Shadow’s Exciting News

Shadow is participating in a clinical trial!

Let me begin by telling you that back in May – while I was still at my brother’s home – one of our two vets at Sunrise Animal Hospital called to talk to me about an exciting new treatment for canine joint disease that is still in the clinical testing phase.

Dr. Simpson told me that this new therapy (HUC-DT) uses the stem cells from human umbilical cords; and that he felt Shadow would be a good candidate for the treatment. A quick note here for those of you who, like me, have heard of stem cell therapy but aren’t familiar with how it works: stem cells are the cells present in all our bodies that are there to help heal and rebuild tissues. As we age, we have fewer stem cells but their healing and regenerative effect remains intact if needed.*

When we give a pet human stem cells, the stem cells migrate to the areas of pain and inflammation by following the body’s natural cues, and anchor themselves within the tissues, and begin stimulating the dog’s natural stem cell population to fight inflammation and rebuild tissues.”

The old method of using stem cell therapies in pets was mostly limited to what is known as mesenchymal stem cell transplants (MST). This method required not one surgery, but two surgeries. The first surgery involved anesthetizing the pet and harvesting a large amount of fat cells. Those cells were then sent to a lab where the stem cells were extracted, given various chemical treatments to “boost their vitality”, and shipped back to the veterinarian. Then the pet had to undergo anesthesia a second time to have the treated stem cells implanted. Such a process is not only costly and time-consuming, but also puts the pet at risk of potential dangerous anesthesia side effects twice. Not really a viable option for the older pet.*

The process Dr. Simpson used for Shadow (and other patients, including his own dog) does not involve anesthesia, or any chemicals to boost the stem cells’ viability. Dr. Simpson explains the whole procedure in the video clip below. (We had a slight technical issue at the very beginning which cut off some of Dr. Simpson’s introduction, but that’s okay. You can still get the idea.)

We also took videos of Shadow walking, and then jogging, down the long hallway outside the treatment area so we can document the results of the therapy. And we took some other photos as well.

Hubby and I are both cautiously optimistic about the eventual positive effects on Shadow’s overall quality of life; and excited by the all-natural and safety aspects of the treatment.

On average, results can be expected between four and six weeks following the treatment; but many of Dr. Simpson’s other patients started presenting subtle changes in behavior within two weeks that indicated the treatment was already helping them. I will follow up with more blog posts about how the treatment works for Shadow.

Lastly, I want to give credit where it’s due: All of the “technical” wording that’s either followed by an asterisk (*) or set within quotation marks is either paraphrased or directly quoted from Dr. Simpson’s white paper that he wrote about the HUC-DT treatment. He provided me with a copy for information purposes, and so I could write this post. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments. If I don’t know the answers, I’ll ask Dr. Simpson.

New Year, New Hopes

Happy New Year, Friends! I know, I’m two weeks late. That’s because our celebration got put on hold on New Year’s night.

Ducky has been on leash restriction in the back yard since January 2nd. She hurt herself during a zoomies attack on New Year’s Day.

Okay, so for the hopes…..

Ducky has been really, really “good” these past two weeks. She has had her moments; but generally speaking, she has dealt with the physical inactivity quite well. (Thanks to nose work games, some limited slow walks on the treadmill, and twice-daily pain meds.) It makes me hopeful that helping her to calm down – or stay calm – will continue to get easier. Today is her first day of freedom; and after 20 minutes of fun in the yard and another 10 here in the house, this is the result….Heehee.

Then there’s Shadow. I’m still having to spoon-feed her at times in order to get her to eat. And so many questions in my head. Up until the middle of last week, her knee was still bothering her. She had a hard time standing in the kitchen or bathroom. She didn’t trust the throw rugs to not skid underneath her.

Now the knee is healed, she’s enjoying her time outside, and she’s even inviting Ducky to play. Last week the vet watched a short video I made of Shadow attempting to eat her meals. I asked him if maybe her depth perception issues might be causing her “pecking” motions at her plate/bowl.

After watching the video, he felt around her neck and shoulders and said that her muscles were somewhat tense. That discomfort was more likely the cause. And, it made the proverbial lightbulb turn on over my head. That discomfort in her neck – especially – and shoulders was probably why she had been walking away from her bowl but gladly eating off the spoon that I was holding up to her normal chin level. It wasn’t that she was playing me for the special attention. It was that it hurt too much to lower her head close enough to her bowl long enough to eat.

The arctic air wave of the week plus around the holidays just made it tougher on all of us – my and hubby’s joints were bothering us more than normal too – but the last few days of sunshine and slightly warmer temps gave us all some relief.

This morning Shadow went right to the plate of food and ate it without pause. Well, she did pause when I turned it around for her but only for a moment.

My hopes for Shadow? No more pulled CCL’s; no more severe arctic air waves to worsen her joint and muscle aches; and, fewer age-related health issues. And many more happy, playful days here with us.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 🎉🐶🐶💗

I Love Our Vet!

