Chinese Medicine Keeps Police Dog on the Job

March 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Blog

German Shepherd dog leads his handlers to a criminal's hiding place

Bronko back on active duty after help from Dr. Marsden

A German Shepherd police dog is still on the case in Oregon after almost losing his career to a crippling condition known as degenerative myelopathy. For “Bronko”, it was a rapid decline, from award-winning police dog to beginning to not feel his hind legs, all in the space of a couple of months. His enthusiasm never changed, but his abilities and strength were slipping
away. But Bronko has been completely restored to function through the hard work of his veterinarian, Dr. Matthew Fricke, and the advice of our own Dr. Steve Marsden of Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Clinic.

Late last year, Dr. Fricke contacted Dr. Marsden for advice after hearing Dr. Marsden lecture at various veterinary conferences on holistic medicine. For the past few months, Bronko had been crashing every time he tried to turn while at a run, and had developed some loose stools. Additionally, he had a delayed placing response, where if you put his paw in a knuckled position, it would take several seconds before he would notice and put it back.

X-rays were normal, and there was  no response to chiropractic adjustments. Based on these findings, the breed, and a lack of pain, Dr. Fricke diagnosed degenerative myelopathy, a progressive paralytic condition somewhat similar to multiple sclerosis in humans which would end Bronko’s career and ultimately perhaps his life if it wasn’t reversed. Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive degeneration of the spinal cord triggered by a similar genetic mutation to the one causing Lou Gehrig’s disease in people.

After a flurry of emails between Dr. Fricke and Dr. Marsden, and using the Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine co-authored by Dr. Marsden, Dr. Fricke started acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments. His goal was just to get Bronko through to what would be a forced retirement at the end of the year. But when the end of the year came, Bronko was stable again, and his retirement was postponed.

How did the therapy work? The herbs have been used for centuries by the Chinese for leg weakness. Research is still uncovering their mechanism of action, but it is suspected that both the herbs and acupuncture boost circulation to the spinal cord itself.

After a few months of herb and acupuncture use, Bronko is no longer falling when running, and can feel where his legs are. He is still on active duty, and has already collared two criminals this year. His handler feels he has seen significant improvements in Bronko due to the treatments.

While not all cases of degenerative myelopathy can be expected to respond this way, Drs. Marsden and Fricke are celebrating yet another victory for holistic medicine in this otherwise incurable disorder.

  • Brooke Fraser