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Thread: Looking for a new vet- SM/MVD + typical Cav problems, should I look at Holistic?

  1. #1
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    Default Looking for a new vet- SM/MVD + typical Cav problems, should I look at Holistic?

    Hi all,

    I've recently moved back to Orange County, Ca and am looking for a new vet. My 7.5 yr. old Cavalier has SM, a level 3 heart murmur, dry eyes and some allergies.

    Although I'm looking for someone local, I'm also interested in opinions from all owners about treatment of these conditions from both traditional and holistic vets, particularly for the symptoms of SM. As a person that's benefited from acupuncture and physical therapies, I've wondered about similar things for my dog.

    In looking for a vet years ago I ran across a wide variety of skills and "bedside manners" - within the office that was my dog's eventual vet one vet was great and the other was a bit of a bully that regularly knocked the treatment of his office colleague as wrong. The last time I had to see the bully vet he tried to force a new series of ten(!) medications on my Cavvy, eventhough the other doc and I had tried some of them before. Also, as much as I liked my old vet, I had to educate him on SM because there were no specialists local to my old location. These are the things I'm trying to avoid- my little guy is getting on in years and he doesn't have the time or health to go to a vet that's not familiar with his conditions or Cavaliers in general.

    I've noticed over the years that I've had my Cav (6 yrs, got him as an 18 month old) - that he does better with less medication but I'm also realistic about his health necessities- things like his eye drops have had a huge positive impact on his eye health and comfort. As he ages, the SM has clearly impacted his ability to play and jump and that's made me curious about alternative therapies to improve his quality of life. I'm also concerned about vets who throw lots of meds at every dog they see to see what sticks. Not only do I want a vet that is better at diagnosis and treatment of his whole condition, but I also can't afford to have hundreds of dollars in medication that does no good and has too many side effects.

    He has seen a veterinary neurologist and had an MRI about three years ago and that person is here in OC as well. She's someone I've considered contacting for a referral, but I wanted to first pick the minds of locals who also love their health challenged Cavs and want to keep them healthy and happy as long as possible.

    Thanks,
    Monica

  2. #2
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    Nicki is knowledgeable about holistic treatments for SM dogs, so she may be able to help you.

    Hopefully one of our USA members will be able to recommend a vet familiar with SM
    Margaret C

    Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
    Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
    Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi

  3. #3
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    Hi and welcome! Nicki may well have some suggestions (though not on vets as she isn't in the US) . I do think we have a couple of people here based in the LA area who might have some vet suggestions.

    Most vets really do not have the ability to design treatment approaches without consultation with a neurologist however as this is a specialist condition -- much as a cardiologist is 100% better than going to a vet for heart care. Indeed most vets, recognising this, will not prescribe or change a lot of meds around for SM dogs without talking to a neurologist because meds like gabapentin are not ones they are generally familiar with and are not licensed for use in animals and thus vets are really not best placed to decide which meds or combinations will suit a dog best nor typically, to be familiar with the range used for this serious neurological disease. Also I must say the most bizarre approaches to medications I have seen come from people's vets who are obviously not very familiar with SM or think they know a bit but clearly have not read the major papers or treatment documents (eg the treatment protocol from Dr Rusbridge which you can download at www.smcavalier.com, Dr Rusbridge's own site, stickied in this section , or www.cavalierhealth.org). So I'd go back to your neurologist for suggestions and they may also have a vet they could suggest (perhaps this is Dr Sammut? I know a few people who have worked with her ). Dogs will cover up a lot of pain so it is really important not to pull an SM dog off medication without consulting a neurologist as to whether there are actual neurological problems an owner or vet cannot pick up. If SM is affecting your dog's ability to jump and play, really that is a sign of pain and a need for higher doses, or different meds. Even my most affected dog has not had that reluctance as of yet so I'd think that is a key thing to go discuss with your fellow's neurologist as a priority.

    That said -- with this condition it is actually quite necessary to try various meds combinations. Dr Clare Rusbridge, the leading specialist and researcher in the area, has said many times that a cocktail of meds tends to help most dogs best and I think every one of us with SM dogs has found this to be the case. Those typically need to be regularly adjusted and perhaps changed. It is a very difficult condition and many meds stop working. The ones most of us consider essential is 1) some sort of CSG inhibitor, like frusemide, omeprazole or cimetidine (there are several others); 2) gabapentin or pregabalin (for dogs that cease to respond to gabapentin -- typically the dosage needs to be regularly increased over time) == this is probably the single most effective drug for pain, disconfort and symptoms like scratching, yelping, touch sensitivity. On top of that, many of our dogs also need a pain reliever which can range in strength from simple metacam to steroids or very strong painkillers.

