We are celebrating holistic veterinary care and the added benefit of having access to CAM as well as conventional treatments. To mark CAM4animals’ third anniversary, we asked Teresa Bacon to tell us about Jimi, her rescue dog, and how integrated veterinary care made a significant difference to his life.
He was meant to be a foster dog!
Jimi is a 10-year-old Yorkshire Terrier. As a rescue dog, he had a chequered past history before coming to us six and a half years ago. He had apparently been a breeding dog, and then taken on as a child’s pet. This did not work out well, and we were asked to foster Jimi on the grounds that his temperament was unsuited to the noise and bustle of a young family – being prone to snapping when feeling stressed or pressured to do something he did not want to do. We were unable to find a home that would give him the individual care and attention that he needed, and after three weeks we knew that he wanted to stay with us.
Jimi comes with some health issues
It was necessary for Jimi to have his dew claws removed surgically soon after, as one caught in a carpet loop and broke, causing him a lot of pain. He also had several loose bottom teeth extracted, and a general clean and polish while under anaesthetic. Jimi recovered quickly and fully from this procedure.
Our main concern about him was that he was very tiny, only three and a half kilograms. He also suffered from bouts of stomach trouble, including occasional bloody diarrhoea. The upsets happened frequently, and his appetite was variable. He showed more interest in what we were eating than in his dog food, especially if it was something sweet – most likely a throw-back to the spaghetti hoops he had reportedly been fed on as a breeding dog. We managed to wean him on to a good quality freeze-dried raw food in small nuggets, although when offered a raw chicken wing he was as horrified as I would have been!
Jimi puts on weight, but life’s still a bit tricky in places
Jimi’s weight slowly improved, although the digestive problem continued. Our conventional vets were never able to get to the bottom of what was causing it, though blood tests indicated there could be a liver problem. On the whole, he was lively and playful – though with a very strong mind of his own. Twenty minutes after the first (and only) appointment with a local groomer, we were telephoned to come and pick him up again. Despite the best efforts of this poor lady, he wasn’t having any of it!
Jimi has never allowed us to clean his teeth, and for a couple of years we were able to have them cleaned by another dog groomer who exuded the sort of calm authority which allowed him to give in gracefully to her scraping the tartar off his teeth. Unfortunately, this service had to stop when she took over another business in her area, and was not able to treat dogs from further afield.
Last year we became concerned about the state of Jimi’s teeth, his breath was very unpleasant and we asked our current home groomer (with whom he has established a good rapport) to try and have a look inside his mouth. She confirmed that he would probably need dental treatment, which we knew would involve a general anaesthetic.
A holistic approach is needed
Due to the possibility of adverse reactions to the anaesthetic, we sought the help of Vicky Simon BVetMed VetMFHom MRCVS (Holistic Vet Vicky) in order to build up Jimi’s health and stamina prior to surgery. Vicky currently practices integrated medicine, though not surgical procedures. During Jimi’s appointment with her on September 1st, she confirmed that surgery would indeed be necessary, but reassured us that removal of the offending teeth was the best guarantor of long-term health for him.
She prepared a Phytotherapy tonic, based on her assessment of his overall condition from her own examination and from his veterinary records. This bespoke remedy consists of a range of medicinal herbs, made palatable with liquorice extract. Since he has been on his tonic, Jimi’s long-standing digestive problems have resolved completely. His appetite is now excellent, so much so that we had to cut down on his treats a little to ensure an optimum weight (5kg) prior to surgery.
It’s vital that Jimi’s kidney function is addressed before his operation
As Vicky had been concerned about some previous kidney function test results mentioned in Jimi’s notes, we arranged for him to have a preliminary blood test before the surgical procedure booked for October 12th with vet Edward DeBeukelaer MRCVS, who is also a qualified classical homeopath and head of Riverside Vets. The blood results indicated that it would be risky to proceed unless and until kidney function was restored to an adequate level. As Edward explained, Jimi would get through the operation, but it would likely prove too much for his kidneys and therefore cause major problems subsequently.
In somewhat of a state of shock, we requested a homeopathic consultation with Edward that afternoon, to discuss what could be done to improve Jimi’s kidney function so that surgery could go ahead with less risk.
A thorough and lengthy consultation resulted in Jimi being prescribed ‘Ratt-n 13C’ remedy, one dose daily for three days. We were requested to note down any changes in behaviour etc. for the following two weeks, which would indicate that the remedy was having an effect. Interestingly, the remedy was in accord with Jimi’s character and behaviour, i.e. he likes to scuttle close to walls and hedges among other positive rat-like traits – rats are, after all, highly intelligent and family-oriented animals.
Jimi showed a remarkable empathy for a child in his second family home, who was suffering from meningitis before anybody recognised he was so ill. Jimi would not leave the child’s side, which alerted the family to get immediate medical attention. They were indebted to him for that, though the arrival of a new baby meant they could not continue to care for him. Edward later told us that this was the first time he had selected that remedy, an indication to us of how unique each animal is. What a positive contrast to the ‘one size fits all’ approach of conventional medicine!
Kidney function restored
One month later, a second blood test showed that one of the kidney functions (creatinine) had returned to normal, and urea had reduced, but needed to come down further. After discussing the observations we had made, Edward gave Jimi a single dose homeopathic remedy – as I recall, a higher potency version of the same remedy. We returned a further month later, by which time kidney function was found to be acceptable and surgery was booked for January 5th this year.
Jimi needed to have 12 teeth removed, and we were given a tincture of Arnica and Hypericum to help the healing process. He felt very sorry for himself on the way home, but had substantially perked up by the evening and managed a good dinner of chicken and rice. Three days later we went back for a post-operative check-up, his gums were healing beautifully and he even seemed happy to be back in Edward’s office.
It’s now two months since the surgery, and despite having very few teeth and a lop-sided grin, he has had no trouble getting back to eating his crunchy meat and veg nuggets. As Edward predicted, Jimi has the new sparkle in his eyes which comes with the elimination of toxins associated with dental disease.
Holistic healthcare saves the day
We will never forget the wisdom, understanding and empathy shown first by Vicky, and then by Edward. These dedicated holistic practitioners have given Jimi a new lease of life, by enabling him to overcome what seemed (to us) to be an insoluble dilemma.
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Teresa has a long-term interest in holistic healthcare for people and animals and over the years her dogs have been treated by vets who practice integrated veterinary medicine. With her husband Richard, she has fostered and found lovely homes for Beagle cross Lottie and Molly the Westie. Until Jimmi came along they were happy to continue fostering. After losing their Airedale Alfie in 2012, they were so devastated that they swore they would never want to go through that again – as many people surely do, only to be swayed again by the power of an irresistible little personality!
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The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website