Thursday, July 22, 2010

Don't Dismiss Everything You Read Either!

Make up your mind, woman! First you want us not believe everything we read and now you take a hundred eighty degree turn?

This is not a hundred eighty degree turn though. However contradictory to my earlier article this might sound, it really isn't. There is a lot of information out there, some of it is accurate and some of it is not. Some of it is based on scientific research and some of it may be old wives tales. Some of it conforms to common belief and some of it does not.

I do believe that the best thing you can do for your dog is to start with basic accepted knowledge as your foundation. Turn to reliable sources to learn about your dog's condition and familiarize yourself with the recommended treatments. You cannot make any good decisions without that.

Isn't this enough then? Perhaps...

If a fact is commonly accepted does that make it true? Not that long ago people believed the Earth was flat! If somebody has an opinion contrary to the common belief does that make it wrong? Obviously not!

Some ideas might be too new

When I started looking into stem cell regenerative therapy as a treatment option for Jasmine, there wasn't a whole lot information available. When I brought the idea up to Jasmine's vet at the time he knew nothing about it and dismissed it immediately simply because of that. When I tried to look it up at the there was no mention of it at all.

However, after researching the theory it felt right. And it sounded better than an invasive surgery. In spite of the fact that it was not a commonly accepted idea, we decided to see where that road will take us. It is an amazing treatment and we are very happy we didn't dismiss the idea.

That was two years ago, meanwhile this therapy is gaining popularity and it did earn a mention on I do believe that this therapy might be the future of veterinary medicine. And yet it was pretty much a leap of faith back then.

Does common equal best?

Take a look at NSAIDs for example. Commonly used to manage arthritis and often prescribed to manage pain and inflammation after injury or surgery, NSAIDs indeed do bring relief to many dogs. They can however also cause serious side effects and in extreme cases death. Jasmine almost died when we did try putting her on Previcox! In any case, most drugs will put additional strain on your dog's system.

Are drugs the only solution? Quite often they are not. There may be other safer treatments. They might not work the same for every dog but neither do drugs. Will you be presented with these alternatives by your veterinarian? Depends on the veterinarian, but I think the odds of that are quite low.

Science or old wives tales?

I think science is amazing and the discoveries and knowledge it provides are irreplaceable. But does it always offer the best answers?

One problem I see with science is that the conclusions depend on the subjective choice of what is being studied in the first place. The pressure for quick, measurable results has had strong influence on what research is allowed to go on. I believe that this often leads to research that is narrow-focused, short-cut oriented, and results in band-aid type of solutions rather than true cures.

I believe that science often doesn't ask enough questions before coming up with answers. Science itself, after all, is just a tool to finding a solution and not an solution in itself. Any tool is only as good as the one using it.

Today we have quite a good understanding of diseases and conditions. But how many cures do we have, as opposed to managing treatments? And why is it that the more advanced veterinary science gets the more sick our dogs get?

Does the fact that something is not scientifically quantified mean that it won't work? Gravity worked long before it was discovered!

I read about a very interesting treatment (I will get into more detail in a later article) that did not get accepted because the author refused to do double-blind studies. His reason? He believed that his treatment worked and he didn't feel that it was right to condemn one third of his patients (those who would be on placebo) to death just to prove a point.

Unlike modern medicine, holistic approaches seek the root of the problem aiming to cure your dog rather than treating his symptoms. Some of these treatments might work better than others. But they are out there and I do believe they are worth considering.

After a lot of prodding and probing in attempt to find a cause of Jasmine's mysterious symptoms, her commonly accepted options boiled down to either pain killers or steroids. The choice between the two being a coin-toss. When I was searching for other solution I heard about Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) for the first time. This type of treatment is very different and could be considered an old-wives-tale-based approach. But while it lacks in scientific evidence, the benefit is evident.

So what is the conclusion?

Keep your eyes peeled! Don't accept or dismiss things easily. Study your options. Follow the odd trails to see where they lead. Choose the best tools regardless who's toolbox they come from. It's your dog's health!



