Bruce’s Story: CBD for Pug Myelopathy
The story of Bruce Wayne, my special pug with Pug Myelopathy, is one of many obstacles, all overcome with the help of integrative medicine and Full Spectrum Hemp Extract.
Bruce’s Pug Myelopathy Diagnosis
Bruce started out like any other happy, healthy dog, free of issues. However, at 5 years old, Bruce started to show signs of hind end weakness. His tail stopped curling and his back legs did not work properly, he would suddenly lose control of his rear legs, and often stumbled looking like his back legs were drunk walking.
After an MRI, Bruce was diagnosed with a slipped disk and intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). Bruce had his first spinal surgery, known as a hemilaminectomy, to fix a slipped disk in 2015. Unfortunately, not many vets understand or even know of Pug Myelopathy. Because of this, Bruce’s vets thought his spinal injury was not congenital and the surgery was all he needed. Pug Myelopathy is in fact a congenital illness, very similar to Degenerative Myelopathy. However, with PM, the spinal cord damage is localized to the lumbar spine only and does not quickly progress up the spinal cord as DM does.
After Bruce’s PM Diagnosis
Unfortunately, throughout the years, Bruce’s condition progressed exactly how Pug Myelopathy does. Two years after his first surgery, Bruce faced another issue: Neurogenic Bladder. This basically meant Bruce was unable to urinate on his own, his bladder could not empty and without intervention, would burst. The cause was another spinal issue, a spinal cyst that damaged the nerve controlling Bruce’s bladder. Another MRI and surgery were performed to break up the cyst to alleviate pressure on Bruce’s spinal cord. Although the surgery fixed the compression issue, Bruce never regained the ability to urinate and now must be catheterized on a twice-daily basis.
By 2018, Bruce lost control of his back legs completely, was unable to walk on his own, and needed the assistance of a wheelchair. His wheelchair, custom-made by Eddie’s Wheels, gives Bruce the freedom he needs while still sustaining nerve function in his feet and legs. Even though Bruce can’t “feel” his rear legs, his spinal cord still needs to be stimulated in order for him to maintain muscle mass and retain some nervous system function.
Supporting Bruce Holistically
Bruce goes to physical therapy every week and utilizes the water treadmill to keep his legs moving. Bruce has the ability to “spinal walk” which means that although his brain is not telling his legs to move, his spinal cord is hard-wired to do so. He still walks in the treadmill; with the help of the water, he can gait and keep his muscles moving. Spinal walking is an incredible phenomenon.
Although many pugs are afflicted with Bruce’s condition, not many pug parents have the tools and resources to be able to conquer this disease with the success Bruce has. Bruce has a team of many highly skilled physicians and experts. He has weekly visits with arguably the best chiropractic neurologist in the world, Dr. Carl DeStefano, as well as weekly acupuncture appointments, massage therapy, cold laser therapy, and physical therapy.
The other foundation of Bruce’s health is his diet and supplement protocol. Bruce eats an exclusively all-fresh and whole food diet, rotating various cooling and neutral proteins like beef, duck, and rabbit. This is critical to maintaining urinary health since Bruce has to be catheterized and is holding urine longer than most animals, making his likelihood of urinary crystal formation higher than a normal dog.
CBD for Pug Myelopathy
Bruce also has a daily supplement regimen, which includes Full Spectrum Hemp Extract CBD. Without Bruce’s CBD regimen, he would have a missing link in his foundational health. CBD’s ability to balance all systems in the body is absolutely critical to keeping Bruce well. CBD helps protect Bruce’s body from chronic pain and inflammation, nervous system damage, and GI upset due to lack of nutrients from his damaged spinal cord. Because Bruce has a spinal cord disease, this means that his microbiome and GI tract will always need support. The spinal cord “feeds” every system in the body, and the gut is arguably the most important system in the body since it intrinsically connects all systems, especially the immune and nervous system.
In addition to the systemic benefits Bruce’s cannabis regimen offers, I also give Bruce CBD to manage a very strange phenomenon that is still not fully understood. Pugs like Bruce often experience neurological spasms in their rear legs. When Bruce experiences these spasms, it looks like his legs are running a marathon and then cramping up. His legs will spasm for upwards of 1-2 hours. This was happening 2-3 times a day and caused Bruce significant disorientation and fatigue. When these spasms first began, I tried EVERYTHING to manage and control them. I tried conventional pharmaceuticals like gabapentin, methocarbamol, and valium to no avail.
I even tried a CBD oil from a brand I previously carried in my store. Nothing seemed to help. However, Angela Ardolino, a medical cannabis expert, saved the day! She convinced me to give CBD another shot, this time trying CBD Dog Health tinctures. Within two doses of their HEAL: CBD Oil for Dogs, Bruce’s spasms resolved. Bruce is now free of these spasms! In the extremely rare case they do occur though, he sleeps right through them! I am forever grateful to Angela for reaching out to help me when I was at a very low point in Bruce’s care, and for teaching me about Full Spectrum Hemp Extract as a natural alternative. Bruce has since dealt with some other serious health issues, like thrombocytopenia and acute liver disease, and FSHE has helped get Bruce through those issues too!
Pug Myelopathy is a condition that requires close monitoring and care, but it is possible to give your pug excellent quality of life through a multi-modal approach of fresh food, supplementation, and proper physical rehabilitation. My hope is that with more information and education, veterinarians who encounter pugs like Bruce will be able to provide their clients better tools to help care for their pugs more proactively.
If you have a pug, regardless of whether it has or does not have PM, please consider contributing to a research study being conducted at Purdue University to try to identify the gene responsible for the condition. Healthy pugs and pugs affected with hind end weakness and/or paralysis area encouraged to submit samples.
Related: Read More from Krysta Fox