Health and Longevity Course for Dogs Chapter 12
If you are looking for the short version - scroll down to the title "lung diseases from a medical point of view." For the less dry Dr. D version, continue reading here.
Today, I'll tell you a story that very few people know about. More than 20 years ago, I adopted another dog before my previous dog, Skai. However, if someone asked me at the time how many dogs I’ve had in my life, I always said only one, Skai.
The following story tells you why.
As a young vet, I worked at a veterinary practice in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. At that time, Whistler was a town of 7,000 people and has since grown into a world-class ski resort.
Whistler has always been a dog town. I'd estimate that more than half of the families back then had dogs. The stories of the Whistler canines and their people were similar to other places, sometimes happy and sometimes sad.
The story of Bella and James
Bella lived with James, her guardian, in Whistler. She was a two-year-old black and white border collie living a great life on a farm with freedom that most dogs of the west never experience. James' life was a little more turbulent. He lost custody of his children. Emotionally, James never really recovered from losing touch with his children and a decade later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
When I met James at the Whistler clinic, Bella had barely started her life. She was a happy and boisterous canine teenager who was always ready for the next adventure. But when James started losing his battle with cancer, something I've never seen before happened.
Just a week before James was admitted to the hospital one more time, he brought Bella because she was coughing. To my surprise pneumonia was the cause, which is rare, especially in young dogs. When I took X-rays and confirmed the diagnosis, I remember thinking how strange it was that both James and Bella had a lung condition. It was as if she took on James’ disease. The diagnosis was different, but in my mind, it was a lung disease just with a different degree of severity. In other words, energetically they were same.
A few days later, I received the news that James had died, and a family friend brought Bella back to the clinic as her condition had started getting worse. Normally, the prognosis for a young dog with pneumonia is good, but Bella was not recovering. She stopped eating and I had to hospitalize her and put her on oxygen.
I could not prevent myself from being emotional about the situation, especially seeing how sad Bella was and it didn’t take long for me to adopt her. I thought it would only be a matter of a few days before she'd recover and enjoy her Whistler life. She was young and I knew I'd really enjoy her, but her plan was different.
Within a couple of days, Bella's condition deteriorated. No matter how much I tried, it seemed she wanted to be reunited with James. When Bella died, it was hard, even though she was mine for only a couple of days. In reality, her heart never belonged to anyone other than James. For her, dying meant a reunion.
Lungs are the organ of grief
No animal species can connect with humans on such a deep level as dogs. James’ and Bella's story invites us to at least consider eastern medical wisdom that says lungs are the organ of grief and that the stronger the connection between two individuals is, the more likely they will suffer from similar ailments.
Lung diseases from a medical point of view
When I decided to write about lungs and lung disease, I could not resist sharing this story with you before moving on to the practical part of keeping your dog's lungs healthy.
I often see the western medicine approach to organ disease being too ‘mechanical,’ as if the mind and the rest of the body are not connected. In practice, I often see that dogs’ health is affected by the thoughts and experiences of other individuals.
In Chapters 8 to 11, I explained that spinal segments are responsible for blood, nerve and energy flow to different organs and what happens when the energy stream slows down.
The lung association point is between the fourth and fifth thoracic vertebrae (the fourth thoracic intervertebral space), just before the pericardium and the cardiac points. That is why any injury, strain, sprain and tightness of the shoulders, forelegs and the lower neck may affect both the lungs and the heart. Click here for more info.
Tobie, the dog that stopped coughing
One of the most common forms of lung disease is what conventional medicine classifies as a cough of unknown origin.
Tobie had been a patient of mine for many years and his guardian Edna and her are a perfect pair. They are very lucky to have each other. Edna loves to surf and Tobie is a beach lover. When I sold my clinic, I lost touch with them, but a few years later Edna asked me for help because Tobie was coughing and conventional treatments were not working.
When I examined Tobie, I noticed she was super tight in the area of the lung points, between the fourth and fifth thoracic vertebrae.
We started some release techniques such as IMS, an acupuncture release technique, massage and worked with a chiropractor and rehabilitation practitioner to ensure Tobie's shoulder region recovered. The exercises also addressed her tendency to carry more of her weight on the forelegs. This often happens in aging dogs as their hind end weakens.
It took a few months for Tobie to recover, but the effect was clear. Now, years later, she still rarely coughs and when she does, it means that the region between the shoulder blades needs to be treated.
A universal method that can help treat many lung conditions
If I tried to put even just the most common lung diseases in this article, there would be enough material for a book.
The diagnosis of cough of unknown origin is quite common, but there are other conditions that can greatly improve by taking the above approach. Here are some examples of lung conditions: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia, viral and fungal infections, lung congestion due to cardiac disease and cancer.
Where there is lack of flow, cancer is more likely to appear
The rate of cancer in dogs is on the rise. I have diagnosed many dogs with cancer in the course of almost 30 years in practice and while I am fully in favor of a modern approach to reaching a diagnosis, there is one method that makes me suspect cancer even before the symptoms appear.
There are two forms of cancer in the lungs. The first and more common one is metastatic disease, meaning there is a primary tumor elsewhere in the body that has spread to the lung tissue. The second type is a primary tumor that originated in the lungs first.
It is not the purpose of this article to go through the different types of lung cancer because energetically it is just a different form of the same issue: energy congestion, toxicity, genetic predisposition, nutritional deficiency and a failure of the immune system to stop the spread of cancerous cells.
It's also my experience that dogs with lung cancer are extremely sensitive in the lung point area. Even though a dog is happy and looks healthy, I never waste time. I do X-rays right away if I see them being reactive between the shoulders.
What it takes to prevent and treat lung disease
Similar to other conditions, applying the Healing Cycle is the key. If you've been reading my articles for some time, you have probably noticed I apply this simple natural principle of healing as part of the treatment of almost any condition.
- Provide essential nutrients
- Align and strengthen the spine
- Avoid using collars and retractable leashes
If you have not watched the Healing Cycle video below, it may further help and you can also click here for an article on cancer prevention.
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© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM