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Ulcerative Colitus

This is the story of a dog with Ulcerative Colitus. It is not my dog or one I bred but I think this story may be of immense help to anyone whose dog is suffering with this terrible affliction.



Hello, my name is Harley and this is my story.

I was born on the 3rd Feb 1995 to Lady my mum & Caesar my dad. Life began in my new home early April 1995, when I arrived with a bad dose of diarrhoea. My new mum put this down to a long drive home or even the change of food. After a few day I still had the diarrhoea & added to this I had now started vomiting. My mum took me to the vet & it turned out that I had picked up a virus called Coccidia. My vet treated this with antibiotics & vytrate to help keep fluids in my body. After a couple of days I was allowed to start eating small amounts of Hills I/D. Over the next few months the Coccidia had left me with repeated bouts of diarrhoea. During this time I was on several drug treatments with only a temporary result, until finally I responded to Sulpha Drugs. My bowel motions were still very soft.

I was 10months old when the diarrhoea returned bringing this time alot of bleeding from my bowel. I was so sick that my mum & dad thought I was going to die. There was only one thing left to do & that was I had to go to sleep for a short time while the vets has a look at my bowel. Finally we had the answer, my bowel was full of Ulcers & Scare Tissue. Over the next few months I was given several more drug treatments, but my body got used to them & I got sick again. I was now a year old & there was talk of me going to Massey University in Palmerston North so that a study could be done on my condition, but I wasn't strong enough to make this long trip. My mum did alot of research on alternatives & we even tried herbal remedies like comfry with some success but the bleeding started again.

At 18months old I got very sick again & my mum took me to another vet for a second opinion. Steve as I knew him by, did confirm that I had Ulcerative Colitis. Steve started me on a months treatment of Predisone, Peptosyl & more Hills I/D. Early Dec 1996 with the Predisone treatment & a change in my diet the colitis seemed to be under control, but that wasn't to be. Over the next few months I had several more treatments.

I was now 2years & 3months & I got very sick again, this was the 3rd time my mum & dad believed I was going to die. My mum rushed my to Steve. This time everything was different, I could bearly walk & the bleeding was just continuious from my bowel. Steve worked on me for 1 1/2 hrs just to stablise me. That night as my mum sat with me, watching me, came a phone call that would change my life. The phone call was from another Boxer owner, who's Boxer had been diagnosed with colitis & he had been given a treatment that had put him into remission. The next day we went back to Steve for a checkup & mum told him about the phone call. Steve immediately made some phone calls & came back to us with the "News that gaves us HOPE". On the 31st May 1997 I was put a 3 week course of a combination of Baytril, Stomorgyl & Clavulox. This put me into remission. I have now been in remission for 15months & I have gained lots of weight. My mum & dad are very pleased I only cost them my food money now. I may not be in remission for the rest of my life but at least we know there is hope & another course of that special combination.

***********This article was published in the NZ Boxer Bulletin 1998************


Papatoetoe East Veterinary Centre Ltd.
East Tamaki, Auckland New Zealand.
Phone 64-9-278 5343

I first saw Harley in October l996, he had a long history of bowel problems & his owner Liz, had his medical records with her. He had previously had endoscopy & bowel biopsies with a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis.

This is a complex disease which can cause chronic or intermittent diarrhoea, weight loss, bloody feaces, abdominal pain, ill thrift & sometime death.

It is an immune medicated disease, meaning that for some reason Harley's system was attacking its own bowel. It is not considered curable though some dogs symptoms can be relieved on special diets. Often treatment involves drugs which supress the immine system, such as prednisone & other stronger drugs which are basically similar to humane anti-rejection drugs & chemotherapy agents. Some dogs, such as Harley, gradually need stronger & stronger medications, more & more often to control the symptoms. This can be because their condition is progressing or because they are becoming resistant to the drugs.

Harley has been on these drugs in the past, with mixed results & more of the same seem to work for a while but he gradually got worse & even on his "good days" often passed blood & he never looked 100% well. Liz put on a brave face but we knew his outlook was not great.

Things came to a head in May l997. Harley collapsed with straight blood pouring from his bowel, was shocked & his bowel was hard, painful & swollen 4-5 times its normal diameter. Harley had to go on an I/V drip, apinkillers & larger doses of the same medications. He improved & went home but our worry was that we were losing control of his condition.

At that time, Liz had heard of a related dog going into remission after a "cocktail" of strong antibotics. I rang Dr Terry Goldfinch who had treated a similar dog & also rang Massey University where they had tried the same as a last resort, all with success. So as a last resort we started Harley on the triple course of antibiotics & gave them to him for 3weeks, finishing in June 1997.

Harley improved almost immediately, gaining weight, sleeping better & no more bleeding. Harley stayed on a special diet for a while but gradually returned to a normal diet.

He has the odd normal dog problems, bee stings etc, & each time we thought here we go again, but no, Harley has had no treatment for his condition since.

While I can't say he has been cured, he is certainly in a solid remission & has never looked better.

Massey University cannot explain the results as Ulcerative Colitis is not an infection, yet the antibiotic treatment that 'wiped the bowel clean' of bacteria seems to have helped where conventional treatment couldn't.

The treatment could be risky in that fungal overgrowth & other complications could occur during treatment, but Harley was lucky.

I would certainly be interested in hearing of any other similar stories.

Dr Steve Merchant B.V.Sc

**************Also published in NZ Boxer Bulletin Sept 1998****************

Harley became very ill around June 2003, he battled on until Sept until he couldn't fight anymore. It was a beautiful spring day, sun streaming through the window when he passed away peacefully in my arms. Even though he left the biggest void in my life I know he runs free with no more pain and he isn't suffering anymore. Harley's illness has helped several dogs all over the world go into remission and live as close to a normal life as possible.

I would like to say a very special "THANK YOU" to you Steve, because I believe if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have had the time I did with Harley.

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