Over the years that I have been breeding Carolina Dogs and doing Carnivore Nutrition and Natural Health consultations I hear from many people. Overall, it is pretty rare to hear from folks who already have a Carolina Dog AND observe all or most of the principles of Natural Rearing. I love it when I do hear from these rare few. But usually they, like myself, have a horror story about how they learned the hard way that Mother Nature always knows best. Occasionally they are willing, even eager, to share their experiences so others may learn from their mistakes. My friend Bob is one of those folks. Here is Bob's story.
My Carolina Dog, Rubio, developed pain in one of his rear knees in the last 3 years of his life. When he started holding his right rear leg up in the air I took him to the vet right away. The vet did x rays and said he had a torn ACL in his knee. The vet said that Rubio had to get surgery right away or he would develop arthritis for the rest of his life. I asked about the success rate of the surgery and the doctor said he did about a thousand of these surgeries and only about 3 ever had a problem that were not the client's fault. The only problems that occurred were when the client did not follow the vet's instructions. I took my dog in for the surgery and followed the post surgical instructions exactly.
I decided to research what went wrong with this surgery. After much searching, I finally found a website called www.tiggerpoz.com that talked about dog knee surgery in great detail. It said that yes, some knee surgeries are necessary, but no matter the size of the dog the majority of knee surgeries are not needed. (On the internet it is commonly repeated that only small dogs can take a wait and see approach with knee surgery). Tiggerpoz.com said instead, you should greatly restrict the dog's activity for 8 weeks first to see if there is an improvement. If there is an improvement, your dog does not need the surgery and continue gradually increasing activity. This is the same 8 week restriction of activity that you must follow anyway after knee surgery. It also talked about how the surgery is highly profitable because the actual surgery is only 20 minutes long and yet the vets can charge $4000. So there may be financial incentives clouding the vet's judgement. I found out about a year and a half later, this vet sold his practice to the giant corporation VCA which is owned by the MARS corporation (the same company that makes candy). This vet is about 68 years old so his ticket to retirement was to pump up the sales volume to make the books look good so he could get a good price from VCA and thus a good retirement.
One of my friends has a big dog and that dog also developed knee problems recently. Again, the vet said he had torn the ACL and he needed surgery right away. I told him, NO, my dog's knee surgery was not successful, and please look at tiggerpoz.com and restrict the dog's activity for 8 weeks which is what you do after surgery anyway. He went to a second vet and that vet told him the dog needed knee surgery right away. He went to a third vet for a third opinion and this vet was not a high pressure salesman and he simply said that he thought surgery would be helpful and it did not matter to him which vet he chose for the surgery. I finally convinced my friend to hold off on surgery and restrict the dog's activity for 8 weeks and at the end of 8 weeks see if there was an improvement. Sure enough, there was an improvement and the dog did not need the surgery after all.
About a year after the surgery Rubio developed arthritis problems anyway even though it was clear that he should have fully recovered from surgery. For 2 years I gave him Glucosamine, MSM, Boswellia, tumeric/curcumin, coconut oil, and vitamins. These helped to relieve his arthritis. When he got close to 14 years old, the symptoms got worse and the vet gave me a prescription for an NSAID called Carprofen (Rimadyl). The vet said to check his blood work every 6 months. After doing a lot of research I read that liver damage occurs in about 1 out of 5000 dogs. I thought this was pretty low odds so it should be OK, but to be careful, I began giving him half the dose of Carprofen that the vet recommended. I did this protocol daily for 2 months. At the end of the 2 months he had an emergency so I took him to the vet where he got blood work and ultrasound done. The ultrasound showed significant liver damage. The blood work item that indicates liver damage was 3 times the normal limit.
I can't believe that my dog just happened to be the one dog in 5000 that had this problem. The equivalent odds would be to flip a coin 12 times and getting 12 tails in a row. I think the liver damage problem with Carprofen (Rimadyl) and the other NSAIDS like Metacam is much more common than we are led to believe. In the back of my mind I had always wondered why the vet's office at the county animal shelter that I volunteer for always checks the dog's blood work 3 weeks after starting NSAIDS. I just thought they were being abundantly cautious. Now I know there is a reason that they check the blood work after 3 weeks because that's how fast liver damage can occur due to NSAIDS.
So in conclusion, always use natural health care methods first. If you feel that the natural methods are no longer working and you must use NSAIDS, you must at least check the blood work after 3 weeks and do not wait for 6 months.
I agree with Bob that Natural Methods should be explored first. Conventional methods, surgery and pharmaceuticals, should be reserved for emergency situations, and as a last resort, only if the reward outweighs the actual risk. My oldest CD, Cooter, injured himself a while back and we(Myself and my vet) opted for Conservative Treatment. Cooter responded wonderfully and is still doing great. He was better much quicker than projected with surgery and is running and hunting like the injuries never happened.