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Messages - BrookeR

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Thanks jo. Yes I had thought about stopping the herbs. But Peppers relapse, lack
of energy and down mood all started before we began the herbs. Ordinarily we would never have started Pepper on something new when she wasnít stable. But condsidering we believe she was relapsing and we were worried about her liver, and having nowhere else to go if her liver levels went up. My vet and I decided it was best to risk trying the herbs in case they helped.
They are supposed be a natural steroid (however the specialist said they donít interfere with blood alp & alt levels?), with potential to be able to lower pred doses. Also they are meant to be good for Cushings, liver support and antii inflammatory.
i keep thinking should we stop them? But then I donít want to because what if they are helping her enough to keep her walking and not in horrible pain and enough to support her liver so we donít have irreparable damage. If we stop they will take time to build up in her system again if we want to start again. Thatís time we wonít have. But the fact that she was already down before we started them is the main reason I havenít stopped giving them to her yet.

She has been slower getting about today. So I am getting concerned that the drop in pred dose is taking affect. She did do some short bits of running chasing birds today so letís hope thatís why she seems more uncomfortable :(

Unfortunately Pepper is not doing well. She has been quite somber, slow and not her usual perky self. I took her back to our vet to get bloods done to check what was going on and her liver levels were through the roof! Higher than they have had ever been, even when she was on much higher doses of pred. I have dropped back her dose from 10mg per day to 7.5mg and started her on denosyl. We are going to wait a week and then drop back a further 2.5mg (back to the dose we were originally on). Iím so worried she is going to relapse badly, but also worried about the damage to her liver. I cannot afford to put her back on cyclosporine again so we donít really have any options. She has never got a fever again when she has relapsed. She only got the fever when she was initially diagnosed with impa. So my vet is wanting to get her back to her previous 5mg tablet of pred and if she is still in pain try tramadol. As long as she has no fever. In which case she says we would need to go with an immunosuppressant.
Other symptoms do not seem to be suggesting she now has full blown Cushings or diabetes. We think itís just the increase in pred that has caused the extreme liver levels. But she has been on much higher doses before (even though she has now been on steroids for a long period of time) we didnít expect to see results like this with the pred increase that we made. The only difference this time is she is on the Chinese herbs but I spoke with the specialist vet who prescribed them and they should not have any affect on liver levels or causing inaccurate results. They are supposed to help with liver support.

I donít know whatís going to happen. Iím hoping her liver is going to be okay while we taper her. more quickly than we would normally do with Pepper (as she is so sensitive to change). I donít know what we will do if she ends up in pain when we drop back. I donít think the tramadol will work. We have briefly tried things like gabapentin and a non steroidal anti inflammatory before when she relapsed and they didnít work. But that was when she was on no immune suppressants. This time we plan on keeping her on a low dose of pred.
After we do the next taper we will wait a bit and then retest her blood and see what her liver levels are doing. 🤞 fingers crossed we havenít cause irreparable damage 😞

One thing I forgot to mention. Just check the contraindications with cyclosporine when using herbs. I did a very quick google search on Ribes Nigrum EIE & it mentioned something about black currents. I remember checking the contraindications of different drugs/ herbs with cyclosporine before I gave it to Pepper. I thought I remembered reading something about cranberry juice, changing the effectiveness. I canít be sure though, as it was some time ago. Your vet should be able to check their Ďplumbs veterinary drug handbookí for you.

Thanks, Iíve heard of arnica (I took when I had my second child to recover quicker) but donít know the other two. Iíll have to look into them.
I was giving Pepper the Human cyclosporine drug called neoral. She was on 150mg a day. I think 100mg in the morning and 50mg of a night/afternoon.
Its worth trying natural remedies to try lessen the chemical load. They canít be expected to have the same effectiveness as the hard drugs, but Iím all for trying. Every little bit could help.

