Colette and her veterinarian did three very important things for this dog. First, Colette switched Daisy to homemade meals—less irritation means less demand on the adrenal glands. Second, she protected the retinal cells with powerful antioxidants at the onset of SARD, which may have helped spare them from destruction. Third, the elevated hormone levels were brought under control.
Note: It is crucial to know whether a SARD dog is producing excess cortisol or excess estrogen. The latter appears very much like Cushing’s disease but treating excess estrogen with conventional Cushing’s treatments can be disastrous. (See: Case Report #6.) So, although Daisy’s journey was a bit rocky, restoring correct hormone activity probably key in her remarkable outcome. Colette and her husband felt it was important for other dog-owners to see Daisy and were kind enough to film her activities. (See below.)
– Caroline Levin
October 2005—Daisy was acting strangely and she was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. She was placed on Lysodren. She had already been on a thyroid supplement for some time. I believe she weighed 18 pounds at this time. Her normal weight was about 11-12 pounds.
November 2005—The Lysodren helped. Her cortisol levels were down in the normal range.
January 14, 2006—Someone at the pet store asked if Daisy was blind. I contacted my cousin, who was a veterinarian, who warned me there was a higher incidence of SARD among dogs with Cushing’s.
February 1, 2006—The ERG was conducted. The results were poor in both eyes and she was diagnosed with SARD.
February 2006—I started putting some herbs in Daisy’s food that helped a family beagle with cancer. I mixed this in with her food with organic plain yogurt.
March 3, 2006—I started Daisy on the vitamins Thorne Immugen and Cell Advance 440. I continued the herbs, but did not notice any differences.
April 1, 2006—Based on the book Dogs, Diet, and Disease, I switched Daisy off her diet of Merrick’s and Innova and started her on the following homemade diet:
- protein: chicken breasts, beef and eggs
- veggies: broccoli, cabbage, carrots, banana, apple, pumpkin
I continued the vitamin supplements sporadically. I made the food once a week and sealed it in a Food Saver container. She continues on this diet to this day.
May 16, 2006—Daisy, who had been working as a therapy dog in a hospice program for a year, participated in a benefit therapy dog talent show this day. She could not see the stage. It was clear that she was quite blind, although she was still able to do her “high five trick” as long as I kept my hand within a consistent distance from the sound of my voice:
June 5, 2006—Daisy began to throw up in the morning and continued to do so all week. She was walking strangely and seemed like she was drunk. I called the vet, who had me give her a dose of the emergency prednisone to counteract the Lysodren.
June 13, 2006—Daisy did not take Lysodren pursuant to veterinary instructions and never took it again. She still threw up four times this day.
June 16, 2006—Daisy’s ACTH test results were very low which meant she now had the equivalent of Addison’s disease. She was placed 2.5 mg of prednisone per day. She weighed 14 pounds.
September 27, 2006—Daisy had an ACTH test, which showed that the Addison’s was improving. She started taking less prednisone, or 1.25 mg per day, which she continues today. She weighed 13.6 pounds.
About this time we returned to volunteering at hospice (we had taken off a few months due to her running into things and getting stuck under wheelchairs). People were often suggesting to me that Daisy could see. I assured them that she was blind and that the training had allowed her to practically pass for sighted.
October 6, 2006—Daisy was down to 12.6 pounds—normal again!!
I had the vet check her eyesight out during this time as she certainly acted like she could see. He confirmed that she was following cotton balls thrown across the room.
February 26, 2007—Daisy went in for another ACTH test. The vet checked out her eyes and thought both were now following objects.
August, 2007— We shot some video of Daisy hiking on a Colorado mountain trail designated for “advanced” hikers. There’s also footage of her negotiating an obstacle course, and jumping though hoops:
— Video Clip —
January 2008—Daisy continues to do very well. She never bumps into anything and consistently follows any movement, unless she is in a room with very little light. Her last ACTH tests were a little low again, but general blood work and a thyroid test came out normal.
(See FAQ 14 For additional information on flatline ERGs in SARD dogs.)