Nov 20, 2008

Mia's diagnosis and holistic treatment

Okay, down to the business of Mia's background. She was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse -- a death sentence for dogs -- in December 2006. She turned lethargic so I took her to the vet. After X-rays, blood work-up and a sonogram, I was given the bad news: She had severe MVP, her heart was enlarged, and she had six months to live. The good news, however (and I tried to concentrate on that) was that she was not yet in congestive heart failure. My goal was to stave off congestive heart failure as long as I could. Mia was put on Enalapril, an ACE inhibitor, and lasix, a beta blocker. I went home and hit the Internet, searching for remedies -- mainstream and alternative. I also spoke with two holistic veterinarians I'd met at Best Friends' triage center in Mississippi, where they volunteered following Hurricane Katrina. I spoke to a friend, who had just entered naturopathic pre-med school, and he told me, "Take her off of the blood pressure medicine. The side effects are too risky." I lowered her dose but continued giving it to her. I was hesitant, because many of the data I was finding recommended the meds. I decreased her activity level, because the vet had recommended it. Then my friend later suggested I give Mia coconut water daily. That was the summer of 2007. The results were astounding. In the middle of triple-digit heat, when Mia had trouble breathing at times, her symptoms and asthma disappeared. I then began weaning her off the meds. Next, my sister told me about coconut oil -- organic -- and the benefits. I checked for myself, then went to Whole Foods and bought it. I gave Mia COQ10, hawthorn and probiotics. She did great for a few months. Six months later, the sonogram showed that her heart had actually decreased in size. Then, a few months later, Mia began coughing again and having difficulty breathing, mostly at night and first thing in the morning. I researched COQ10 as an alternative treatment some more, and, in the process, found a pediatric study of mitral valve prolapse. I couldn't find a study done on dogs, so this was the closest thing to scientific research for treatment of Mia. It said exercise was actually good and could help keep the heart strong, so I let Mia do whatever she wanted to do -- if she wanted to run, I let her. If she wanted to stop and came over to me, I picked her up. Then I found this study. I started giving Mia Taurine. I recently talked to someone who was familiar with supplements, and she suggested I put Mia on L-carnitine and the ubiquinol form of COQ10. I saw an immediate improvement in her energy and activity levels. It took about two weeks for it to kick in. She had a bad bout for several weeks. They included panic attacks when she couldn't breathe well. Now, I prop her up against my arm, half standing, rub her chest and it goes away. It's really just a matter of taking her mind off of it. Now, all I have to say to her is, "Settle, Mia. You're okay," the panic attack stops and she breathes normally again. So, that's it in a nutshell -- kind of the CliffsNotes version. One thing, I recently boarded her at my local vet, in a three-dog run with my other two, and when I got home Mia was so upset. She regressed and had a terrible time breathing for about a week. I increased her COQ10 to three times a day (100 mg each capsule), and I now try to take her with me. I do take Woody and Rosy with me too when I can. I rarely went without them until my book tour started, and I couldn't take them with me. Now that it's winding down, we'll get back to our usual routine. I go to southern Utah a lot, and they're always with me there (they love hotel rooms and are great car travelers).

1 comment:

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