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I am an owner of a six year old approx. 76lbs Golden Retriever Sophie. She is my life. About two weeks ago she had two small nose bleeds and had just had a small cold and was having trouble eating for three days but was getting over it. I took her into the ver due to the nose bleed. The vet did an extensive physical exam (no lumps noticed) and the first blood test came back that both white and red blood cells were below regular levels and both were not regenerating new cells, she had also done blood work to see if it was a tick born disease, which came back negative. As the vet had concerns but no official answer, she thought that Sophie may have another rare tick born disease that would not have shown up on the original blood work and prescribed Doxycycline. Sophie was on this medication for five days and then went into the vet again for another blood test so they could compare to the first test. The new test showed no improvement and her blood levels have decreased again, and again with no signs of new cells generating. The vet has told me that this is not good news and believes that it is most likely a cancer such as lymphoma or leukemia, but can not confirm without further diagnostic tests which are extremely exspensive which I do not have the funds to do. She does not believe that it is an autoimune or anemia as she stated that these would show some signs of cell regeneration. The vet has stated that we can look at chemo (which I have refused due to the cost) or steroids. At this point I have no clue what to do. Sophie has not had another nose bleed. Her fever seems to be going down, her energy levels are back up (running/rolling in the snow/playing regularly) and eating well (I feed her Performatrin adult dog food, mixed with a small amount of wet food). Sorry for the long post. My husband has recently researched turmeric and thinks we should try giving her small amounts with her meals to see if this helps. I am just writing to see if you have a second opinion or any suggestions for home remedies. I love my dog and can’t think of life without her.

~ Ashley

Dr Jeff FeinmanHi Ashley-

I’m so sorry for the problems that Sophie is having. I can only imagine how you felt when your vet said that this simple nose bleed might have a very serious cause. It must have been quite a shock.

I suspect that Sophie’s platelets are low in addition to her low red and white blood cells. Proper platelet function controls the ease of capillary bleeding from the daily microtrauma of life. Nosebleeds are a common manifestation of thrombocytopenia (low platelets). Bruising of the skin and gums is another common clue.

As your vet said, unfortunately decreases in all of the blood cells is frequently associated with cancer. Especially in six year old Goldens. Tick born diseases, especially Anaplasmosis also commonly cause thrombocytopenia. However, in my experience, the white blood cell count is more often elevated in these patients until later in the disease.

If indeed Sophie’s platelets are low, immune mediated thrombocytopenia purpura (bruising) is also a possible cause for ITP (immune-mediated thrombocytopenia purpura). Read this if you’d like more info on this disease (this article is written mainly for vets so is pretty technical). However, low red and white blood cells (anemia and leukopenia) are not typically seen with ITP and make it less likely.

In my opinion, it is too early to be looking at treatment options. In general, I would strongly advise first getting a definitive diagnosis. Unfortunately, as you now know, doing so can be quite costly. It’s still worth having her case reviewed by a Board Certified specialist in internal medicine hematology or oncology. S/he will review the tests done to date, discuss Sophie’s history and examine her to render an expert opinion. This consultation shouldn’t be too costly but may prove invaluable. Specialists generally have much greater exposure to patients with similar dis-ease manifestations. I’d personally want to explore all of my options, especially since she seems to feel better but her blood results are not. It’s also possible that that there is a simple orthodox veterinary treatment.

Regardless of the diagnosis, I’d strongly suggest that you support the natural healing of her body in every possible way. You already have started doing this by not restricting her and letting her have fun. The joy that you see in her face when she rolls in the snow or plays is a wonderful “tonic”. Sunshine and activity also help activate healing mechanisms. The only warning that I have would be if her platelets are very low. If they are, she would be predisposed to uncontrolled bleeding from otherwise simple trauma.

In addition to sunlight, fresh air and (controlled) play, consider moving her from a processed food to fresh food diet. There can be amazing improvement in many conditions just by making this one simple change. The easiest and most cost-effective way for you to do this might be to start mixing some of your fresh foods in with her canned (not dry) food.

Avoid cooked animal fats when you share food with Sophie. Foods like cooked red meats (unless they were boiled and the fat removed, poultry skin and possibly even cooked dark meat chicken and turkey. Some dogs can not tolerate cooked animal fats.

There are many vitamins and supplements that you can use to help support her body while you gather information and start to treat her. I’d personally focus on immune glandular therapy which can both supply needed nutrients as well as behave as a decoy for the auto-antibodies which may be attacking the cells in her bone marrow and thereby inhibiting their normal proliferation. Supplying iron and trace minerals can also help her produce the needed cells. In my practice I use Immu-GO wafers and Trace Animinerals from Pet’s Friend. Nutritional Support from Rx Vitamins for Pets can provide most of the other useful nutrients.

After getting the opinion of the specialist, you have almost all of the information needed to make a fully informed treatment decision. If you decide to treat Sophie naturally and holistically, your next step is to add a trained holistic vet to her vet care team. Ideally, someone with experience managing similar cases and trained as a Hahnemannian (“classical”) homeopath. Ideally, you’d find someone locally. If you can’t find anyone within driving distance, many of us will consult with you and your vet remotely.

Sophie’s crack vet care team can then help you formulate a successful treatment plan by integrating all available diagnostic information, optimizing her lifestyle, using classical homeopathy and any needed supplements to help improve the quality and length of her life. I’m hopeful that doing so will give her many more happy years.

Good luck.

Dr. Jeff