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Results of routine heart worm treatment

At the Beginning
"Max the boxer has had quite a life. He was born in Texas on July 25, 2006 and for the first 2 ½ years of his life, he lived with a family who had too much going on to take proper care of him. They had too many kids and other dogs and so Max, being an energetic boxer puppy and too much to handle, got chained to a tree in the backyard. Finally the family decided to give Max up for adoption so that another family could offer him the life he deserved. Unfortunately, by the time they had decided to do that, Max had already been bitten by a mosquito that carried heartworms and it subsequently infected him.

A Second Change
Legacy Boxer Rescue, a boxer rescue group in Dallas area took Max in and got him a wonderful foster family. Max was taken to the Humane Society on July 24, 2009 and was found to be heartworm positive. He was also vaccinated for rabies, lyme disease, canine distemper, canine parainfluenza, canine adenovirus 2, canine parvovirus, canine bordetella, and leptospirosis all on the same day. On July 30, 2009 Max was brought to the Midway Hollow Pet Clinic in Dallas to be neutered. On August 18, 2009 Max was brought back in to get treated for heartworms with a drug called Immiticide and was also given a prescription for Tramadol, a pain killer. Max had to be kept quiet and could not run, play, or go for walks for 4 weeks post Immiticide treatment. Then for another month, he still could not do anything strenuous. Max’s fantastic foster family took care of him and his foster brother and sister played with him as much as their mom would allow while he recovered.

A Forever Family
Max recovered nicely from the heartworms and on September 26, 2009 he was adopted by two Chiropractors who were looking to bring a wonderful dog into their family. That’s where we come in. My name is DC and my fiancé is Greg Hollandsworth DC we adopted Max and have had quite a journey with him. We felt it was important to tell his story so that more dogs out there may have a better chance. Back to Max…being prevention minded, shortly after we got him, we took him to see a vet who is also an animal chiropractor, Dr. Gene Giggleman DVM. On October 9, 2009 Max tested negative for heartworms. After he was examined, Dr. Giggleman found that Max had a Grade III heart murmur. He adjusted Max and gave him heartworm preventative medication along with some supplements to support his heart and increase the oxygen carrying capacity of his blood. Max has a beautiful flashy reverse brindle coat but we had to use conditioner on him after a bath to make him a little bit softer, he had very coarse fur. Overall, Max was living a pretty good life at this point. He was getting 2-3 walks a day, he got tons of attention, and even got to sleep on the bed at night. Max was a very agile dog, he would jump up on the bed, run so fast down the hallway that he had to slide to a stop, when he was chasing a toy he would jump over the couch after it. He was a very spoiled and loved boxer. In January, we adopted another boxer, Riley, so that Max would have some company when he was home alone. Max was a very strong dog and I had to buy an easy walk harness to be able to control both him and Riley when they got excited while on a walk together.

Strange Shakes
Max and Riley were both being fed Eukanuba Boxer specific dry food and in late February, we switched them to Blue Buffalo food. Everything seemed to be going along just fine until March 1, 2010. Max began having head tremors. They came and went randomly and would last anywhere from 5-20 minutes. They didn’t seem to bother Max, but he couldn’t control them either. Max was taken to the animal ER and checked out. The vet said there wasn’t really anything she could do and didn’t know what had caused them. So, everyone went home and we began thinking. People can have food sensitivities so why couldn’t animals.
The next day we brought Max in to get some blood work done and to see Dr. Giggleman to get checked out. He cleared Max’s blood work and said nothing looked unusual. He also agreed that the food change could have triggered the tremors and Max may be sensitive to something in the new food. We switched Max back to Eukanuba and the tremors seemed to stop. A few weeks later, after Max had been chewing on a rawhide bone for a few days, his head tremors came back. We took the bone away and within a day the tremors stopped again. We figured that Max must have a chemical sensitivity and from now on we needed to be very aware of what treats, bones, and food we gave him.

Mystery Problem
Life got back to normal and everyone was doing well. An interesting opportunity presented itself and Max’s family moved from Dallas, TX to Yelm, WA. Shortly after the move, things got interesting. On Sunday July 18, 2010 Max ate a pound of cooked marinated shrimp that he snagged off the counter. Over the course of the next few days, Max began salivating excessively when he ate, he was coughing and spitting up, this progressed into vomiting and regurgitating almost immediately after he ate or drank anything. White foamy stuff came out of his mouth and nose. He had diarrhea was sleeping a lot and began moaning while he was lying down. That Thursday July 22, 2010 we took him to a Bloom Pet Hospital where Max was checked out. They took some blood to run a standard blood panel and examined him. A chest x-ray was taken to make sure he did not have anything caught in his throat. Upon viewing of the x-ray, there were two things of interest, one was a possible megaesophagus (an enlarged esophagus) and the other was a spot that was suspect. The vet recommended sending the film out for a consult. Max left with a diagnosis of pneumonia and some antibiotics (cephalexin).

