Maggie Mae, at 13 years of age.
The following article is an excerpt from the book,
It's For The Animals!
Natural Care & Resources
by Helen L. McKinnon
Maggie Mae at age 13
Ligament and Joint problems -- Good Results using the
Natural Approach that Helped Heal Maggie Mae's ACL
I had a very positive
experience with an alternative treatment for helping to heal my dog's torn ACL
(anterior cruciate ligament) which is at the knee of the rear leg. This natural
approach worked very well for almost 4 years after Maggie Mae's injury. Maggie
was a mixed breed -- half Golden Retriever and half Black Labrador Retriever.
Please note: I am not saying that what worked for Maggie will work in
every instance of a torn ACL. As I understand it, there are varying degrees in
severity of the injury to the ligament (pulled, minor tear, completely torn),
and surgery may be the only option. Some dogs healed while their legs were in
'hip-to-toe casts' for many weeks. If surgery is indicated, it would be wise to
consult with a knowledgeable veterinarian who has a good deal of experience and
expertise in performing the operation.
Cruciate Ligament Injuries
"The knees are held together by tough muscular straps called cruciate ligaments.
These ligaments are extremely strong and resilient, but they aren't invincible.
Sometimes they get torn, which causes pain and allows the knee joint to slide
back and forth like a dresser drawer.
This type of injury is rare in
cats but is fairly common in dogs, particularly when they are having a good time
playing with other dogs. "He might run and turn wrong or get a hard blow to the
knee, just like in football," says Joanne Hibbs, D.V.M., a veterinarian in
private practice in Powell, Tennessee. If your dog comes home limping after fun
and games or he is unable to put any weight on one of legs, he could have this
type of injury.
Minor tears in the ligaments will often heal with rest and perhaps physical
therapy. When the tear is severe, however, your dog may need surgery to repair
it. Unfortunately, he is unlikely to have the relatively easy kind of surgery,
called arthroscopic surgery, that is commonly used on humans. Knee surgery in
pets usually requires a long surgical incision and a day or two in the hospital.
After the surgery, however, the knees usually heal completely and quickly."
"Maggie Mae, was a mixed breed
dog, a cross between a very sweet Golden Retriever named Sophie and a traveling
type of Black Labrador dog. She was spayed shortly after her first
birthday and at the age of 13 she weighed 61 pounds. Before I knew better, she
was over-vaccinated during her first 6 years, when I was making 'uninformed
decisions'. I've since learned through Dr. Jean Dodds' Seminars and lots of
reading that vaccinations may adversely impact the thyroid gland.
According to Jean Dodds, DVM, ruptured cruciate ligament is one of the clinical
signs of canine hypothyroidism in the "Neuromuscular Problems" category, and,
thyroid problems may be caused by vaccinations. My dogs' annual blood tests,
Dr. Jean Dodds / HEMOPET,
do not indicate any hypothyroidism. However, back in 1995, Maggie became afraid
of loud noises, especially thunderstorms, which is only one of the signs
of an adversely affected thyroid in the "Aberrant Behavior" category. Many other
signs of thyroid or polyglandular autoimmune disease are very serious, for
example, seizure disorder, aggression, and unstable temperament.
Interestingly, Maggie was last vaccinated in 1994 and up until about 2000,
Maggie was much more calm during thunderstorms provided that I included in
her home-made dinner a few capsules of the thyroid supplement. This
supplement is the product containing the amino acid L-Tyrosine from the health
food store, not the "glandular" product. Two brands which I prefer are "Thyrostim"
from Biotics Research and "Thyroid & L-Tyrosine Complex" from Enzymatic Therapy.
Maggie Mae and Danny Boy, our Golden Retriever used to romp and play in the back
yard by the hour, until one night back in March of 1998, she came into the house
limping. My local, conventional veterinarian, examined her and said that her
cruciate ligament was pulled/torn. He urged me to have surgery performed
immediately warning me that "severe arthritis would set in", and that her
other knee will also rupture soon!
My dogs receive chiropractic adjustments on a regular basis -- about every other
month and after moving to NC we see
John Faherty, DC. But back in 1998, I wanted Maggie's chiropractor's
opinion and after the exam, she agreed with the vet's diagnosis: that the knee
joint was very unstable, and surgery was probably the best route.
Because Maggie was older (10 years at the time) and didn't appear to be in pain,
I really didn't want her to undergo surgery unless it was absolutely necessary.
So, I did some research on ACL. I searched the "web" and checked out information
in a number of books. I also made some other inquiries of those who have had
experience in long-term care of this problem.
Instead of the surgery, I opted for the natural therapies including regular
chiropractic adjustments, and I limited her activity (she kept running and
jumping as if nothing was wrong!).
What I found from my research confirmed that diet was very important for
healing injuries. All their lives, Maggie & Paco were fed half homemade food
and ever since 1995 my dogs and cats have eaten only fresh homemade
foods, including as much organic ingredients as possible. They're fed, for the
most part, "Helen's Big Batch Recipe" -- the main ingredients being raw meat,
organic veggies, and organic grains, because I know that the best food is
'Fresh, Wholesome, and Varied'.
