Your story has a familar ring, and my answer may be somewhat different than what you might expect.
I have a 9-10 year old small dog with rear end paralysis from a spinal fracture 2 years ago. I have been reading the messages of other people on this message board since 2003 and have learned from them.
Expressing 8 to 10 times a day would ruin anyone's lifestyle, yes I can believe it is ruining yours. There is no earthly reason you should be expressing that often (bear with me). Your dog cannot get enough urine in her bladder to make it worth the effort to express her that often. I express at 7, 11:30, 7 and 10:40 (because I have an odd schedule due to work). I get a goodly amount at 7 and only a small amount the other 4 times. I would like to express only 3 times a day, but my lunch schedule doesn't fall correctly to allow that.
Bless you for trying so hard. You are obviously expressing more often to try to get the urinary infections under control. The problem is, most likely you are not expressing her completely when you do it. You will probably say, that's impossible, we've been doing it for 6 months and we have lots of experience and we know what we're doing. Well, that is what happened to someone on this list who is extremely responsible, dedicated and caring toward her dog. The dog got infections for a year and a half and they were searching for new medications to clear them up, and then she discovered that amazingly, unbelievably, she hadn't been expressing completely. Once she started expressing completely, the infections went away. Here is a message from Anita about expressing completely.
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/cgi-bin/ ... 252">Anita on expressing completely</a>
Here is the webpage where her dog was Story of the Month on DodgersList, showing how seriously she has taken caring for her dog, and this still happened.
<a href="http://www.dodgerslist.com/story/oct04.html">Anita's dog Story of the Month</a>
There are many different ways to express. I am thinking you might experiment with another method. Here is a website showing a basic method and also many comments on variations. It helps to find the method that works best with your particular dog's size and anatomy.
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/Articles/express/">How to Express</a>
In addition to the main expressing page given, there is a page on cats which has information that applies equally to dogs, in fact much of it was written about a dog.
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/Articles ... .htm">More on how to express</a>
Here is another message with another really useful method, especially with a larger dog:
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/cgi-bin/ ... ">Martha's method of expressing</a>
Here is yet another method that has worked for someone with their cat. They express with the cat lying down.
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/cgi-bin/ ... 18808">One more method of expressing</a>
As for your dog's quality of life, I can understand she's been under the weather with various infections. I can also tell you that even though my dog is incontinent, she has some feeling in her abdomen and bladder, and if you are expressing your dog so many times, she may be sore. There has been a discussion recently about how we can sometimes inadvertently bruise the bladder during expressing. I am sure I have done so. And finally, there is probably a large element of worry and concern in your dog's mind right now. She is reacting to the unhappy environment at home, she may sense that you are not necessarily going to stick with her all the way, she's picking up on the general unhappiness and reflecting it back to you. All of this can change. You can get her to where she has few or no infections, to where her bladder is not feeling achy from so much squeezing, and to where her life feels secure and happy again. And you can restore the sanity to your life by only expressing 3 - 4 times a day. You are lucky if there are two of you to express. I don't have anyone to share the responsibility with, so it is up to me every time. Nevertheless, the only time this has proven to be a real inconvenience was when I was called for jury duty.
You were asking about whether you might expect to see more progress in your dog. I would think so. They did not even find deep pain sensation in my dog's feet until 149 days after her injury (nearly 5 months). She was injured in 9/03 but did not really start doing much walking until about 6/04-7/04, which was 9 months or more. Now she can walk the length of the shopping center or the length of the football field in the grass. She can run when she is really motivated--when she wants to catch a big dog, she can make me trot to catch her. She can go down steps, but she can't go up the steps yet. We are at 23 months and she is still improving in small ways.
Have you done any physical therapy with your dog, or any hydrotherapy? I highly recommend PT and hydrotherapy, it has done my dog so much good and she loves it.
I will probably think of more to say later, but this message is long already.
I very much hope you will be able to improve the situation for all of you. It sounds like all it needs is a little fine-tuning to make it something you can all live with. Best wishes to your dog and her family.
I've found that using Martha's Method of expressing (listed by CarolC in her response) worked for my smaller dog- doxie. Paralyzed and incontinent following IVDD in February, he needs to be expressed multiple times per day also. Using fists covers a larger area of the abdomen so that urine was expressed more efficiently.
Does your pup dribble between urine expressions? Although that can be a sign of a bladder infection, I've found that it also indicates that I didn't completely empty his bladder on my last attempt. The little belly should be a lot flatter when you finish,and the p*nis should not extend from the sheath.
Reading on another board suggests that progress can be slow following surgery, and sometimes a pet will stop walking, but begin walking again on his own.
Standing and taking a few steps would be cause of immense joy at my house. Wagging his tail made me cry. Progress has been VERY slow at our house, but we're not in a hurry anymore. We've gone from drooping tail and rear, to locking legs, wagging tail, kicking strongly, etc. in about 7 months.
