Update: Sienna’s Auto-Immune Disease

Happy update!  We recently had our 2 week check up since Sienna was put on her treatment protocol for SLO (Systemic lupoid onychodystrophy).  You can read more about Sienna’s journey so far here. In this post I will be proving an update on Sienna’s journey as well as some of the lessons we have learned so far!

Sienna having a nightly Epsom salt bath

When we first learned of this disease about a month ago we were very hesitant to throw Sienna on a bunch of medications because I was afraid of the long term effects of the drugs, especially because she will likely need to be on them for a long time.  According to our vet, this auto-immune disease generally is worst between the ages of 3 and 8, when the immune system is at it’s prime.  Sienna has had enough problems in her life. We don’t need to add liver damage or anything else.

I was very happy when the vet prescribed antibiotics and a few supplements. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases.  Read more about our advertising policy here

Sienna’s Treatment Protocol

Important!  If you think you dog has SLO, please consult your vet!  Treatment protocols will vary. 

  • an antibiotic
  • eicosaderm (DHA + EPA)
  • vitamin B complex
  • vitamin B3 (niacinamide)
  • vitamin E
  • socks on impacted paws (to stop the licking!)
  • Daily Epsom salt soaks for her paws
Sienna’s paw after 2 weeks of treatment

At our 2 week check up, the vet was really impressed!  Sienna looked to be improving, the infection appeared to be clearing and her paws didn’t smell anymore!  She was so impressed with her progress that she only recommended 1 more week of the antibiotics.  Apparently most dogs with this condition usually need at least 4 weeks.  

Sienna’s first acupuncture treatment

We also took Sienna to see Willow’s acupuncture/ Chinese medicine vet, and she was onside with the treatment.  This woman has been a vet for many, many years and decided to switch gears and focus on acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and she has seen a number of SLO cases in her time in medical practice!

She thought that the combination of treatment plan given by our vet, accompanied by the chiropractic and swim therapy that we’ve already been doing because of the FHO surgery, and adding in the acupuncture treatments would have a really positive impact on Sienna’s auto-immune disease.

I probably wouldn’t have taken Sienna to the acupuncturist had it not been for this disease, but even after the first visit I am glad that I did.  She uses a holistic, whole body approach and she is certain that she will also be able to positively impact Sienna’s PTSD and other issues.  I will write more on this in future posts.  Stay tuned!

Sienna’s acupuncture foot treatment

It’s only been a month, but I thought I would take the time to share some of the lessons we have learned with this rare disease so far. 

It’s Bath Time!

Even though we’ve been doing this for a number of week now, Sienna still hates the bath.  She won’t leave the bed when she knows it’s time.   It’s lucky that she’s only 50 pounds and we can carry her.  However, she has been visibly happier once she’s in there.  She wags her tail now, where the first few times it was constantly tucked, and she also moves around the tub, where before she was frozen in place. 

From day one, we have been trying to make bath time a good experience.  Here’s what we do:

  • Make sure water is ready, the right temperature (lukewarm) and Epsom salts are mixed in before bringing her in to the bath
  • Play classical music and/or sing calming songs while she is in the bath
  • Stay with her the entire time, sometimes petting and massaging, other times feeding treats
  • Save a portion of her daily food allowance to give to her during her bath (usually some of our homemade treats broken in to small pieces!  The homemade pyramid pan treats have been great for this).  A great idea that we haven’t tried yet is a lickimat that suctions to the side of the tub!
  • Let her get out of the bath on her own.  Due to her hip issues we hadn’t previously encouraged it because we didn’t think she could.  Turns out she’s very good at it!
  • Gently wipe her paws with a clean towel while in the washroom.  We find she responds better if she stands on the towel while we sit on the floor
  • After her paws are semi dry, we go in to the bedroom and have a cuddle or some more massage while we let the fan gently finish drying her feet.  We tried the hair dryer first, but it was a massive fail.  She was very scared.  Since we’re only drying the feet, the fan is quite effective.  This also lets her feet get some more air circulation while we can prevent her from licking!

Sock Time!

We’re not the type to dress up our dogs.  Sienna has some sweaters and coats for necessity, and we have a few bandanas for them that we don’t often use.  Getting to buy Sienna some socks was actually kind of fun.  She is SO adorable on them.  Everywhere we go people comment on how cute she looks.  My favourites are her monkey socks, but she also has red tartan socks, skeleton socks and a couple pairs of pink ones.  We were a little lucky (as lucky as you can be when your dog has a rare auto-immune disease…) that the onset of this was in the summer, because our pet store had socks deeply discounted.

Sienna’s monkey socks with cloth tape and sports bandage

We tried my socks at first, but I am a ladies size 9 and Sienna has tiny paws.  She’s a medium or large in dog socks.  It was hard to get my socks wrapped around her legs well because there was so much excess, and they would start to fall down and drag, even when we taped them just above her paw and above her ankle.

Sienna has been very good about getting her socks on, but she has become a master at taking them off herself.  We have experimented with different kinds of tape (medical, cloth, flexible, paper, strong hold), but she always manages to get them off.  If we wrap them too tightly it will cut off her circulation and/or cause her to limp, and if we don’t wrap it tight enough it is very easy for her to take them off. Our favourite tape type, and the type is see most often recommended is the cloth tape, mostly because it does have a bit of stretch and is less likely to cut of circulation.

We’ve started using self adhesive sports bandages to wrap the top of the sock all the way up to her knee.  She has managed to get off the sports bandage sometimes, but not nearly as often as the tape alone.  Added bonus: they come in awesome colours! 

Nail Trims

Sienna’s original problem nail

We’re really, really lucky that Sienna is exceptionally good about her nail trims.  One of the top recommendations for managing SLO is to keep the nails short and trimmed.  Nails that touch the floor can be uncomfortable and painful.  The nail trimmers we have (1 guillotine style and 1 scissor style) are very old.  We got them when we got our first dog as adults, probably close to 15 years ago.  It will be time for a new pair soon, and I am looking for recommendations! 

As many of her nails are hollow, I am very hesitant when cutting them, lest I break one of the nails even further.  I’m sure a good quality, sharp pair would work much better

I also want to try the Dremel.  We had bought one for Willow a couple of years ago (she is very difficult to trim), but I have yet to dig out the charging base!  I will provide an update once we Dremel her nails a few times to see how that works. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: