIUM and cook for 5 minutes then ADD

1 TBSP organic whole flax seed

2 TBSPorganic  hemp nut seed

3 TBSP organic raw pumpkin seed

2 cups organic thick rolled oats

COOK for 5 minutes, while cooking ADD

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

WHEN DONE cooking remove from heat and ADD

1/4 cut raw organic agave nectar

 

Dish up and enjoy.  An addition of fresh or dried fruit would work very well with this dish.  If you like your oatmeal with milk try your favorite hemp, soy, rice or almond milk.  Makes 4 servings (that stick with you).  Recipe takes a total of 15 minutes to make (with boiling the water and all).

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NUTRITIONAL FACTS

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 317 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

402
Calories from Fat

111
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

12.4g
19%
Saturated Fat

1.2g
6%
Trans Fat

0.0g
Cholesterol

0mg
0%
Sodium

72mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates

56.6g
19%
Dietary Fiber

7.0g
28%
Sugars

12.5g
Protein

17.3g
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 4% Iron 31%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

Vegan High Protein Snack Bars

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Vegan High Protein Snack Bars

In sauce pan:

2 cups water

1 cup organic raw agave nectar

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup organic unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Cook all ingredients together on medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring constantly.

In large mixing bowl:

4 cups natural rolled oats

6 TBSP whole flaxseed

10 TBSP hemp seed nut

1/2 cup organic raw pumpkin seeds

3/4 cup organic dried tart cherries

Stir all dry ingredients together.  Once sauce pan mixture is complete pour over dry ingredients and stir well.  Pour mixture into lightly oiled 9×13 inch baking pan, press down to make as even as possible.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy.  Recipe makes 40 servings (well, depending on how big you cut your bars, ours were about 1×3 inches).

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NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION BASED ON 40 SERVINGS

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 66 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

150
Calories from Fat

53
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

5.9g
9%
Saturated Fat

0.7g
3%
Trans Fat

0.0g
Cholesterol

0mg
0%
Sodium

53mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates

19.0g
6%
Dietary Fiber

2.4g
10%
Sugars

10.0g
Protein

6.1g
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% Iron 13%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional Analysis

Good points
Bad points

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Homemade Dog Treats

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Homemade Dog Treats Recipe

1 egg

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp honey

3 tbsp milled flax seed

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

Mix all ingredients together in bowl.  Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Roll dough out on lightly floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into healthy treat size squares.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12-19 minutes.  We cooked ours for 15 minutes which made them soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  Place in airtight container and put lid on when cooled.  Makes about 250 healthy treats which are about 7.18 calories a piece.

 

Healthy Benefits

Flax:  Flax is not only great for humans, but it is also great for dogs.  Flax helps keep skin & coat healthy.  The natural oils (omega-3 fatty acids) in flax will help dogs who have dry skin and will make the coat shiny.  Flax is great for heart & kidney health.  Flax is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so if you have an older dog with sore joints they will benefit from having flax in their diets.

Plain Greek Yogurt:  Full of calcium, protein, probiotics and vitamins that our dogs need.  Calcium helps promote strong bones and teeth.  Probiotics help in regulating the digestive system and battling illnesses.  Vitamins are just good for your dogs overall health.  When giving your dog dairy make sure it is in small amounts because it can cause some unwanted side-effects in the #2 end of things for some dogs. ..in some cases if your dog is already having #2 issues, giving them a small amount of yogurt can help regulate them because of the probiotics helping their systems.   Make sure you are feeding them plain yogurt, because the flavored yogurts are full of sugar (real & fake) that are both bad for your furry loved ones.  Plain yogurt can also assist in reducing gas.

Peanut Butter:  Full of protein, Vitamin E and Vitamin H.  Vitamin E will help protect your dogs immune system.  Vitamin H is great for their skin, nails and coats.  Peanut butter is also a great supplement if your dog is missing anything in their diet from their regular dog food.

Whole Wheat Flour:  Wheat has been used for thousands of years and is considered a nutrient dense food.  Whole wheat flour is high in fiber, a great source of Vitamins B & E,  potassium, zinc and even selenium.  Whole wheat can help aid in heart health, good digestion and is even believed to help protected against cancer.

Egg:  Full of easily digestible protein, selenium and riboflavin (vitamin B2).  Riboflavin is an essential part of your dogs overall health and helps promote the production of new red blood cells.

Honey:  Can assist with digestion, help fight off illnesses, gives a nice little boost of energy, PLUS if you are using a local raw honey can actually help dogs who have allergies.  If your dog is sensitive to pollen the natural trace amounts of pollen in local honey can help acclimatize them to the pollen in the air without triggering the negative allergies your dog usually has to airborne pollen (sneezing, runny eyes & noses, asthma attacks, and coughing).

I hope that your dog(s) enjoy these treats as much as my dogs.  Always feels good to feed them something healthy 🙂

P.S.–I decided to sample the treat prior to giving them to my boys to make sure they tasted good and they do, so they could be a human treat too…they do lack in flavor a little for human taste buds as they taste like a slightly sweet peanut butter cracker.