Otis is a Black Lab who has experienced muscle weakness, muscle wasting, tissue and nerve deterioration, and tears of both ACLs. The neuropathy he experiences is similar to degenerative myelopathy many German Shepherds get in their hind legs late in life, although in Labs it affects the whole body.
We’d heard from Otis’ owner about his amazing improvement in managing the symptoms of Neuropathy and healing wounds using the Assisi Loop; so we asked Otis’ veterinarian Dr. Tom Taylor about it. Dr. Taylor has been working at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital in Iowa for nine years, where he practices general veterinary medicine and specializes in orthopedics, ultrasound and surgery. Otis is the first patient Dr. Taylor has treated with PEMF therapy, and the results have been surprising.
So, Dr. Taylor we heard from Otis’ owner that he has Labrador Neuropathy- what is that?
Dr Taylor: In Labrador Neuropathy there is a generalized weakness of nerves and muscles. The nerves primarily become less functional and create weakness in the muscles, and weakness in the nerves and tendons. So you see secondary problems like cruciate ligament damage or muscle injuries. I would suspect a few of my patients have this condition.
It’s not just Labradors that have neuropathy like this?
Dr Taylor: Labs are the only dogs at this time that have been described to have this specific condition. However similar degenerative nerve diseases happen to other breeds, especially Labrador Retrievers and many German Shepherds who get degenerative myelopathy in their hind legs late in life.
The symptoms sound like they could have a lot of causes- how do you make a diagnosis?
Dr Taylor: It’s a really difficult diagnosis to make, it’s very subtle. There’s not a specific test to diagnose the condition, but if nerve tests, such as an electromyelogram (EMG) are poor, it helps to make a diagnosis. The initial signs of neuropathy are chronic poor health, skeletal injuries, non-healing wounds- things that you’re going to be thrown off guard by- like a wound or injury not healing where it normally would. Paralysis in the vocal chords, decreased barking or vocalization, muscle weakness over the large muscles like thigh muscles, weakness and tiredness are also signs.
Many dogs who exhibit these symptoms might have eaten something that makes them sick for a while. Other conditions that mimic these symptoms might be thyroid or endocrine disease.
Wow, sounds tough to make a clear diagnosis. How did you determine what was going on with Otis?
Dr. Taylor: Otis had been treated primarily for ACL injuries he had a couple of years ago . He had surgery for TPLO, (tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy) and both legs rejected the plates and they had to be pulled, the skin never healed from the surgical wounds. This had been going on 6 or 8 months. We had some other things going on, too. We sent him to our specialty center, and they did their own research and concluded the neuropathy was creating a weakened immune system and weakened skeletal system. They did some research and found the loop as a potential alternative along with anti-inflammatories and nutritional supplements.
After starting treatment with the loop, Otis’ owner noticed improvement after the first couple of weeks. She’s very observant, so if she says it’s working, I believe it. The wounds finally healed. He seemed to be much more alert and responsive. He’s got so much arthritis, and he’s showing improvement there, but he still has a long way to go. The loop seems to slow down the degeneration that’s happening.
You mentioned nutritional therapy, What other therapies are you using with Otis?
Dr. Taylor: we’re using Cholodin- which is the brand name for an acetylcholine supplement, it’s a neurotransmitter that helps keep the nerves stimulated so they don’t atrophy. We’ve used Prednisone as an anti-inflammatory for him. We can’t use a non-steriodal anti-inflammitory because he has kidney problems. We have him on a vitamin supplement as well.
Can you tell me about how the loop helps his condition?
Dr. Taylor: I’m not entirely sure, but the magnetic field (generated by the loop) might help keep the nerve stimulated, and keep the active part of the nerve active. (So it doesn’t degenerate).
You’ve only tried the loop with Otis for a couple of months, now that you’re seeing success- where else do you see the loop being useful in your practice?
Dr. Taylor: There are lots of dogs who’s owners can’t afford surgery who might be able to manage pain and heal with the loop. Also, I’ve only seen it a few times, but the loop might be good for a condition called “Coon Hound Paralysis”- which is a debilitating problem where dogs can be fully paralyzed for up to 3 months after getting bit by a raccoon. They might see much faster recovery time.
What kinds of conditions do you tend to see in your practice?
I primarily focus on prevention. We recommend twice a year exams, and we’re aggressive on manual laboratory testing and blood screening. We see dogs, cats, and small exotic animals.
Are there any other animals you can see using the loop on?
I just had a patient a few hours ago who has a cat with a bilateral hip fracture where both hips have been removed- we’re looking at options for pain management and I think the loop could help.
Because pain killers can be especially toxic to cats, and cause renal failure, right?
Dr Taylor: That’s right- and when they’re used long-term, stomach ulcersare another common side effect.
So- coming around to the beginning- are you going to continue using the loop on Otis?
Dr. Taylor: Otis’ owner is very attentive and she says she notices a big difference when she uses the loop- she just bought two more because she’s treating multiple places on his body, so yes, we’ll continue to monitor his condition.
Thanks, Dr. Taylor for taking the time to speak with us, we hope to get another update in a few more months about Otis’ condition, and any other animals you’re treating with the loop!
If you live in the Cedar Valley area of Iowa, you can find Dr. Taylor and other great vets at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital in Waterloo. www.denherdervet.com/home.
Just a note- if you’re looking to treat neuropathy in cats, you can expect the same kinds of results.
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