If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
I'm so glad I found this site.Could anyone give a little bit of advice?.Mario is a golden-retriever of 12 years old.Very suddenly, in November last year he was diagnosed with a slipped disc.Unfortunately now, he is incontinent (bladder & bowel) and he has lost mobility on the rear legs.I bought a harness and I have to admit it helps. However, he lays most of the day.At the moment, he is on cotisone but he is not recovering mobility.I have tried physiotherapy as well but I cannot see any improvement.He is not in pain, but some people tell me he has lost his quality of life.Am I cruel keeping he alive?He dosen't look sad but I do not know what is the best for him.Thank you in advance for your comments.
Did the vet recommend CRATE REST for your golden when she first developed the slipped disc? It is standard care to crate rest and give steroids to attempt to reduce the inflamation in the disc. Letting your dog attempt to crawl, get up, or walk could only further injure the back. I realize that it has been almost 2 months since you first knew that she was injured.
Crate rest means that you confine your pet to a small crate/kennel where she can only turn around, get water, but not leave the crate unless you are using a rear lift to take her outside to urinate/defecate.
How long has it been since you noticed the incontinence/lack of bladder control?
IMPORTANT: A dog must urinate at least every 8 hours or you risk a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Incontinent: Does your pup dribble urine uncontrollably? Do you express her urine by pushing on her abdomen/bladder?
Could you further explain the situation?
A dog can still have a good quality of life despite paralysis (temporary or permanent). Don't let your "well meaning" friends tell you to have her put to sleep.
I am not a vet; just the owner of a happy paralyzed dog.
Since Mario does not show any indication of suffering, I see it as more of a moral issue; you can listen to what everyone has to say, then you will have to follow your heart in deciding what is best. Recouperation is a tricky thing - some never recover, some show so little progress for such a long time, and then just when you are ready to give up the fight, they can recover. Some never regain abilities. Many of us want the recovery to aid us in deciding what to do, but there is just no clear signs to show you who will regain abilities and who will not. Granted Mario is unable to run and play like before, but he is not uncomfortable either. Are you able to handle the toileting issues? It sounds like you can because you have tried some different things, so have probably been at this a while.
One thing to consider is we all age... noone WANTS to live in a nursing home, noone WANTS to use a walker or a wheelchair to get around... but then most of us would rather live with the slowness and disabilities of our aged bodies than to be put to sleep. Noone wants to wear depends; but I would rather sit in my wheelchair, wearing Depends, throwing my thickened juice at the cute aide so I can look at his tush as he cleans up my mess! In other words, if he is not in pain, then he is not suffering a quality of life issue - unless you see it as he is suffering.
To pick up his spirits while you wait for the 10 loads of dog blankets to wash and wait for his hoped- for mobility, you can come up with some new games for him to do. Some dogs like a kong toy filled with treats. You can put this in a boxtop to prevent it from going too far as he works at getting the treats out. If he likes the stuffed animal type toys, there are some really neat stuffed squirrels in a plush tree trunk toy that he may enjoy. Or even playing ball- rolling or bouncing his ball to him so he can chew it and throw it back.
Don't give up hope.
I just learned of this website a few minutes ago. Your post was the first I read, so it's possible I may say the same things others will. If that happens then I'm glad to be another person wishing you and your dog well and giving some useful advice.
If your dog is happy, not in pain, has an appetite or, at least, eats and you can keep him clean, he has quality of life.
He lays around because that's all he can do. The harness is helpful, I'm sure, but I'd think hauling around a large dog with a paralyzed hindquarters must be hard on you and the dog. I'd say you'd have better luck with a dogcart that can give him solid support.
What does your vet say about the probability of bladder and bowel control returning? Once the swelling in the spinal cord area decreases, if the damage is not permanent, function and control should return, although it may not be 100 percent.
Limited mobility could return when fecal and urinary control do. Or when some limited mobility returns then fecal and urinary control would be most likely to return.
Until that time I think it would be imperative to get the dog outside as much as possible so his interest in life revives as his body heals.
When my 12-year-old pointer mix had a spinal cord injury due to herniated discs and was, therefore, incapacitated in the hindquarters, I realized that, although he could not walk, he still needed the mental stimulation and the fresh air of his daily three-mile walk.
