So many times I hear the complaint “but I already tried everything” accompanied by deep desperation and the desire to hang on to any tiny little shred of hope that their beloved animal’s health could be turned around.
One of these instances came from a German Shephard who had suffered from chronic diarrhea for more than two years.
This four year old male had gone from one vet to another and had been subjected to extensive testing only to come to a diagnosis traditional medicine has very little to offer for …
… Inflammatory bowel disease was plaguing this dog. But what does that really mean?
Not much, really, because it just tells you that there is inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Nothing more.
It doesn’t reveal the cause of the issue and as such doesn’t point toward how to fix it either. All they knew after all this work-up was that their dog still had diarrhea. The attempt at covering up the symptoms, which is all traditional medicine knows how to do, failed miserably just like in most other chronic diseases.
So, what is missing? Something most vets don’t know. Something that has the potential to turn your animal’s health around or at the very least improve it. The missing piece isn’t some miracle treatment, but a way of thinking that has been brainwashed out of our minds when it comes to health. Allow me the pleasure to guide you through some long lost logic.
First, what does it really mean when a dog has diarrhea? Or let me ask this differently. The check engine light comes on in your car. What does it mean? Is there something wrong with the light? No, of course not. Something is the matter with the engine!
Going back to diarrhea – a symptom that could easily be substituted for any other symptom your animal might be exhibiting such as allergies, weight gain, anxiety, etc. – what does it really mean? Something is wrong with the body and the symptom is telling you that.
But what a symptom is NOT revealing is “WHY” and what is not working properly. In order to restore the body to function the way it’s supposed to one has to ask the most fundamental question: “WHY?” Without knowing what caused it to break in the first place it is impossible to repair it.
In the case of my German shepherd friend we asked “WHY” and did the detective work to figure it out. In the process we found that he was sensitive to a lot of different foods, his thyroid levels were below normal and his adrenal glands were also not producing enough hormones.
But that still wasn’t the “WHY”. What caused these different parts of his body to malfunction? Something was missing and something was interfering with it. Those are the only two causes of any disease.
If we look at a wilted plant for example, we automatically know that it’s missing water, or maybe a bit of sun shine. On the other hand pests or some toxic chemical could be interfering with its life. The same is true for our animals and ourselves.
Once we figure out what is missing and what is interfering we have the answer. When an animal has chroming GI issues it is obvious what is missing: good nutrition for that individual. Due to the chronicity of the problem my friend wasn’t absorbing the nutrients he needed.
At the same time the food he was receiving was interfering with his body, causing inflammation of the intestinal lining, which then caused inflammation everywhere else in his body including his brain.
He suffered from severe anxiety and couldn’t do his work as a police dog. He also had skin allergies and was overweight. Because we live in a polluted world, it is impossible to avoid ingesting or inhaling toxins. So, another interfering aspect comes from the environment and needs to be addressed.
Currently, pollution is so bad that the body – healthy or not – is unable to deal with the onslaught of toxins on its own. Now that we have the “WHY”, we can come up with a plan to remedy the cause.
That’s an entirely different approach than taking a piece of duct tape to cover up the check engine light. Because what would happen if we did that? The car would break down, just like the body eventually shows more and more dysfunction.
Here comes the second part that most veterinarians don’t know. How does one go about fixing the body and what does it really take?
So far you’ve recognized that addressing the symptoms won’t repair the body. Using a shampoo to treat your animal’s allergies is mostly a waste of money. It may give temporary relief but the problem will come right back.
Of course, if an animal is suffering we need to give it some relief temporarily. That may be in the form of pharmaceuticals just to get the level of pain and stress under control to allow the body to start healing.
Just like the children’s song says ‘the foot bone is connected to the leg bone…’ so are all systems of the body. Only addressing one at a time while ignoring others will most likely result in treatment failure.
I know this because that’s how I tried to fix chronic fatigue syndrome that put me flat on my back for several years. Even if it eventually turns your animal’s health around, it takes far too long!
Your animals don’t have this kind of time to waste because their life span is much shorter than ours. Therefore the secret to success is to address the whole body with a systematic approach. What does that look like?
First, we need to do the testing to figure out what’s at the root of the problem. Only then can a plan of treatment be formulated.
6 Pillars To The Health And Healing Of Your Dog
There are 6 areas you need to focus on.
We start the process by giving the body what it needs: species-appropriate nutrition (not kibble). If an animal is sensitive to chicken or other foods, we need to stay away from those to allow the GI tract to heal. We may also add other nutraceuticals to support weakened functions of the body.
2. Gastro-Intestinal Health
At the same time as providing an optimal diet, we need to pay special attention to gut health, not just for dogs with diarrhea or vomiting, but for all of them. I always assume that the GI tract is compromised when I start working with a new patient. “Not gut – no glory” holds true and if we don’t fix any potential leaky gut, we won’t get very far.
Once good nutrition and gut health are in place we have a more stable animal. The body is now prepared for cleansing/detox. This will remove waste from the body and allow all cells to function better. And what happens when cell function improves? The body heals.
If an animal’s hormones are imbalanced, we need to address those, because the body doesn’t work without. Hormones are often not evaluated and when they are, insufficient testing is done such as only testing T4, the inactive form of the thyroid hormone. This value alone doesn’t provide enough information. A full thyroid panel is the way to go.
5. Nervous System
Another often misunderstood piece of the puzzle is the nervous system. Cracking bones, aka. Chiropractic Care is usually sought out far too late in the game and for musculoskeletal issues only. The nervous system is like a water hose. If you step on the hose the water stream will decrease. If nerve transmission to muscles, internal organs, etc. diminishes they can’t work optimally. The results are arthritic changes over time, poor digestion, urinary incontinence, trauma to ligaments and tendons, decreased immune function, etc. Care of the nervous system should be part of all treatments and used preventatively as soon as the puppy is born.
6. Exercise and Fitness
This is an aspect of health that is unfortunately very undervalued and put last on people’s list. Health is impossible without exercise! Dogs NEED to move. Of course, each animal is an individual with different needs that need to be taken into account. Movement stimulates increased blood flow and a better functioning immune system, both important for healing and health. Hormone balance is also positively affected and so is digestion. Their brain will work better and they’ll maintain better muscle mass, which keeps joints in better alignment and less prone to injury and arthritis down the road.
So what happened to our German shepherd friend? I’m happy to report that his diarrhea stopped in just a few days because we applied pillars 1 and 2.
His anxiety level also diminished significantly and he became his happy self again, playing with his brother and able to participate in training.
His allergies became a thing of the past and he lost a little weight as we applied all of the other parts of the puzzle.
3 Key Things To Remember
- Don’t chase after symptoms.
- Ask “WHY” and find the underlying cause.
- Use a systematic approach to provide the body with what it needs and to remove that which is interefering.
The real secret to longevity for your animals is prevention. If you invest a little into health, instead of having an animal that suffers a slow and painful decline, you’ll have a friend that is and stays healthy for many years.
To your animal’s health!