If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
I've been reading all the great posts here and don't know where else to turn for advice.
Our 12 year old border collie, Bonnie, has severe dysplasia and arthritis. She has been on phycox supplements for the past few years. For the past year she has been on Deramaxx. She has had progressive trouble getting around, but generally been doing fine.
A few weeks ago she took a severe turn for the worse. Her cataracts finally progressed to the point where she can not see. At about the same time she began dragging one back leg more and more. After a few days, she began knuckling and her back legs scissor. In the past 48 hours, she seems to have lost control of her bowels. There is usually a poop in her bed in the morning when I get up. Although we take her out regularly, she can no longer hold the position for a bowel movement and refuses to even try if I am holding her (If any of you have Border Collies, you may understand this. Some things just aren't tolerated). I don't know if she is having the accidents because she has lost control of this function or because of the trouble in going outside and getting the position. Despite the Deramaxx, I know she is sometimes in pain. She usually starts panting in the evening and often pants for hours at night.
Right after she lost her sight, she was still getting around pretty well and was starting to map the house and yard, etc. The past few days, she seems to have less interest in that as she has more and more trouble getting around. She calls for us when she wants to get up and sometimes just waits for us to carry her places instead of trying to go on her own. To make matters worse for the mobility, we live on a rocky, uneven hill. When she does decide to travel, she insists on going up and down it. Due to the scissoring and dragging, she falls frequently, and I worry about her falling on a rock and sustaining further injury.
We love this dog to death and have raised her from a puppy. She is fiercely tough and intelligent. It is killing us to see her this way. My husband wants us to prepare to put her to sleep, as he feels she has little quality of life left and is beginning to be in more and more pain. So far, neither of us has been able to make this tough decision. To boot, we have suffered some severe financial setbacks in the past year and are struggling to keep our home. Extensive vet treatments, wheelchairs, etc are out of our budget. I'm wondering how I will pay for the next round of meds.
Based on reading this board, I have started giving her Ester C in addition to the Deramaxx and Phycox. Right now she is at 1250mg, not yet the recommended 2000. Has anyone seen a dog recover from the dragging and knuckling with this (or other methods)? Has anyone tried the ocluvet for cataracts?
Right now, I need advise on whether we can ever hope to see improvement or if it is most likely downhill from here. As long as she is having some good days and her mind and spirits are good, I will continue to do what I can for her. However, if there is no likelihood of the leg improving and the pain continues to get worse, we will have to prepare ourselves to permanently ease her suffering. I don't want to torture her because we are too attached to let go.
Any advice and personal experience is appreciated.
Forgot to add, she is almost completely unable to get up on her own. If she is laying with her good leg under her, it is sometimes possible. If she is on the other side she must have help. Sometimes she can only take a few steps before the dragging and scissoring bring her down. Occasionally she can make it across the yard with the knuckling.
Sorry this post is so long. I feel like the more info I can give the better advice I can get back.
Well, you give a good description...it gets hard when they reach advanced age. A lot of this sounds like my golden retriever at the same age when multiple systems were gradually going. The situation with losing bowel control while asleep, we had that, too. It began happening while he could still walk, he would just relax when he was asleep and go in his bed. He would also go in the house, and I don't think he exactly forgot his housetraining, I just think with the spinal arthritis or neurological deterioration that came with aging, he had less control. About all you can do is keep them on a careful diet that produces good stools. My dog was on Science Diet w/d dry and his stool were firm, non-sticky, low odor, and you could pick them up with a kleenex and toss them and not have a mess to clean up. There is a technique to stimulate them to empty their bowel instead of waiting for Nature to take its course, and it works, you can read about it in this article. However, in the end I felt my dog was happier to just let me pick up after him, rather than try to avoid accidents by stimulating him to empty.
http://www.handicappedpets.com/mediawik ... inent_pets
I used a sling with my dog more than a wheelchair. My dog wore a belly harness all day so I could help him up whenever needed, or when he was still able to walk and collapsed in the middle of the floor I could get him back to bed. I am not sure what to think of the panting. If it is mainly in the evening and at night, I would want to figure out why then. Is it just pain from overdoing it during the day, or is it a reaction to medication that is taken at a certain time every day, or is that a time when the medication has worn off and the dosing schedule needs to be changed? Not sure, but there is probably a reason for that pattern. It seems like if the dog has pain from hip dysplasia, it would not only be at night, she would sometimes pant in the morning or afternoon as well. Does she just eat one big meal at night?
