New Embark Vet Research and the Future of Wobbler Syndrome in Dogs
Living With Wobbler Syndrome or Living in Spite of It
If you, like me, have a purebred dog with Wobbler Syndrome, keep reading.
This post is for you!
Let’s face it… Wobbler Syndrome sucks! It’s progressive. It’s painful. And there is no cure.
But the fact is, wallowing in what IS doesn’t change it.
Dwelling on the negative won’t make the future positive unless we decide to take action.
And that action starts today! Our dogs are the victims, but WE don’t have to be!
In this third post of my Wobblers Disease series, you will learn:
- How our lives have changed since my dog’s diagnosis of Wobblers.
- What it means to Manage Wobbler Syndrome if your dog is not a candidate for surgery
- New groundbreaking research by Embark Vet and how YOU can help!
The first post in the series is Wobbler Syndrome: A Painful Intersection of Diet and Genetics. This post centers around my early thoughts after Junior’s diagnosis and answering the question, what is Wobbler Syndrome and what causes it.
The second, Wobbler Syndrome – What Dog Owners Must Know About This Silent Killer, is a comprehensive deep dive into the Wobblers Disease, how Wobblers is diagnosed and treated, and answering the question is Wobbler Syndrome genetic.Dwelling on the negative won’t make the future positive unless we decide to take action. And that action starts today! Our dogs are the victims, but WE don’t have to be!
This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive a small compensation. There is NO ADDED COST to you should you use these links. This post is NOT sponsored by Embark Vet in any way. The DNA Test Kit we received was strictly for collecting the study sample, NOT provided in return for a review.
Life with Wobbler Syndrome
Reflections can be a double-edged sword.
Prior to Junior’s Wobbler Syndrome diagnosis, he wore a collar around his neck on walks. A show lead when in the ring.
Every night before bed, he would happily bound up the steps to say goodnight to his kids. And if the stairs were blocked he would scream and cry until we cleared his passage up. He adores his kids. Bedtime was cuddle time.
His diet was 100% raw – prepared with love and balance each day. He feasted like a king.
He was happy. Carefree.
On July 12, 2018, all of this changed.
Junior now wears a harness on walks.
He is permanently blocked from going up the stairs. Bedtime will never be the same for any of us.
And his diet is all over the place as I continue to desperately search for answers. Solutions. A miracle cure.
By the grace of God, Junior is still a very happy boy. Forgiving, and seemingly unaware of his limitations.
But I know the truth and that is the most painful part of this silent and progressive disease.By the grace of God, Junior is still a very happy boy. Forgiving, and seemingly unaware of his limitations. But I know the truth, the most painful part of this silent and progressive disease.
How to Manage Wobblers Pain Naturally
When I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money on Pet Meds, Junior was on quite a few medications to control his pain and to treat Valley Fever, a fungal infection endemic to Arizona.
Fortunately, managing Junior’s Wobbler’s pain naturally has been fairly easy.
He was prescribed 900mg of Gabapentin twice a day for neurological pain and between 100mg – 300mg of Truprofen (generic of Rimadyl) as needed for an anti-inflammatory.
Thankfully, there are many wonderful natural alternatives to these medications, so I have tried to take advantage of those as well. In fact, with all of the natural supplements and his raw diet, I am able to reserve the Truprofen just for flare-ups, not as a chronic daily medication for him.
Here are a few of the supplements added to his diet which have really helped us:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The therapeutic dose of omega-3 fatty acids for a giant breed dog Junior’s size is hefty.
In Dr. Harveys: Raw Dog Food For Beginners AND Big Dogs, I put together a calculator to help with the dosing for Dr. Harvey’s products. For example, how much protein and fat to include in the diet as well as a section specific to omega-3 fatty acids.
For our purposes here, we are only concerned about omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties. Therefore, I’ve updated that calculator to include a range of dosing for large and giant breed dogs.
Click here to access the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Calculator for Large and Giant Breed Dogs.
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon oil, whole sardines or other fish, krill oil, chia seeds, phytoplankton, and regular fish oil. I’m sure there are others, but these are the staples that I rotate through on a daily basis.
2. Turmeric Paste
In Natural Pain Relief for Dogs – 5 Supplements You MUST Try I went into great detail about the virtues of Turmeric Paste as an anti-inflammatory.
For the purposes here, I will simply say that if you have a dog with Wobbler Syndrome, inflammation, or pain of any kind, I highly recommend you try turmeric paste.
It is easy to make in just a few minutes, freeze, and dose as needed.
Click here for the directions on how to make turmeric paste with added chia seeds for an extra Omega-3 Fatty Acid punch!
T-Relief is homeopathic with Arnica for long-lasting relief from muscle, joint, and hip pain.
I started giving this to Junior about a month and a half ago when he partially tore his CCL. I have found this product to be a nice natural addition to the supplements he’s getting and it seems to keep him comfortable.
The combination of these three natural methods for pain management has enabled me to dramatically decrease Junior’s dose of Rimadyl.
While his prescription is written for 300mg per day by our veterinarian, I only end up giving him 100mg once or twice a week depending on how he is feeling.
Most days he is just taking gabapentin plus the aforementioned supplements.