The following afternoon (Friday), the vet called and said that the radiologist had seen something she suspected was blocking Max’s airway and he needed to get it taken care of asap. Max was rushed to Summit Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma because they had the proper facilities to take care of him. Max had another exam and was knocked out both because he was not corporative and because they had to take more x-rays and were potentially going to scope him to find the obstruction that he was referred for. While he was there, he was given a Butorphanol injection (a sedative and pain reliever), Acepromazine injection (a sedative commonly given to stressed out animals when they travel) and subcutaneous fluids. They did not see anything that could be stuck in his throat but they did see the megaesophagus, which worried them. We were told that megaesophagus was most commonly caused by 3 things. One is a thyroid disorder, two is an adrenal disorder, and three is myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune condition). The vet also told us that the stomach and esophageal linings looked to be inflamed and it was possible that Max simply had a bad reaction to the shrimp and he was just inflamed from all of the vomiting he had been doing over the past few days. We left with Max woosy and with the diagnosis of gastritis and esophagitis (no pneumonia) and some sucralfate tablets (to help coat his throat). That night Max slept soundly and his vomiting stopped.
Saturday July 24, 1010 (a year to the day that he was vaccinated) he was worse than when we had brought him in the day before. Max was regurgitating every time he drank water or ate food. He was vomiting all morning. He had very little strength and we were worried he was going to get dehydrated if it didn’t stop soon. We got back in the car and went back to Summit. By the time they got there, Max was very run down, he looked sick, weak, had little energy and was just lying on the floor of the exam room (which he usually does not do). He was very corporative this time and didn’t seem to have the desire to resist anything or anyone. Options were discussed and it was decided that it would be best to keep Max over night to get his vomiting calmed down and to get him rehydrated. Overnight, Max continued to regurgitate clear and white foamy fluid from his mouth and nose. They did not see any pathology on repeat x-rays. Max’s gait did appear to be getting stiff. The next day, Summit reported that Max’s gait continued to be stiff and he became weak mostly in his hind legs after walking outside. He did continue to hypersalivate and regurgitate but the episodes became fewer and farther between and it no longer was coming out of his nose. He was able to eat meatballs sitting up and kept down most of his food. They ordered more lab work to check his thyroid, adrenals and to test AcH Antibodies for Myasthenia Gravis (an autoimmune disease). Max was discharged about 24 hours after he was brought in and we were supposed to give him Pepcid, Prilosec, and continue the Sucralfate. At this point they still did not know what was going on with him.

We brought him home and he continued to vomit, regurgitate and had a hard time drinking water and keeping it down. We had to feed Max 3 times a day by hand we rolled his food into little meatball sized pieces and fed him while he either was standing or sitting up. This way, the food went right down his throat with the help of gravity and he kept it down a little bit better. We also give him the Sucralfate every 8 hours and the Prilosec and Pepcid daily as instructed. I slept on the futon on the living room floor with Max for a week so that I could get up with him in the middle of the night for a vomiting spell. We did all of this but Max continued to get worse.

Finally Some Answers
We got a phone call from Summit about a week after his last visit and they confirmed that Max indeed did show the antibodies to Ach, which is the positive test for Myastheina Gravis. Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune condition in which skeletal (voluntary) muscles don’t get the message from the nerve that they need to contract. The message is interrupted at the neuromuscular junction where the neurotransmitter achetylocholine (Ach) is released and used to signal the achetylcholine receptors on the muscle to contract. The receptors are blocked, altered or destroyed and the message does not get through.

Their suggested treatment was Pyridostigmine (to increase the amount of Ach that was available for the muscle) and Cyclosporine (the same drug they give to organ transplant patients so that their immune system doesn’t reject the organ). We looked at the side effects of these drugs and decided that this was not the road we wanted to take. We did not think that suppressing Max’s immune system would be a good thing considering all of the things that dogs put in their mouths. With his immune system suppressed, he would also be more prone to other diseases, which he would subsequently have a harder time fighting off. Not to mention that this drug was $450 a month! We were not willing to pay that much just to have more medical bills from what that drug would most likely cause in the future.
When you Google Myasthenia Gravis it says there is no cure, only periods of remission. We felt that if we could find the trigger for this, remove it, and support Max’s body and immune system properly we may be able to get him into a state of “permanent” remission. Now that we had a diagnosis we knew we would be able to get somewhere with him. We decided to go the alternative route, without approval of our vet.