So, I made a push cart for him using a furniture dolly with four wheels and a standup handle for pushing it. I bungee-corded the bottom half of a plastic, rectangular doghouse to that cart and padded it with foam rubber cushions
("egg-carton" cushioning for the top of mattresses) and comforters and quilts. We used a lot of incontinence pads and disposable diapers, too. (Diapers were not taped to him, but were strategically placed under and around his hindquarters.)
He began to perk up very shortly after that. In fact, he'd start barking during the walks. He'd want to be taken out of the cart so he could walk on his on. (This was "walking" using his front legs and my legs in place of his back legs. We couldn't go far because my strength would give out before his would.)
He became so good at telling me he needed to urinate and defecate that, after a while, I'd be able to get him out of the cart in time for him to do what needed to be done.
With a dog as heavy as a golden, it might be more difficult to do this, I realize. You also, pretty much, need someone to go along with you to help in emergencies, i.e., watching the cart when the dog wants out, cleanup and fending off roaming dogs. A grassy schoolyard is an ideal place for taking the dog out of the cart for short "wheelbarrow" walks.
After a while we graduated to a K-nine cart (doggie wheelchair). By then he had limited use of his rear legs and could use them to push himself forward. He also needed to wear homemade booties or doggie boots to keep his the top sides of his toes from being scraped and bruised during contact with the sidewalk.
He also had acupuncture treatments around the time we started using the doggie wheelchair. This seemed to make a difference.
The recovery was slow and he never achieved complete recovery. However, in less than a year after the spinal cord injury, he began to walk short distances on his own. He could get around the house and the yard. Long walks were always in the doggie wheelchair.
He died when he was 18.
Don't give up too soon. Do for your dog what you would want done for yourself if you were the one with the mobility problem.
Sincerely, Mary in Baltimore
Could you tell me what kind of harness? I have a senior male golden retriever, too. Thanks!
On your question about quality of life, I must say that with a golden retriever you *know* if they're happy or not. My dog lives for attention and food. I think mobility ranks about a distant 10th on his list of important things in life.
What happened with your dog, did he fall or jump off the porch or something? How long did it take between the time you noticed something was wrong and the time he was fully paralyzed?
I have a small dog who has been paralyzed and incontinent since 9/23/03. She is a very happy dog.
I would really, really like to know about your harness if you don't mind. I have already bought 3 harnesses. I got a secondhand Doggon' harness for $35 which did not work and slips off, a new Dewey's harness for $50 that is just like the Doggon' only red, and a Walkabout for over $60 which after 3 trips to the post office they say was stolen off my porch after delivery and there's no recourse. That makes $145 spent on harnesses and I don't have one for my dog. I'd really like to know what kind you have for your golden retriever before I spend another $60 on another Walkabout. I asked another person on this message board about their harness and they never answered me. I've been trying to get a harness for months, nothing should be this hard.
I had the same trouble as you. Most harnesses are designed poorly and do not do the job they are intended to. I spend $70 on a sling type harness from DOGGON WHEELS that is totally useless, and they won't refund my money in full simply by virtue of my having tried it on my dog to see if it would work..!
Some racket, huh?! My advice to you is to purchase the relatively inexpensive Bottoms Up harness. It's not real difficult to get on, VERY simple to take off, and it gives the dog good support under the legs witout pressing on abdomen organs. It DOES require you to be on your toes when using it, as you must stay in position with your dog either beside or slightly behind you. If they get ahead of you, the harness slips down.
So it's not perfect, but of all the expensive items I've tried, it works the best, and it costs much less than the others. Give it a try, and best of luck to you! Whatever you do, DON'T purchase anything from DOGGON WHEELS! They made mistakes with my order, packaged it with missing parts, parts I did not need or ask for, and a lack of literature explaining either one! And as I said, they refuse to accept them back for a full refund, which is also pretty poor business tactics. If word of mouth is as powerful as it's purported to be in the advertising world, you can rest assured my vocal comments on my utter and complete dissatisfaction with this company will cost them some sales......!!! I certainly hope so. Best of luck to you and your baby! Try the Bottoms up harness. Not perfect, but better than anything else out there, and at half (or less) the price.
Always and forever Chloe's Mom...
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