Meet Emmy, a young pit bull mix who began her life on the street as a tiny, immunocompromised puppy with undiagnosed Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Against all odds, she survived and today is an energetic, healthy young adult. After a long, difficult struggle to determine this pup’s complex digestive issues her resourceful pet parent found health solutions with a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) along with making some important dietary changes.
The first days and weeks of our dogs’ lives play an enormous role in establishing a gut microbiome that will keep them healthy and strong for years to come. Having a stable nest with a nursing mother is key. Unfortunately for some of our dogs, that wasn’t the case, and living in uncertain circumstances as a puppy can have lasting health consequences.
Here is Emmy’s story, contributed by her dog mom, Sandy Shipp.
Emmy the pup
An entire litter of 8-week-old pit bull mix puppies was abandoned on the street in Tucson, AZ. Against my wishes, one of the puppies landed in the arms of my daughter, and we gained a family member who quickly worked her way into our hearts. From the beginning, sweet little Emmy struggled with Giardia, a parasite that infects dogs and causes diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Even after she recovered from her Giardia infection, Emmy continued to have severe digestive issues.
By the time she was 18 months old, her health was rapidly spiraling downwards. Vomiting and diarrhea were a constant, but perhaps the hardest to watch was how little energy she had.
Emmy just didn’t have the strength to bounce around or play with toys like a healthy puppy. She spent her days at doggy daycare while I was at work. Even though she was young, Emmy never played with the other dogs. She spent all of her time lying down or listlessly following the employees around. It seemed like she hardly even had a personality.
At our veterinarian’s office we were considered frequent flyers after so many visits. We went through numerous diet and medication trials, but nothing worked, and Emmy’s health continued to deteriorate.
Finally a diagnosis!
After dozens of inconclusive diagnostic tests, Emmy was finally diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This accounted perfectly for her symptoms: IBD means that Emmy’s digestive tract was constantly irritated and inflamed, making it nearly impossible for her to digest food properly without getting sick. The vet was astonished to see such a young dog with such a severe case.
With this diagnosis, we hoped that we could begin treatment more specific to IBD, and that Emmy would finally start feeling better. But instead we just continued to add to the already long list of medications that hadn’t worked. Eventually Emmy’s digestive issues had damaged her body so much that she could barely function.
She was completely lethargic and dangerously thin. People were afraid to ask how she was doing because they were afraid she had already died. I thought we were out of options.
Out of desperation, I began researching alternative therapies for dogs with digestive issues. This is when I stumbled upon the AnimalBiome website. I made the decision to start Emmy on the Gut Microbiome Restoration Supplement, which provide a new way to deliver a fecal microbiota transplant (or FMT) orally, using screened material from healthy donor dogs. And within 3 days I began noticing improvement in her symptoms.
FMTs work by introducing gut bacteria from a healthy dog, whose digestive tract contains hundreds of different kinds of beneficial bacteria, into the digestive tract of a sick dog like Emmy. Since these gut bacteria affect so many aspects of our health, including the immune system and the ability to digest food, shifting her microbiome made all the difference. With the support of the supplements, Emmy was able to successfully transition to new protein sources that previously would have made her very sick. Her diet is now nutrient-rich and full of variety, and we aren’t constantly worried that a new food will lead to another veterinarian visit.
On to good health
With the support of the oral fecal microbiota transplant supplements along with a proper diet, our pup’s health slowly improved and she gained back all the weight she had lost, plus some. As part of her current health regime, she still receives maintenance supplements to help her digestive health remain stable.
Now that she is no longer a frequent flyer at the vet, Emmy has time for a number of more exciting activities: she plays nonstop with other pups at doggy daycare, gives (and receives!) lots of kisses, and even competes in competitions for obedience and agility.
Our sickly abandoned puppy has finally blossomed into the happy, healthy, energetic young pup that she deserves to be.
Many thanks to Emmy's devoted dog mom, Samantha Shipp, for sharing Emmy's story with us!
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