Homeopathic Treatment of Splenic Mass, Persistent Leukocytosis, and Protein Losing Nephropathy in a Dog, by Lisa Melling, DVM, CVH

HowieHowie was a 10 year old (DOB 01/14/02) neutered male Shih Tzu who had been suffering with anemia, inappetence, and weakness for several weeks. During this time his blood work demonstrated persistent neutrophilia, with white blood cell numbers as high as 92,000/uL. At a local specialty practice, an internal medicine specialist conducted further diagnostics to find splenic masses and peritoneal effusion on ultrasound and laboratory evidence of a protein losing nephropathy. Howie was given a suspected diagnosis of leukemia by the internal medicine specialist based on his collective symptoms. The owners had declined further diagnostics and treatments based on the grave prognosis. Howie was sent home with NSAIDs to relieve his discomfort, but the owners stopped after several doses because they saw no improvement. His owners contacted our house call practice to schedule a home euthanasia appointment for a Friday in late October 2012. Two days before the scheduled euthanasia appointment, the owner called our practice and requested that a third opinion be given at the visit.

Howie appeared on first impression that he was ready to die.  He was collapsed on the couch beside his owner and did not raise his head when I sat down beside him.  His mucous membranes and skin were pale pink, a mass could be palpated on his markedly enlarged spleen in the ventral aspect of his abdomen, and his temperature was 97.4 F. After reviewing his blood tests and paperwork from the previous clinics, I told the owners that euthanasia was a fair decision.  They asked me if I thought there was anything more I could do for him.  I offered to treat him with homeopathy, and since the owners had not heard of this form of medicine, I briefly explained that I was giving a medicine that closely matched the symptoms of his illness to see if we could stimulate his body to heal itself.  I also informed them that at the end of a patient’s life, a homeopathic medicine can also help them pass away peacefully.  The owners consented, and I administered 1 dose of Phosphorus 30c by mouth.  I asked the owners to tempt him to eat with home-cooked food over the weekend and requested a progress report on Monday.

The family did not call on Monday, and I assumed given Howie’s grave state on Friday that he had passed away over the weekend. So I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the owner Tuesday when she called and exclaimed, “Oh Howie is so much better! Now what?”

A recheck exam was scheduled for later that week, and I was greeted at the door by a white ball of fur with bright eyes and a wagging tail.  The owners reported that his energy level had improved slightly over the first two days after the homeopathic remedy was given, but by the third day they had seen a definite improvement in his well-being.  His appetite was back, and he was returning to the feisty dog that the owners knew and loved.  His examination showed increased color to his mucous membranes, and while the mass and splenomegaly were still palpable in his abdomen, his temperature was normal (100.1 F) and his energy level was markedly improved.  I suggested to the owner that we take a blood sample and compare his current values with those from his most recent tests two and a half weeks ago at the specialty practice.  They are outlined below, with normal reference ranges in parentheses:

10/19/12: Second Opinion at the Specialty Practice, Laboratory: Antech

  • CBC/Chemistry: WBC 79,600/uL (4,000-15,500); RBC 3.9 M/uL (4.8-9.3); HCT 21% (36-60); Metamyelocytes 796/uL (0-1)
  • Urinalysis: Hypoalbuminemia, 3+ proteinuria
  • Ultrasound: Splenic mass, peritoneal effusion; Leukemia suspected.

10/27/12: Third Opinion Exam

  • Phosphorus 30c 1 dose given

11/06/12: Recheck Exam, Laboratory: IDEXX (10 days after Phosphorus 30c)

  • CBC/Chemistry: WBC 28,000/uL (5,700-16,300); Neut 90,500/uL (60,000-77,000); RBC 4.97 M/uL (5.5-8.5); HCT 31.95% (37-55); Alb 1.7 g/dL (2.5-4.0); BUN 64 mg/dL (7-27); Creat 2.0 mg/dL (0.4-1.8)

11/27/12: Recheck Exam, Laboratory: IDEXX (31 days after Phosphorus 30c)

  • CBC/Chemistry: WBC 9,300/uL (5,700-16,300); Neut 76,700/uL (60,000-77,000); RBC 4.93 (5.5-8.5); HCT 34.6% (37-55); Alb 2.7 g/dL (2.5-4.0); BUN 61 mg/dL (7-27); Creat 1.8 mg/dL (0.4-1.8)
  • Urinalysis: Free catch sample – trace protein, all other findings WNL’s.
  • Repeated Phosphorus 30c 1 dose

At both the November visits, Howie’s energy level was high and his physical exam findings were normal, and he appeared happy and healthy.  His blood test values showed considerable improvement at each appointment. He continued to thrive, and was monitored with exams and blood testing every 4-8 weeks. Over the winter months of 2013, the splenomegaly and splenic mass were no longer palpable on exam, and his mucous membranes were a healthy pink.  He was given Phosphorus 200c in March of 2013 based solely on the persistence of mild anemia and a recheck the following month showed his RBC values and hematocrit levels had increased, and his white blood cells levels were normal.  At this point, the owner was asked to provide monthly follow up reports, with a recheck exam scheduled in 6 months for October 2013 one year following his terminal diagnosis.

Since the first few days following his first dose of Phosphorus in October 2012, Howie has been clinically well.  He has shown no signs of illness, weakness or inappetence.  The choice to repeat his Phosphorus 30c and to eventually increase to 200c was based on the blood test values and never a decline in his health. His owners describe him as feisty, silly and playful, and are so grateful to homeopathy for saving Howie.

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