It is possible the walking might improve with steroids, but in general it is probably a result of degenerative changes that are likely to stay the same or progress further with time. Basically I would just be looking at daily care, keeping her clean, getting her outside when needed, helping her change position, things like that. We see the same sort of thing with elderly humans, it's just pretty common when they get to a ripe old age... Love, commonsense nursing, keeping them involved with family members, at this point practical caregiving is probably going to do more than spending a bunch of money on tests and equipment. Please be careful of your back. You don't want to have to spend a small fortune on surgery/chiropractic/physical therapy/time off work/permanent disability. When it comes to lifting, please don't try to do more than you should, you need to take care of yourself, too.....
Pain from arthritic conditions is often worse at nigh after a day of movement.
Take a look qt this quality of life scale.
http://www.scoutshouse.com/wp-content/u ... -Time3.pdf
"Corgis on Wheels: Understanding and Caring for the Special Needs of Corgis with Degenerative Myelopathy or DIsk Disease available now!
I'm Joanne and your pup sounds very similar to an old dog of mine, also named Bonnie. I adopt/rescue special needs dogs and the dog that set me on this path was a black Lab / German Shepherd mix named Bonnie. Bonnie weighed about 60 lbs and had severe HD and LS disease with a type II disk at L7 - S1. Like your Bonnie, my girl started off scissoring and gradually weakened, also losing control of her bowel function. For her it was her lumbosacral disease, the protruding disk affecting her hindlimb and bowel function.
I'm lucky, I know and work with a world reknowned pain specialist and we got Bonnie on pain meds that worked for her (gabapentin and amantadine with dasuquin and fish oil supplements - she couldn't take NSAIDS or steroids because they caused gastrointestinal ulcers). I also did rehab with my Bonnie. we walked in an underwater treadmill, and in the summer in the local lake. I also massaged her legs every day and put warm packs on her hips before she got up and moving. The best thing I did for Bonnie was to get her wheels. She was 16 years old at the time and she LOVED them. Using a cart literally took years off her life - she used her cart to within a few days of her passing away aged 19.
The following links show Bonnie out of her wheels and the dramatic improvement in them.
http://s230.photobucket.com/albums/ee20 ... echair.mp4
http://s230.photobucket.com/albums/ee20 ... Bonnie.mp4
Where do you live? I have a couple of carts that I loan out to dogs who need them but whose owners can't afford to buy one. One (Dwanecart) I know would fit but has a hard saddle that wouldn't allow Bonnie to use her legs, the other is a large Walkin' Wheels that may be too big even at its smallest setting.
It is nice not to feel alone, at least.
I feed Bonnie twice a day and I moved her daily deramaxx dose to supper instead of breakfast - this seems to have helped the pain in the night. Also, I notice she seems a lot happier after she has peed and pooped - but she is still adjusting to having to have help and not being able to do the poop - so this distresses her.
I did the quality of life assesment, and we are definitely not at the end yet. A lot of the points I racked up myself by being so distraught over the situation (and of course it is stressful to adapt to constant care-giving).
Except for the natural depression and frustration she is feeling, Bonnie seems to be plugging along. Fortunately I work from home, so I am able to cart her in and out during the day. She spends at least part of the day outside either on the porch or in the yard, which she enjoys. While I work during the day, I leave music playing for her in the living room. She refuses to stay in my office with me and I figured she must get bored fast. So far, we haven't had to both leave the house for an extended period since she really lost mobility, we are a little worried about that. I'm thinking we will have to close her in the bedroom, which she won't like, but it is too easy for her to slip on our living room floor if she is alone.
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