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New spinal injury

Neurological Disorders Resources. Treatment and care for pets having pain or trouble walking or standing due to spinal injuries or neurological disorders like IVDD, FCE and DM.

New spinal injury

Postby wheeliepom » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:25 am

Hi all,

My 10 month old Pomeranian was attacked by another dog two days ago and suffered a broken spine in the process. The vet noted that she still had a small amount of sensation in one leg and they went ahead with a surgery to attempt to fix her spinal cord in addition to repairing the break. Her chances of walking again are small but I know they don't want to get your hopes up and tend to underpromise. I'm hopeful that with a lot of physio and rehab I could potentially get her up to 3 legged mobility at least. Aside from the paralysis and incontinence, she is doing as well as can be expected and is eating and drinking happily.

I'm very lucky that my dog is so small (5 lbs) as I know it will be much easier to do just about everything. I am not able to bring her home from the vet for another week or so as they are keeping her as calm and immobile as possible following the surgery. Of course this means I have hours and hours to pore over everything on the internet and I've come up with a few questions.

Does anyone else take their disabled pup everywhere with them? Regardless of her mobility I would like to bring her around with me once healed because she's a baby and still needs to enjoy the world. How do you deal with incontinence issues on the go? It's still too soon for me to tell what level of incontinence she has but as of now she is just slowly leaking.

Do your pups sleep in bed with you? There's nothing I love more than snuggling up with my dog at night and I was hoping that I could figure out a solution to have her in bed with me even if she's incontinent (pads, diapers, etc.).

I see a lot of information about expressing and incontinence for male dogs. Mine is a female - how much more complicated will things be as a result?
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby CarolC » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:24 pm

wheeliepom wrote:Hi all,

:welcome:

Two days ago is very recent, glad you found the forum so quickly!


My 10 month old Pomeranian was attacked by another dog two days ago and suffered a broken spine in the process. The vet noted that she still had a small amount of sensation in one leg and they went ahead with a surgery to attempt to fix her spinal cord in addition to repairing the break. Her chances of walking again are small but I know they don't want to get your hopes up and tend to underpromise. I'm hopeful that with a lot of physio and rehab I could potentially get her up to 3 legged mobility at least. Aside from the paralysis and incontinence, she is doing as well as can be expected and is eating and drinking happily.

I am glad you were able to save her. Yes, I think you're right about how they don't want to get your hopes up, and also they don't know how much an individual owner is prepared to invest (time, energy, money) in the recovery. It is too soon to know how much function she has coming out of surgery, she still has a lot of swelling and so forth around the surgical site. After a few weeks that will go down and you will have a better idea of your starting point.

I'm very lucky that my dog is so small (5 lbs) as I know it will be much easier to do just about everything. I am not able to bring her home from the vet for another week or so as they are keeping her as calm and immobile as possible following the surgery. Of course this means I have hours and hours to pore over everything on the internet and I've come up with a few questions.

Does anyone else take their disabled pup everywhere with them? Regardless of her mobility I would like to bring her around with me once healed because she's a baby and still needs to enjoy the world. How do you deal with incontinence issues on the go? It's still too soon for me to tell what level of incontinence she has but as of now she is just slowly leaking.

Yes, especially with such a small dog, she can go everywhere with you if you enjoy it. It kind of reminds me of Wheely Willie.

http://www.wheelywilly.com/

Do your pups sleep in bed with you? There's nothing I love more than snuggling up with my dog at night and I was hoping that I could figure out a solution to have her in bed with me even if she's incontinent (pads, diapers, etc.).

You'll have to find out by trial and error and experience on this. There are a couple of issues. One is fit of the diaper. Another is the nature of the incontinence.

If you can get a diaper that fits well enough to avoid leaks, she could sleep with you. I am guessing you'll probably want disposables if that is the case, as they seem to have better elastic around the legs. I would probably go with human baby diapers, though I am not up to date on the current doggie disposables. They didn't used to be as absorbent as baby diapers, they might be better now. Some places will send you a sample. As small as she is, she may need the preemie size if you go with baby diapers. My one dog wears a denim diaper with a pad in it, rather than a disposable, and it is a good fit but it does leak when she lies on her side sometimes, it wouldn't work for sleeping in the family bed.

Another thought is, if you are concerned about her maybe getting rolled over on, or trying to jump off the bed, you could put a playpen or "side sleeper playpen" right next to the bed. I think the side sleeper has the "baby" up close to bed level where mom and dad can see easily. A regular playpen will have her down lower, but you can reach over and touch the netting and she knows you are there. It isn't the same as having a little warm ball of fur snuggled under your chin but you'll both sleep well and still be together.

