Archive for the ‘Dog Paralysis’ Category
I have had so many people contact me because their special and precious dog has become paralyzed and they are asking for help. What do they do now? How do you handle this? How do you deal with the emotional stress of this huge life changing event? What is the next step? Where can you get help?
I have answered many of these emails personally and tried to help where I could. I must stress that I am not a veterinarian. We must all rely on the expertise of those trained in the care of our beloved animals. But the Veterinarian does not come home with you and your newly paralyzed pet, no one is there to hold your hand and give you guidance or answer your questions. I know this because it all happened to me.
Yes, when my Isabel became paralyzed there were no answers. No one to help. I searched the internet and nothing came from my searching. There simply was nothing out there, that was six years ago. Today there are more choices and more people trying to help. Including myself.
Does this mean there are more paralyzed dogs than their used to be? I don’t think so. I think people are just much more comfortable with using the internet and there are more people comfortable with putting the information they are searching for out there. It is a good marriage. When people need information and ask for it, other people who write online have figured out how to give them what they need.
So I am in the unique position of loving and owning a paralyzed dog. And learning the ins and outs of this through trial and error and have figured out things that work very well, and other things that are just dumb. As I said before I have tried to help a lot of people, but it is on a one to one basis. So now I have created help that anyone can use anytime without waiting for me to respond. It is a site I have created called Care Of A Paralyzed Dog, kind of catchy isn’t it?
Please feel free to bookmark it so you can refer to it often. My Isabel was the Model for the site and she had a great time making videos and posing for photos.I hope you find it helpful and I hope your paralyzed dog is going to benefit and that your lives will improve and become joyful. Just remember, It is not hopeless. It is never hopeless.
A Website with some answers about caring for and loving a paralyzed dog.
Even though you love your dog, you feel devoted and loyal, and you know your dog is giving you unconditional love and devotion in return, you can still be a stupid dog owner.
Let me explain.
You MUST be aware of what your dog is communicating. Is she telling you something is wrong? Is there some nuance that is different today than yesterday? Does it mean anything?
Let me tell you the story of Isabel, my paralyzed Belgium sheep dog.
This is her picture, Our Precious Belgian Sheepdog
At the time, Isabel was 5 years old. She was fast as lightning and loved running. Just for the sake of running, for the sake of speed. She also loved chasing the squirrels. She did not catch any, thank God, but she loved to give them a run for their money. Every day she ran and ran.
She also loved her daily walks. She lived for those walks. She and my husband, Jim would leave each day and be gone anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Jim allowed her to sniff the mailboxes and visit with every clump of grass that called to her. That takes time.
We had friends visiting us from England. I am using this as the excuse for this terrible incident to be allowed to occur. I consider myself to be an excellent dog owner, sensitive, alert and dedicated to their care and love.
Like I said, we had friends visiting from England. We live in the USA, in the northern state of Michigan. It was a wonderful visit. Nothing changed for Isabel, she still had her daily walks, and she still ran and ran in the backyard, chasing squirrels. This one day we were going to show our friends around a bit, and we left the house for the afternoon. Isabel had already had her run and walk and she was going to be staying home. We were gone until early evening, and then I began preparing supper. I first went up to feed the cat and realized Isabel was not with me. She ALWAYS came up the stairs to beg for the cat food can. I went to the top of the stairs to see where she was and she was sitting at the bottom of the stairs looking forlorn. I asked her what was she doing, why wasn’t she coming for her can. She stood up and came up the stairs and happily got her can.
I continued on with dinner preparation, entertaining our guests and enjoying the evening. Isabel started to come into the kitchen and I noticed she was walking funny, her left back leg was sort of uncoordinated and faltering. I went to her and started checking her over for what could be the problem. I called to Jim to have him take a look and we couldn’t find anything, but Jim recalled that she had not been very enthusiastic about their walk earlier that day. She just didn’t seem herself, he said.
She continued on to her destination of the water bowl and seemed to be doing okay at the time. So we thought maybe with all her running she had strained something, we would keep an eye on her, but we went back to our guests.
We were all sitting around the dining room table having our meal, when Jim realized Isabel had come under the table and had wedged herself up against his legs and she was whimpering. We immediately, went into action and realized she was in trouble AND she was in pain. We tried to call her out from under the table, but she could not move herself. It was about midnight now, we called the emergency vet clinic and described what we were seeing and the day’s events, (which were startling clear in hindsight). They said we needed to rush her into the clinic immediately, we were dealing with a spinal cord injury.
We placed her big soft pillow in the back of the van and we carried her out to the van, and we had her to the vet clinic in about 15 minutes. She cried when we lifted her and it was so obvious the pain she was in. I couldn’t stop myself from crying. Our house guests were long forgotten.
The Veterinarian at the clinic examined Isabel right away, she had neurological deficits that were frightening and worsening quickly, they said the injury could be traveling up her spine toward her heart and lungs, she could die. They did a myelogram and Ct Scan of her spine. They found she had a severely ruptured disc in her spine and she had a lot of damage in her spinal column. They recommended immediate surgery to save her life. We did not even hesitate, DO THE SURGERY!
