**DISCLAIMER** Please note: I am not a veterinarian, and the purpose of this blog is solely to educate, provide resources, and share Reo's story. In this blog, I will present research and information on the theories of SARDS to which I subscribe, along with my own narrative. If you think your dog may have SARDS, or adrenal exhaustion/Plechner Syndrome, please seek veterinary care right away!

If you are just beginning your SARDS education, I suggest you start with the blog post from August 22, 2011 entitled "SARDS Resources". If you'd like to know our trials, tribulations, and joys from the beginning, start with "But first...Reo!" and click chronologically on from there.

If you would like to read my suggestions as to how I would approach treatment for a newly-diagnosed dog, check the November 16, 2011 post "If I had another SARDS dog" (and then read my blog more fully for appropriate context).

Though we have decided to suspend Reo's retinal protection supplements in September 2012 (see September 16, 2012 post "Decision for Reo") due to the fact that she had very little remaining vision, I am still strongly supportive of our treatment approach, and know that it changed Reo's health and longevity in a positive way. Feel free to comment and ask me any questions - I am happy to help if I can!

Update: Reo became an angel on October 21, 2014. She had a profound kidney infection, causing acute kidney failure, and she was unable to recover. The contributing factors to her decline are covered in my February 16, 2015 blog post "Farewell to Reo".

Though I do not regularly update this blog any longer, much of the information is still relevant (though some of the links may be out of date). Feel free to join the conversation at "SARDS Dogs United" on Facebook.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Toe woes

02/27/12 - Reo's had an infected pinky toe for about a week.  She's a dog that likes to scratch after she pees, and about 2 weeks ago when we were out for a walk, she found a particularly attractive patch of dead Bermuda grass and went to town.  All four feet were involved in the scratching, and she was aggressive about it!  It was funny at the time, to be sure.

Lo and behold, a week later, she started gimping around, and I examined her feet.  Her pinky toe was about twice the size of her other one!  I think she must have gotten some grass or particles between the nail and cuticle.  So I washed it with an antiseptic cleanser, applied Neosporin, and talked to Dr. O about it when we saw him for her Medrol injection.  He said just to keep an eye on it and bring her back if it got worse.

Well, it's still infected.  Over the weekend, I started two-a-days soaking it in Epsom Salts (which she looooves - like a spa pedicure!), which seems to be drying it out very nicely.  Swelling is down a lot, and it's not bothering her as much.  Hoping that we can get it back to normal before we leave town later this week.  If not, we'll have to go and get some antibiotics for the little miss!

Between her toe bothering her, and the packing/moving whirlwind, Reo is feeling off her game.  All of us are really looking forward to getting back into our normal routine!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Steady on

02/24/12 - It's been one week since Reo's DepoMedrol injection, and we have noticed no increased symptoms as we experienced last spring when she got her injection series.  Granted, we used a lower dosage, but I was expecting some increased thirst (at least).  Maybe some restlessness, increased hunger, etc.  But so far, she's doing great, despite the massive amount of packing and changes going on in the house (removed furniture, new boxes everywhere, etc.).

No major changes on the vision side, either.  It's transient - sometimes she does great and walks around new things no problem, can follow a cotton ball from more than 12 inches away, etc.  And other times, she can't find her way back up the steps from the yard.  Sean and I sort of feel that for Reo, she needs to willingly "engage" her vision sense.  Like, if she's focused and paying attention, she can see and navigate well.  If she's distracted and smelling something, or if she is napping/dozing and opens her eyes, she doesn't have much vision.  Sometimes we can snap her out of it and get her to engage by talking to her.  I find this interesting, and I wish I knew more about what could be going on in her eyeballs!

I think that Reo has lost a little bit of weight - she's looking more ribby lately.  It's a fine line to balance diet and exercise in a small dog.  I'm constantly giving a little more or a little less food, depending on how much exercise we've gotten.

At this time next week, we'll be somewhere in Kansas, en route home to Colorado.  We are really excited, and I hope that Reo is not too stressed out.  Anything could happen in a car with 2 people, 3 dogs, and 2 cats.  Fun times, yes?  :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Booster" shot, and a happy liver

02/18/12 - Went to our vet yesterday for Reo.  I had to stock up on her meds, since we are in the midst of a cross-country move.

I also wanted to get a CBC and thyroid test to see how she was doing (it has been about 6 months since her last CBC, which was normal).  Reading other lists and groups makes me a little paranoid sometimes, like Reo's liver is going to fail for being on Medrol long-term (been almost a year).  I've also heard people complain that the NVDS blood lab that I use for Reo is "inaccurate, particularly in thyroid testing".

