Maddy the Pomeranian's battle with fly-snapping syndrome.
Updated: Mar 7, 2020
Maddy (Madeleine) was one of the cutest puppies I have ever seen. I flew her all the way from N.S.W to join us in Hobart (thanks Jetpets). She was adorable in every way.
I wanted a baby sister for my Pip, and while first meeting didn't go well (Pip ran outside into the rain and barked for a full five minutes with her tail and ears down), by day two they were the best of friends.
Fortunately Maddy also got along well with her two new brothers Morpheus & Loki, but it pays to be nice to apex predators four times your size.
When she was only about six months old, Maddy suffered an injury to her knee, which meant a full knee reconstruction. It was a big operation for a little dog. The bone was broken and reset with a metal pin, and muscle was removed from her outer leg and inner thigh. Afterwards, she had to be crated for six months, and kept off her leg as much as possible. My usually happy little bear was pretty miserable, and for a while she was in a lot of pain.
Being an energetic little dog, she healed quickly, and well...but only months after her leg healed, another problem began to show. These were her symptoms
Rolling her head around as if her neck was weak, or she was seeing something
Running around as if in pain
Hiding under the chair and whining
Snapping at invisible objects in the air.
Straining her head and opening her jaws as if attempting to yawn
Swallowing and licking a lot.
So while the dog in the video isn't rushing around as if frightened and in pain like Maddy was, the neck extension and jaw snapping are similar.
The first specialist Maddy was referred to was a behavioural specialist, who diagnosed the fly-snapping as a behavioural disorder - which once started, she said, was very hard to arrest. At this point, Maddy was put on a twice-daily painkiller.
Finally, as Maddy's symptoms increased to a constant, I sent her off for MRI and a visit to a neurologist, who diagnosed Maddy as having idiopathic epilepsy, and put her on a second drug (Phenobarbital). It made her weight balloon and no matter what I did or how much she was exercised, it just kept increasing. Maddy was becoming miserable.
At first, the medicine seem to work to stop the fly-snapping. But then her symptoms returned as frequently as before. The advice I was given was to increase her drugs, and put her on a third. I couldn't think of a worse option. Already, she had lost much of her unique, funny character to the drugs, and throwing more of 'the same' at the problem while hoping for a different outcome was not what I wanted for Maddy. And so, the cookie was born....
...after I read a study that posited that a majority of fly-snapping cases were linked to gastrointestinal disorders, rather than epileptic seizures. You'll find a good break-down of the study here... http://bit.ly/3cxAjS1.
I did a bit of research and looked into the beneficial properties of spices like cinnamon, turmeric and ginger, and combined them with the power of good old fashioned pumpkin and porridge. It turns out that pumpkin and oats are as good for dogs as they are for humans.
After only a week of feeding her the cookies, Maddy's symptoms had substantially decreased, after two weeks, they had disappeared.
Bit by bit, we weaned Maddy off her drugs, without a recurrence of the symptoms.
Maddy's gut health had been severely disrupted by all the pharmaceutical drugs she had to take during her operation and recovery. That was only further compounded by the drugs she was placed on after multiple incorrect diagnosis. Healing her gut and restoring her natural intestinal flora was the solution to her condition.
Today Maddy is back to her normal, quirky self. It was a costly journey, and a roundabout one, but I finally worked out what was causing her fly-snapping and adjusted her food to act as medicine. She's a lot bigger than Pip, now that she's fully grown. She still eats quite a few cookies during the day, and always has one after every meal. Fortunately, Pip loves them too.
(All images in this blog are Copyright)