Meeker's Itchiness - Taking a Holistic View

27 Feb 2007Steve Schwarz

While I really want the focus of this blog to remain on agility training and not spend too much time on other areas, it seems folks are interested so I’ll give an “Itchy Meek” update. First off, thank you all for your comments, encouragement, and for sharing your experiences with dog allergies. I was unaware of how many dogs I know who have some type of allergy or allergy symptoms until Meeker faced this problem.

I decided not to pursue allergy injections or other western medicines for Meeker’s itchiness until I got a second opinion. Due to a cancellation I was able to get an earlier appointment with Dr. Share Siwek at Kindred Spirits. Dr. Siwek is a DVM and has trained in holistic veterinary practices. It is always interesting to meet someone who has a different view than traditional western medicine.

Diagnosis

Interestingly, Dr. Siwek didn’t feel Meeker’s allergen tests showed that he was particularly suffering from an allergy; as he only had one high score (red clover). Consequently, she was interested in finding out more about him to try to find another cause for his itching.

So I gave her all the areas of which I’m concerned about his health and behavior. In addition to his itchiness, he is reactive to sounds: fireworks, school buses, motorcycles, skate boards, and even (unseen) dogs running across contact equipment. About every two to three weeks he’ll release his anal glands - seems unrelated to any other activity; he’ll just be laying down and Pew! He is also very aroused by other moving animals; he’ll quiver, drool and bark at dogs running on course from his crate (although he is getting better and better at this).

All together we spent about an hour and a half discussing him and she examined him thoroughly. Based on her evaluation and the issues I described she felt he has signs of a “blood deficiency” associated with the liver and spleen (based on observing his tongue and pulse in his limbs) and some signs of “dampness” (his anal glands and previous ear infections). Interestingly, his reactivity to sound and impulsiveness are also consistent with the liver and spleen blood deficiency.

Based on his reactivity, she said he has a very “outward” focus and needs to bring is focus more inward.

She felt he is tight across his upper spine and recommended he get a chiropractic adjustment. We’ve always taken our dogs to

TOPS Veterinary Rehab for chiro, but I have been waiting for him to learn more self control so he could be comfortable with their initial two hour evaluation. But he did so wonderfully well at Dr. Siwek's that he should be fine with the really good folks at TOPS.

Treatment

Dr Siwek gave prescribed a Chinese herb called Xiao Yao San that I give him twice a day with his meals. This is to help treat his blood deficiency. She also gave me a mixture liquid flower essences that I give him by mouth a few times a day to help with his reactivity.

Milo also gets his own special mixture of flower essences (now referred to as Milo's "Calmo-Juice") from Dr. Siwek and it has greatly improved his confidence and made him much less nervous when getting near "scary" inanimate objects, like some flower boxes and patio furniture. We'll notice his worried-ness increase if we forget to give him his drops.

She also recommended using Rescue Remedy spray in his crate at classes to help Meeker remain calm. Thus far I’ve been using Suzanne Clothier’s Auto Check In method with very good success. With ACI Meeker has already come a long way but this will help too.

Status

It has been almost two weeks since I started treating Meeker. It appears that his itching is slightly reduced - it seems to occur in more sporadic itching “bursts” than the kind of semi-continuous itching of before. Prior to seeing Dr. Siwek I’d also changed his diet from from Natural Balance Potato and Duck kibble to a mixture of Nature’s Variety Raw Frozen chicken and venison patties.

As far as reactivity goes, I can’t say that he is much different. Although on the last couple of walks he seems a little bit more attentive to me. But I have also been focusing on rewarding loose leash walking too. In class I’ve been concentrating on working ACI too so I can’t tell if he is improving due to my more consistent behavior, his treatment or both.

So you can see this is far from a “controlled study” and evaluating this treatment in light of multiple variables is impossible. Ultimately, improvement is what matters and it will take time to see if this holistic treatment will make injections unnecessary for Meeker.

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