Archive for the ‘Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)’ Category

If Your Dog Has Degenerative Myelopathy, Read This Before Trying Sanus-Biotex

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

by Lisa Stahr, Founder, Scout’s House

Today is July 12, 2012 and as of this moment, there is no cure for degenerative myelopathy in dogs.

So if you’ve seen the ad by Sanus-Biotex promising to improve the health of a dog with degenerative myelopathy (DM), please read on before you buy.  These people have absolutely no scruples.  They’re preying on dog owners who are looking for something, anything to help their dogs, which is despicable.

First, my credentials:  I started a physical rehabilitation therapy center for animals in California, a place where the staff works daily with dogs with DM.  For years, I’ve followed the progress of the research being done by real scientists, like Dr. Joan Coates from the University of Missouri, who are trying to find a cure for DM.  I’ve interviewed Dr. Coates on Scout’s House’s radio show, Special Pets, Special Needs, and have continued to talk with her privately.  And I’m a member of the DM Dogs discussion forum on Yahoo Groups, which is comprised of very knowledgeable people who have dogs with the disease.  As a matter of fact, that’s how I first heard about the Sanus-Biotex hoax.  People in the group were wondering if the product worked.

Well, it doesn’t.

And I’m infuriated by the lies and misdirection and misinformation presented on their website.  As a former copywriter, I understand what they were doing with the copy they wrote—it was created very deliberately—but if you know anything about DM, you understand this “supplement” couldn’t possibly help.

For instance, on their website they wrote:

100% Guaranteed to subside hind-quarter inflammation which occurs all to often leading to the extreme “flare-ups” associated with Degenerative Myelopathy.

What “flare-ups”?  At Scout’s House, we’ve treated hundreds of dogs with DM and have never seen an inflammatory “flare up” in one.  And that’s because DM isn’t an inflammatory disease.  Dogs with DM may have muscle soreness and even some inflammation in the front end because they’re off-weighting (throwing their weight to the front) to compensate for rear legs that don’t work, but inflammation isn’t a DM symptom.

What they’re doing in their copy is purposely mis-associating DM with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a connection researchers once hypothesized but that was proven wrong several years ago with research from Dr. Joan Coates et al.  DM is similar to ALS in humans, not MS.  So those “flare ups” they’re talking about—yes, MS sufferers do have flare ups that can have an inflammatory basis, but dogs with DM do not.

And as you read the copy, you’ll notice they’re also attributing arthritis symptoms to DM.  Hey, it’s very common for older dogs—which most DM dogs are—to have concurrent arthritis.  But they’re not talking specifically about arthritis here, they’re saying there is inflammation associated with DM and that’s just plain incorrect.

They also say:

Helps revitalize and nourish the muscles throughout your dogs body while improving blood flow from the hind-legs to the heart.

Blood flow isn’t the problem with DM, DM is a neurological degeneration.  And muscle atrophy is the result of the neurological degeneration, NOT impeded blood flow.

Now this:

Sanus-Biotex helps restore degenerated joints and connective tissue preventing muscle atrophy typically caused by degenerative myelopathy.

Joints and connective tissue don’t degenerate with DM, nerves do.

So what they’re doing here is purposely confusing symptoms from diseases once thought to be connected with DM (eg, MS) and that can appear concurrently with DM (eg, arthritis) to make you think those are actual DM symptoms, but they are not.  As a result, they’re trying to sell you a product for one disease by purposely confusing its symptoms with those of other diseases.

Here’s another piece:

Sanus-Biotex, replaces a number of potentially harmful and much less effective treatments including steroids. 

And this:

Steroids are extremely good at controlling the extreme inflammation associated with degenerative myelopathy.

What veterinarian gives steroids for DM?!  This is NOT an inflammatory disease, that’s been proven.  This is a neurodegenerative disease.  Veterinarians understand that steroids don’t help DM.  Steroids can help other conditions that a dog with DM may also suffer from, such as arthritis, but they aren’t going to slow or stop or reverse the course of degenerative myelopathy.

Then they say this:

As soon as you suppress the symptoms and inflammation associated with degenerative myelopathy many of the tell-tailed traits of the disease will go away! The flare-ups become less frequent, inflammation subsides, loss of balance, the irritation…It all goes away! 