It's no secret that the treatment we pursued for Reo is controversial - and some people have had extremely averse reactions to her success.  Because I read a lot of views/treatments/theories about SARDS, I do question myself sometimes, even though Reo is healthy and she regained her sight.

As our vet says "the proof is in the pudding!" - kind of hard to argue with that!

Anyway, our vet does the basic blood testing right in his office, so it didn't take very long to find out her status.  I'm very pleased to report that Reo's thyroid is normal (confirmed NVDS normal result), and all of her liver and kidney values are normal, and her blood glucose is normal!  :)  

If her dose of Medrol was a therapeutic dose (as many people and vets feel is the case) - there is definitely concern that there can be long term liver or kidney problems, and high blood sugar.  In my mind, this proves that Reo is not on a therapeutic dose of Medrol - her daily dose is only replacing what her body cannot produce naturally (again, making her like an atypical Addison's dog).

Because she has had a decline in vision the past 2 weeks (stress of me being gone on a trip, coupled with stress of the house packing/chaos), I had contacted Caroline Levin and Dr. Plechner to see what they suggest.  They both suggested a "booster" shot of cortisol hormone.

Caroline cites her experience in that spring and fall are natural periods of enhanced adrenal activity in pets and people (allergies, anyone?), and so sometimes dogs with adrenal exhaustion have challenges during this time.  Take this, coupled with stress, and it can have an effect - it seems to have had an effect on Reo.

So, I talked about a "booster" with our vet, and agreed on a dosage.  We went with 15 mg DepoMedrol, which was less than Dr. P suggested to me, but a dose with which my vet and I felt comfortable.  I am interested to see how this helps with Reo's stress, and if her vision will improve again.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The politics of SARDS

02/13/12 - It can be ugly out there.  Not only are most vets novices when it comes to SARDS, diagnosis and treatment options, but other folks have their own opinions and aren't always open to new ideas, especially if those ideas might contradict what they believe.  Welcome to the world we live in, right?  :)

I was a member of the SARDS dogs Yahoo group, recommended in my "resources" post for nearly a year.  Since Reo regained her sight and her health, I have been very active in sharing our story, and also making suggestions to new members, who are new to SARDS and don't know where to start.  Apparently, some were not receptive to hearing more about adrenal exhaustion/Plechner Syndrome, did not want to hear my suggestions, and did not appreciate my sharing Reo's successes.  Evidently, people were complaining to the group owner for months, unbeknownst to me.

Yesterday, the SARDS dogs Yahoo group owner banned me from the group, without as much as a warning.  Very disappointing, and I'm sad to lose contact with some folks on the list, whose dogs I've come to "know".  It's probably for the best in the end, but I can't help but feel censored!  I thought it would be reasonable to at least give me a heads up, ask me to tone it down, etc. etc., but that was not the case.

As a result, I started my own SARDS dogs Yahoo group, focused on discussing adrenal exhaustion, and its implications in SARDS, as well as auto-immunity, allergies, and cancer:

I can only hope that folks will find this group a safe place to learn, share, and discuss.  I encourage all of my readers to take part if you are so inclined, as your perspective will only serve to help others trying to gather as much information as possible!

I think back to when Reo was first diagnosed, and I was desperate to find information - any and all - so I could filter through and find what made sense to me (that is why I started this blog!).  That opportunity should not be lost, and so I continue to make available my beliefs, Dr. Plechner and Caroline Levin's research, other related blog posts, and as much information as possible, to help other owners make educated decisions concerning treatment for their animals.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

NOT phasing out PS

02/12/12 - As I mentioned in my previous post, I dropped Reo's dosage from 100 mg/day to 50 mg/day last week.  That same day, even before her first PS dose in her breakfast, we noticed some decline in her vision - thinking there was no possible way it could have been from the reduced dosage (since she got 50 mg that morning as she always does, just not the other 50 in her evening meal).  We also noticed some watery discharge from Reo's eyes, which is new. 

We went the whole week with Reo at 50 mg/day of PS, and didn't notice any chance in disposition, clarity/confusion, etc., but her vision seems to be poor lately.  I truly don't know if it's a result of PS (since the onset of declining vision seemed to overlap with the drop in dosage, and it seems unlikely to me that PS would have such a direct effect on vision?), but I bumped her back up to 100 mg/day on Saturday (so there was 5 days of a decreased dosage), just in case.

Her watery eyes continue, as well as greatly decreased vision lately, unresponsive PLRs to normal light (flashlight), but do respond in sunlight.  I'm not sure if she has allergies, or really what is going on at the moment, but this seems to be a long period (for Reo) of struggling with sight.  Otherwise, she's doing great in terms of disposition, etc.  

