I first met Millie when her owners enrolled her in my dog play group in 2003 (that’s her below the dog on the log in the photo on the left). At around the age of 3, it became apparent that she was going to be one of those Labs with hip issues. She began limping and sometimes would put hardly any weight at all on her left back leg.
In my research into disease causation, I had long suspected that fasting and dietary improvement could reverse these kinds of problems in dogs. I shared this information with the owners, who had been seeing vets for advice on what to do. They had even gone so far as to set up an appointment for hip surgery. They were open to changing her diet, but didn’t know how to start and were unsure it would make any difference. Around that same time, I got the opportunity to test my theory when they went away on vacation and left Millie with me for 18 days.
I eased Millie into the transition by giving her nothing but water for 7 days. After that, I fed her a small Cornish game hen every other day, and fruit on the alternating days. By the time she went back to her owners, she had lost weight and stopped limping, even after long hikes. I told the owners what I’d done and they agreed to switch Millie to raw food, which they continued for the next 3-4 years.
Life got extremely busy for Millie’s owners when they started having babies in 2007. As a consequence they decided to put Millie back on kibble in January 2011, just before the arrival of their 4th child. Over the next few months, Millie gained a significant amount of weight and some of her hip discomfort returned.
In mid-May of 2011, after 4 months of kibble-feeding, Millie came down with symptoms. She had intense pain on opening her mouth, and her left eye was swollen shut. The owner took Millie to the vet for tests, and the diagnosis was that Millie had a severe “infection” behind her left eye. She was prescribed an anti-inflammatory (Deramaxx) and an antibiotic (Augmenten), and the vet administered a topical ointment into the eye while she was in the office. Fortunately, the ointment was all that was administered because the owners called me before they started giving the drugs and I was able to convince them these would do more harm than good. We agreed that Millie would come stay with me for a few days so I could fast her and transition her back to raw food.
The next day, the owner got a call from the vet to say that Millie’s blood work showed an alarmingly high white cell count. They suspected something very serious, along the order of a brain tumor. They recommended an MRI as soon as possible, at a cost of $1,800-$2,200.
Most owners will respond to this kind of information with fear and an open check book, but Millie’s owners kept their heads and allowed logic and reason to prevail. I explained to them that IF it was indeed a tumor, it had taken a long time to form and that meant a week one way or the other would not make any difference. And a week is likely all we would need to find out whether we could resolve the problem without further intervention. Apart from that, even if a tumor was found, there’s very little that can be done for brain tumors in dogs.
I received Millie on the same afternoon as her vet appointment and she was still yelping when she tried to yawn and the eye was still very inflamed. By the next day, she had figured out that yawning was painful and was not opening her mouth too much. That afternoon, however, she barked for the first time in several days and the swelling in her eye was down considerably. Over the next two days she continued to improve and by her fifth day without food, her eye appeared completely healed.
Millie’s owners and I decided we would get another blood panel done, this time by an independent vet who would not be told of the recent problem. On Millie’s fifth day with me, I took her to a vet I had used before, for what I explained was a long overdue routine exam. The vet found absolutely nothing wrong with Millie. I mentioned that the dog’s left eye had seemed red to me recently because I wanted to make sure nothing was missed. The vet closely examined both eyes and said they looked completely normal. The following day I got the results of the blood work, and it was completely normal as well.
(Please see Part Two for continuation and summary.)