Can we veer off the subject of dogs for a day? Today, I want to talk about chronic health problems and autoimmune disease in general.
People often ask me how I got started on this journey to becoming who I am today. The answer to that tends to depend on who is asking me and why.
If they’re asking me because they need help with their dog, then I tell them Boomer’s story and how I finally figured out how to heal his diarrhea of two years.
People finding me because they have things to fix in their own lives, including their health, will often hear my story.
The reality is that it all happened at once, over a period of several years.
Dogs and humans really don’t work all that differently.
When I was a young child, we were still living in the low-fat era. I grew up eating cinnamon and brown sugar Poptarts for breakfast, because they were easy and “healthy.”
I was a competitive swimmer for many years, so I’d be up swimming at 5 am, then school, then back to swimming. I’d finally be home just in time for dinner. I would eat granola bars all day, then I would load my plate with any available dinner (usually pasta or pizza, and we discovered later I was allergic to wheat!).
All of this poor diet was combined with constantly eating foods to which I was actually allergic, and the inflammation just built and built in my body. Subsequently, my health crashed in my 20’s (we started really seeing the effects my freshman year of college, but it just got worse from there).
This is similar to Boomer’s story (and that of many of my patients).
I adopted a new puppy. I fed him the best food I could buy. As I was still in vet school and then working at conventional clinics, I picked a “veterinarian recommended” dry food. It never even occurred to me to look at the ingredients or think about what all the processing did to the nutrients anyway.
His food never changed, there was no variety. I just bought the same bag over and over.
I didn’t know that I was seeing warning signs of disease. I didn’t know that constant ear infections aren’t normal, even for a water-loving lab. I knew he shouldn’t have been licking his wrists at 2 years old, but when I was told it was arthritis, I just shrugged it off as poor genetics (hint, it wasn’t).
And then his body exploded when he was two.
Here’s the problem. I know I talk about this regularly, but just because we don’t see signs of illness doesn’t mean they aren’t building up in our bodies.
And once that inflammation has built up high enough, we don’t just see one symptom.
We often see an explosion of them.
Boomer’s diarrhea took two years to heal.
My health took much longer and became a more complicated journey.
And this is what I see in my clients all the time. So often, people find me because their dog has a health issue that just won’t go away! They’ve tried every solution they can think of, they’ve tried the solutions their vet recommended, and nothing is improving.
And so often, it’s for one simple reason. (Simple, NOT easy.)
We haven’t treated the root of the problem.
If we have health concerns that have been going on a long time, then they are going to take time to heal.
And in my opinion, with years of working on these cases, they almost all begin in the gut.
If we don’t address the gut, we’re not going to improve.
In Boomer’s case, healing his gut solved not only his diarrhea, but also the licking, the skin issues, the ear infections, and reduced his anxiety.
In my situation, I went through multiple doctors and many medications, and ultimately healed myself by changing my diet and managing my stress.
It all comes down to the gut.
So why am I talking about this today?
Because it’s an important thing to understand.
Ideally, we need to think about health before illness shows up.
If we’re already sick, we have to think about the connection to the gut!
I bring this up today because I was recently featured in an article on one of my favorite health sites for humans. I attribute my return to health (and therefore, Boomer’s return to health as well as many of my patients) to his research, because it was after I found him that things started to turn around.
However, it was still a long journey, and it was a lot of experimentation.
But it is possible.
If I leave you with anything today, I want to leave you with hope. Hope that these long term problems can be improved. Hope that healing is possible!
Because it is. I’ve done it. I’ve helped my dog through it. And I’ve seen it with countless other patients and human clients as well.