Hi Monica,
Good to hear from you. Sorry that you are also going through the same with your girl.
We had to change to cyclosporine early on due to advice from an inexperienced vet which caused an initial incorrect dosage regime wth pred. Ultimately resulting in Peppers liver reaching damaging levels. We had to change to the cyclosporine to try give her liver a break. We managed to get the cyclosporine to work for long enough to give her liver a break. But there was lots of ups and downs. Pepper responds much better to pred. We were having to give her such a large dose of cyclosporine for it to have effect.  Which ended up costing us all of our savings. She has since been able to maintain a much lower dose of pred, until this latest relapse. She seemed to have more side effects from the cyclosporine too. She is a English staffy, so a medium size dog (approx 18kg) and wonít suffer the effects of pred quiet as much as a larger dog. But she definitely shows muscle wastage. Although already being such a muscley breed to begin with that may have left her more muscle to make it not so obvious.

I have read & researched everything I can to give Pep the best chance I could. Jean Dodds book canine nutrigenomics is a great start to read. I have eliminated chemicals from our home, she also does not have any worm, heartworm, topical flea treatments or vaccines.  Pepper has lots of allergies and food intolerances & sensitivities so I have worked on her diet a lot. We did nutriscan testing and I had a balanced diet made Dr Remilliard at Pet Diets for her.
I give her probiotics, she has wild liquid salmon oil for omegas, sunflower oil for linoeic acid, Rose hip vitamin c joint supplement, a trace vitamin and mineral supplement to help balance her home cooked diet.
Now I have just started trying the Chinese herbs. I figured to give her the best chance I would try get her body in as best health as possible.

Thanks jo, I really hope they work for pep.

We are back on the roller coaster again. We believe Pepper is relapsing again (impa)  and have had to go up in Pred. 😔
I have also just started giving her (very gradually) Si Miao San, Traditional Chinese Herbs. The list of things that it has claims that it helps with is extensive and would be absolutely amazing if it ends up doing even half the things they say it can help with.
With Peppers sensitivity I have always been scared with trying things like this. Although given her age, the chronic steroid use, the worsening of her joints and now this latest relapse I have decided itís worth the risk. So far we have had no problems but Iím still working up to her correct dose.

Has anyone else had any experience with using traditional Chinese medicine? In particular Si Miao San (four marvels powder).

Sorry to hear you that and Riley have been having a hard time. It is an emotional roller coaster having a dog with an immune disorder. I have had so many ups and downs with my girl but will keep fighting for her to be as healthy and comfortable as she can be. As you would be the same, thatís why this forum is so great. Everybody understands the feeling and wants to help eachother.

I looked into using colostrum some time back for my staffy Pepper. But in the end we decided we werenít comfortable and felt the immune stimulating aspect of it was too big of a risk.
Pepper is extremely sensitive and allergic to many things, so that was another factor to worry about.

I found jean Dodds book canine nutrigenomics a good read if you havenít already read it. Pepper is on Protexin probiotics but I have been trying to find a higher quality one but thatís all that seems to be available here in australia. Jean talks about higher quality probiotics available in the states.

I have just had a phone consult with a holistic vet specialist in Sydney. They also specialise in Chinese medicine amongst other things. I discussed with them natural remedies and supplements, probiotics, digestive enzymes etc that we may be able to use going forward to try and get pepper in optimum health. Also to try help prevent cancer and some drug free options to help her joints. I am waiting for them to send me through the notes and their suggestions. Pepper will be 11 this year, so like you I am trying to get her in the best shape I can via use of supplements etc.
When I mentioned finding a better quality probiotic the specialist suggested giving pepper things to help her body better absorb and make optimum use of the probiotic. Rather than change probiotics. She suggested slippery elm and was going to come back to me with digestive enzymes and some other options.
I will let you know if they come back with anything else that may also be useful for you and Riley.
Best of luck

General doggy chat / Re: Very sad news - Pepper
« on: February 05, 2018, 11:29:16 AM »
Thanks Jo. Iím so thrilled.