    The only holistic approach that has been found to work by the neurologists I know who have looked at them and worked with owners is acupuncture and this should be done by someone familiar with SM. An SM dog should never have chiropractic manoeuvers of the neck or spine or limbs.

    Hopefully someone can give you direct suggestions on vets.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    My apologies for not having replied - I will get back to you a bit later if that's ok?
    Nicki and the Cavalier Clan Our photos www.scotlandimagery.com
    Supporting www.rupertsfund.com and www.cavaliermatters.org

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    I recommend having a general practice vet and an holistic one. I live in Orange County, too, but on the other side of the continent, in Florida. You might ask your SM specialist to recommend a general practice vet. You may search for holistic vets on this search engine: http://www.holisticvetlist.com/
    Rod Russell

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    I think this website will help you in your search for a new vet http://www.ahvma.org/ American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

    I'm not able to recommend a vet in your area, sorry - it can be hard to find a vet experience with SM I think I would be looking for an experienced neurologist to manage the SM, and a cardiologist to manage the MVD and then be working with a holistic vet. I do appreciate what you are saying about vets learning on your dog, but I feel it is part of our role to try to help them to learn about the condition, they have to know about so many conditions, not just in different breeds but different species, so cannot possibly know everything. I have found that if they have a patient with a condition they do not know much about, many vets are open to learning more and can be "helped" by providing information. Obviously you will always get vets who think they know everything but if they are not prepared to work with me, then I will not work with them. They are partners in my animals' care.

    Acupuncture seems to be gaining more recognition for pain management and can be very effective - I have used it in the past for my own pain.

    Your Cavalier obviously seems to be having more problems and does need his pain management reassessed.


    Rupert and Teddy were both managed medically, also with supplements and homoeopathy.

    Although I appreciate most of these things do not have controlled trials and studies to prove their effectiveness, there is much anecdotal evidence and they are things that have helped my own dogs.

    The supplement, Sasha's Blend, was incredibly helpful - I had started Teddy on it as a preventative for arthritis, within just a couple of weeks he was running around like a lunatic again!! We couldn't believe the difference and it worked for a couple of years

    http://www.vetnpetdirect.com.au/SASHA250G

    this was the cheapest place I found to ship to the UK, but I think if you google it they have a US supplier. I've never found anything similar in the UK.


    A magnotherapy collar, if tolerated {many affected dogs can not wear a collar} can be helpful. You can buy pads and pillows to go in dog beds.


    With homoeopathy, different remedies help different dogs {and at different times!} Ideally you would need to consult with an homoeopathic vet.



    I'm nowhere near an homoeopathic vet so obtain my remedies from http://www.gentletouchremedies.co.uk/

    They do post internationally. They have a remedy specifically for Syringomyelia, but other things we've tried are:

    There is a combination called Traumeel - which quite a few people have had success with - it really helped Rupert. This contains:

    Arnica Montana D2 15mg
    Calendula officinalis D2 15mg
    Hamamelis virginiana D2 15mg
    Achillea millefolium D3 15mg
    Atropa belladonna D4 75mg
    Aconitum napellus D3 30mg
    Mercurius solubilis Hahnemanni D8 30mg
    Hepar sulfuris D8 30mg
    Chamomilla recutita D3 24mg
    Symphytum officinale D8 24mg
    Bellis perennis D2 6mg
    Echinacea angustifolia D2 6mg
    Echinacea purpurea D2 6mg
    Hypericum perforatum D2 3mg

    Traumeel is manufactured by:
    Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH

    Registration number U5514 {Act 101/1965}
    Found a website for Heel -
    http://www.heel.com/about/
    {although Gentle Touch Remedies produced it for me}

    Mignitin proved very effective and kept Teddy comfortable for quite a while - again from Gentle Touch - DON'T BUY IT OFF THE WEB only a trusted source

    Sepia D3+30C
    Aesculus D1+10C
    Cimicifug D1+10C
    Calc fluor D6+60C
    Baryta carb D6+60C
    Rhus tox D1+10C
    Kali carb D1+100C


    A single remedy we tried was Natrum Muriaticum - but not as effective as some of the above. Arnica of course is an obvious pain relief remedy.


