Beatrice's Holistic Veterinary Care

I first met Beatrice, a one-year-old, spayed female Basset Hound, in January 2004. Beatrice's primary problems were a chronic cough caused by mycoplasma pneumonia and a congenital elbow deformity. An internal medicine specialist was treating Beatrice for the pneumonia with doxycycline, an antibiotic. Her cough had already started to improve on the medication. Beatrice had also seen an orthopedic specialist, who diagnosed the elbow condition as luxation of the radial heads of both elbows

I examined Beatrice to provide an opinion about complementary and alternative treatment options for her health issues. In the veterinary hospital, Beatrice showed a bright and friendly attitude. On physical exam, she had several quarter-sized hairless patches on her back, right hip, and right eyebrow area. Her ears had some moderate brown discharge and smelled of yeast. There were still some crackly sounds present in her lungs during inhalation, indicating that the pneumonia was not fully resolved. Beatrice's elbows were severely dysplastic, and she walked with a slight limp.

I took a swab of discharge from Beatrice's ears and several skin scrapings of the hairless patches to look at under the microscope. The ear swab revealed copious malassezia, a type of yeast. Malassezia is part of the ear's normal flora but can cause inflammation (otitis externa) when present in excessive amounts. Dogs with long, pendulous ears (like Basset Hounds), or dogs with allergies are predisposed to this type of infection. The skin scrapings were strongly positive for demodex, a mite that resides in the hair follicles. Demodectic mange in a young dog is typically associated with a genetic predisposition and immunosuppression.

I recommended an integrative approach, using conventional medicine, herbs, supplements, and acupuncture, to address Beatrice's health problems. This included continuing the antibiotics prescribed for her pneumonia by the internal medicine specialist. Beatrice’s guardian, Deborah Howard, was already giving her a Lactobacillus acidophilus supplement, which can help prevent any soft stools due to antibiotics.

Beatrice's elbow condition cannot be corrected using complementary or alternative treatments. However, acupuncture and chondroprotective agents can be used to manage pain and inflammation that may result from the deformity. I recommended a supplement called Myristol, which contains glucosamine, cetyl myristoleate, MSM, and hydrolyzed collagen. I also gave Beatrice an acupuncture treatment after the exam, using points to address the pneumonia and immune system deficiency as well as her elbow condition. Acupuncture may be used on a consistent or as needed basis to help control musculoskeletal pain.

For Beatrice's ears I suggested daily cleansing for one week with Dermapet MalAcetic Otic ear flush, a gentle solution that contains acetic and boric acid. This solution will safely clean the ears and eliminate yeast without irritation. I also recommended a topical treatment, Neem-Col spray, for the demodex infection of the skin. Neem is an ayurvedic herb that has antiparasitic properties. Moducare, a supplement containing plant sterols, was prescribed to improve Beatrice's immune system function. Anecdotal reports show that Moducare is helpful for dogs with demodectic mange. I also recommended supplemental vitamins C, E, and selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids to support her immune system and overall health.

Beatrice is currently doing well with the ongoing care she receives in the form of supplements, massage, acupuncture and the love and attention of her family!

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