Emma's Story

Emma's Loss By Misguided Choices:

I hope in telling my experience with my own dog that it will get many of you thinking why our beautiful pets are now the sickest they have ever been in history. Skin issues, autoimmune diseases, and cancers that are very common occurances affecting our companion animals. Why are veterinary hospitals reporting the highest reasons for appointments is an itchy dog? Why when a dog is seen for skin issues it is never mentioned this ailment is the first sign of a weak immune system? If they did state that, they would ultimately need to admit all they were taught in veterinary school like vaccines, monthly chemical filled preventatives, as well as processed kibble are the leading precursors to weakening the body's ability to maintain strength and vitaity. Although my writing will alarm you its sole intention is to shed light on the dark reality to how our pets are being treated medically due to ignorance or driven by profit. I have been an animal lover all my life. So much, that to help them I studied small animal science and received as Associates degree in 1996 from The University of New Hampsire. I am the girl that saves turtles on the side of the road and will stop to help any stray I come upon. I have done years of rescue, helping many animals including dogs, cats, that had been unwanted and abused. My experiences with veterinarians was always a positive experience. I never thought I'd find myself in a position where I would begin to question the veterinary field as a whole. I always had immense respect and trust in all veterinarians and the protocols in which they were taught in veterinary school. I believed they had my pets best interest at heart and I did not need to question the medical care given by them. It never occured to me to research any information they gave me. They went to school and by all common sense would know more than I ever could. This is what I believed until Emma came into our lives and changed everything. On July 18, 2015 my husband and I received a phone call from a rescue we have volunteered with for years. We were asked to do a wellness check on a female English Setter in upstate South Carolina. The foster home was not returning calls and the rescue was extrememly concerned. We left our home immediately to go check on this dogs welfare. When we arrived, I knocked on the door and ax woman came to the door, she was very nice, however we quickly realized she was likelly a hoarder. Her porch was full from top to bottom with odds and ends. Her front door was open so we were able to see the inside of the home as well, which was also extremely cluttered. We introduced ourselves and tld her why we were there. The women said she would bring the dog outside. As the women came out a large amount of cats followed her. The little dog at her side had no hair and was covered in fleas. Her eyes were swollen and inflamed. Her nails were so long they were curling over into her pads. Her ears were so swollen they looked like elephant ears. told her as a representative of the resue I was taking her and we would be taking her to a veterinarian. On the drive home we were thinking of a new name for her for a new beginning. My husband thought about it and quickly named her Emma. I did contact animal control that following Monday morning. They did ultimately visit the women's home, but I was not legally authorized to be told any specifics of the outcome. The only information I could gain was that she did have a set time frame to seek medical attention and find homes for many of the animals in her possession. If she did not meet this time frame the city would come in and take them all. I unfortunately do not know if dhe complied or what the final ruling was. I contacted a vet I trusted, who was a long distance from my home, so she could have a wellness visit. Emma was seen by this vet and put on prednisone to helpfully aid in healing her skin. At the time I did not realize adding an immunosuppressant drug to an already weak immune system is not a wise choice, which I will discuss later. Regardless, she took the drug for several days and then stopped eating, she began having black tarry like stools and vomiting. We went back to the vet who confirmed she likely had an ulcer we didn't initially know about and the prednisone opened it up. We stopped the drug and prescribed medications to soothe and heal her ulcer. We trusted in good time she would heal with good nutrients and care. As weeks went by the diarrhea and vomiting did clear up, but her skin was not improving as I had hoped. I decided to bring her to a more local eterinary hospital called Wateree Animal Hospital in Elgin South Carolina. Emma did not like to ride for any long distance so it seemed like the better choice for her overall. I recall her being seen a couple times before we ultimately saw Dr. Jennifer Varilek. It was at that appointment that Apoquel was finally mentioned to me as an option to supposedly heal Emma's skin issues. I did question the drug, but I was told it was safe and had no known issues. It did seem like a miracle drug, within a few days her skin began to finally clear up and in time her hair finally grew in. For approx 1 year and 8 months I continued to refill the prescription of Apoquel per the vetd suggestion to keep her on it for life. I never thought to research the drug. I simply trusted the veterinarian. During the time frame Emma took Apoquel she suffered from recurring ear infections, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, even skin itching. I researched later and found vomiting and diarrhea were common side effects of Apoquel, including skin issues, the very thing the drug was supposed to stop. She would need to go back to Wateree Animal Hospital several times for these ailments. She saw different vets there, including the owner of Wateree Animal Hospital, Dr. Eric Rundlett. The vets failed to connect the dots when Emma started having these common side effects. I have looked at Emma's record numerous times, it was very common practice for this veterinary practice to prescribe medications to clear up these issues and then still