Yes, I know I’ve said before that I love our vet, but I’m saying it again. I Love Our Vet! 

Not just because he has always taken good care of our pets; but also because he has always been honest and forthright on all fronts.

Not just because he let me do my externship (for my vet assistant course) at his hospital; but also because he has always been there for us (just a call or text away) from the time Ducky started presenting IBD symptoms, throughout Callie’s lymphoma journey, and every day since.

You might recall in my last post, Happy 13th Birthday, Shadow, I mentioned that thanks to her little sister Shadow had taken a tumble a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the hemp oil gel caps and elixir drops and daily walks on the treadmill, the tumble didn’t seem to bother her then.

Still, over the last 10 days, she seemed to be struggling more to stand up and stay up. And she hasn’t been eating as well or as much, plus her reflux seems to bother her more often again. So, I brought Shadow back to Dr. Steve for his professional opinion on Tuesday morning. I mentioned that with her increased struggling of late I was worried that maybe she was in more pain than she let on. He put my mind at ease. “No injury. Just her arthritis flaring a little.”

I sent Doc a video of Shadow walking on the treadmill yesterday morning; and when he called in the afternoon with the lab results he commented on the video. “She looks great. She walks like an older dog with some arthritis. Her range of motion isn’t what it used to be, but it’s pretty good for an old lady.” As for the blood work and urinalysis, everything is close to or at normal levels, which means the Denamarin is working. We talked about some other minor concerns; but all’s well. The Gabapentin, hemp oil, and treadmill – and outdoor playtime – is keeping her arthritis manageable. So, we’re sticking with what works.

Now it’s time to get back to working on my final exam. It’s due back to my program manager on the 30th, so I probably won’t publish another post before Halloween.

Happy Thankful Thursday!!!

Happy 13th Birthday, Shadow!

My sweet girl is 13. Where have the years gone?! Seems like only yesterday we brought her home to be Callie’s little sister.

I love this girl with my whole heart. She gives us her heart unconditionally. She loves Ducky in spite of the little brat’s attitude. 

Shadow has been my rock since Callie got her angel wings. She has taken over Callie’s role as my furry confidant, my furry shoulder to lean on in tough times. Callie was an excellent teacher; Shadow was a star pupil. 

Shadow has had her own challenges these last two years, but she has overcome them with great spirit.  We’ve been dealing with some arthritis issues, but the Treatibles CBD oil supplements, plus walking on the treadmill every day (in addition to play time), is helping a lot. She does have some difficulty walking/standing on the kitchen (linoleum) floor at times. The floor mats I bought to help her aren’t any good because they slide all over the place. And I just haven’t been able to get back to Target to exchange them.   Yet, despite her issues, she’s still a happy pup. She misses Callie, naturally; but as long as we give her lots of love and attention, she’s content.  And I hope she’ll be happy and healthy for at least another few years. 

Shadow is – and always has been – my good, sweet girl. She doesn’t dole out kisses the way Callie used to and Ducky does, but she is a very loving girl. She doesn’t like hugs, but will tolerate mine (so I try to limit them to those times when I really need them). She loves all of us but she’s always been my dog…I’m her special person, especially since Callie got her angel wings.

Happy Thirteenth Birthday my sweet girl!! I love you and – like your sisters – you will always be in my ❤️. 

 

Cautiously Optimistic

Since Shadow’s visit to the emergency vet back on Labor Day weekend, she has been a very picky eater again.

Even though in the past she has gotten used to the nasty taste left in her mouth by Metronidazole, this time has been different. Getting her to eat her food was a frustrating, sometimes unsuccessful experience for the week she was taking it and the week since she’s been off it.

BUT…. 

This morning – with a little coaxing – she ate her breakfast. And about three hours later she ate her lunch with less coaxing than this morning.

(I don’t really worry too much if she doesn’t finish her breakfast – or if I have to coax her a bit – because I know the Denamarin she’s on for her liver makes her tummy feel “weird” for a few hours after she takes it.)

So, with her having eaten her meals today without much coaxing, I’m thinking (hopeful) that maybe the nasty taste of the Metronidazole is finally gone.


And by the way, the Treatibles 10-mg. CBD oil gel caps I’ve been giving her with breakfast are definitely helping manage her arthritis discomfort/pain. It also seems to have reduced some of the weakness in her back legs. She hasn’t stumbled on the steps in over a week! (Until just two minutes ago. I jinxed her. 😢)

We’re Still Here

The girls and I are still here. We’ve been busy. Well, their daddy and I have been busy. I won’t go into details, but my mind has been focused on more pressing things.

I’ve been on FB, Twitter, and Instagram sporadically trying to keep up with everyone. But writing and reading blog posts has gone by the wayside. And it looks like it’ll be at least another month or two before I can get back to the blog. Other than this post that is.

