In early March 2014, I noticed that Chance’s left eye looked small–like he was squinting. The eyeball itself was extremely dilated. I thought it might be my imagination, so I kept an eye on it. (No pun intended. ;-)) Sure enough, my dog walker, Allyson, noticed it, too.
I took him to the vet convinced that it was some sort of eye infection. The veterinarian performed a variety of tests:
* Fluorescein eye stain to check Chance’s cornea for scratches, tears or foreign particles
* Eye pressure to check for cataracts
* Tonometry eye pressure to test for glaucoma
Chance tested negative for everything and passed the veterinarian’s physical eye exam with flying colors. His vision was fine. The vet was mystified. He referred me to an ophthalmologist.
The Road To Nowhere
The ophthalmologist examined Chance a couple days later. She was baffled and sent us straight to a neurologist.
Another two days later, we met with a canine neurologist. She explained that there was something near his brain pressing on his oculomotor nerve. It could be a bacterial infection, fungal infection or tumor.
Tumor. My heart sank.
The plan was to put Chance on two different antibiotics to attack any possible infections that may be causing the pressure on his nerve. We also put him on a steroid to reduce the inflammation around his eye.
Over the course of a month on these drugs, Chance did not improve. On top of it all, he could no longer hold his bladder due to the side effects of the Prednisone steroid–it increased his thirst and urination. Ever the trooper, Chance started sporting doggy diapers with no complaints.
The Road to Healing
The neighborhood I lived in at the time was extremely dog friendly. One of the doggy parents we ran into on a regular basis asked about Chance’s eye. I got her up to speed and explained, “The next step is an MRI that will cost a minimum of $2,000 with only a 50% chance of showing the cause.”
With great compassion and understanding of my plight, my neighbor referred me to an animal communicator, Terri Steuben. I booked a 15-minute session with her right away. What did I have to lose? Modern medicine had and will continue to help me and my loved ones, but it was failing me in this situation. My boy was getting worse.
Chance and I met and spoke with Terri, The Calm Healer, via Skype. It was incredible to watch someone so in tune and connected with an animal. She felt what Chance was feeling. Among other things, she explained to me that Chance’s eyes were dry and suggested I get eye drops. She was right.
She also provided me with a couple of natural remedies for stomach issues he started experiencing. Both worked.
When all was said and done, Terri referred me to Dr. Robert Woods, DVM, CVA. He practiced holistic veterinary medicine. This was an avenue I had never explored with any of my dogs. I was open to anything at this point. Chance was deteriorating. I had to do something.
With Dr. Wood’s guidance, we reduced Chance’s steroid intake. Since the antibiotics weren’t working, we started a new regime of vitamin A drops and oral homotoxicology, which I call Chance’s “magical serum”. My sweet boy also started receiving the ancient treatment of acupuncture. I took him weekly to start.
I noticed improvements. We continued to go back. I expressed my greatest concern to Dr. Woods, “When will we know if cancer is the cause of all this?”
“Within six months we will know.” He was confident and direct.
Six months came and went. With the help of holistic medicine, Chance was stable. He felt good. He was grateful and showed it.
I was relieved. My heart overflowed with gratitude, too.
No Cancer – What Could It Be?
When the nine month mark of holistic treatment arrived, I started researching. There had to be an explanation for these neurological problems. Although he was happy and loving, he was not the same dog he used to be.
Along with his winking eye, he also had some reflex problems. He could no longer jump in and out of the car. Most noticeable was his new inability to catch a ball. My athletic Kelpie dog who loved to catch sky-high pop-fly balls and dive for Frisbees could barely catch a lightly tossed ball anymore.
I looked through his adoption papers and receipts from veterinary visits. I found it! When he was a young dog–one and a half years old–he was treated for suspected distemper before I could adopt him. That was ten years ago. The memories all flooded back to me.
Just over 50% of adult dogs that contract distemper survive the disease. Only 20% of puppies survive it. Chance was among the survivors.
According to ASPCA, “Dogs who recover from canine distemper may have seizures or other central nervous system disorders that may not show up until many years later—sometimes in their old age. They may also be left with permanent brain and nerve damage, and these symptoms also may not show up until years later.”
Although we cannot be 100% sure, Dr. Woods agreed it is a strong possibility that the distemper virus that Chance overcame when he was young is the culprit of his current neurological challenges.
Thankfully, Chance shows no signs of brain damage. He also does not suffer seizures. My sweet boy may not be able to catch a pop fly or Frisbee anymore, but he can still catch a lightly tossed plush toy.
His grin is wide when we go on walks. It grows even wider when we hang out at his favorite place, the beach. He loves being in the company of his human and canine buddies. He’s happy.
Over a year later, Chance continues to get acupuncture. Sessions are now once a month. I whole heartily believe in the healing power of acupuncture for dogs.
What is your experience with acupuncture or holistic medicine for animals?