General doggy chat / Re: Very sad news - Pepper
« on: February 04, 2018, 08:09:12 PM »
Pepper has done it again. My hope for expecting the unexpected from her has came true.
Her toe went down, which it shouldnít have if she had plasmacytoma. I took her back to be tested again and the results were considerably different this time. She has permenantly been on 5mg pred once a day (weight 17.8kg) for her IMPA. Thats the dose we have t been able to get below and so have accepted. When we got the plasmacytoma diagnosis we went up to 2.5mg a day (total 7.5mg once daily). After doing the second test and receiving the considerably different results we decided to do 2 more weeks at 7.5mg and then drop back to 5mg once daily. Then after a week at the lower dose retest everything again.
We have just rested her again and by complete Pepper standards of never conforming to the normal......no cancer 😁 Only Pepper could do this!
The initial tests of her lymph showed 90%+ plasma cells. Apparently a result of 30% is cancer.
Peppers two new tests showed 10%, a level that they believe is just normal for inflammation caused by skin disease. There was nothing else to suggest cancer. Multiple pathologists have looked at her results and have no explaination. 
To say I am over the moon is an understatement 😊

Hi Mel & Tara,
Its great to see that youíve joined the forum  :D
You will greatly benefit from reading through the info here and following other peopleís stories who have been through similar situations. So many lovely people with experience in these horrible immune mediated diseases, who have banded together to help each other and our furr babies.

Iím so glad to have been able to help point you towards this forum. I donít know how I would have been able to get through all I have been through with my staffy Pep if I hadnít by chance stumbled across it.
Iím forever grateful to Jo and everyone else on here for sharing their stories and for listening.

General doggy chat / Re: Very sad news - Pepper
« on: December 22, 2017, 02:09:29 AM »
Thanks jo.
Pepper has Plasmacytoma that has metastasized (vs localised plasmacytoma).
I donít know too much about it other than it being bad and a rare fast progressing form of cancer. The specialists here in Sydney have only known of one other case of it this year.
What else could we expect from Pep, she is one in a million and likes to do things different from the mainstream.
We had some really hot days and Peps toe was very swollen and she was having some trouble getting about by the evening time. But today was cooler and she has just been her normal self running around, barking and following me everywhere.
We had a photographer come to the house this morning and take a lot of pics of us all together. I am also taking her to get a plaster sculpture of her foot done next week, as I had one done of both kids hands and feet and always wanted to do hers too.

Iíve spent two days crying and Pep has been sad and not herself. But Iíve pulled myself together (for now) and she is great today. She knows when something is wrong so I need to try and hide it from her so she stays happy.

There is nothing else to do but take each day as it comes, try and be strong and happy for Pep. She is getting to have more special food treats and going for lots of drives and family outings.

I guess the only good thing about this rare cancer is they donít know so much about it and therefore no one can really give us any definitive answers on time frames etc. Which in a way is better I feel. 

Another positive Iím holding onto is Pep never sticks to the normal or follows rules so im not going to dwell on any approximate figures they have given me. Iíll let Pep be Pep and do her best to be different.

General doggy chat / Very sad news - Pepper
« on: December 20, 2017, 05:48:58 PM »
It is with great sadness that I write on here now, but I wanted to give an update while I still can.
I have been absolutely heartbroken today to find out the news that my beautiful girl Pepper has a very rare and fast acting terminal cancer. Apologies for not being to write the name of it down at this point but my head has been a mess today.
She has a very swollen back toe where the cancer is and it is also in her lymph glands. We do not know the extent of exactly where else it is. But I am choosing not to run and further testing and instead just making her comfortable and spending every minute I can trying to give her as much love and happiness that I can in the little time they have advised me that we have left.
Pepper is my best mate and has been for the last 10.5years. I could never have asked for a more beautiful, placid, loving, loyal dog. We have been through so much together and barely spent a day apart only the little time when I was in hospital having my children. She follows me everywhere even at times when she has been in pain, she couldnít miss watching me go to the toilet or laying on the bathroom floor while Iím in the shower. Not to mention having to sit on my lap when we travel away to my parents farm 2+hrs away when there is a perfectly good seat free in the Back. Itís just too far away from me.
I have been lucky enough to work from home with pep ever since she was a pup. For the first 4 years it was only me and her. She has helped me build up our business until such point that my partner could also join us working from home. She was by my side every day keeping me sane through the early days of working on my own.
I am so so grateful for all the advice that I have received from on this forum from you jo especially and all the other great members. I believe you have given me the gift of having her with us for an extra few years.
Pepper was diagnosed impa the days before Christmas 2014. Each year we have had problems with relapses at Christmas time and I have been so worried about what was in store for this Christmas considering pepperís past traditions at Christmas. I did not expect this though. But have learnt over the years that Pepper always does the unexpected when it comes to anything health/medical related.
For anyone who knows myself and peppers story you will know how hard I have fought for her. She has basically been the dog that needed a bubble with all her allergies etc. After all the time at vets, specialists & researching everything that I could, giving her special diet and supplements. Finally we have had this last year living comfortably all but itch free with no colitis or gastro problems.

