This is a guest post by Paula Cook.
Trying to research and determine the best treatment for my SARDS dog has been an incredibly time consuming and difficult task. The veterinary profession claimed there was no treatment for SARDS and the best thing for me to do, was to go home and learn to live with a blind dog.
I spent many hours surfing the internet, even though in the beginning, I thought it was a hopeless journey. I found one source that claims success in two SARDS dogs by using intravenous injections of a serum containing human antibodies. In checking out the cost and success of this procedure, I decided to search further.
I did find another source of treatment that incorporated hormone therapy and also the supplementation of calcium. This source suggested that because calcium was not absorbed properly by the retinal cells, it created retinal spasms and that was the reason why the SARDS developed. I tried to find other sources that substantiated this theory, but came up empty.
My last resort was to look for other SARDS pet owners that had their SARDS pets successfully treated. They all kept pointing me to the same website, DrPlechner.com, for me to read about SARDS and that there definitely is a successful treatment for SARDS and vision return, as long as the SARDS is diagnosed and properly treated as soon as possible.
Other SARDS pet owners told me that the veterinary profession does believe that SARDS is an autoimmune disease and if there is a treatment for SARDS, the sooner it be can corrected the less chance there is for the SARDS pet to develop other autoimmune diseases, including cancer.
I spent many hours at DrPlechner.com educating myself about SARDS. I learned that SARDS is an autoimmune disease, which occurs from a hormone imbalance and a loss of control of the pet’s immune system. When this occurs, the immune cells that are deregulated because of this hormone imbalance, no longer will perform their duties to protect the pet.
What seems even more important is the fact that these immune cells lose recognition of the pet's own self-tissue and begin to destroy their retinal tissue.
The veterinary profession reports that no anti-retinal antibodies are produced, but a cellular destruction by the immune cells, seems to be the cause of SARDS.
Whatever the cause may be, the final destruction of the retinal tissue is called SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration).
Since this is an autoimmune disease, I can see why when other self-tissue is also involved, other forms of autoimmunity can certainly happen.
Dr. Plechner's website further explains that SARDS begins with a cortisol imbalance and immediately I think, I AM NOT GOING TO USE CORTISONE ON MY DOG!!! Interestingly enough, the website further explains that this cortisol imbalance, whether deficient, or elevated and defective, must be replaced with active cortisol in order to stop this SARDS chain reaction.
I kept reading further to try to understand this SARDS chain reaction. Apparently when the cortisol production from the middle layer adrenal cortex is damaged, there is a negative feedback mechanism that tells the pituitary gland when it is time to stimulate more cortisol.
Unfortunately the pituitary gland cannot recognize this cortisol, or if the cortisol is not defective but deficient, both will cause the pituitary to keep producing its hormone, referred to as ACTH, and the inner layer adrenal cortex will now respond in a direct manner, and produce excessive amounts of adrenal estrogen.
Please trust me when I say, this is getting a little complex for me!
I now understand why excess adrenal estrogen is produced. But what now? Why does this excess estrogen cause SARDS?
According to Dr. Plechner's website, the excess estrogen creates many unhappy conditions for the SARDS pet. The first thing the estrogen does is to stop the immune protection for the pet.
Next up, it deregulates the immune system and causes the immune cells to lose recognition of self-tissue and as Dr. Plechner points out, destruction of the retinal tissue is the impact area, which causes the SARDS and blindness.
The excess estrogen binds the receptor sites for the thyroid hormone, which in turn slows down the metabolism of the liver and kidney, so they can't breakdown and excrete the excess estrogen in a normal time frame. This apparently is a protective factor for keeping the estrogen in excess, so it can continue the SARDS chain of events.
This is another reason why it is safe to give the SARDS pet an active cortisol, in order to replace the deficient or defective cortisol, because thyroid hormone is given at the same time as the cortisol, so the increased metabolism of the liver and kidney will allow for normal breakdown and excretion of the replacement cortisol within a 24 hour period.
I know this is very involved, but what I think I’m beginning to understand is, if a cortisol supplement is going to be used with my pet, I want my pet’s ability to produce normal cortisol to be tested first. If not, and cortisol is superimposed upon my pets natural cortisol production, this is when all kinds of side effects may occur, like diabetes.
The website also explains, that even if a cortisol imbalance is identified in my pet, if the metabolism of the liver and kidney are not increased with the use of a thyroid hormone, the cortisol replacement will not be broken down in a 24 hour period, and an overdose will soon occur, with all kinds of side effects.
The veterinary profession claims that cortisol supplementation will cause diabetes, but I wonder how many of their patients were actually tested first, to see if they already had normal cortisol production?
Dr. Plechner's website goes on to discuss the fact that the elevated adrenal estrogen will cause the immune cell that is responsible for antibody production to reduce its amount of antibody.
When this occurs, and the mucous membrane antibody in the gut, referred to as IgA, is below 58 in a SARDS pet or any pet, malabsorption of oral steroids, other medications and many supplements will occur.
This is probably the reason why many oral medications and supplements do not work. The website does refer to pets in the hospital being treated for an infection, and are given a specific intravenous antibiotic that bypasses the gut. But when they are sent home on the same antibiotic, but oral this time, their infection returns, because their IgA level is below 58.
I've read about all the different supplements that are suggested for SARDS patients, and now I'm beginning to understand why many of them do not work. Their IgA level in the gut was below 58!
Needless to say, I was beginning to believe what I was reading on this website. As a matter of fact, I decided to have this endocrine immune blood test done, and was given suggestions for what to use to correct my SARDS pet’s imbalance.
I'm happy to report that after only 22 days of proper injectable and oral replacement therapy, my SARDS pet has full vision and function returned.
What I’ve learned at DrPlechner.com is that there is an urgency to get SARDS pets treated properly, as soon as possible, in order to help avoid further autoimmune diseases and cancer.
I'm thankful I found this website and thankful I did not listen to my veterinarian who told me to go home and learn how to live with a blind dog.