Hopefully it's just another "blip" like we've encountered before, but gets better soon.  This seems to be the longest period of time she's gone with diminished vision, so I'm a little concerned.  We're also in the midst of packing up our house for a cross-country move - I'm sure this could be a stressful situation for her, too, even though she is navigating the house just fine and not bumping into things/getting lost (which makes me wonder if her vision is really diminished or if she's faking!!).

We had an hour-long walk today, and she did really great, but it was the first time in over a week that the dogs got a walk because it's been pretty cold!

Anyway, I won't be tinkering around with the supplement dosages any time for the foreseeable.  We're in unchartered territory, but we need to stick to what we know has worked for Reo!  Additionally, after speaking with Caroline Levin, I am considering pulsing her Medrol dosage, to help her get through this time of stress for the move.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Phasing out Phosphatidyl Serine

02/06/12 - Lately, I've been thinking about all of the supplements that Reo gets in her meals, and have been wondering whether I can reduce dosages and/or remove some.  It's not so much the cost or the inconvenience of giving her so many things (though it definitely is an inconvenience when we travel together and have to bring the supplement arsenal!), just that  Reo seems to be quite stable lately with her vision and disposition, as she comes up on nearly her 1-year anniversary of SARDS diagnosis (it's been 11 months).

I have no plans to discontinue the Cell Advance and Lutein - these antioxidant supplements can only help an ageing dog (and I have Leigh on Cell Advance, too!).  I also see the value in continuing to give Magnesium Taurate while Reo's estrogen levels are still slightly high (remember, the thought is that high estrogen leads to increased uptake of calcium in cells, which leads to a "retinal seizure".  Magnesium helps to counter act the calcium).

I contacted Caroline Levin for some advice, but she doesn't really have any data to suggest when to stop supplements, which ones, or by how much.  So, we're sort of in unchartered territory!  The first supplement I thought might be good to reduce/remove is Phosphatidyl Serine.  This supplement seems to be "optional" in Levin's protocol - recommended but not required.  It is thought to help keep fluidity in cell membranes, and also to help mitigate signs of confusion.

Caroline was clear to communicate that tapering off or discontinuing any supplements was at my own risk, as she doesn't have any suggestions for me, or information to share to help me.  She also mentioned that because Reo's estrogen levels have not yet stabilized (though of course they have continued to decline with treatment), that this could also be a risk.

Reo currently gets 100 mg/day of PS.  I have decided to begin tapering this off beginning today with giving her 50 mg/day and see if I notice any changes.  So we have the makings of our own scientific experiment on our hands!  We will see what happens, and if there are any noticeable effects in Reo - either positive or negative!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blog share: SARDS and Pet Health, part 2

02/01/12 - February already!  Where does the time go??

Below is a follow up blog post, written by Michael Goldman of The Healthy Pet Network.  His dog Rex had SARDS, so this topic is near to his heart, as it is for all owners of dogs afflicted with SARDS.  I think every SARDS dog owner out there can relate to his story and frustration!

The original blog post appears here:, which is worth a visit to watch the video, and see a picture of Rex.

This article comes from my heart and due to my experiences, is meant as a supplement to Dr Plechners article on SARDS. Please excuse any perceived ranting, as I do feel very strongly about the subject matter and please understand, my intent is to help by providing information that you may find of value.

Several years ago, my little buddy Rex, who was like a son to me, developed a very catastrophic disease called SARDS ( Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome) and became blind. This had a number of implications for the Goldman family, not only for Rex but for all of us. Being an animal lover and caregiver, I never realized just how naïve I was when it came to animal health. We did not know what to do, scrambling around in a daze. The only thing I had going that helped tremendously was my determination and insistence for answers.

Have you ever had a veterinarian or doctor for that matter, tell you they don’t know, they don’t have any answers? Call me thick headed, thick skinned or whatever but this is unacceptable to me. This is their job. My animals are dependent on them for answers. You may think I am hard headed but that’s me. Now what did this have to do with my little guy Rex?

We noticed that Rex seemed to be losing his eye sight, bumping in to things, lack of depth perception etc. When we took him to our Vet who by the way, is highly regarded in the veterinary community, He didn’t have a clue. He decided to do exploratory surgery on Rex ruining one eye and causing a cataract. When he was pretty much blind, he finally recommended an ophthalmologist, closest one being 300 miles away. I pushed for an immediate appointment. I will never forget the day I took him to the specialist. He had just become completely blind and was scared to death. He did not know what the heck was going on. I felt and probably was pretty much worthless. He was diagnosed with SARDS, thus starting our journey to knowledge. Problem being, this enlightenment came at the expense of my little Rex.