I have dreaded this day and to say Iím am devastated is an understatement.
Pepper is my first baby, and my best friend who has been by my side through everything. I could never have imagined having so much love for one little staffy. There will never be another dog as placid, loving, kind nature and tolerant as pepper. She truly is one of a kind in all ways. She is so gentle and loving with kids and also other dogs. She will roll over and surrender to a chihuahua. Through all her problems she has always been the best patient you could ever ask for. I cannot even begin to imagine life without her. All I can keep telling myself is the only thing to do is try make every minute we have count and show her as much love and enjoyment that we can while we can. 😥😥😥

Thanks Jo. It does feel good that my hard work has paid off. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat for Pepper. She is so special and the greatest reward.
I used to give Pepper human probiotics for a number of years before I began giving her animal probiotics. Until I read information that dog's had some different gut bacteria than humans that wasn't being covered by the human probiotics that I was giving her. So I changed over to one for dogs.
I do however, still give her human sockeye liquid salmon oil. As from what I could find it is better quality and a lot of the canine ones have Rosemary in them. Which can cause seizures in some dog's. I didn't want to tempt fate with that.

One thing I would change if I could, is never putting her on the desensitising allergy vaccines. All our problems began when we stopped them. I now feel they compromised her immune system. But we will never really know.

Hi jo,
Aside from the recent attempt to taper pepper further (& failing) she is actually doing the best that she has in years. That is in terms of her allergies. She is having no problems with loose stools and only very very rarely gets the slightest bit itchy. I am not having to put all the crazy effort in either to keep her itch free. She is just okay as is. I'm only bathing her every few weeks or so now. She still has all her special diet and supplements but that's it. Her body seems to have finally found its happy place. She is even better now than she was when on the allergy vaccines. She isn't limping at all on this dose. She is 10 now though and my vet has just noticed her knees have just got a bit clicky on examination. But it's to be expected with her breed and age (especially considering what she has been through with the Impa).
I tried so hard to keep her off the pred, but I've accepted now this is how it has to be. So she is happy for the time she has left. We are as low a dose as we can be.

Hi sue,
I don't have any experience with leflunomide, but from what I've read diarrhoea is a side effect.
Perhaps it has taken a while to build up in your dog's system and start being a problem with the diarrhoea ? Nausea is a common side affect of cyclosporine. Pepper took it for some time and was fine and then all of a sudden started to get nauseous. Im not sure why either.
Just make sure you try one thing at a time and try it for a while. Especially with natural remedies they may take a while to build up in the system. So if you only try for a few days and then add something else you won't know for sure what is causing the reaction.

Just wondering if the proviable probiotics may have another ingredient in it (other than the bacterias) that could be causing a problem. It's a long shot, I'd say More likely still the leflunomide, but just a thought. Is it in paste form or powder? I don't know about the product, but sometimes different brands can add different ingredients. I have always had to research everything I give pepper thouroughly. I once tried omega topical oil with her thinking it would just be omega oils and didn't read the fine print. When I put it on her, it smelt strong and I quickly read the ingredients and it had tea tree oil added. Pepper is highly allergic to tea tree oil. The last time she had it on her she puffed up like the Michelin man. Luckily I got it off quickly and she was fine. But I would never have expected tea tree oil to be in omega topical oil .

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