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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
[polldaddy poll=5670035]by Sandy Gregory, M Ed, RVT, CCRA
Adapted from the October 2011 issue of Critter Communique, courtesy of the Foothill College Veterinary Technology Program.
Humans have had a long history of companionship with dogs and cats. As time has evolved, so has that bond. One of the forms that bond has taken is the care and concern for proper nutrition for the beloved family dog, and advances in food science have extended and enriched the lives of our compation animals. Today there are so many choices for the best dog snack, food, and even dietary supplements, that selecting one for your dog can be overwhelming. There are foods that are advertised for better skin, stronger joints, weight loss, and better memory; there are also foods that promise to be more palatable for pets, that look good enough for humans to eat, and that are more widely available through pet stores. The consumer can easily get lost in all the options for his or her pet.
To help pet owners make the right choice for their pets, there are two sets of nutritional profiles that have been established as the basis for regulation of dog food in the United States: Adult Maintenance and Growth and Reproduction. Anything other than this has no legal mandate for specific nutritional levels.
The consumer, however, should not rely on government standards to dictate his or her dog’s food. A basic understanding of nutrition is most helpful when deciding on your dog’s nutritional needs. The consumer should keep in mind the dog’s specific needs (age, weight, etc.), the ingredients, and how well the dog ingests those ingredients (avoiding a food that has corn as an ingredient when the dog is allergic to corn, for example). It can be a science all by itself.
The listing of ingredients in commercial pet foods is not random; they are listed by weight in descending order. The ingredients are governed by American Association of Feed Control Models, or AAFCO, model regulations. Further to those regulations, every ingredient in that product also needs to be recognized by the FDA and be approved by AAFCO. It is important to read the list of ingredients and know what is in your pet food.
The first two ingredients should be a whole protein, such as chicken, lamb, or beef. The third and fourth ingredients might be a vegetable or whole grain source, such as brown rice, but the consumer should be careful that it is not corn filler. Lastly, you have the bulk of the food. The sources for this might be corn, rice, or wheat. Sometimes you might see barley or sorghum, and even gluten for thickener.
It is just best to stay away from foods that list meat by-products as ingredients. If the dog’s dietary restrictions leave no choice but to feed a food with by-products, at least choose a food that lists the specific source of the by-product. For example, “chicken by-product” is not a great protein source, but it’s better quality than “meat by-product,” which is a mix of feet, feathers, beaks, hooves, hair, tumors, and other low quality products made into a meat mix.
When looking at the preservatives in dog food, look for foods preserved with vitamin E and vitamin C, sometimes labeled as “mixed tocopherols.” Avoid foods with BHA, BHT, or other chemical preservatives.
These are some of the many examples of ingredients consumers will find in many commercial pet foods. It is important to look at the label and not always trust what picture is on the front of the bag or the can. Since the company wants to sell food, it will whet your palate with inviting photographs. And some of the ingredients advertised might include things like berries, fruit, and herbs, but while they sound good to you, those ingredients may be in such a small amounts that their benefits are negligible.
So, do your research. Knowing and understanding good pet nutrition and food labels will help to extend the life of your pet. There are many resources out there to aid your research, including AAFCO (http://www.aafco.org), the American Pet Products Association (http://www.americanpetproducts.org), and the Pet Food Institute (http://petfoodinstitute.org). Bon appetit!
Sandy Gregory has a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and specializes in pet nutrition and weight management. A Registered Veterinary Technician and Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant, she works as a physical rehabilitation therapist at Scout’s House and as an Instructor at the Foothill College Veterinary Technology Program.
For a comprehensive (and perhaps exhaustive) look at canine hip dysplasia, don’t miss this article from Clinician’s Brief. It’s written for veterinarians but there’s a lot of great information in there for those of us on the other end of the leash!
A big shout out to Scout’s House’s own Dr. Janet Dunn and her flyin’ Papillon Tantrum for making the 2011 AKC/USA Agility World Team! J.D. and Tantrum will head to Liévin, France for the big event, October 7-9. Way to go–and bonne chance, guys!
From dvm360 (dvm360.com), recall on pig ears:
One of the things I love about dogs is their enthusiasm, but sometimes that eagerness needs to be tempered with a little caution. Here’s a list of some of the traumatic events that have landed our dog friends in physical rehab therapy at Scout’s House–all the result of “unbridled dog enthusiam.”
1) Falling off a cliff
2) Falling off bleachers
3) Running into a tree
4) Running into a telephone pole
5) Jumping off a bed
6) Jumping off a deck
7) Jumping out of a moving car
8) Jumping out of owner’s arms
9) Getting kicked by a cow
10) Getting attacked by coyotes
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!