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Newsletter - April 2012

Tori, Tori...

She's a repeat offender. Tori hasn't had a UTI in 6 months, so we thought we'd finally nailed it, but she has other ideas. A multi drug resistant UTI has found her again, and the only thing the specialist can surmise at this point is that Tori's tipped vulva is what lies behind it.

That said, the bigger problem is an IMHA relapse - round three. Will she make it? I can tell you that despite our own exhaustion, Tori is demanding to play ball (even at 4 am), has taken to climbing a high pile of dirt in the yard, and seems unstoppable. You go girl!

The UTI is treated with an injectable drug called menoperem. Tori lowers her head, waiting for me to pull the skin at her neck, and wags her tail furiously while I give her the injection. I guess this means that it doesn't hurt her, but I'm also guessing that the cookies she gets afterward are something to look forward to. I've been baking for her, and although each cookie is no larger than a baby finger nail, she really likes them.

Tori's Cookie Recipe

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1 raw egg white

1 tsp.unsalted tomato paste

1 tsp. parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. basil

This is kneaded and turned into a thin log, sliced thinly, and baked on a non-stick cookie sheet in a 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Turn oven off, leaving cookies inside to harden.

The tomato paste provides lycopene for eye health, and basil volatile oils help deter some nasty bacteria such as certain strains of e.coli and staph. I'm getting about 100 little cookies out of a recipe, and at 3 calories each, Tori keeps her girlish figure.

The Gut Brain

This isn't new by any means, but it's almost shocking if you haven't heard about it before. It should give us pause for thought when it comes to our dogs, too. There's a network of neurons lining the gut, and it's so extensive that some scientists refer to it as a second brain. We know that the neurotransmitters work to help handle digestion, but the story is much bigger than that. It turns out that the gut-brain and the brain in the skull have conversations so-to-speak and the gut-brain helps to determine mental state. This second brain can control digestion independently of the brain in the skull, and rather than information going from the skull-brain to the gut (as was always thought), it turns out that the gut-brain sends information to the "main" brain. Scientists believe that a big part of our emotions are actually influenced by the nerves in the gut. The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain. When we consider that 95 percent of the body's serotonin is found in the bowels, it begins to make sense that some medications for depression can cause gastrointestinal issues. So, if you've been wondering why stress can affect the bowel, you may have just come closer to the answer.

Think about the dog who has a touchy stomach. The one who seems fine while in the agility arena, show ring, or while you've left him/her with one of his favorite people when you were on vacation. You come back home to a happy dog, but s/he has loose stool the following day. What about the dog that looks completely happy during agility, and then poops some mush especially for you? And let's not forget the dogs who are hyper, or edgy and have a sensitive gut. Butterflies in the stomach aren't just for people, in my opinion. Observation might make us take the brain-gut seriously rather than shrug off the fact that nervous dogs seems to have a propensity toward GI sensitivity.


This is an amino acid which is found in meats, poultry, fish and dairy foods. So, in theory, supplementation shouldn't be necessary when people and dogs eat these foods. In fact, it's found in beans as well, so vegetarians shouldn't need a supplement, either. This turns out not to be the case under certain circumstances which is why I refer to L-Glutamine as being, perhaps, conditionally essential.

This amino acid is a primary component of the cells that are plentiful in the epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract. It can help to conserve muscle glygocen stores, support the health of nerve cells, and cross the blood-brain barrier where the brain uses it for fuel.

L-Glutamine also helps to prevent infectious bacteria living in the intestines from leaking through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, according to Dr. Richard Firshein.

L-Glutamine is suggested to help muscle recovery in athletes, and helping to build more muscle.

Another interesting fact: In his book "Life Over Cancer", Dr. Keith Block notes that L-Glutamine helps to reduce the nastier side effects of chemotherapy in women with breast cancer. Using L-Glutamine has been used at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston to heal mouth sores and ease the pain of cancer patients who have oral mucositis from chemotherapy, It's also been used as protection for the GI tract when chemo was part of therapy.

I use L-Glutamine for many dogs that have GI trouble. Current thinking is to use 500 mg per 30 pounds of bodyweight, but I've rarely needed to use this much. In most cases 500 mg daily for a 50 pound dog helps quite nicely. It's not a magical cure that happens overnight, but there's no question in my mind that it can be very beneficial.

Cautions: L-Glutamine can be derived from proteins that a dog may be allergic to in which case, it can do more harm than good. You'd want to use a product that is hypoallergenic which ours is, but be sure to ask at the health food store what the source of the product is if you choose to buy it from there.

L-Glutamine can be contraindicated in cases of epilepsy. Don't be afraid of it causing epilepsy (it doesn't), but you wouldn't want to give it to a dog that has this condition, or to one who's relatives have it. Obviously, brain-gut health is important, and we can support the GI tract by using supplements that are positioned to help - L-Glutamine and acidophilus can play important roles.


The kind man feeds his beast before sitting down to dinner. - Hebrew Proverb