A New Approach
On Sunday August 1, 2010 we thought Max was going to die. He did not eat all day, he wasn’t drinking anything, and he was sulking in the yard and didn’t want to be bothered. He had almost no strength and couldn’t hold himself up to go to the bathroom. We had to carry him up and down the 3 stairs off the back porch. He continued to vomit and regurgitate through out the day and his moaning sounded horrible. That night I half thought that I was kissing him goodnight for the last time and that he would be gone by morning.

When your beloved dog is in that state you are willing to try just about anything. We are fortunate enough to know a lot of people around the country who know a lot of different alternative healing styles. At the risk of stepping outside of most people’s comfort zone, I am going to share with you all of Max’s treatments including some of the more interesting pieces of Max’s recovery. Keep in mind that at this point Max’s front and back legs were not working properly. He was unable to walk up or down the 3 steps on the back deck to go to the bathroom. He couldn’t hold himself up long enough to urinate and usually ended up urinating on his front legs. When he had a bowel movement, he often had to go while lying down on his belly and then would immediately scoot or crawl away from the place he just relieved himself. He still continued to have a hard time eating or drinking and keeping it down. Chiropractic philosophy says that when someone is manifesting a dys-function in the body it can always be traced back to either something chemical, physical, or emotional. We didn’t think Max was happy living like this and decided to turn to Chiropractic philosophy for his treatments.

We contacted Terry Linker in Illinois who does distance energy work and asked him to take a look at Max. We sent him Max’s picture and he told us to put Max into a room so that no one else was within 10 feet of him and to leave him alone for an hour. We noticed an immediate change in Max’s demeanor post treatment. He was much more clam and relaxed but still wanted to be left alone. We decided that while we weren’t sure what he had done, it seemed to help and we wanted to continue treatments. Max was seen approximately once a week over the next 4 weeks and every single time Max was worked on we saw an immediate change in him. At one point he had been having some trouble going to the bathroom and in his next session he had some work done on his sacral charka. Immediately post treatment, Max went right outside and had a huge bowel movement.

We also got in contact with an animal psychic in Florida, Jo-Ann Escott to see if she could give us any insight. Neither of us had worked with a psychic before and had no idea what to expect. On August 9, she connected with Max and told us the following. Max’s throat and sacral charkas were blocked, he had eaten some rancid food (possibly the shrimp), and the biggest thing was that Max was afraid. Max’s whole life, every time he met someone or something new, it meant life was changing for him. Max was even resistant to let her in and she said she had to talk to him for 10 minutes before he would really open up to her. One thing she said was that Max had recently given up hope and was ready to die but that he had decided to stay and give it another shot. She said that Max felt a special connection with his Dad and felt that he understood him so he was going to stay for him. We asked her to tell Max that we had every intention of keeping him as a part of this family for as long as he wanted to be and that even if we moved again that he would come with us. I know this may sound a little out there, but I’ll tell you that ever since that day, not only has Max been getting better, he has been more welcoming to new people. He used to be very wary about meeting new people, but now is much more willing to say hi and usually wants to kiss them. He is even much more loving towards us than he used to be.

Being Chiropractors ourselves and knowing the importance of the physical body, we turned to what we knew the best, the body and helping it heal with nutritional supplementation. After consulting with Dr. Tom Cameron DVM from Standard Process’s tech support on August 11th we began Max on a supplement protocol of Thymex, Immuniplex, and Myoplus. We also did some research of our own and added in some Tuna Omega 3 Oil from Standard Process and Total Brain from NutriWest. Within just a few days, we started to see some improvements in Max, the biggest one was that his vomiting and regurgitation decreased pretty quickly. This was the most relief we had seen him have since this whole thing started.

Max was still weak in the legs and we had to carry him up and down the steps in the backyard a few times a day so that he could go to the bathroom. His front legs would sometimes get too tired to hold him up through out his eating time, so we would have to finish feeding him while he laid down and just looked up. We kept his head propped up on a pillow for 30 minutes every time after he ate. This seemed to help him keep his food down. While we were making progress with him, we felt there was something missing.

Being relatively new in Yelm, WA we did not know of any alternative vets in the area so we began asking our patients if they had any recommendations. We got referred to the same person by 10-15 different people, Dr. Jenifer Preston DVM. So we called her to see what she could do.