For Maggie, I added specific nutritional supplements to her diet. The initial
(therapy) dosages of the supplements were usually higher amounts and then later
tapered off. Most of the supplements were eventually eliminated after 6-9 months
because she was asymptomatic and her knee was stable again. Please also see
updated information about Maggie,
when I noticed that her skin was turning black and her coat was getting dull -
it was her thyroid.
As I said, my animals are fed "Helen's Big Batch Recipe", in addition to the
main ingredients previously mentioned, also includes many other beneficial
additions (organic, if possible) such as: organic Hempseed Oil for the Essential
Fatty Acids (EFAs) (Omega
Nutrition's Organic Hemp Seed Oil),
C w/ bioflavanoids, Vitamin E, minerals, garlic, kelp, raw apple cider vinegar,
Prozyme digestive enzymes and many rotating herbs and ground seeds.
The following is what I added to Maggie Mae's regular diet for the first 6-9
Vitamin C w/
bioflavanoids (Ester-C to bowel tolerance).
Vitamin E d-alpha w/
mixed tocopherols (d-alpha is the natural form, and dl-alpha is the synthetic
form. I use only the d-alpha (natural form) in liquid and 400 iu
capsules. The liquid is an ingredient in
"Helen's Big Batch Recipe",
and the capsules are
additional supplements for animals and humans. The *dry* form of Vitamin E
is not recommended.
(special process of bovine cartilage) 4 caps/day 800/ 947-8482
Mineral Formula (fed
away from Vitamin C). Many good formulas are available.
Glucosamine Sulfate -
1,500 mg per day.
Silica - 2 tablets
Manganese - 1 capsule
Maitaike or Ganoderma
or Astragalus -liquid extracts, a dropper-full added to food
Licorice - tincture
(liquid extract) - a dropper-full added to her food
BF&C formula from
Nature's Way (bone & joint formula capsules)
DLPA - Supplement at
Health Food Store
formula -many good formulas at Health Food Stores.
The above-mentioned items are
Nutritional Supplements which should be available at better Health Foods
Stores. The dose depends on the individual, which includes the *weight* of the
dog. As I said, I consulted with my veterinarians and did additional research
in order to help my Maggie Mae heal her ACL. Remember, that in some instances
surgery is necessary, though. What I gave my dog may not be appropriate for
I lightly massaged her knee many a
night and initially used some Arnica arnica or Traumeel gel applied topically.
Of course swimming is a great therapy.
My holistic veterinarian gave her some
glycosaminoglycan). This is given via injections into the muscle. He advised
that I continue to give her the supplements, limit her play activity, and see
how she progresses. Some folks are pleased with a veterinary product:
Glycosaminoglycans, Creatine Monohydrate) in chewable Tablets.
Interestingly, at the time of the injury, I spoke with several veterinarians who
suggested that I avoid the expensive surgery (about $2,000), as that
appears to be responsible for severe arthritis! Also, they said that acupuncture
is very helpful. Also, fortunately, I learned about the
adverse reactions to Rimadyl
and avoided it for Maggie Mae. Some people
think that drug is fine, but one gal's quote is worth repeating here: If
Rimadyl is so safe, how come there is a CLASS action suit now in settlement
negotiations against Pfizer? The legal standard for a class action suit
means in excess of 100 cases... something like that may wake up some people."
Maggie trimmed down a few pounds (from 68 to 61pounds), slightly limped for
about 3 months or so, and for a couple of years acted just like she did as a
pup. She didn't seem to be any pain. Her chiropractor was amazed that the
joint is so stable. In the fall of 2000, she injured her left ACL. I added the
supplements mentioned on my
and am very pleased to report
that she did very well for those six months prior to her passing on at age 13
1/2, which really is a long life for a big dog. She didn't limp at all, just
moved a bit slower -- and at her ripe old age, that was OK!
When dealing with injuries or any health problem, my preference is to have a
holistic perspective. I view "Health as a Diamond with many Facets". Nutrition
is one of those "Facets", and fresh food feeding -- wholesome and varied -- is
really the 'foundation upon which health' is built.
So, by providing good food -- what the body needs to perform its repairs -- I am
truly convinced that fresh food feeding made all the difference in Maggie
Mae's healed ACL.
It's important to remember in dealing with a healing process that patience
and perseverance will be tested, after all-- the body is really the healer.
References and suggestions:
Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to
Natural Care for Dogs & Cats
by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD
The Holistic Veterinary Handbook
by William Winter, DVM (Galde
Press). Very helpful charts indicating dosages of supplements according to the
Love, Miracles & Animal Healing
by Allen M. Schoen, MS, DVM
Many people have had good results
with Homeopathy. A consult with a good Holistic Vet would be very helpful. Many
are members of The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Note: some
are better than others
Caring 'more naturally' for your companion animals --
you like to learn more and share your knowledge with others?
Helen's Internet Discussion Group, it's free and generally, each month
features a Special Guest, answering Members' questions.
Click to join CompanionAnimalCare-Naturally
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