I will tell you this much: Ducky’s snarky attitude toward Shadow continues to diminish. She has her moments, but they’ve been fewer and further between. And, Shadow’s arthritis is an on again/off again issue. It’s not too bad this week, despite the cooler, wetter days. But that could change just like my own arthritis.

So I’ll leave you with these photos of the girls and say “til then…”

Shadow Update

Happy to say I have GOOD news to report!


Shadow had her follow-up ultrasound two weeks ago. The abscesses in her liver that I told you about last month are gone. The nodule on her spleen remains the same, unchanged. 

So, the vet said we’re going to leave Shadow on the Denamarin long term. The Denamarin makes her tummy feel “weird” for a few hours, so she eats very little – if any – breakfast.  I’ve had to resign myself to that fact and just give her lunch instead of breakfast. 

Unrelated, she’s been shaking her head off and on for the past couple of weeks. Her right ear seems to have an excessive wax buildup on the inner flap and close to the canal. I clean it up with a warm, wet gauze pad every few days. Tomorrow morning I’m taking her to see Doc, just to be sure there’s no infection causing that waxy mess. I don’t think there is – it doesn’t smell bad, just “waxy” – but want to be sure. Shadow’s ears have always been clean, and free of infection since she was a puppy. I want to keep it that way as she gets older.  

So The Vet Said…

About ten days ago I shared with you that I was concerned about Shadow’s odd meal-time behaviors in my post, Senior Eye Exam Scheduled

I wish I could have gotten a better video to show her odd behavior, but it just didn’t work out. 


As I told the vet, any time she senses that she’s being watched, Shadow stops eating. Period. But that being said….

When I finished telling the vet my slightly abbreviated version, the vet checked everything. Shadow’s eyes, her teeth, her spleen/abdomen area, and his records on her past visits. Her teeth are all good – which I expected him to say – except for a little tartar on one of her premolars. She does not have cataracts. She has a little bit of sclerosis (hardening) of the lens of both eyes; but it’s so slight that it is not a concern, nor is it painful.

I raised the concern that she’s not eating enough to stay healthy. The vet knows me well enough to know how hypersensitive I am to Shadow’s issues after Callie’s illness last year. I told him that on days when she eats her full meals she gets between 800 and 1,000 calories…

“For a dog her size, her age, and her activity level, she’s getting enough calories on average.” She had lost very little weight since January – maybe 4 ounces, if even that – so we’ll just do monthly weight checks and see if there’s any need for concern.

“In short,” the vet said, “Shadow is playing with your head. She knows your emotions well. So, what I suggest is some ‘tough love’ at meal time. Continue with the same food; and when she walks away from it, pick up the bowl and put away whatever’s left until the next meal. Eventually she’ll figure out that if she’s hungry, she’s going to have to eat her whole meal first time around. She’s not going to starve. If she starts losing weight too quickly, we’ll run tests again; but I don’t believe she will. There’s nothing in her chart to worry me right now.”

And with all that out of the way, we had to do an X-ray on her left foot. Since Wednesday afternoon, she’d been alternating between favoring the foot slightly and really limping noticeably. I’d been using ice packs on it and giving her some Tramadol; but it didn’t help. Turns out that in one of her jaunts around the yard – chasing the ball – she stumbled and sprained the second joint of the left toe on her left, front foot. (We did the X-ray to rule out any tumors.) So, she’s on rest, Tramadol, and generic Carprofen for the week. We go back for a re-check on Friday. She was already walking better by Friday night, so the Carprofen must be working. 🙂 

Another Vet Visit for Shadow

Now before you think “oh no, not again!”, let me put your mind at ease. This was more of a consultation visit. Shadow has been eating pretty well since I made those routine changes in December.

And this morning, I was really proud of her. Normally, as soon as we enter an exam room Shadow will curl up in a corner between the bench and the wall.

She did this morning. But while I sat on the bench and entered her weight in my notes on the phone, she found the courage to come out of her hiding place.

 So, I got down on the floor myself and sat next to her while we waited for “Uncle Steve”. When he walked through the door, Shadow stayed put. We both smiled and praised her bravery.


The reason for the visit was her arthritis. On Friday morning while we were playing out in the yard, Shadow started “gimping” and favoring her left front leg. Her nails looked a little long, so I took her up to the vet for a nail trim. When we got home, I took her back outside for more play time. After a few tosses of the ball, she was gimping again. I called the vet and made the appointment for this morning. And got the okay to give her some Tramadol.

My poor girl definitely has arthritis in both wrists and both elbows. It’s not as bad in the right leg as it is in the left one; but we definitely need to manage it as best we can. So, it’s time to get a ramp and start training her to use it. Especially for getting into and out of the car.  We only have three steps to the back door – carpeted – so that’s not a big deal at this point.

I’m thinking I’ll check out Solvit; but if anyone has another brand preference, please let me know so I can check it out. As for supplements, I’m already giving her glucosamine, chondroitin, and the other hip/joint stuff in her current supplements. I need to check out some fatty acid supplements. Any ideas as to good ones that aren’t overly expensive?