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Atlas

Atlas

Atlas joined our family in August 2013 as a foster dog. He is a senior German Shepherd Dog who was pulled off the Euthanasia List at our County Shelter. When he arrived at our home, he was about 30 lbs underweight and covered in weeping sores, matts and foxtails.

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We love taking on the difficult ones and nursing them back to health and this guy has taken us down a whole new path with an illness of which we had no experience: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococci Pseudintermedius (MRSP), very similar to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

During the first several months, we cleared most of the lesions on his body with medicated baths 3 times a week, antibiotics, premium food and supplements plus topical coconut oil. However, he had a stubborn draining tract between his hind toes and a lesion on his forearm.

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We worked closely with an integrative veterinarian, Dr Pamela Ford DVM, who focused a lot of attention on Chinese Herbs, natural supplements, glandulars and cold laser treatments.

For a year, we tried different antibiotics that would *almost* clear the infections, then the stubborn areas would blow up again. Cultures repeatedly showed that the bacterial strain had become resistant to the previous antibiotic. It was becoming scary the more I researched and realized that this may never go away. MRSP is a very serious, and somewhat common, problem in pets. We eventually stopped antibiotics because the bacteria kept morphing. We focused all efforts on boosting the immune system and cleaning the infected areas twice a day, washing and doing topicals. We were in close contact with our vet to ensure the infection didn’t rage out of control without pharmaceuticals.

Throughout, I was constantly chasing any new product or modality that I read about. Our vet consulted with colleagues and gathered samples at conferences, with Atlas in mind. We tried Homeopathy, Cold Laser, and every supplement that one could imagine. We found small animal MRSA/MRSP expert Dr. Scott Weese DVM, a Zoonotic Disease microbiologist with the University’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (Guelph, Canada), whom our vet consulted with, as well. We worked with a Homeopath out of Oregon. The Bella Moss Foundation also provided support, references and direction. During these trials and tribulations, the consistent thread was boosting his immune system, feeding an anti-inflammatory diet and providing anti-inflammatory supplements. I believe we will always need to do this, he is predisposed to reoccurrence.

Finally, the breakthrough came when I was reading The Bark magazine about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) helping a dog who had developed a MRSA infection post-surgery. I immediately searched for vets with chambers through http://www.hvmed.com and found an Integrative Veterinary Oncologist, Dr Betsy Hershey DVM, with a chamber. As luck would have it, we already knew her; she had treated two of our previous dogs for cancer.

Atlas was her first MRSP case and she was confident that it would help; she guessed it would resolve with about ten treatments. I was cautiously hopeful, since his infection had proven so stubborn and our hopes had been dashed so many times before. We did twenty-two treatments and it did indeed clear the MRSP tract between his toes. The forearm lesion has been officially diagnosed as German Shepherd Dog Deep Pyoderma with no MRSP present. The HBOT did wonders to heal the forearm as well but we didn’t quite get it completely eradicated.

The HBOT was beneficial for this senior boy in so many ways and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. In Atlas’ case, it cleared the MRSP tract, it improved his mobility, it improved his energy, and it eliminated his incontinence.

Although we continue to battle the GSD Deep Pyoderma, I am hopeful that we will conquer it with another series of HBOT treatments. By clearing the MRSP infection, the worst is behind us.

I have met many pet owners through Atlas’ journey and it’s alarming how common-place resistant bacteria are becoming. My advice will always be to work closely with an integrative veterinarian (Holistic DVM) who will help you support your pets immune system in addition to selecting appropriate pharmaceuticals. And “culture-culture-culture,” do not blindly throw antibiotics at infections or ailments without being certain that they are appropriate and needed. Don’t be hesitant to get second opinions and pull as many experts onto your team as needed. Most importantly, don’t give up hope and always advocate for your pet.

Despite Atlas’ medical problems, this foster dog became a Foster Victory and we officially adopted him a few months after he came to us. Once one takes a journey like this with such a special dog, how could you let him move on?

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