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****************
Since this report was written & Harley going into remission in May 1997, we are coming up to his 4th anniversary. I would like to say at this point Harley has no signs of Ulcerative Colitis. He is very well & leads a reasonablely normal life but does however cope with a heart murmer which puts restrictions on his life.
Harley made it to his 6th anniversary & just after June 2003 started going down hill. In Sept 2003 Harley passed away peacefully in my arms on a beautiful spring afternoon. I will never forget him.
***********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.*************