On Sunday, February 7th, my dog Encore turned 17. We celebrated with cake! We’ve been celebrating every day for nine years as she has had many bonus birthdays. You see, in 2012, she suffered a traumatic brain injury, and we did not know if she would survive.

Very recently on my podcast, I told Encore’s story and the six incredibly valuable lessons learned from her near-death experience and recovery. In the podcast, I mentioned that as part of her recovery, along with rehab and outstanding care from Veterinary professionals, we tried alternative therapy.

The podcast about Encore was followed up by another with my thoughts on the longevity of dogs. My last two dogs, Buzz and DeCaff, both lived to be over 17 and a half years old. And now Encore has reached her 17th birthday against all odds.

Knowing I wanted to celebrate Encore’s 17 years with a blog post, I asked my Naturopath who treats my dogs for her thoughts on the effects of steroids and antibiotics on our dogs. The reply is below for you.

Crisis situations with our pet dogs require crisis intervention, be it surgery, antibiotics or steroid drugs as examples.

It is important to understand that these or any other crisis interventions should only be used as needed in life threatening emergencies. When antibiotic was first used, it was considered a super drug that would eradicate all infections, only to now realize that overuse has created super bugs that are antibiotic resistant as well as creating fungal overgrowth in both humans and animals. Antibiotics destroy all organisms, even our trillions of good microbiome that protect us from invaders.

Steroids such as prednisone may also be necessary in certain cases, however rather than being used as a last resort, they are often overprescribed creating other issues. Traditional medicine today often takes the route of treating symptoms rather than sourcing a cause.

Because synthetic steroids are a powerful drug, it is crucial to wean off the steroids slowly. While weaning the pet off steroids, the adrenal glands can be supported with natural remedies such as adrenal glandular and herbs such as Ashwaganda, Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola, Astragalus and B vitamins.

What are synthetic steroids used for? They are used for life threatening situations such as injuries, skin irritations, itching, mast cell tumours, lymphoma, allergies, inflammatory GI problems, asthma, gum inflammation, eye issues and pain.

What are the alternatives? Talk to your Veterinarian and ask their thoughts about alternative care, perhaps they know of a holistic practitioner they can recommend. Look at Chinese herbs and acupuncture from a Licenced Acupuncturist.

Supplements such as omega fatty acids, curcumin found in turmeric, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, B complex, green tea, frankincense oil or calendula cream applied externally, cat’s claw herb for immune support, adrenal support, are some of the possibilities that a holistic practitioner may prescribe.

I want to stress that I consider it vital to have a good relationship with your Veterinarian and all your dog’s health practitioners. The support provided for Encore over the years has been phenomenal.

Puppy Encore

Encore enjoying her 17th Birthday Cake

Encore is a very engaged 17 year old, enjoying her life and all the special moments. When she was young, she was amazing at agility. She won a silver medal at her first World Championships in Jumpers. When she won the US National Championships in agility, she beat the second-place dog by two seconds. She was so fast. Everyone just loved watching Encore do agility.

Below is a video I put together back in 2010 to celebrate Encore’s first National Championship win at the USDAA 2010 Nationals where she won the 22″ Grand Prix.

Today I am grateful for Encore’s life, and every bonus day we have celebrated for the past 9 years!