Archive for July, 2012

Dog Saved by New Procedure after Eating Death Cap Mushrooms

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

A new procedure that drains toxins from the gallbladder has saved the life of a dog who ate death cap mushrooms.  Share this link with your friends and veterinarian to spread the word.

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.

Scout’s House’s Sandy Gregory Named SCNAVTA Advisor of the Year

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Congratulations to Scout’s House’s own Sandy Gregory, MS, RVT, who was named SC National Association Veterinary Technicians in America Advisor of the Year. Way to go, Sandy!  We think you’re pretty amazing too!   NAVTA_MayJun12_16-17

Big Changes Ahead at Scout’s House

Sunday, July 1st, 2012


Scout’s House was founded on the belief that animals deserve the same cutting-edge medical services—and the same standards of care—that humans do.  That basic tenet has guided every decision we’ve made these last seven years and has allowed us to provide the highest quality of rehabilitative care to your pets.

red_textIn keeping with that principle, we’re happy, excited, and proud to announce our new partnership with West Coast Veterinary Surgical, an innovative veterinary surgical practice now opening in Palo Alto.

Headed by Dean Filipowicz, DVM, MS, DACVS, West Coast Veterinary Surgical, Inc. is a full-service veterinary surgical practice offering orthopedic, neurologic, oncologic, soft tissue, and reconstructive procedures, as well as emergency and post-trauma surgery.

A state-of-the-art practice, West Coast recognizes the critical role rehab therapy can play in ensuring the best possible outcome for your dog or cat after surgery.  Which is why West Coast patients will receive five sessions of rehab therapy after every surgery in which rehab is indicated—at no additional cost.  And thanks to our partnership, you’ll also save the cost of an initial exam at Scout’s House before starting therapy (an additional $200 savings).


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Just as with humans, physical rehab therapy can help animals recover more quickly and more completely after surgery.

Studies have suggested, for example, that dogs who have TPLO surgery for torn cranial cruciate ligaments (CCLs) heal dramatically faster with rehab therapy than without (Sherman et al). And because rehab therapy helps dogs heal more quickly from CCL repair surgeries—and because rehab strengthens muscle groups in both the affected leg and the other leg—it’s theorized there’s a smaller chance of the dog rupturing the CCL in the other knee when rehab therapy follows surgery.

Working together, Scout’s House and West Coast will be your partners in your pet’s recovery.

Our goal is to ensure that your pet heals as quickly, as correctly, and as comfortably as possible, and we’ll do that by:

  • creating a disciplined convalescence plan that’s custom-tailored to your pet’s needs;
  • seeing your pet regularly to ensure the best possible outcome while decreasing the risk of complications;
  • regularly conferring on all cases, including sharing information through phone calls, photographs, and videos if complications do arise, and referring back for rechecks, as needed;
  • keeping your family veterinarian involved in all aspects of your pet’s case, from initial consultation through the healing process;
  • guiding you through every step of the recovery process, from being accessible and available to answer all of your questions to showing you how to perform simple Home Exercises to hasten your pet’s healing.


About West Coast Veterinary Surgical

Dr. Dean Filipowicz is a Board-certified diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.  He received his doctorate from the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and he completed an academic internship and residency in small animal surgery at Virginia Tech, where he also earned a Master’s degree in veterinary sciences.  Dr. Filipowicz served as a clinical instructor at Virginia Tech before moving to the Bay Area in 2008, where he became the main surgeon for a large veterinary specialty practice.  During this time, he also established the surgical department for Veterinary Specialty Services in Fresno, a leading specialty practice in central California.

In addition to his work as a veterinary surgeon, Dr. Filipowicz contributes to the expanding body of knowledge in veterinary medicine by publishing papers in trade journals, co-authoring chapters in books on veterinary surgery, and speaking at veterinary conventions and symposiums.

Dr. Filipowicz has special interests in minimally invasive surgery, fracture management, reconstructive and oncologic surgery, and sports medicine.


Why Use A Board-certified Surgeon?

droppedImageIf you had knee surgery, would you want your general practitioner to perform the surgery or an orthopedic surgeon?  The answer, almost always, is the latter.  And that’s exactly what you should expect for your pet.

A veterinarian who is board-certified in surgery has successfully completed the rigorous certification requirements set by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), training that regular veterinarians do not receive.

According to the ACVS, these requirements include:

A one-year rotating internship and a three-year surgical residency program. During the closely supervised residency program, the resident works with recognized board certified specialists to acquire additional knowledge and skill in veterinary surgery. The resident must also demonstrate a commitment to contributing to the scientific literature and maintaining a moral and ethical standing in the veterinary profession. Following the residency program, veterinarians must pass a rigorous examination, consisting of written, case-based and practical portions, to be considered a specialist in surgery. An ACVS board certified specialist in veterinary surgery is also referred to as “ACVS Diplomates.”

Although all veterinarians can do surgeries, using a board-certified veterinary surgeon ensures the best possible outcome for your pet—with the potential for fewer complications.


Common Surgical Procedures Performed by West Coast

Tracheal stenting for severe collapse

Tracheal stenting for severe collapse

Orthopedic procedures:

  • Hip surgery for dysplasia, such as TPO, JPS, FHO, and total hip replacement in 
special circumstances
  • Stifle surgery for cruciate tears including TPLO, TTA, Tightrope, and Extracapsular 
stabilization techniques
  • Fracture management, either traditional open reduction with internal fixation (ORIF), 
external fixation (Ex-Fix), or minimally invasive plate osteosynthesis (MIPO)
  • Joint exploratories
  • 1206_xray_leg

    Deranged stifle & comminuted, open tibial fx

    Osteochondral autograph transfer system (OATS) for cartilage lesions

  • Arthrodesis
  • Amputations

Neurological Procedures:

  • Hemilaminectomy for intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Ventral slot for disc disease of the neck
  • Dorsal laminectomy for lumbosacral disease

Soft Tissue Procedures:

  • Head and neck surgery, such as correction of brachycephalic syndrome in pugs, 
bulldogs, etc., ear canal ablations (TECA-BO) for end stage ear disease, sialocele correction
  • Thoracic surgery such as correction of PDA, PRAA, pericardectomy
  • Abdominal surgery such as gall bladder removal, liver lobe resection, spleen

Oncologic Procedures:

  • Mass resection +/- skin reconstruction
  • Radical mastectomy
  • Anal sacculectomy

Reconstructive Procedures and Wound Management:

  • Pedicle flaps, free tissue grafts
  • Vacuum-assisted closure

Minimally Invasive Procedures:

  • Thoracoscopy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Arthroscopy
  • Stenting (tracheal, urethral)