Chewy and Cushing’s Disease; The Plight of Working Breed Dogs
Chewy had the coloring of a shepherd in the body of a small heeler. I first met Chewy when she was 15 years old for digestive issues. Previously, she had been diagnosed with severe liver disease and treated with antibiotics. After reviewing her blood works, I suspected Chewy may have Cushing’s disease which is common in working breed dogs. The disease is a result of stress which signals the adrenal glands (tiny glands near the kidneys) to over produce the body’s normal steroids.
Working breed dogs often don’t know when to stop working. This can be a big problem! If left untreated, cancer can develop in the adrenal glands themselves or in the pituitary gland. My western training only taught me to treat the cancer, but as a Holistic Veterinarian I started looking at the stresses that cause Cushing’s. The treatment supports stress which takes the pressure off the adrenal glands. I believe that if cancer has not developed yet, this support can stop cancer from forming. I also believe that Cushing’s disease is 100% preventable when you look at the causes of the overworked glands and correct the cause.
I put Chewy on three herbal blends; California Poppy/Skullcap (Comfort Plus) to relax the nervous system and Milk Thistle to support the liver; both by Animal Essentials. I also used Adrenal Health by New Sun. Next, I started Chewy on acupuncture treatments to support the GI tract and liver, decrease stress and make her body more comfortable.
With the herbs and occasional acupuncture treatments over the next year, her signs of stress subsided and there were no signs of cancer. Unfortunately, one morning she had a stroke. She was very lethargic, was tripping on her right front leg, panting and very dull. We treated her for pain and inflammation and sent her home preparing for hospice.
I called in the morning to see how she was doing. Her human family felt she had improved last evening but was worse now and may have had another stroke. We thought the worst and I packed to go assist her passing. I had never been to Catherine’s house before but was certain I know where the location was so I headed that direction. I turned into the neighborhood where I thought she lived. I looked and looked for her home. I couldn’t find it. Back then, we did not have google maps on our cell phones so we could not pull over and get the location.