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.