Thumb nail sketch of Auggie's medical history is that Oct. 4, 2006, she had exploratory surgery at the U. of MN., where they removed her chronically enlarged/congested spleen and removed a tumor from her left liver lobe; pathology report was hepatocellular carcinoma.
This late Spring Auggie was having trouble handling the heat, seeking out an overflow runoff pond to lay in when the temps were in the 60's. She was doing a lot of panting, especially in the evening, when laying down her abdomen seemed too potty/distended, and she was mildly 'not interested' in activity around her. And she could no longer jump up into the 4x4 pickup truck. I wondered if the cancer has spread to her lungs or her liver was enlarged and crowding her lungs thus making her 'short of breath'.
June 30, 2008, we took her again to the U of MN for chest x-rays and it just so happened they were able to do an abdominal ultrasound that same afternoon.
On x-rayAuggie's lungs look normal/no cancer spread, and her liver was normal in size.
Ultrasound again showed a normal sized liver but with many nodules (they got a needle aspirate of one and path report is "benign") and bilaterally enlarged adrenal glands but no tumors 'visible' on the adrenals. Probable diagnosis: Cushing's disease of probable pituitary origin. All to be confirmed by an extensive battery of inital blood tests ($400.-$600.), after which one could proceed with appropriate 'treatment'.
The U sent Auggie's Dr.Dale a report of the visit and he said "Yep, it looks like she passes the DUCK test: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck.....
*enlarged, distended abdomen
*muscle weakness (most commonly in the back legs)
*seeking out of cool sleeping surfaces (bathroom tiles, etc.)
*known bilaterally enlarged adrenals
The next week and a half was spent by me frantically searching the web for everything I could find about canine Cushing's. An extremely helpful site/forum is
http://caninecushings.net/forums/? Thank You, labdad.
One piece of information stood out prominently: "No dog with a poor appetite should ever be treated medically for PDH (Pituitary Dependant Hyperadrenocorticism)." and that's a direct quote..... :educated: :no:
Well now, Auggie has a low to no appetite especially in the mornings but a fairly good yet not wholly dependable appetite in the evening. From everything I have read, the meds for PDH are given with a meal in the am and follow up/regulating blood tests drawn 2 to 4 hours after giving those meds. Considering the above warning and the fact that no vet practice is routinely open in the evening for the blood level draws, we have opted to not treat with conventional medical protocol. Our only option was the UofM 45 miles away and even their Internal Medical Specialist was reluctant to "hold our hand" through the 'induction phase'; told us it would be better if a local IMS (there aren't any here - the U is the closest) handled it and the local could 'consult' with the U "when any problems arise". Not "if", but "when" any problems arise. :scare:
Putting all of the above together and after two telephone consultations with Auggie's alternative/Chinese herbalist specialist in Sturtevant, WI, (and yes, he is also a veterinary collage graduate and WI licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - conventional western medicine), we have decided to go "alternative"; palliative, nutritional support for Auggie's Cushing's syndrome.
Now for a hopefully understandable time line of Auggie's 'alternative treatment' for both hepatocellular carcinoma and Cushing's.
Bio-Immunozyme Forte, 1 tablet a.m.
brewed herbal tea, 1/4 cup, both a.m & p.m
Huan QI, Astragalus
Jiang Huang, curcuma longae
Ling Zhi, ganoderma
Zhi Gan Cao, baked licorice
200mg. doxycycline, p.m.
750mg. Chondroiten Sulphate, a.m. & p.m.
added late summer of '07, to home brewed tea
Raw Milk Thistle Seed.
deleted Chondroiten sufate and began Lubrisyn (hyaluronic acid) 5cc. a.m. & p.m; now down to 4cc. twice a day. Definite improvement in movement and ease of getting up from a laying position.
************** the following is being prescribed for the Cushing's symptoms****
added 6/20/08, to brewed tea
Shou Di Huang, Rehmannia to help 'balance' her internal ability to cool. We saw enough improvement that I thought about canceling the U of M appointment but since we had waited so long for that appt. I went ahead and kept it.
ADHS (Biotics Research Corp.), 1 tablet a.m.
Cytozyme-PT/HPT ( " " " ), 1 tablet p.m.
S.O.D. & Boswellia tablets, 2 a.m & 2 p.m., to benefit any hidden pain and aid liver.
Although this regimen in no way "cures" Cushing's, we have seen definite improvement.
We have no idea how long this improvement will last; but at least she is much more comfortable and happy.
Auggie seems to tolerate heat more normally now, is brighter of eye, looks a lot more comfortable in general (relaxed ears, lips, and tail), does not wear a 'sad' expression all the time, is interested in our activity and movements about the house, enjoys her walks more, has lost the distended abdomen - is even showing a mid line again, has a slightly improved appetite, and has almost lost the fat pads that were very evident on top of her hips. Her respiration at rest is now lower in number, deeper, more relaxed. We hope the muscle tone in her hind legs will improve, but can't tell yet.
How much longer we will have with Auggie is still to be determined, but at 12 years and 7 months of age, living with liver cancer and now Cushing's, every day is a plus and her quality of life right now I would rank as very high for an older, geriatric dog.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." author Will Rogers
Auggie 12/29/95 ~ 01/15/09
MY gosh, you've been through the wringer with her.... but this all sounds VERY positive..... what great results you've gotten..... sounds like you made the right decision...... I hope she continues on her path to being happy and feeling well......
He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.