After getting all of Max’s records faxed to her, Dr. Preston came to our office August 18th where we brought Max one morning and she examined him, took some hair and took a picture. Seeing the state that Max was in, she wasn’t too sure how much she could help him, but we told her that we were optimistic and willing to try anything. She did some testing at her office and called us later that evening saying she had found a toxicity to the immiticide drug (which was used to treat his heartworm) in his system along with a toxicity to the rabies vaccine. She put Max on some herbs to help boost his immune system and got us a nosode made from the immiticide. For those of you who are unfamiliar with homeopathic medicine, a nosode is simply a minute amount of the offending agent ground down and then put into pill form with some other things to be used as treatment. We began giving Max the immiticide nosode on August 28th and wow. Max took another huge step in his recovery over the next week or so. His strength started coming back, his mood was improving, he was vomiting and regurgitating less and his appetitive was very good.
I should also mention that we have also been adjusting Max throughout his year with us and even more so during the past few months. His adjustments have helped his recovery as well. The combination of the adjustments, change of food, supplementation and energy work helped him make huge steps toward recovery.

Over the next two months, Max continued to improve. He strength slowly started coming back and his vomiting and regurgitating has almost stopped completely. As Max got better, we began treating him like a normal dog instead of being overbearing and over caring as we were when he was sick. He started going with Riley on our weekly car ride to Olympia. I thought he needed a change of scenery so on September 4th, I took him to PetCo put him in a shopping cart and pushed him around the store. Everyone got a kick out of that and Max thoroughly enjoyed himself. It was the little things like that which seemed to give Max another little spark to get just that much better. A week later I did the same thing at Petsmart and he actually jumped out of the cart as if he was saying; “No thanks, I can do this myself.” Sure enough two weeks later, he did walk around Petsmart all on his own strength and did not show any signs of fatigue or shakiness. He went for his first walk at the park on September 23rd. On that same day, Dr. Preston checked in on Max again and one of the first things she said was “Holy cow, I can hardly believe this is the same dog.” On September 29th Max did some serious boxer burns in the back yard. He ran so fast that he feet almost came out from under him on the turns. On October 9th, he was able to complete his usual walk around the neighborhood with Riley. Not only did he walk the whole way, he also pulled, trotted along and even ran a little bit when he saw something that excited him. He was super friendly to two ladies we saw out walking as well. We are not sure how far he can walk at this point, all we know is that we have not been able to tire him out yet.
Over the past few months our family has been though a rollercoaster of emotions. While we can’t say that any one thing has made Max better, we do know that he has made an extremely fast recovery from an “incurable” disease. There are many people who are credited towards helping him with his recovery and we don’t know if it would have been possible without them.

Today Max is a crazy 4 year old boxer who loves to run around the house, do boxer burns in the back yard, guard the front door, go for walks with Riley, chew on his bones (Merrick Bones seem to be safe for him), chase squirrels, shake his toys all around, go for car rides, lick us all over until we pay attention to him, jump up on the bed, bark at the doorbell and just be the goofy wonderful dog he is. This was written on October 9, 2010. No one knows what the future holds, but I can say that Max’s looks brighter and brighter with each passing day. Our only regret is that we did not take a video of Max when he was sick, I guess it was because we didn’t really want to ever watch that again. Now we wish we had so that you could see for yourself the amazing changes he has made over the past few months.
If your dog is diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, please consider all of your options before you make any decisions. I understand that in the moment it is a very scary and emotional time. Had I not had the training and the background that I have I would have listened to the vet and given Max the drugs they suggested. I don’t know how that would have played out if we had but I do know that Max is much healthier today than he was even before the Myasthenia Gravis scare. A few other things we have notice is that his coat is actually extremely soft and shiny these days and his neck has healed nicely from where it was rubbed raw. We wish you the best on your journey, whatever it may be.
Update: As of Dec 13, 2010 Max continues to be healthy, happy and generally difficult to tire out. He is strong, vibrant and very cuddly these days."

Dana Matthews DC
Greg Hollandsworth DC
Max and Riley

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Results of routine heart worm treatment

Dana Matthews DC
Greg Hollandsworth DC

"Max the boxer has had quite a life. He was born in Texas on July 25, 2006 and for the first 2 ½ years of his life, he lived with a family who had too much going on to take proper care of him. They had too many kids and other dogs and so Max, being an energetic boxer puppy and too much to handle, got chained to a tree in the backyard. Finally the family decided to give Max up for adoption so that another family could offer him the life he deserved. Unfortunately, by the time they had decided to do that, Max had already been bitten by a mosquito that carried heartworms and it subsequently infected him...."

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