Happy New Year! As the year comes to an end I decided to share some of my favorite posts. To be more specific, I am recapping stories about the best veterinary professionals who helped paralyzed pets in 2017.
One of the perks of being a blogger is that I get to interview dedicated veterinary professionals who work every day to make life better for dogs and cats with physical disabilities. They are the innovators who use their knowledge to ease suffering and I am in awe of each of them.
Some of these stories became pretty popular this year. They include: researchers spearheading a cutting-edge study, a veterinarian who modified a stem cell procedure, a nonprofit group trying to find a cure for Degenerative Myelopathy, the brainy creator of rehab products for paralyzed dogs, and a veterinarian who refused to euthanize a dog just because he couldn’t walk.
Here are the best veterinary professionals who helped paralyzed pets in 2017
In 2015 Dr. Natasha Olby and North Carolina State University ran a clinical trial that showed promising results for some paralyzed dog participants. A now famous video showed a paraplegic pug taking steps on a treadmill. Other dogs improved so well they were able to walk without assistance. Each dog in the study was given a medication called 4-aminopyridine (4-AP).
In February, 2017 Dr. Olby began a continuation of her Canine Spinal Cord Injury Program. She is investigating why some dogs with a spinal cord injury responded to the medication and others did not.
Dr. Steven D. Garner is one of a handful of private veterinarians who uses stem cell therapy to treat dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). This is the most common cause of back pain, herniated discs, hind end weakness and paralysis in dogs.
Stem cell therapy is currently used to help dogs with arthritis, but it not typically used to treat IVDD patients. Dr. Garner wanted more for IVDD dogs so he become an expert in stem cell therapy. He even turned his private practice in Houston, TX into a certified clinical stem cell lab. Now he routinely offers a surgical procedure to aid dogs with IVDD.
Degenerative Myelopathy is an incurable progressive disease of the spinal cord that leads to paralysis and eventual death in dogs. Cindy Fink, who is President of the nonprofit group, Finding the Cure for DM Foundation, has been funding research for the disease.
DM has similar symptoms to a devastating disease in humans called ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Therefore, most of the research has centered on finding a cure for the human form of the disease rather than focus canine DM. In 2016 a study found a major difference in the two conditions. It gave promising hope for DM dogs and not their human counterparts.
The funding for DM research was cut off in order to pursue new avenues for ALS studies. Fink’s nonprofit group took matters into their own hands. They enlisted the help of veterinary researchers who agreed to donate much of their time and services. Together they began the New Hope Study which is concentrating its efforts to find a cure for Degenerative Myelopathy.
I’ve gotten to know Cathy Erwin, the brainy creator of Walkabout Harnesses, during 2017 and she impresses me every time we talk. Cathy was a teenager when she got her first job in the veterinary field. Later she received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal physiology and then a degree in physical therapy.
Her studies landed her as head of surgery at a prestigious veterinary hospital in Northern California. It was there she realized her patients healed sooner when they used a walking aid during rehabilitation. She pieced together the first canine support harness.
Today Walkabout Harnesses has a wide variety of rehab and support products that make life better for disabled pets at home. Each product is designed by Cathy, clinically tested and endorsed by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Tiger, is a 7-year-old dog who was abandoned by his owners after a surgery to fix his spine left him paralyzed. The veterinarian who repaired the ruptured disc in Tiger’s spine warned his family about the possible outcome, but they agreed to have the procedure.
Nine days later when Tiger was unable to walk and had become incontinent, they asked the veterinarian to euthanize him.
The veterinarian still held out hope for Tiger to lead a good life. He reached out to The Fuzzy Pet Foundation for help. When they arrived to pick up the little dog, Tiger was outfitted with a handmade dog wheelchair that was put together by his veterinarian.
Happy New Year to all!
I hope 2017 has been a good year and that 2018 brings health, happiness and peace to your life. Thank you to everyone for your support to this little blog that I started four years ago in honor of my dog Sophie. And my appreciation goes out to everyone who is currently taking care of a precious paralyzed pet.