Again, I repeat:  there is no inflammation with DM.  There are no “flare-ups.”  There is no irritation (maybe the only “good” thing about DM is that it isn’t painful—in fact, once they reach a certain stage, dogs don’t feel any pain at all.  A blessing in some ways.)  Promising that “it all goes away” is just pure charlatanry.

As for this:

Has ZERO adverse side effects…The Highly Potent Formula found in every bottle consists of the “Very Highest Grade Ingredients” you can buy! (and are not available retail)

First of all, REALLY???  “ZERO adverse side effects”?  And which study are they quoting that proved that?  Always look for evidence-based solutions.

Also, “Very Highest Grade Ingredients” means what exactly?  They allude to “herbs and vitamins” but WHAT herbs and vitamins?  The truth is, by hiding behind their “proprietary blend” claim, they’re able to avoid revealing what’s in their product–which means YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S IN THIS STUFF.  And as much as I love my dogs and as eager as I would be to reverse the damage done by DM if my dog had it, I would never give my dog a product that doesn’t disclose its ingredients.  I don’t believe in experimenting on my animals, no matter how dire their health condition.

So here’s another thing, I used to be a copywriter so I understand what this website copy is doing and why it’s doing it.  This pitch was very cleverly crafted; please allow me to show you a couple of the tricks they used.

This section was written to play on the hopes and dreams that everyone with a DM dog has of seeing their beloved pets “whole” again:

Imagine what a wonderful turn of events this could be for you and your dog. Picture yourself strolling around the neighborhood or park again with your dog. Ask yourself how many times have you wished you could experience the sheer joy of seeing your best friend chase a ball, stick, or Frisbee again? Now, I’m not going to make you any promises here, but what I can tell you is…There is a very good chance that your dog will be able to do all of this once again!

And this is an old “black hat” direct mail trick:  make an offer that promises success in the short-term but always add a long-term caveat.  The idea is to get people to purchase the product and to keep them purchasing the product over and over again with the hope that it’ll work.  It’s a way to create a consistent revenue stream out of each buyer.

Visible progress in as little as 14 days…*Please note, (60+) day programs are always recommended for long term success.

It’s no surprise they brag that:

over 80% of our monthly orders continue to come from existing customers 

Of course they do!  They’re making you think that repeat orders indicate a successful product, but repeat orders probably just indicate that people are adhering to their “60+ day” program recommendation.

I could go on, pointing out how they get your attention, make the connection with you, and then hook you to buy.  This copy was clearly written by a professional.  And I could point out several other ways that they’re trying to manipulate you into buying.  But read it over again with a critical eye: they’ve used misinformation, suggesting issues related to MS and arthritis, and confused and associated that misinformation with the effects of DM.  They’ve used old copywriting direct mail tricks to get you to buy—and keep buying—their product.  They’ve used every trick in the book to hook you and make sure you stay hooked for as long as possible.

Maybe this product helps the arthritis that some elderly DM dogs have and people are confusing the temporary improvement in the arthritis symptoms with the DM symptoms, but THIS PRODUCT DOES NOT HELP DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY.  And as I mentioned earlier, if you don’t know what’s in something, it’s unwise to “just try it.”

Like you, I wish there was a magic pill that would cure DM, just as I wish there was a magic pill that would cure cancer.  I have a dog with T-cell lymphoma and I would give anything to cure her of that.  But we have to be rational about the things we’re willing to try in the effort to save our pets—not only for our pets’ health and well-being, but also as a defense against unscrupulous marketers who willingly take advantage of our sadness and hope.

Don’t Take No For An Answer

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Today’s must read: Breast cancer survivor Sue Glader’s inspiring blog post on staring down the N-word. Wise words for people facing cancer, but also for those of us whose pets face critical diseases or disabling injuries. Too often we, as well, are told no. No, your dog can’t have a good life with degenerative myelopathy. No, your cat will never walk again. No, you should put your pet to sleep. Thank you, Sue, for encouraging us to “juke, jive, bob and weave around the negatives in life.”  Some people do it to live, we do it to love.

http://sueglader.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/no-no/

The Most Common Reasons Dogs Get Rehab Therapy at Scout’s House

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Our post on how to keep your dog out of rehab sparked a conversation here at Scout’s House about some of the most common conditions we see.  We were sure we knew what we saw the most, but after running a few statistical reports, even we were surprised at the results.