refull the Apoquel at the same time. They never told me Apoquel may have been the reason for any of it. I did have a couple instances where I began to question the vets decisions. Dr. Rundlett prescribed the drug Rymidal to Emma at one point for her arthritis. Within days of beginning the drug Emma lost her appetite, began pacing, drinking more and urniating more. I researched the side effects of Rymidal and became extrememly alarmed to learned she was exhibiting all of them. I immediatly called Dr. Rundlett wh told me these issues were not from the Rymidal. He said he prescribes the drug a lot and his own dogs are on it and all are doing fine. I still did not feel right adminstrating this drug to her after our conversation so I immediately stopped it. Within a couple of days Emma returned to normal, but it did take several more days for her to begin eating on her own again. That was my first time deeply questioning any vet. In my opinion it is extremely ignorant to think what may work for some dogs with no noticeable side effects would not cause any issues in another dog. Had I not stopped this drug it is reasonable to think the drug could of taken her life. In doing more research on Rymidal I found it had indeed killed dogs and necropsy has proved it. There are cases against Pfizer, the manafacturers of this drug, for dogs lives lost after taking it. As many months moved forward and Emma continue to take Apoquel, she once again was seen at Wateree Animal Hospital for pacing, lethargy, and twitches. At this vet visit they did a urine test, which showed negative, and they also suspected focal seizures. I decided at this time to stop the Apoquel, it was just a strong feeling I had and I declined any refills moving forward. A couple weeks later she was not eating, vomitting, and had diarrhea again. I decided at that time to take her back to the vet who was further distance from my home. I had already began deeply questioning the decisions of Wateree Animal Hospital and I thought it best I go back to the veternarian that i had a better relationship with. I knew the long riding distance would be tough on Emma, but I felt it necessary to see this particular vet for her overall well being. At her visit, the vet prescribed some medications to help with her suspected GI issue and he also aspirated a tumor she had near her mammary gland. Within a few days I got the call every pet parent dreads, the aspirate confirmed she had mast cell cancer. Mast cell cancer releases an abundance of histamins and these histamines are notorious for causing ulcers. Where Emma already had an ulcer when we got her, it cetainly exasperated things. My primary education to fight her cancer was with chemotherapy and drugs. My background in veterinary assisting and unfortunately I also had personal experienc with my past dogs who had to fight cancer. I knew Emma would never be able to handle these common protocols, she was just too frail I began researching the natural options, such as fighting cancer through a real food diet that are free of of processed nutrients, sugars, and carbs. I began to understand 80% of the immune system is within the gut and its vital to whole body health to keep that strong. In all my research on different natural options, I FINALLY decided to actually look up Apoquel on the internet, knowing it was the only drug Emma had taken long term. I remember being horrified to learn that Apoquel is classifed as an immunosuppressant drug, something the vets not once mentioned to me. It is my opinion Apoquel shut off Emma's shut off Emma's immune system and left her body open disease. Its suspected to awaken preexisting cancers and it also suspected in a variety of other ailments including bone marrow issues. It's suggested that blood work prior to starting Apoquel should be done periodically as well. It's also suggested by Zoetis to wash your hands after touching Apoquel, that also was not conveyed to me. It seems too many veterinarians tell their clients not to believe everything they read on the internet. I concur with that assessment pertaining to the inaccurate promotion of things like flea preventions, processed food, or cover up drugs that do not get to the source of the problem. Our televisions are riddled with commericials telling us to trust these products to support health in our beloved animals. They play on our emotions to love and care for them. Research past your vets and the marketing campaigns and know what you're administrating to your pet. If we all feed real food and avoid chemicals we will gain a healthier dog/cat, thereby needing a vet much less often, if at all. It would appear by fearing ys away from researching they can assure their annual profit magins. How would a healthy dog make any profit for a vet? If we all fed real food to our pets and not processed food, the kibble companies would cetainly suffer monetarily. If we have overall healthy pets that do not need to see a vet often, we also have no drugs being prescribed. If that happens the pharmaceutical companies lose money as well. It's my belief all is well planned for profit, and seemingly even established as soon as the vets enter veterinary school. I learned that Apoquel works by interrupting the JAK (Janus kinase) receptors, which are the pathway for immune system, there are essentially 3 receptors. These JAKS are also what signals the dog to itch. Simply put, Apoquel works by interrupting those receptors, primarily 1 and 3. The JAKS role in the body is vital. They are responsible for things like detecting cancer cells and killing them, they assure red and white blood cells are formed, and they also regulate inflammatory responses. JAK's regulate the production of blood cells in bone marrow by signaling the cells to divide and grow. Unfornately, by supressing the dogs itch in this manner it also suppresses the immune system and leaves the body wide open for infection and disease to develop.

I found it ironic to learn Emma's cancer could be fought much the same way that would also heal a dog's itchy skin. i learned that when the immune sytem is stuggling the skin is usually the first to show signs of the struggle.