Dear Dogs Today,
I hope you don’t mind me writing to you but I have hit a brick wall and don’t know who else to turn to. I read Richard Allport’s articles every month in Dogs Today which is why I have chosen to write to you. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old Large Munsterlander bitch named Elsa. She is very dear to me. Last January she began to show signs of illness and my own local vet was not sure what was wrong and finally after trying but failing to treat her referred her to a specialist centre. At this point her stomach had swelled up and she was very thin. She was there, after a couple of exploratory procedures and blood tests, diagnosed with Granulomatous Hepatitis (they are not sure how she contracted it but think it was bacterial) and put on 10 weeks of two different antibiotics. The signs were good and a blood test at the end of this time showed her liver results to be normal – which I think actually surprised the vet who had little hope because of the damage she had already caused to her liver. But a few weeks later after another blood test showed her liver results going up again she was put back on the antibiotics and is now on her fifth month. Her results do seem to be coming down again but I am worried because my insurance cover which is for up to £7000 is nearly up and after that time I won’t be able to afford the antibiotics which are costing about £350 a month. She is due to have another blood test next week and I am to carry on for at least another month of antibiotics even if her results are good. I will only be able to claim for a further two months or antibiotics before I run out of funds and I’m frightened about what will happen then.
I was hoping that maybe you could suggest a natural remedy I could try as I don’t want to just give up once the antibiotics are finished. I have no idea if she will relapse again and can’t bare the thought of watching her get worse each day without trying something else. She is such a sweet happy dog and even at her worst when her tummy swelled up she still looked happy. At the moment she is still underweight – her appetite is poor but she is eating. Her tummy has gone down and she isn’t drinking excessively.
Hoping you can offer some advice.
Karen Arevalo, Oxford
Richard Allport, vet, advises...
I can understand how concerned you are about Elsa. First of all here is some information about granulomatous hepatitis:
Granulomatous hepatitis is a condition in which the liver is inflamed. Further complicating this condition is the growth of inflamed tissue on the liver, a condition that is then referred to as hepatitis granulomatous (where a granuloma is a small area of inflamed tissue). This condition is most commonly due to fungal infection, but it can also be brought about by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or cancer.
Hepatitis granulomatous is relatively uncommon in dogs, but can be seen at any age and in any breed.
Symptoms can include:
Lack of appetite
Yellowish discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes due to jaundice
Parasitism (liver flukes, visceral larval migrans)
Immune-mediated disorders (involving the immune system of the body)
Idiopathic (cause unknown)
It’s unusual in my experience to need such a long time on antibiotics, and it may be worth considering further investigations such as abdominal ultrasound and/./or liver biopsies to get to the root of the problem, if these haven’t already been carried out.
As far as natural medicines/therapies are concerned, herbal Milk Thistle, together with Zinc as a supplement and extra Vitamin B complex will aid normal liver function. Another very good liver boost is Hepatosyl plus, a supplement that contains SAM-e and Silymarin (an ingredient of Milk Thistle), an excellent liver support remedy. There are also several homoeopathic medicines that can help, including Lycopodium, Nux vomica and Berberis – depending on individual symptoms.
Finally natural anti infective agents such as Propolis and Royal Jelly would help reduce the need for antibiotics.