We did not understand that she might be paralyzed, we did not know how to care for a dog with this circumstance, we didn’t think about anything but saving her life. She survived the surgery and then they said it would be another 48 hours to see if the damage traveling up her spine would stop and she would indeed survive. She stayed in the hospital for 3 more days with IV’s and pain medicines and antibiotics, She was shaved on both sides of her spine and she was drugged and weak and she was the most beautiful sight to our eyes.
Both Jim and I would crawl into her very large cage and sit on her blankets with her. She had a bladder catheter in place and they were worried she wasn’t making enough urine. Also she wouldn’t eat or drink so they couldn’t remove the IV. I asked them to let us try and we gave her mushed up food and water and she took it gratefully with that look that every animal lover recognizes. “why did you wait so long”.
So from then on we went there every day to give her food and water, she was able to get the IV out and to get off the strong pain medicines. She got her catheter out the last day. That is when we were told she was incontinent (couldn’t control the function of) her bowel and bladder. She was paralyzed and we would need to assume these functions.
They showed us how to sling walk her, using a strap under her belly and we had to be extremely careful due to the newness of her incisions and surgery. We also had to express her bladder to make her urinate and we had to keep her clean from the stools. We had to make sure her bladder was empty or she would develop urinary tract infections. And we were taught how to perform physical therapy on her so she could keep her muscles in good shape for when and if she ever walked again.
They told us it could take up to two years, but she had all her reflexes, so they were hopeful she would walk again. So off we go to our home with our baby and all the determination to be the best caregivers on the planet and terrified of what we were undertaking.
Well to bring this story to a close, let me just tell you that as of today’s writing it has been 3 years, 2 months and 12 days. She is not walking. BUT…who cares?
She is the best dog in the world. She is happy and well adjusted. And she has the best parents alive. We love her. It is just simply all okay. We have mastered the art of diapering a dog, well enough that we rarely if hardly ever have an accident outside the diaper. We got her the wheels to enable her to be independently ambulatory. And she is the talk of the neighborhood.
Jim loves to tell the story of how when Isabel was ambulatory, we knew our two next door neighbors and the people across the street. Now…we know the entire neighborhood. As Isabel on her wheels and Jim walk by people will actually come out of their homes to speak with them and pet Isabel and make remarks about how wonderful it is and what a great person Jim is and how sweet Isabel is. All of that is correct of course.
Also before the accident, Isabel was very shy and standoffish. She would even hide behind Jim’s legs when people or kids would approach. Now she is the one to say hello first and she knows she is the pride of the neighborhood. It is truly remarkable.
She is totally the wrong breed, it should not have happened to her. It is those short little dachshunds that are prone to these injuries, not a herding dog. But it happened. We theorize that it happened because of all that running and jumping and twisting and she just landed wrong one time.
We have forgiven ourselves for ignoring the subtle symptoms in our dog that we missed because we were too distracted with our out of town guests to notice. We love our Isabel and would not change a thing. We know she is not going to be one of the dogs that regains the ability to walk, but we don’t care. Our lives have nicely settled into a routine that works for us all. We can deal with it.
Isabel is a dog, despite the fact that she is so remarkable. She lives in the moment, she has no idea anything is any different than it is supposed to be. She is happy and well loved. When people express their sympathy and sadness over her paralysis, I like to say, “hey don’t feel sorry for her, it’s me that changes her diapers”… Life is good.
If you take anything at all away from this…Love your dog and pay attention to what they are saying to you. And forgive yourself if you miss one now and then.
If you would like to see more pictures of Isabel you can visit the Squidoo lens I created for her. You would be welcome.
Incoming search terms:
Isabel became acutely ill. The usual dog symptoms of a paralyzed dog and urinary tract infection did not seem to be occurring and she has never been sick with any other symptoms so we were at a loss. We watched her closely for about a week and she just didn’t get any better, The main thing we noticed at this time was lack of interest in her walk. She was still eating and drinking in fact she was drinking a lot, but not enough to worry us. Then she began having diarrhea, of course this is a huge concern because she for sure will get an UTI. A dog in diapers can not tolerate having diarrhea without infecting themselves. So I did my best to keep her clean and gave her Immodium to stop the diarrhea.
Next she developed vomiting several times. Nothing was in the vomit like undigested food or anything, but she stopped eating. She would still drink and a lot, more than usual, The thing to worry about with a dog with excessive thirst and urinating a lot is diabetes. So we were worried but still watching.
We decided she was having too many dog treats. Maybe her partially paralyzed bowel and being ten years old, was just causing her not to be able to cope with the harsh jerky treats. She wouldn’t eat her chow but she still wanted her treats. We gave her the Costco Kingdom Pets Chicken Jerky Treats, in fact she has eaten them for years, long before her paralysis, so we thought nothing of it, in fact we were glad she would eat anything. Well then I saw in her vomit a bit of the jerky undigested and that was that. We stopped the jerky, She could only have her lamb and rice cookie treats from then on.
