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anna32
1st April 2012, 02:28 PM
Hi everyone,
I am a first time poster here on CavalierTalk, although I have been reading it for a couple of years. We have a 2 1/2 year old black and tan cavalier, who presented early last year with autoimmune stomatitis. She had patches of inflammation and infection right at the back of her throat. Unlike alot of stomatitis cases, her teeth are completely unaffected. We have always had a teeth cleaning regime since she was a puppy, which although she hates, she lets us do.

We initially noticed the problem when, after eating, drinking and yawning, her jaw began to tremble. She also licked her lips alot, which I knew to be a sign of pain in dogs. We brought to our vet, who gave her some sedation and looked into her throat. She initially thought that she may have had something stuck in her throat, which might have cause the infection. This would have been an easy result, but unfortunately this was not the case. Suspecting stomatitis, our vet began to treat her with prednisone, 5mg twice a day and antibiotics to clear the infection and bring the stomatitis under control. When the stomatitis did not clear easily, our vet did biopsies. She feared possible lymphoma. The results came back with the diagnosis of autoimmune stomatitis. The vet continued to treat her with steroids, gradually reducing the dose and tapering her off them. After the first tapering down, we had to leave her in the kennels for a fortnight, and on our return the stomatitis had flared up again. The vet believed that the stress of being left may have caused our cavalier to worry and sparked the stomatitis again. We finally after much effort managed to get an all clear at Christmas. :)

We thought this might be the end result, but unfortunately it has now flared up again. Out vet took advice from a specialist in autoimmune disease, who said that the correct course of treatment was indeed the steroids. She said that it was best to treat when the dog was symptomatic, and that she may need to remain on a small dose of prednisone to keep the reaction at bay. This would probably be 2mg every four to five days. The other alternative treatment is cyclosporine, which is a treatment often given to keep immune reactions at bay. We don't really favour this option, as it is a pretty serious drug to be using in a young dog.

With steroid use on and off over a period of eight months, our little cavalier gained weight :( and had the usual effect of some mood changes. She is the loveliest, friendliest dog, who licks everyone she meets! She is still the same, but rather than following us around all day, she favours to lie in her basket in between walks or laze around the house.

As autoimmune problems can have certain triggers, we are now trying to keep her environment as allergen free as possible. This includes her diet. Since we got her she has been fed on a mixture of Royal Canin (now the light variety) and James Wellbeloved. She loves vegetables, which we use to bulk out her food and give her a midday treat. She is constantly hungry due to the steroids. Our vet has now recommended that we use the allergen free Hill's Prescription Diet Z/D Ultra. We live in Ireland, and this has proven difficult to find, so I have ordered a smallish bag from petmeds. She has always been a fussy eater, so she may not take to it. My question really is does anyone else feed this food, and how do you find it? I have read some posts here that suggest that some of these prescription foods are of a very low quality. I am also interested in knowing more about the raw diet, and if this is available in Ireland? I live in Dublin, and our cavalier is in Donegal, with my Dad. She is his constant companion and goes everywhere with him.

I would appreciate any advice.
Thanks,
Anna.

Love my Cavaliers
1st April 2012, 05:34 PM
Your girl sounds like such a sweet little dog. I'm so sorry you're dealing with such health issues. I don't know about the Hill's Diet food, but I just wanted to weigh in on the use of prednisone. Riley, my black and tan, has been on 10mg of daily prednisone for almost 4 years for her SM. She has not gained any weight since she has started it because I am so disciplined about not giving in to her hunger demands. I give her the same amount of food (1/3 cup of dry food once a day mixed with green beans) that she received before she started the prednisone, no matter how much those brown eyes beg me. Maybe it's easier in my house, because if I give her a treat, I'd have to give the other three a treat also - and then everyone would be chubby!!! The treats they all get are raw vegies and one soft rawhide chew that's recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to control tartar. Could your dad be looking into those beautiful brown eyes and be sneaking her more treats than you think and that's why she's gained weight?

In terms of mood changes related to the prednisone, I can't tell a difference in her behavior. But Riley is a lot older than your little one, plus she has SM which affects everything about her behavior.

I hope someone else will be able to help you about the food/diet questions you have. Congratulations also on keeping her teeth unaffected. Good luck. By the way, what is your dog's name?

anna32
1st April 2012, 05:50 PM
Thank you so much for your advice on the food - I will let Dad know! She is definitely getting a few sneaky treats, I think! She likes to float around the kitchen table at food times, and put one food up on your knee to beg! Her name is Coco, and like most cavaliers, she has up wrapped around her little paws!

We are, however, determined to keep her on a strict diet now. She is fed twice a day with Royal Canin light, and actually managed to loose about 1kg from the previous prednisone use, which we were delighted with. Any treats she gets are now entirely veggie based. We do give a probiotic once a day to maintain gut health. She gets loads of exercise - 1/2 hour walk morning and evening and an hour in the afternoon, and generally loves being playful. I think some of the personality changes might have been more to do with the pain of the stomatitis at first. Certainly, we have noticed her coming back to herself more and more this week, as the inflammation has subsided, and her prednisone dose has been lowered to 5mg once a day.

It really is a horrible condition for her, but we are hoping that with careful monitoring that we can help her as much as possible. Thank you again.

RodRussell
1st April 2012, 06:41 PM
... Our vet has now recommended that we use the allergen free Hill's Prescription Diet Z/D Ultra. We live in Ireland, and this has proven difficult to find, so I have ordered a smallish bag from petmeds. ...

I gather this is a dry food, a kibble? I cannot imagine a vet recommending a dry food. Here are a few videos you can watch, by Dr. Karen Becker, about how to choose the best foods for your dogs (and cats).

http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/karen-becker-choose-dog-food-1/

http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/karen-becker-best-worst-dog-food/

Charlifarley
1st April 2012, 07:52 PM
Have you considered James Wellbeloved? This is a good quality dry food that is hypo-allergenic and you can get it in a lot of the pet shops in Ireland. They have a website - www.wellbeloved.com.