A rousing trail walk through Rock Creek Park a week and a half ago was great fun. Louis leaped into the creek, fearless of the water and I was so proud to see my 13 pound guy act like a 'real dog.'
Upon arriving home, I noticed what I thought was a big bite on his left side, behind his ear. I treated it using Calendula, an herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial derived from the Pot Marigold plant. I gave him some extra Vitamin C, also a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistimine to ease the itching and applied some Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils.
Oddly, his 'bite' did not heal. It seemed to spread. Three days passed and the entire side of his neck was covered!
I was seriously concerned, as the methods I employed should have been sufficient for the type of bite or rash I thought I was seeing. So, of course, I panicked. Its 11:00 on Saturday night (last week), the vet's offices are all closed and I am convincing myself my dog has somehow contracted Demodectic or Sarcoptic Mange.
I decide that yes, this is in fact, mange and I need a skin scrape done now in order to determine my next course of action. Never mind that these types of mange are contagious and neither Ella Bean or I have presented with so much as an itch, never mind that the pictures of mange delivered by doing a Google Image Search return results looking nothing like Louis, I am, at this moment, certain that microscopic mites are burrowing into my dogs skin, breeding and infesting him.
I haul a kind and patient family member out of bed, convinced them to drive across state lines to drive us to the emergency vet (my car is, of course, in the shop). I drag my sleeping dog out of bed, barge through the double doors and present him at the emergency vet reception station and proclaim, 'My dog has Sarcoptic Mange. I need a skin scrape!' The receptionist takes a look at my dog, squinting at the red, inflamed rash on my dogs neck, all the while his tail wagging and replies, "Your dog does NOT look like he has mange. Let me get your information and the vet will see you shortly."
My mind is racing. I need to somehow, receive diagnostics while rejecting the use of the vet's conventional methods - no antibiotics, no chemical pesticides to kill off mites...In short, nothing 'unnatural.' For those who followed The Poop Chronicles, you will know I have struggled to get Louis' digestive tract balanced and healthy, after gastritis and conventional treatments for doggy diarrhea did far more harm then good. I am all too aware of the side effects of antibiotics, anti-fungals, steroids and other conventional treatments. I am all too aware of the damage they do.
When we are led into the vet's office, I am presented with the standard series of questions.
Vet: What do you feed?
Me: Raw, meaty bones and offal. Dogs are scavenger carnivores. Real food doesn't come in a bag or can. You are what you eat, you know.
(Vet raises an eyebrow)
Vet: When were his last vaccines?
Me: You mean when was the last time I injected modified live or live or even killed disease, adjuvants and other poisons directly into my dog's bloodstream? I don't do that.
(Vet is looking increasingly concerned)
Vet: Do you use monthly flea and tick prevention?
Me: You mean chemical pesticides? No. We adhere to a complete wellness lifestyle.
(Family member buries head in hands, face red with embarrassment)
Vet: I don't know what that means. How do you keep the fleas and ticks away?
Me: (growing impatient at this point) Parasites and pests avoid strong immune systems. They make poor hosts. By feeding a species appropriate diet and supplementing with Diatomaceous Earth, my dog has never had an issue with fleas or ticks.
Vet: Well, wouldn't theory imply that your dog would make a poor host for mange? Clearly you know about dog health. You even said fleas and ticks stay away from your dog! I am having a hard time understanding why you think your dog has mange, especially if no other dog he lives with or has been in contact with is showing any symptoms...and frankly, his only symptom is a little rash!
At this point, its my turn to shut up and listen. This vet makes an excellent point. Little Ella Bean is picture perfect healthy and I haven't seen any signs of itchiness on her...and how could my Louis, with his healthy bright eyes, shiny coat and playful disposition be the carrier of a mite which would render him so uncomfortable, he would be whining and miserable? Not, as he is at that moment, wagging his tail incessantly and giddily trying to lick the vet's mouth.
Me: You know...you are right...I just feel like I need a vet to look at this under a microscope and give me a diagnosis. I don't need your medicine, whatever it is, I can treat it naturally with my Holistic Vet. Can you help?
The vet agrees to do a skin scrape and even agrees to allow me back with her and Louis for the procedure, so I can observe that nothing I do not directly approve of is administered to my dog. She rolls her eyes, but agrees to play along with my insanity.
The skin scrape, of course was unremarkable and the vet determines that this rash was probably a secondary infection from scratching a bite or allergen or maybe a fungal infection. Without an expensive and time consuming skin culture, there is no way to tell. I sigh in relief. No mange.
The vet starts telling me that she recommends that I put him on an anti-fungal and anti-biotic, immediately. She offers a steroid for the itching. She seems to know, even as she is listing off her solutions, that I will refuse. I politely say 'No thanks, I'd rather handle this naturally.'
She asks, "Just out of curiosity, what does that mean?"
I reply that we will be using Colloidal Silver, a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal.
According to Dr. Jeannie Thomason, "The presence of ionic or colloidal silver near a virus, fungus, bacterium or any other single celled pathogen disables its oxygen metabolism enzyme, its chemical lung, so to say. Within a few minutes, the pathogen suffocates and dies, and is cleared out of the body by the immune, lymphatic and elimination systems. Unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, which destroy beneficial enzymes, colloidal or ionic silver leaves these tissue-cell enzymes intact, as they are radically different from the enzymes of primitive single-celled life."
I also used Colustrum, a powerful immune system booster. I say to the vet, "Don't worry, I will contact our vet. She'll be monitoring him." The emergency vet looks somewhat relieved that this layperson won't be playing 'vet' on her own and my tired family member kind of shrugs at the vet, as if to say, "I think she is nuts, too."
Had I jumped to the antibiotics and steroids, I would have been pushing Louis' symptoms deeper into his system, a major cause of chronic illness. Antibiotics kill off good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract, rendering a dog's immune system further compromised. Antibiotics can often cause severe stomach upset and diarrhea and furthermore, excessive use of antibiotics renders them ineffective should we ever need to use an antibiotic in a life threatening situation.
One week later, we saw our own holistic vet, Dr. Pema at Veterinary Holistic Care. Louis' rash is all but gone, the dry skin and my hasty haircut around the site are the only remnants of this ordeal. She looks him over and informs me that I did the right thing, and it seems to be taken care of. I tell her about my adventure at the Veterinary E.R. and she laughs, knowingly. She doesn't think I sounds crazy, in fact, she was seemed pleased I was so adamant about my beliefs and that I didn't sway under fear based pressure. Many of the most devout natural caretakers often concede their practices in the face of 'infection'.
She explains that because Louis is not from a multiple generation raw fed, vaccine free lineage, even doing everything 'naturally' may not be enough to ward off all allergens. (Mental note: future dogs must be from Naturally Reared lineage!) She thinks that an inhaled irritant, like pollen or grass caused the itching, and sharp nails opened his skin, continued scratching caused an infection...and so on. She says he looks so much better then the ER report had indicated he would and that my natural protocol had worked. He looks great. If it happens again, we can use some herbal supplements to help support him, or I can use the same protocol. Either way works.
Do I think 'conventional' vets are evil? No. And, I do believe in conventional medicine - in conjunction with a species appropriate diet and wellness and natural medicine. Conventional medicine can be lifesaving and when used appropriately, animals who are attacked, injured or contract life threatening illness have a chance. Both modalities have their place, but for me and my dogs, I'll stick to my natural guns.