Number One complaint?  Osteoarthritis–by a landslide.  Not surprising when you think about it–most animals coming in for physical rehab therapy are bound to have arthritis, along with other ailments, but we thought we saw more dogs with neurological issues.  We were wrong.

We were wrong, too, about the second most common complaint: knee problems related to the cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL.  Many of the dogs we’ve seen were recovering from one of the various surgeries used to fix a CCL rupture–TPLO, TTA, tightrope, or extracapsular–although a handful were hoping to avoid surgery with conservative management.  Of course, some of them had had surgery years before and were having problems with that knee (or stifle) now.  Can you say arthritis?

And while we would have guessed stifle problems were the third most common complaint amongst our patients, disk issues win there.  Intervertebral disk disease, disk ruptures, laminectomy surgeries–we see them all.

Wrapping up our Top 6: unidentified “rear limb weakness,” hip dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy.

Coming up next:  Some of the unbelievable predicaments our patients have gotten into–and ended up in rehab because of!

A Natural Remedy for Your Dog’s UTIs

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

For those of us who live with special needs pets, especially geriatric or paralyzed dogs or cats, we understand the dangers of urinary tract infections, or UTIs.

According to an article published in the May 2010 issue of Clinician’s Brief, UTIs develop when the pet’s natural defense mechanisms break down enough to allow virulent microbes to attach and multiply within the urinary tract. In dogs, these microbes are most often E. Coli, a particular nasty bacteria that can be especially problematic for dogs who are paralyzed (such as from degenerative myelopathy or disk disease, or IVDD), dogs with diabetes mellitus or hyperadrenocorticism, dogs who have been on long-term courses of steroids, and dogs who have had indwelling urinary catheters. The risk of getting an E. coli UTI also increases as dogs get older.

Veterinarians often combat E. coli UTIs with antibiotics, repeatedly if a dog suffers from recurring UTIs. But the reality is no one really likes having a pet on antibiotics longterm. As our clients have often asked us at Scout’s House, is there a more natural remedy? Turns out, cranberries just might be the answer.

One cranberry-based product that supports urinary tract health in dogs is Crananidin from NutraMax Labs (the same people who created Cosequin and Dasuquin). As a veterinary researcher from NutraMax recently explained to me, Crananidin uses bioactive proanthocyandins, or PACs, to minimize the ability of the E. coli bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall. She described it as “putting boxing gloves” on the bacteria so that they can’t grab onto the bladder epithelium and are instead flushed out in the dog’s urine. A NutraMax Labs study showed that by Day 7, a once-daily dose of Crananidin increased the bioactivity, or anti-adhesion, of the urine by over 78%.

My understanding is that Crananidin is best used in dogs who get recurrent E. coli UTIs, not for first-timers who really do need antibiotics to knock out the infection. But if your dog suffers from recurrent UTIs, talk to your veterinarian about Crananidin or other cranberry-based remedies. You might be able to avoid that next round of antibiotics after all.

Next up:  What about cats?

9 Great Ways to Keep A Dog from Slipping on Floors

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

1)  Get non-slip dog boots (we have a couple of good ones to recommend)
2)  Put down area rugs or carpet runners (yoga mats work really well, too)
3)  Use stick-on paw pads
4)  Strengthen your dog’s legs with rehab therapy (had to put that in!)
5)  Use baby gates to block off the rooms with hardwood or tile
6)  Carry your dog everywhere (not really an option for those of us with big dogs)
7)  Put a RuffWear harness on him and hold on to the handle (labor intensive but it works)
8)  Use an anti-slip spray (created for show dogs to keep them from slipping in the ring)
9)  Carpet the house, bathrooms included (because dogs always follow you to the bathroom)

What would your #10 be?  Post ideas by clicking Leave a Comment above or in the box below

Explaining A Veterinary Neuro Exam

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

We’ve had more than one client ask us to explain the neurological exam that their pets have undergone, both at the veterinary neurologist’s office and at the initial exam at Scout’s House.  Although this article was written for veterinarians, it’s a pretty clear explanation of what your vet is looking for during your pet’s neuro exam:

Making Sense of the Neuro Exam from Veterinary Practice News.