  1. Great post! It is so important for Doctors and patients to keep informed of current research.

  2. And I would like to add, think twice before dismissing anything you read if you read it on this blog.

    Your blog has been a tremendous help for me finding the right treatment for Viva's spondylosis. Instead of pain killers and steriods, we followed your advice and treat her with glycosamine supplements, acupunctur, and underwater treadmill training.

    Viva is much better today then she was only three months ago. The treatment still continues, but she definitely is already very close to being the dog she can be. And should be. And we don't have to worry about any side-effects pain killers or steriods could cause in the longer run.

    Thanks to you, and Jasmine.

  3. Dear Sallie.

    Yes, it is. It is important to be aware of the new and the old to be able to choose what is the best for your dog.

  4. Dear Kenzo

    Everybody should make up their own mind about things. But these are my experiences and I do believe in these things for a reason.

    I am so happy that Viva is responding so well to the alternative treatment!

  5. While I am totally excited and thrilled at the prospect of what stem cell therapy can do for humans and animals, the proceedures and treatments are still in the experimental phase. Right now they are unproven to work AND are expensive. You can read more about it at the SkeptVet Blog

  6. Dear Karen.

    Firstly, I probably should have qualified, these are adipose derived adult stem cells from the patient and there is no associated danger with it other than the normal risk of reaction of anesthesia etc.

    As experimental as this may be, it has worked for Jasmine and many other dogs. Either way, I KNOW it worked for my dog.

    Is it expensive? Relatively. Compare it to long term use of NSAIDs though ...

  7. To clarify, alternative solutions are not indicated for every individual and condition. But being open to different and not so conventional solutions can often make a huge difference.

    There are conventional treatments that are great and superior to their respective alternatives. But there are conventional treatments that can cause more problems than they solve and searching for alternatives is well warranted.

    My point here is to learn about all options, remain open to thinking out of the box and weigh pros and cons of each approach as objectively as possible.

  8. Case studies of dogs who have been helped with fat-derived adult stem cell therapy:

  9. Thanks for sharing the link. I'm going to investigate more AND maybe do a blog post!

  10. Dear Karen. Great, that's what it is all about - finding out. There were very few testimonials available two years ago, but now there are many.

  11. I LOVE this statement,

    Choose the best tools regardless who's toolbox they come from.



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  13. I think it's important to be informed on alternative procedures and methods, where they have been successful, where they have not. I really appreciate what you are doing here. Long term effects of NSAIDS use and many other more heavy duty drugs are not insignificant and directly affect quality of life.

    I wrote a couple of posts about stem cell discoveries and results, especially the great results in arthritic dogs. I'm thrilled with what's happening in this field. The 60 Minutes segment on Sunday, which you can catch on the web I think at CBS tv, introduced the scientists working on making parts from stem cells and the patients who have received them: bladder, ears...fascinating!

    There is so much we don't know about so many things, and all those things that we think we know change continuously - it's daunting, wonderful, and kinda scary all at once:) We do what we can to keep finding out!

  14. Hi Mary, thank you for reading!
    Yeah, we have direct experience with fat-derived stem cells. Jasmine is a VetStem's poster child! :-)

    I have an interview with VetStem's founder also

    People usually reach to alternatives after the 'common' approach has failed them or caused more trouble than it did good. Often it would be a good idea to start with those first.

  15. I believe that stem cell therapy is going to become much more mainstream in the future. It's already being used to treat joint and muscle injuries in dogs with a significant degree of success. It's use actually started with horses, I believe.

    Besides the joint, muscle and tendon injuries that are currently being treated with regenerative stem cell therapy, there is also quite a bit of interest in using the therapy to treat immune disease, liver disease, heart disease and more.

    The real down-side to the therapy at this point is it's expense. The Vet Stem process also requires a minor surgical procedure to harvest the fat cells that are processed and used as the stem cells which are injected into the injured joint or tissue.

  16. Lorie, thank you for participating!

    Yes, it did start with horses first, I have several articles on that subject here.

    Research is being done into conditions other than orthopedic injuries and arthritis, I know about trials using stem cells to treat IBD and other conditions.

    I agree that it is rather costly, but calculating long term cost of NSAIDs use, it would pay itself in about two years.

    The anesthesia is the downside for dogs who couldn't not tolerate that.