ENCINITAS — A dog relies on its tail to express a broad range of emotions from happiness and excitement to anxiety and fear. A pup unable to wag its tail in many ways loses its voice.
That was the fate of poor Maddy, a young Labradoodle who was accidentally run over by a car in the family driveway over the holidays.
A fracture in the L7 vertebrae of Maddy’s spine resulted in losing the ability to wag her tail. After fusing the spine with plates and screws, the veterinary surgeon delivered the sad news that Maddy would never regain use of her tail.
Following surgery she was placed in a rehab facility for post-op recovery.
After seeing an ad in the local health publication Natural Awakenings, Maddy’s owner transferred the pup to Sunnybrook Farm Holistic Pet Care in Encinitas.
“Maddy was able to walk when she came under my care on Feb. 7, but with strict instructions of no horseplay or running and basic physical therapy instructions,” said Rebekah Peterman, a holistic animal practitioner who owns Sunnybrook. “She was really depressed, almost behaving like a geriatric dog.”
There was another problem.
“She had no tail movement,” Peterman said. “Her tail hung totally limp.”
In addition to tail immobility, Peterman said the accident and subsequent surgery left her with severe nerve and muscle damage that resulted in the inability to control her bowels. Maddy had been placed on a course of antibiotics post surgery to prevent infection but without proper nutrition Peterman said the body was still susceptible to a urinary infection.
“In order for Maddy to get healthy she needs real enzymes from whole foods,” Peterman said. “Processed foods contain hidden sugars and preservatives and can rob the body of energy needed to fight off bacteria, creating an environment that can host a urinary infection.”
Peterman began treatment with a diet of brown rice, chicken and locally grown carrots, parsnips, collard greens and sweet potatoes. She followed that up with probiotics and herbs to support the urinary tract.
She also spoiled Maddy with aromatherapy.
“Aromatherapy is an easy yet efficient way to stimulate different systems in the body,” she said. “In Maddy’s case the aim is to calm and balance the nervous system and to help fight off infection.”
On Feb. 9 Maddy delighted Peterman when she moved her tail for the first time.
“After two days with lots of love and the right homeopathic remedy Maddy thumped her tail on the bed when we got up to go outside for her morning pee!” Peterman said.
On Feb. 13 Maja Wichtowski, RVT, CCRP owner of Tsavo’s Canine Rehabilitation Center began treating Maddy with electronic muscle stimulation and cold laser therapy.
“Electronic muscle stimulation helps Maddy to avoid atrophy from disuse and to re-educate the muscles needed for normal bowel movements and tail movement,” Peterman said.
Cold laser therapy uses photo-therapy to stimulate
tissue repair and provide pain management.
After Maddy completed her regimen of post-surgery drugs, Peterman began using herbs to facilitate the healing process. This included an internal dose of herbal tinctures and an external or topical application of warm herbal tea called a fomentation.
“Plants have been used for thousands of years in many different cultures,” she said. “It’s a natural way to relieve pain, clean and nourish tissues and promote overall health. A fomentation, for a dog, is a simple and gentle method of introducing herbs into the body. When done properly it can produce dramatic results.”
Peterman also recruited Dr. Carmine Bausone, DVM, of the Acacia Animal Health Center in Escondido for Maddy’s team. Bausone is treating Maddy with acupuncture, and consulting with Peterman on herbs and supplements to avoid the overuse of antibiotics.
The combined therapies are paying off. Today Maddy runs around the yard with other dogs under Peterson’s care, her tail wagging happily behind her.
“She is such a good patient,” Peterman said. “I know she’s feeling better because she’s starting to have an opinion. Instead of coming into the house from the yard when I call the dogs she’s thinking, ‘Well, maybe I don’t want to come inside yet.’”
For more information about Rebekah Peterman and her services, call (760) 230-0748 or visit sunnybrookfarmholisticpetcare.com.