Hi everyone,

This is my first post on CavalierTalk, although I have been reading it for a number of years. We have a 2 1/2 year old, black and tan cavalier, who is an absolute delight. She is the friendliest and loveliest little Cavalier. She bounds up to everyone she meets and licks them! I live in Dublin, but our dog is my Dad's constant companion in Donegal. In true cavalier-style, she follows him everywhere!

About a year ago, she presented with autoimmune stomatitis in her throat. Unlike many cases of stomatitis, her teeth are not involved. We instituted a strong regime of teeth cleaning when she was a puppy, which she hates but tolerates. Her health in every other way seems fine at the moment. We first noticed the issue when her jaw began to tremble after she ate, drank or yawned. She also began to lick her lips constantly, which I knew to be a sign of pain in dogs. We brought her to the vet, who sedated her to have a proper look at what was going on. She had inflammation and infection at the back of her throat. This was causing her severe pain. Our vet could not understand how she could actually eat! In order to control both the infection and the inflammation, our vet put her on antibiotics and prednisone. While the infection healed fairly quickly, the inflammation did not. Our vet feared she might have had either lymphoma or autoimmune. A biopsy confirmed, autoimmune stomatitis. The traditional treatment is prednisone, or in more severe cases, cyclosporine, the immune suppressing drug given to transplant patients.

The vet began on a dose of 5mg twice a day, from which our dog was gradually weaned down, to control her immune response. This worked successfully, until she had to be kennelled for two weeks. After our return, the inflammation had come back. We finally got the all-clear just before Christmas. Unfortunately, two weeks ago the stomatitis returned. Although not as bad, it has meant a return to steroids. Our vet was extremely disappointed. She consulted an autoimmune specialist in Belfast, who has confirmed the main course of treatment is the prednisone, and this is how she would treat her herself. She advised to treat at flare-ups, and if it continues, she may need to have a small dose of steroid continuously for life every four days or so. If this is necessary to control it, she will of course have continual check-ups for kidney and liver health.

While little can be done to stem autoimmune disease itself, it is well known that certain things can trigger it off. We think that part of the problem with our little one is that she tends to get stressed if left, or if she knows we are worrying about something ourselves. We also think she may have allergies, which might be triggering it off. I wondered at first, if she is possibly reacting to her annual boosters? We have asked our vet to do allergy testing, which she will do when she comes off the steroids again (the results will be affected otherwise). She has advised us to keep her diet as allergen free as possible, and recommended we put her on Hill's Prescription Diet z/d ultra. She has always been fed on a mixture of Royal Canin and James Wellbeloved. We have tried Burn's kibble also. I am now just wondering if anyone feeds this food, and how they have found it? I ordered a small bag from petmeds, as it is difficult to get in Ireland. She is fed about 30g twice a day at the moment and due to her constant hunger with the steroids, she gets vegetables including carrots, brocolli, sprouts, parsnips and others to bulk this up. She has unfortunately gained weight with the steroids, but had lost a 1 kg from Christmas to her latest flare up. Also, would anyone recommend the raw diet?

Also, can I ask given she will possibly be on steroids at a small dose on an off for the rest of her life, are there supplements that might help to keep her liver and kidneys healthy? I did read about given dogs milk thistle, but I wondered if this is actually a good idea?


I would appreciate any advice,
Thanks,
Anna.