Overview of Embark Vet Wobblers Study
I mentioned earlier that Wobbler Syndrome is not curable.
Yes, there are options for surgery, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, and countless management modalities to help treat dogs with Wobblers.
But at the end of the day, there is no real cure. Once a dog is diagnosed, his or her fate is pretty much sealed.
As such, much of the research has been centered around understanding the disease itself, developing new surgical techniques, and improving diagnostics.
But there is one small, but mighty company paving a new road on a quest to find the missing link – the genetic link.
Embark Vet, is a unique canine DNA service that combines testing with research, thus accelerating discovery and reducing costs.
According to Embark:
“Every dog in our database brings us closer to realizing our mission of ending preventable disease in dogs. Our decision to develop a proprietary research-grade DNA genotyping platform at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine was rooted in establishing technology that enabled us to have the greatest potential to make future genetic discoveries.”
Currently, their research team is currently investigating the genetics of Wobbler Syndrome (otherwise known as cervical spondylomyelopathy, cervical vertebral instability, cervical vertebral malformation) with the goal to identify genetic variants that increase the risk for the disease.
They have already generated promising data in their early research, but they need our help to collect DNA samples from purebred dogs (all breeds) that have been diagnosed with Wobblers.
Participating in this study couldn’t be easier! All that is needed is a simple cheek swab.
There is NO COST to participate and home delivery and return shipping of your DNA Test Kit are included.
Each participant will be provided a complimentary full Embark profile of their dog.
*All individual owner and dog information is kept strictly confidential.
How You Can Enroll Your Wobblers Dog in the Embark Vet Study
If you have a purebred dog with a formal diagnosis of Wobbler Syndrome, I urge you to take the following steps TODAY:
Step 1: Fill Out Embark Wobblers Study Application for Enrollment
To apply for enrollment, fill out the Embark Wobblers Study Application for Enrollment and send it in a single email to the research department ([email protected])
Step 2: Label the Spreadsheet
Label the spreadsheet accordingly: Wobblers_Owner’s Last Name_(dog’s call name)_date of submission.
For example: Wobblers_Seger_(Junior)_January 21, 2020.
Step 3: Attach Wobbler Syndrome Diagnosis
Attach documentation of the Wobblers diagnosis and label that file accordingly: Wobblers_Owner’s Last Name_(dog’s call name)_Diag_date of submission.
For example: Wobblers_Seger_(Junior)_Diag_January 21, 2020.
**Watch the video below for more detail on what constitutes a “formal diagnosis of Wobblers Disease.”
Step 4: Include Your Contact Information
Include in this email the dog owner’s mailing address; email address; and the dog’s information.
Step 5: Wait and Pray
Once they have received your application and documentation, Embark Vet will review your email to see if your dog is a candidate for the study.
If approved, they will follow up with you with the details for participation.
When Junior was accepted we received an email confirmation of our Embark Vet DNA Test Kit being shipped. We received our kit a day or two later in the mail.
Now that we have completed the test (see video below), I will update this post as soon as we hear back from Embark with our results and any updates on this study.
For now, here is a video Junior and I put together with a little more detail on the Embark Vet DNA Test and Wobbler Syndrome.
Video of Embark DNA Test
Make a Difference for Wobbler Syndrome Today!
Whether we are voting for the President, educating our children, or enrolling in this study, each one of us makes a difference.
Put it this way. If Junior is left to be an “n” of 1, there is no study. No answers. No DNA test.
Consider the wise words of Ayn Rand,
“A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving.”
Finding the genetic markers responsible for Wobbler Syndrome is not only a worthy goal but an entirely possible one to achieve if we all participate!
Join me, Junior, and the entire team at Embarks today.
Together we will find answers to this silent killer!
Comment below when you submit your application and share your experience with Wobblers. I would love to support and pray for you and your dog as you move through this journey with Junior and me.Finding the genetic markers responsible for Wobbler Syndrome is not only a worthy goal but a possible one to achieve if we all participate! Together we will find answers to this silent killer!
I must say, reading about your journey with Junior and fighting this silent killer has given my wife and I hope when everything else we read is so “doom and gloom”. Just today we took our 7 month old Newfoundland in for a CT examine to help us figure out what’s wrong with his elbow just to get the devastating news that our baby Luca has wobblers. He has none of the classic signs. We are so confused and dumbfounded. Thank you for all your hard work and especially thank you for being positive.
Oh gosh, Dustin, I’m so very sorry. 7 months is very young for a diagnosis like this. Did he have an MRI? And in an elbow is also very odd based on what I know about the disease. I do try to be positive as negativity and “doom and gloom” solves nothing and it wastes the limited time I have with my boy. We need to cherish each day with our dogs and do all we can to make the most of it. Junior has started to knuckle in his rear legs and I have not shared that publicly until now. I will share more in due time, but for now, I’m like you… I just want to love on my dog and make the best choices I can on his behalf. God bless you, your wife, and your sweet puppy!
My dog, Max, (7 months) was just diagnosed with Wobblers today. I am beside myself but trying to stay positive. I am going to fill out the Embark Study paperwork. Fingers crossed for our babies.