    One more obscure thing I have been trying to manage my own pain is a purple plate. I found out about this through hedgehog rescue - there is a book called the Natural Hedgehog, which friends bought for me - they are very involved with hedgehog rescue. The book lists many natural ways to treat hedgehogs, including homoeopathy but the rescue have also had considerable success with purple plates, the poorly hedgehogs are attracted to them and will go and lie on them. [Animals often know instinctively what will help them.] http://alan-lam.co.uk/index.php?main...19&chapter=300

    This was a little bit beyond my comprehension but we are all composed of energy so perhaps it makes sense? It certainly helps with my Fibromyalgia pain, although not with very severe nerve pain, so I do not know if it would help SM, but it might be worth trying to improve the general health and help the body to cope.



    hopefully that has given you some ideas...

    Obviously try one thing at a time, maybe for a month or so, which allows for changes in weather conditions, which can adversely affect our dogs.

    I'm sure you're already aware of these web sites but they may be of help is http://www.cavaliermatters.org/ and http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/ good information and advice.

    A few helpful books by holistic vets

    The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein DVM

    Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals by Don Hamilton DVM [there is an updated edition from Oct 2010, I still have the original but imagine the new one is even better!!]
    Nicki and the Cavalier Clan Our photos www.scotlandimagery.com
    Supporting www.rupertsfund.com and www.cavaliermatters.org

  7. #7
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    I am a new member and live in Orange County, CA. I am looking for a vet that is familiar with Cavalier and SM since I think my dog may have it. I saw you know a veterinary neurologist here is Orange County, would you please provide me his/her information?
    Thanks so much
    Kitty

    Quote Originally Posted by mvcv View Post
    Hi all,

    I've recently moved back to Orange County, Ca and am looking for a new vet. My 7.5 yr. old Cavalier has SM, a level 3 heart murmur, dry eyes and some allergies.

    Although I'm looking for someone local, I'm also interested in opinions from all owners about treatment of these conditions from both traditional and holistic vets, particularly for the symptoms of SM. As a person that's benefited from acupuncture and physical therapies, I've wondered about similar things for my dog.

    In looking for a vet years ago I ran across a wide variety of skills and "bedside manners" - within the office that was my dog's eventual vet one vet was great and the other was a bit of a bully that regularly knocked the treatment of his office colleague as wrong. The last time I had to see the bully vet he tried to force a new series of ten(!) medications on my Cavvy, eventhough the other doc and I had tried some of them before. Also, as much as I liked my old vet, I had to educate him on SM because there were no specialists local to my old location. These are the things I'm trying to avoid- my little guy is getting on in years and he doesn't have the time or health to go to a vet that's not familiar with his conditions or Cavaliers in general.

    I've noticed over the years that I've had my Cav (6 yrs, got him as an 18 month old) - that he does better with less medication but I'm also realistic about his health necessities- things like his eye drops have had a huge positive impact on his eye health and comfort. As he ages, the SM has clearly impacted his ability to play and jump and that's made me curious about alternative therapies to improve his quality of life. I'm also concerned about vets who throw lots of meds at every dog they see to see what sticks. Not only do I want a vet that is better at diagnosis and treatment of his whole condition, but I also can't afford to have hundreds of dollars in medication that does no good and has too many side effects.

    He has seen a veterinary neurologist and had an MRI about three years ago and that person is here in OC as well. She's someone I've considered contacting for a referral, but I wanted to first pick the minds of locals who also love their health challenged Cavs and want to keep them healthy and happy as long as possible.

    Thanks,
    Monica

  8. #8
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    The neurologist in the region familiar with SM is Dr Sammut. You should be able to google her contact details or try the neurologist listings at www.cavalierhealth.org.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karlin View Post
    The neurologist in the region familiar with SM is Dr Sammut. You should be able to google her contact details or try the neurologist listings at www.cavalierhealth.org.
    Thanks, Karlin. Kitty, the direct link for the list of California neuros is http://www.cavalierhealth.org/neurol...tm#California_

    The vets whose names are in red are confirmed to be knowledgeable about CM/SM and have MRI scanners available, but at time goes by, more and more of these specialists fall into that category, so the non-red ones probably are okay. Just ask them about having a scanner and whether they have dealt with cavaliers with SM.
    Rod Russell

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