Our Vet had heard of SARDS but didn’t know enough to send him to a specialist. The Specialist certainly knew about SARDS but said there was nothing that could be done and that was it. Me being me, I refused to accept this and sought answers. I came across several very knowledgeable, helpful people, in the subject matter, one being “How I met Dr Alfred J Plechner”

Now please bear with me for a moment as I am going to get on my soap box. I came to learn there is a defined cause, and a treatment that can provide a solution to many catastrophic diseases. Problem is, most Veterinarians are content to treat the symptoms or effects. Very few, look to the causes BEFORE they become effects. I am sad to say that I have found many Veterinarians, think they know everything. Instead of saying, I have things to learn and will move forward trying to find ways to better help my patients, many take the attitude that nothing can be done. They will say, “I have learned there IS NO ANSWER, NO SOLUTION”. They think and they say “Anybody with an idea, who has had success, is crazy and must be a quack.”

It’s important to note that every revolutionary scientific discovery has gone through the 3 phases of truth.

1) Disbelief

2) Ridicule

3) Truth becomes self evident

I am sorry to say, that I have no respect for these people, and have found that many of them are in the profession strictly to heal there wallet. On the other hand, I have the utmost respect for a doctor or person who says, I don’t have the answer, but I will look for one or I am open to ideas or suggestions and especially one who’s FIRST priority is the health of their patient and not there wallet.

OK OK, I will get off my high horse but there was a purpose to my tirade, If you haven’t already you may in the future have an extremely ill pet and more than likely you will encounter the above, unacceptable attitude. Know it but don’t accept it. I am making an assumption that your pet is a family member and incompetence won’t do. You want answers and hopefully solutions and rightly so. If your primary physician does not offer you anything, find someone who will because there is good news, There Are some very knowledgeable, caring medical professionals who can help.

Now, several years later, I have learned much. I am committed to helping animals in any way I can and providing the knowledge one can use to have healthy long lived pets. I will always be learning but I am committed to animal health.

We are caretakers for a number of pets—dogs and cats. I have Rex’s mother and (2) remaining siblings. Through my desire to learn and with the help of globally renowned Dr Alfred Plechner, we discovered his mother and siblings had a hormonal imbalance that predisposed them to certain catastrophic diseases. The have been diagnosed, put on a protocol and are doing VERY well today. Before Rex came down with his problem, his sister Millie was near death from an auto immune problem. She had numerous blood transfusions and the doctor said she probably would not make it. Since being on the protocol, she has never again had the problem and acts like a young school girl again.

So what do I have to offer when it comes to SARDS. My main points are these

To know what to look for so you will be a step ahead of the game
To know what to expect when bringing your pet to the vet
You love your pet—don’t be afraid to not only expect proper treatment but also be decisive and persistent in expecting action.
A couple of facts for a better understanding.
And a couple of resources if needed.
First AND FOREMOST, it important to know that SARDS is Extremely time sensitive. By the time you notice your pet is blind, it’s probably too late. On the other hand, if you notice them starting to lose their eyesight, there is still hope. The problem being, all this can happen in a couple of weeks—sometimes less and sometimes more. Time is of the essence when it comes to SARDS so if you remotely suspect, have your pet checked before it is too late. If you notice your pet being lethargic, out of sync and seeming to lose their eye sight whether stumbling, losing depth perception, anything that gives you this feeling, Have them checked immediately.

I should note that when I say too late, I mean in retaining their eyesight. Even when sight is lost, proper treatment can restore a high quality of life.

When seeing your health care professional, be sure to mention you are worried about SARDS. They may not understand the disease or have any solutions for you but they have probably heard of it. If they even remotely seem lost, DEMAND an immediate referral to a specialist. Remember you have weeks, maybe days so be decisive in your actions.

You can always feel free to contact me at the Healthy Pet Network and I can quickly and easily put you in touch with Dr Plechner. There is also a support group out there with similar experiences, that I can direct you to and one more very valuable reference

A lady in Oregon, Caroline Levin is extremely knowledgeable about the subject and has worked with many dogs with many successes. She is an RN. She knows her stuff but she is bad mouthed by many a vet since she is only an RN. Hog wash. She is a valuable resource who knows MUCH more than I do and more than most vets, when it comes to SARDS. REMEMBER THE KEY IS TO ACT SWIFTLY AND DECISIVELY.

Rex passed away a few months ago, which is why I wrote this article now. He was an unsung hero, The catastrophe he went thru prompted me to learn more, MUCH more about animal health. It literally saved his siblings and several others in our family. And one of the most important things was that through this, I met Doctor Plechner, who I truly believe is one of the Great men of our time and a future Nobel Prize Winner, in medicine.

OH, The Healthy Pet Network would never have been if it wasn’t for Rex.

Thank You Doctor Plechner for Rex’s good quality of life in his last years.

Rex, we miss you greatly and will love you always.

The Goldman’s