Boltz had a vet check on Tuesday and while we think he has improved since he was removed from the Exhibit Pack on September 15th, there isn’t enough of an improvement to indicate that the prednisone treatment is working.  Every decision we make has to be balanced between risk and benefit.  Initially, we put him on prednisone while he was in the main enclosure in hopes to find some relief to this condition that would have allowed him to stay in the pack, at least until we could narrow down a diagnosis.  When it became clear that the initial dose of prednisone wasn’t effective, we reassessed risks and benefits and made the move to the Pack Holding Area.  Now, we are again reassessing and are in the slow process of transitioning him off of the prednisone treatment.  Since we made that decision, we do notice that he is much less anxious and resting more comfortably.  The surveillance cameras are tremendous in revealing how long he sleeps and how often he may change positions.  This mornings review of the overnight footage revealed that he went to bed about midnight and didn’t get up until the wolf care staff arrived at 8 am.  He was alert and stretching several times through the night, but no indication that he was uncomfortable in his resting position.

What are the next steps?  Thanks to some advice from Walter, a long-time ambassador wolf supporter, we located a research paper from the University of Florida concerning research on Degenerative Myelopathy in German Shepard dogs.  While we don’t know if Boltz has DM, we feel it is appropriate to act on some of the recommendations based on that research.  According to their study:

“DM progresses at different rates and “stress” plays a role in its advancement. Minimizing stressful situations is important where possible.”

For Boltz, moving him into a quiet safe environment and minimizing activity in the wolf yard has definitely decreased stress.  Other than a few moments of anxiety when someone pulls up to the back driveway, he is either calmly relaxing on the den, within the straw beds of the protective kennel or found sleeping in the thick straw inside the den.

Another statement from the paper shows some possible pharmaceutical treatments that may help:

” Over the last 2 decades, we have found 2 medications which appear to prevent progression or result in clinical remission of DM in many (up to 80%) of the patients.  These medications are aminocaproic acid (EACA) and n-acetylcysteine (NAC).”

During or Vet check on Tuesday, we discussed these treatments with our Vet and have been in contact with a pharmacy that cooperated on the University of Florida study to determine dosages and delivery methods.   Being able to get Boltz to take medication is important, powders and liquids are a challenge for a wolf that is neophobic (fearful or mistrusting of new stimuli) or more inclined to scent roll on things that smell different.  Most of our med delivery is done in a pill form, often hidden inside a chicken leg with a tab of butter as binding agent.

The paper also suggests some nutritional supplements that may help his overall immune system.  We have ordered the following and will be starting them as soon as they arrive.  We have reviewed dosage recommendations, potential contradictions with the treatments and any possible side effects.  With all that work done, we have developed a new daily regime for Boltz that will include (quotations indicate direct quote from research paper):

B-Complex: “They may help in neural regeneration”- Grizzer has been on Vitamin B supplements for years and seems to do well with them.

Vitamin E:   “It is a potent antioxidant and reduces fat oxidation and increases the production of HDL cholesterol. At higher doses it also reduces cyclooxygenase and lipooxygenases activities, decreasing production of prostaglandins and leukotreines. As such, it is a potent anti-inflammatory drug. This drug slows the progression of DM and corrects for low serum and tissue levels. In DM, there does appear to be a deficient absorption and tissue-binding protein which accounts for the low serum and tissue concentrations of vitamin E.”  When Aidan was initially diagnosed with Discoid Lupus, he was started on a Vitamin E supplement as well.

Vitamin C:  “Vitamin C works with vitamin E and helps regenerate vitamin E, potentiating its antioxidant effect. Vitamin C supplementation does no
harm, since the excess is excreted through the kidney.”

Selenium:  “Selenium is an important mineral which has antioxidant properties similar to vitamin E. Vitamin E can replace the requirement for selenium in the body, but selenium cannot substitute for vitamin E. In addition, selenium does not cross the blood-brain barrier like vitamin E. On the other hand,
selenium may help allow vitamin E to be more effective.”

Coenzyme Q:  “Coenzyme Q also called Co-Q-10, is a natural substance that assists in oxidative metabolism.  Since DM patients suffer from nervous system problems, muscle wasting and need aerobic endurance, a 100 mg Coenzyme Q daily dose has been recommended.”

We are planning two additional tests that require bloodwork, but need to have a period of time where he no longer has an influence of the prednisone in his system.  As always, I will keep you posted on when we proceed.  I have been turning on the webcam when he is out and about, but the recent cold, rainy weather has him seeking comfort in the straw beds within the protected and roofed area next to the building that is out of camera view.