Saturday, January 29, 2011

Overdue update on my health

Have you ever noticed when there is a problem in life, every bit of your attention goes to that problem? Have you also noticed as soon as the problem goes away you forget about all that attention? I sure do. This past summer I was plagued with bladder problems. If you didn't know me back then you can read about my travails here and here.

The human took me to five different vets. Five! I was poked, prodded, tested, and forced to do very unpleasant things. I was finally diagnosed with having calcium oxalate stones--a condition that isn't treatable, persistent, and required bladder surgery. Even if I was to have surgery to remove the stones, I was told I would have to be on a bland (unhealthy!) prescription diet for the rest of my life and I would STILL be likely to get the stones again.

The human fired the first three vets--he felt like they were treating him like he was ignorant. One made me have a painful procedure without proper sedation. He fired the fourth vet because despite his vocal statements about not willing to put me on a prescription diet (do you know the main source of animal protein in most prescription foods are things like chicken feathers? Did you know that prescription diets are associated with their own set of health problems?) the vet continued to suggest I go on a prescription diet. That vet also refused to give me proper sedation despite my obvious and extreme display of fear during a procedure.

I was beginning to worry about my human. In rapid succession he fired everyone that met me. I was worried that he was the problem. As it turns out, he wasn't. He finally brought me to a doctor that understood my problem and was able to solve my problem. He also saved me from having surgery that would have cost over $1,800 and had the risk of life-long incontinence. I don't even know for sure at this point if I actually had the condition that I was supposed to get surgery for.

Anyway--that catches you all up to date. I don't think I told you all that I was better. I am. I am much better. The human took me to Dr. Dan's Integrative Pet Hospital. After carefully listening to my human's concerns, after gently examining me, and after some reflection together, Dr. Dan essentially said this is no big deal. He prescribed me a supplement called UT Strength STAT for dogs. This is the same company that makes the wonderful non-toxic non-scary flea and tick be-gone product that also changed my life (thanks Dr. Dan!).

I've not had a single problem with my bladder since then. With one product I went from having a life-long condition that would likely require multiple expensive operations to having no condition (I don't even use the supplement anymore). I thought you might all want to know, since I certainly complained enough about the problem when I was having it.

If any of you reading this have a similar problem, don't run out and order the UT Strength. You need to consult a vet that you trust: what worked for me might not work for you. What is important here, and what is the moral of this story, is take the time to find a vet you trust. Take the time to find a vet that is knowledgeable. If you believe in a holistic approach, by all means take the time to find a vet that is well trained in holistic medicine. Having a vet that speaks your language is what is important here.

In fact, you can ask my cat-brothers that very same question. They were lucky because the human already had a vet that specialized in cats (in fact, he only sees cats). Dr. Carlson at the Cat Doctor was the one initially responsible for getting the human so strident and uppity about pet food. After having two cats die from fatty liver disease the human finally found Dr. Carlson--and heard him say something along the lines of we've been killing cats for years with prescription diets and dry foods that cause problems rather than help prevent them.

My cat brothers, you see, were also having bladder problems. This was before I was born. The way the cats explain it they discovered painful (yet oddly pretty) crystals in their pee. The human stuffed the cats in a box, drove them all the way to New Hampshire, and upon exiting the box they saw Dr. Carlson. After an hour long lecture about how horrible many cat foods are, and being taught the evils of a dry food only diet, and learning a whole lot of other useful stuff... Anyway, the cats say Dr. Carlson said "wet food only" and "mix it with broth until it's like a beef slurpee." The cats have never had crystals again. Never.

Easy as that.

So--go find yourself a good vet. And as for Dr. Carlson and Dr. Dan--I know you both read this blog sometimes--thank you for being smart and thoughtful.


  1. Maggie, what is your normal diet? What food does your human feed you?

    I have a 4 year old Golden and a Rescued Flat Coat mix an I only feed them Grain Free dog food. There are a number of brands on the market and more are coming out every week. Most commercial dog foods from the grocery are basically Corn Meal with other "crap". Even premium dog foods can mostly be full of vegetable fillers. Dogs are carnivores and scavengers not omnivores who can eat anything. If you haven't I urge you to look into this. Little more expensive but worth it in the long run.

    Veterinarian "prescription" diets are a total and complete fraud invented as a cash cow for Vet practices and lazy dog owners who just want a magic bullet to fix the problem they probably created in the first place by feeding their dog crappy commercial food and no exercise. Kinda like most humans these days.

    - Jesse, Cody and Katie

  2. @Jess. Thanks for your comment. I primarily eat a home cooked diet. Sometimes when the human is lazy he'll serve me a freeze dried organic mixture of fruits, veggies, and a small amount of whole grains that he mixes with a variety of proteins (fish, beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, and when I'm lucky I get a little buffalo).

    While my vet has taught me that the prescription diets aren't helpful (and awful harmful), I don't feel comfortable saying that humans that use these products are lazy. Most are doing the best they can and listening to their trusted vets. Other's don't really have the tools (or didn't know they had them) to get valid and accurate information.