Prepare to Be Amazed

Friday, November 5th, 2010

by Lisa Stahr

Almost on a daily basis, I am awed by the quality of rehab therapy at Scout’s House.  The difference our therapists make in our patients’ lives can be downright job-dropping–and I think you’ll agree after watching these new Before & After videos of some of our patients:  http://www.scoutshouse.com/health-resources/our-videos
Two of them are dogs (one big, one small) who had difficult recoveries from hemilaminectomy surgery, another dog who refused to use her rear leg after a successful extracapsular repair of a torn CCL, and an older dog with weak rear legs who walks like a youngster now!
All are wonderful testaments to the benefits of rehab therapy–and to the incredible knowledge and dedication of Krista Niebaum (the head of our rehab program), Andrea Mocabee, Debbie Eldredge, and Misa Tsuchikawa.  Prepare to be amazed!

Our Autumn E-Newsletter is Out!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

We just published our Autumn e-newsletter!  This issue features a lot of great information about degenerative myelopathy and discounts on products helpful to dogs with DM.  Check it out at http://www.scoutshouse.com/emailers/1010/1010_newsletter.html

The Responsibility No Pet Owner Wants–But Must Accept

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

by Lisa Stahr

             I want to talk a minute about responsibility.  “Big snooze,” you think, and part of me agrees.  But we’re all adults here and we understand that responsibility is just one of those things that comes with the territory. 
            As pet owners, we understand responsibility.  And for those of us with a special needs pet, we’ve accepted even more responsibility than most pet guardians.  We’ve agreed to help our pets walk when they can’t walk on their own, to express their bladders when neurological damage robs them of that capability, to see that they get the medications, food, and therapies they need to remain comfortable, functional, and happy. 
            By agreeing to share our lives with dogs and cats, we accept the responsibility to care for them properly.  And sometimes—almost always—that means making the extremely difficult decision to euthanize them when the time has come.  Like it or not, it is our responsibility.
            At Scout’s House, we’ve talked with many clients over the years about when it’s time to make that horrible decision.  Because we see the pets so frequently, we’re well aware when they’ve started to decline, how quickly and how far they’ve gone, and whether there’s a road back again.  Our policy has always been to gently initiate a conversation about it with our clients and give them a copy of our “When Is It Time?” quality of life scale, but ultimately we leave the decision up to them and their vets. 
            There are times, though, when clients “just can’t” make the decision, no matter how much input we or their veterinarians offer.  I understand how hard it is—I’ve had to make the decision for six of my pets and I’m here to tell you it is not easy.  It is always heartrending and you are always filled with doubt, no matter how obvious it is that the time is right. 
            But saying you “just can’t” does not excuse you from the responsibility.  If your pet is suffering—like the dog in the final stages of degenerative myelopathy who’s having trouble breathing or the dog who refuses to eat or drink, can’t walk anymore, and doesn’t show any joy for life—it is unconscionable to prolong that animal’s life because you “just can’t” make the decision. 
            This is your responsibility—one you took on when you agreed to share your life with your pet—and telling everyone you “just can’t” make the decision does not excuse you from the responsibility.  (By the way, if you “just can’t” make the decision, then you probably know it’s time—you just don’t want to do it.) 
            So, if you think that the time might be coming for your dog or cat, start preparing yourself.  Recognize that it’s one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make.  Ask your veterinarian for guidance.  Take our “When Is It Time?” evaluation.  Read as much as you can about how to make the decision (Dr. Nancy Kay’s book “Speaking for Spot” has an excellent section on euthanasia).  Talk to your family and friends.  But don’t stall and don’t run the pros and cons over and over in your head while your pet endures a miserable quality of life. 
            Be a responsible adult and make the damned decision.

Who Doesn’t Love Free Dog Stuff?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Especially when you have a special needs pet?  All that “stuff” they need can really add up!  But we just did some serious “spring cleaning” at Scout’s House and have a ton of stuff to give away and sell!  Need a bath tub for washing your dog?  Or a dog ramp (or two)?  Or harnesses, boots, diapers, or other accoutrement for your special needs pet?  Go to our new Community Forum page on our website (http://scoutshouse.com/forum).  Post there if you see anything you’d like and we’ll get back to you about sending it.  And please post things of your own, if you’d like, to buy, sell, or give away.  Or, even better, start a discussion about your special needs pet!