Well lo and behold she started to improve after a couple of days. No further diarrhea or vomiting and she slowed down on her water and she nibbled her regular chow at last.
Well coincidentally, one of her favorite treats was the Costco Kingdom Pets sweet potato and chicken jerky wrap treats. I thought the sweet potato would be much more gentle to her stomach and bowel. Our Costco stopped carrying it and so I went online to see if I could find them since we decided the other jerky treat was too harsh for her ten-year old paralyzed bowel to handle.
Wow, what a surprise I found! Do a search on Google for Kingdom Pets Chicken jerky dog treats. You are going to find post after post of concerned pet owners that have fed their pets these treats and they have sick dogs and some have dead dogs. It was shocking to us. I couldn’t believe it. I was killing my beloved pet by giving her tainted chicken from China. Are you kidding me? Who can you trust?
My Isabel had every dog symptom listed on the websites, many many websites. Diarrhea, vomiting, excessive thirst, increased urination, lack of appetite, and lethargy. The next step for her would have been kidney failure and then death.
I actually believe her dog paralysis is what saved her because I blamed her partially paralyzed bowel on not being able to handle the treats. Not the treats causing the problem.
Here is an excerpt of the ABC’s report on this subject:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about chicken jerky for dogs, saying some products imported from China may be associated with 70 reports of dogs who became ill or died. That number is up from 54 reports last year, the agency indicated.
Finish reading this ABC News Post Chicken Jerky Treats Linked to Illnesses in Dogs
I am happy to say she is healthy and completely back to normal. We caught it in time and for whatever reason paralysis or dumb luck the events of this story are having a happy ending. I do hope any of you reading this will save your dogs too.
Needless to say we went on an all out search for dog treats made in the USA. At first not such an easy task, but we did find a couple that Isabel likes. One is Steak House Treat Company’s Lamb Cuts, treats for dogs, carried by Costco. The other is
Yummy Chummies, Wild Alaska Salman, Soft N Chewy that Costco also sells. Also cookies made with chicken, steak, peanut butter and lamb, lots of choices. She seems to like them all. She will never eat anything from China ever again. Neither will we!
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My Isabel, the paralyzed Belgium sheepdog mix that I have spoken of on this blog is ten years old now. She is doing remarkably well for a paralyzed dog in diapers. And I am happy to say that I am doing well too.
We have all well-adjusted to life with a paralyzed dog. It isn’t as difficult as you might think. After the initial shock and learning curve were behind us, we have sailed right through with about the same number of problems you might have with a dog with all four walking.
But the main problem we continue to have is Urinary tract infections. Which I am happy to report is better controlled now than they were in the beginning. But a dog in diapers is bound to have these issues. Well a few of you have been interested in what it is I have done to improve on this situation.
As you know, I am a nurse, and I have taken care of many paralyzed patients. Whether by spinal injury or Multiple Sclerosis or whatever the cause. All these people must have bowel and bladder routines. We actually train their bowel and bladder to empty on command, by habit almost. Well it occurred to me, why wouldn’t this work for Isabel? Well it does.
When you bring your paralyzed dog home from the vet, after surgery or after healing from whatever injury caused the paralysis, they will have taught you how to express the bladder. It is always good to do this after your dog has been incontinent of urine, making sure the bladder is empty. This helps cut down on UTI’s. But instead of waiting until after the incontinence, I empress her bladder two or three times a day, before she is incontinent. Completely emptying her bladder and also keeping her dry. Of course, there will be accidents, but the goal is to dramatically cut down on urinary incontinence.
Now let me tell you another secret. As your dog continues to wear diapers. The hair around her bottom end will recede, making it much easier to keep her clean. You may even consider giving her a trim to help with the cleaning issues. But no matter, when the area is free of hair, you will notice that the bladder is easily stimulated by a rubbing pressure right next to the anus. Repeated effort at each session will completely empty the bladder without any problem. Also I learned that gentle pressure right on the anus, (I use the baby wipes or rubber gloves to keep me separated from her skin and clean from her urine and feces) will stimulate a bowel movement. Repeated pressure after each elimination will assure you have emptied the vault of her colon, thus keeping her clean until the next time you help her eliminate. I do this twice a day, morning and night.
So by emptying her bladder and bowel before she is incontinent, I make my life easier and cleaner and her life with less frequent urinary tract infections. I know this is not a preferred topic. But it is essential to a healthy and long life for your loved pet. It is not their fault they are paralyzed and it is better for you both if someone has control of the situation.
So you can see why I say it takes a special person to take care of a paralyzed dog. I have known people who simply couldn’t face this “disgusting” task and they just allowed their animal to be incontinent and felt cleaning up afterwards was more appealing. Hmmmm. I disagree. Or they had their pet euthanized because it was simply too difficult for them to deal with. This very much saddens me. I’ll admit a medical background did certainly help me. But my powerful love of animals would have gotten me over the hurdles, and anyone motivated can learn all this care. I hope you will have an easier road with your beloved paralyzed animal with this new knowledge.