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Complementary, Not Alternative, Therapies for Lilly’s Adverse Vaccine Reaction

Today, let’s talk a little bit about some of the extra or complementary treatments we’ve decided to use on Lilly. My rules are pretty simple.

My Complementary Therapy Rules

Anything we add to Lilly’s treatment:

  • Must have basis in science.
  • Must not hinder traditional treatments that are working well and keeping Lilly safe.
  • Must be safe and well-tolerated by Lilly.

For me, the fact that this is indeed a life /death situation, where significant research shows a traditional medical path, makes me much less likely to take risks replacing what’s known to work with something else.

If Lilly had a not-dangerous little medical issue, I probably would be more adventurous with home remedies.

I hope to write about it in earnest at some point, but I attended a seminar at a veterinary conference earlier this year. I got to hear a complementary therapies expert speak about certain supplements that you absolutely do NOT want to give dogs in certain situations … including some cancers that produce white cells similar to the ones we found in Lilly’s spinal fluid.

Because Lilly’s immune system is part of the problem, typical efforts to boost her immunity might make things worse, not better, so I’m ultra cautious.

Complementary Therapy Additions to Lilly’s Treatment

Here is the list of additional therapies — if you want to use that term — we are using. Some were specifically recommended by our veterinary neurology team. Others are things I’ve added on my own in consultation with veterinary friends:

  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree with meals to keep Lilly from getting constipated.
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil with meals to keep Lilly’s coat from getting ridiculous from the steroids and other immune suppression meds.
  • 800 mg Vitamin E twice a day to support brain health.
  • 0.5 ml ginger extract three times a day / every other day as a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • 1.0 ml tumeric extract three times a day / every other day as a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Regular application of aloe vera (fresh from plants at the house) on Lilly’s dry-dry nose and chemo-caused mouth / lip sores.
  • Regular application of lip balm to Lilly’s dry nose and vaseline to Lilly’s sore lips.
  • Daily addition of various fruits and vegetables to help keep Lilly feeling full despite steroid-induced hunger pangs and to provide additional dietary support for her overall health. This includes apples, carrots, bananas, berries, various green vegetables as we have them, etc.
  • A couple of tablespoons of cooked oatmeal at bedtime and overnight snacks because it’s a known anti-inflammatory food, and it seems to help her sleep better and not wake up as much with nighttime steroid hunger.
  • Dog calming music designed for older or impaired dogs from Through a Dog’s Ear to help Lilly relax and sleep at night.

We added the ginger and tumeric extracts on October 1. We quickly learned that if we gave both at the same time that Lilly developed a little bloated tummy, so we alternate days.

To prevent contact reactions to these strong extracts, I put the liquid on a small piece of bread and feed that to her, usually at meals.

I know there are holistic treatments for vaccine reactions, rabies in particular, but I don’t know enough about them, and I worry about how they might affect the many, many drugs Lilly takes … that are keeping her alive right now.

As time and money allow, we may still add acupuncture and and perhaps some actual canine rehabilitation / physical therapy.



Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Jessie - October 31, 2012

Great job-such a great mom! Just wanted to put in my 2 cents on something you mentioned-organic coconut oil-we use extra virgin coconut oil and it has worked great with Oreo, she doesn’t have the flaky skin all the time anymore, and has a smooth shiny coat.
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Susan and Wrigs - October 23, 2012

You are such a great advocate for Lilly! When faced with a life-threatening situation such as hers, it can be tempting to want to try anything to help, but your criteria for complementary treatments is so sensible and is the safest and best for Lilly. I have a couple of alternative treatments on the back burner to consider for Wrigs and his problem with ischemic infarcts (stokes), but some of them have potential side effects similar to the prescription medication he’s on. If he reaches a point where the strokes are recurring or he cannot tolerate the prescription medication, I may revisit those. It can be a fine line between helping and harming.
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KB - October 22, 2012

My criteria about complementary therapies is similar to yours. I recently went through these decisions with K – and so I had to make decisions like yours. I like your approach.
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aTXtumbleweed - October 22, 2012

As I sat here reading this today, I wondered where Lilly would be today if she had not been adopted by you. She is blessed to have you in her life! Your doing a great job!!

Sam - October 22, 2012

We have our boys on a few natural products and have seen great results.

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