Try to be patient. Do the things that your pup loves; a ride in the car, a ride in a stroller, barking to music, etc. Put a box in the stroller and go for a walk. Do you really care what people think?
We did not have the surgery, but can relate to your frustrations both emotionally and financially. It appears that you are about 5 to 6 months post injury, a point where many of us crash. Right Carol? Outside influences can add to the turmoil. Are you are getting rejection from anyone about having a less than perfect pet? Getting rest?
Read the article about Quality of Life. Misery cannot be assumed because an animal is not "normal". Although it relates to rabbits, it applies to all animals.
"Misery cannot be assumed. If you are facing the decision of prolonging or ending a life that you're not sure offers more pleasure than pain, here are the guidelines that we use:
Appetite: does she still like to eat?
Affection: does she exchange affection with you or any other companion?
Attitude: is she interested? Does she like to watch, sniff, and listen to the things going on around her? Does she still show pride and try to groom herself?
If you can answer yes to these questions most of the time but still doubt your rabbit's quality of life, think quantitatively. Do the good days (when you answer yes) outnumber the bad days? You may find that you will appreciate the good days with a new awareness."
I don't think you are approaching the BIG decision, but are just having a few bad days. We've all been there!
Keep us updated. We're here as a support group for each other.
True. I sure did, and it was true of Dianne, too. Let me tell you what I shared once previously on this subject. At 4 - 5 months I was pretty worn down, putting a lot of effort into helping my dog's quality of life but seeing no sign of walking or standing or bladder control. My dog was injured on 9/23/03. I saved a message from 4/5/04 that was written to me by a friend in Sweden who was going to have replacement of the descending and abdominal aortic artery, after already having had replacement of the ascending and arch. This is huge major surgery, a percentage of patients die from it. He wrote saying he was going to have surgery, and I knew I should write back to him, and I just absolutely couldn't. He needed support, and all I had to do was write to him, but I was so drained dry that I couldn't make myself do it. I was totally exhausted. Fortunately he survived the surgery and is still alive, and later I wrote explaining the situation. Unfortunately, being tired from dog care is not the kind of excuse people can readily relate to. If I'd been tired from caring for a sick child or a parent with Alzheimer's they would understand better. I can't blame him if he doesn't understand why I let him down. So we are still on cordial terms, but we don't correspond anymore. This all occurred, as Dianne says, at about the 6-month point. Things have gotten better since then. You turn a corner and it only gets better after that.
This may be your turning point. It could last for a few weeks, or not. I can't pin point it for you. Try to find one thing that you enjoy in life...and do it soon.
I, too, am at the 6 month stage of caring for a dog who had disc surgery in February '05. My dog has made a little progress and I believe that he will walk again, but at this point he seems to have forgotten how. I am doing the rehab myself and the biggest help has been getting a kiddie pool and swimming him everyday. He started moving both of his back legs to swim within a week of starting the swimming rehab. He still doesn't walk on land, but I'm hoping that his brain will "get it" sometime along the line.
Please don't give up on your dog. I totally understand your frustration, exhaustion and worry because I am in the same place. But I forget all of that when Miller wags his tail, throws his ball at me to play or rolls around on the bed. It's totally worth all the $, time and effort. He is priceless to me.
Good luck and keep us posted.
I wonder if I am doing the right thing?
I wonder if she/he is happy?
I wonder what people think?
I wonder if it is all worth it?
I wonder is he/she will ever walk again?
I wonder where I will get more money for treatment?
I wonder how long I can do this?
Wonder, wonder, wonder. We have all done it and know exactly where you are. I think what is missing is acceptance. Once you accept that this is they way it is going to be, then it becomes so much easier. I know that it is hard and you are tired but you have gone this far, why give up now? The hard part is over!!! It will all become a way of life and you won't think anything about. I promise you.
It will be 2 years Labor Day weekend that my Sydney went down. Looking back, it was tough. But now, it is no big deal. Yeah we have been through alot because of the UTI but it all worked out and through my bad experience I have been able to teach others. We can't do everything right all the time. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in this world. I have met some of the nicest and kindest people-many on this board-that have helped me out and in turn I have helped out others. I look back now and wonder what I use to do with all my free time?? Now it is spent expressing, pooping, exercising, giving butt baths, Chiro treatments, accu treatments, and the list goes on. I must have had a lot of free time on my hands!!!!
Don't give up now. Go to www.dodgerslist.com and read all the Success Stories there as well as the stories of the months. They will amaze you. There really isn't a time limit to when they should walk again. One critter started walking after 2 years!! Talk about a fighter.
You are doing an excellent job so far. As was said already, expressing 7 times to way to much. Some suggest twice a day!! Judge by the amount of urine that you are getting and also your time schedule. Did your dog go pee 7 times a day for all this happened? Probably not. Mine were lucky to go out 3 times!!!
Don't forget to take care of your self through all of this. You deserve it.
Keep us posted.