Another issue is, like you say, you aren't quite sure how her incontinence will be yet. Some do not eliminate at all without being expressed (bed always clean and no need for a diaper), and some eliminate everything 24/7 even after expressing (diaper needed), and some are kind of in between (they can stay clean and dry for a number of hours if expressed). For a dog who eliminates a lot even with expressing, there is a product called a drag bag that can be worn with the diaper as a kind of backup plan to catch any waste and protect your floors or furniture.


I see a lot of information about expressing and incontinence for male dogs. Mine is a female - how much more complicated will things be as a result?

I'd say expressing a female might be easier than a male, but I know not everyone agrees. If you go to this link and scroll to the end, you will see videos about expressing both males and females:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=16027

Here is a link about expressing the bowel, as well.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=18586

The only thing that seems harder about females needing diapers is, you need to be aware of not allowing fecal waste to collect in a diaper where it can come in contact with the female area and possibly cause a urinary tract infection. You really need a diaper with an adequate tail hole to let doodles fall out of the diaper. We had one member here who was a nurse and for her small dog, she double diapered. The dog wore a snug diaper to absorb urine but let the solids fall out the tail hole. Over that the dog wore a second (cloth) diaper with a generous fit in the seat, and there was a ribbon around the tail that could be tied so the diaper would be snug around the tail. This way the first diaper absorbed urine and kept the female area clean, and the second diaper caught any solids. I'm not explaining this very well. She's adorable. There is a photo of her in one of her diapers under the section called Double Diapers in this link:

https://www.handicappedpets.com/mediawi ... male_wraps

I do not think the lady on etsy makes those cute ruffled diapers anymore, but here is an example of another diaper with a cord-lock tail that might work as a cover.

https://www.samsdoghut.com/ecommerce/do ... wraps.html


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Re: New spinal injury

Postby wheeliepom » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:11 am

Hi Carol,

I really appreciate your detailed reply. Yes, I found the forum quickly. What can I say? Researching and reading really soothes the stress of this situation. Plus I can multitask while I work. :wink:

I'm very lucky to be living abroad in a country with very affordable vet care so I am able to do a lot for my pup. I am not sure about the types of physio facilities available in my area so I will be asking my vet about that once I have her home and am waiting out her crate rest period. I'd love to give laser and acupuncture a try and I can always buy a kiddie pool for my back yard and be a hydrotherapist. I also work from home so I will be with her 90% of the time and able to do lots of exercises.

I know it's still far too early to tell how things will be but it helps me to brainstorm solutions. I'll be researching the best wheelchair for her next too. Wheely Willy was great to see! I definitely see that kind of lifestyle for us.

More questions:

How tired does your pup get when wheeling around? What's the longest they can spend in a wheelchair (once they are built up to it)? My pom is still a puppy and very vivacious so I'm curious if I'll be able to give her enough exercise to tire her out (it was hard enough with all 4 legs working).
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby CarolC » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:02 pm

wheeliepom wrote:How tired does your pup get when wheeling around? What's the longest they can spend in a wheelchair (once they are built up to it)? My pom is still a puppy and very vivacious so I'm curious if I'll be able to give her enough exercise to tire her out (it was hard enough with all 4 legs working).

I'm not a good one to answer that because my one dog learned to walk again, and the other one has partial use of her hind leg and has her own unique way of kind of bouncing along, so she doesn't use a cart.

In general, if the dog is small, or especially small with a long body, they can sometimes find a way to rest by lying down, for example on a pillow. Someplace here there is a good photo demonstrating this. I think it might have been one of Bobbie's dogs. She is the wheelchair expert but I don't think she is here right now, however here is a post where she addressed that question.

Bobbie in viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9806#p64292 wrote:Actually, a small dog like a Dachshund or corgi can use the cart most of the day without problems. Candy can lie down in his cart, and he spends at least an hour in it every morning before I leave for work and usually 4-6 hours in the evening and probably 8 or more in it on a weekend day. I don't think I'd recommend that in a dog that was rehabbing, but if a dog is fully healed and still uses a cart, it can be used more than a couple of hours. K9cartswest used to have a Dachsie that was in the cart throughout his waking day because he gnawed his feet if he could get to them.

Note that when she mentions Dachshunds and corgis, those are both breeds with short legs and long bodies, making it easier to lie down. But if you can get the right "big pillow", hopefully your dog can roll up to it and rest.

The main thing is, even if you have a dog who has figured out how to lie down in her cart, you still need to take her out of it periodically so she does not develop saddle sores. Hopefully if your dog wears a diaper, it will give her added protection in the cart saddle, but you still have the harness as well. It is something you will no doubt fine tune when the time comes.

The other thing is, they say you should not ever leave a dog in a cart unattended. Dogs do flip over, get hung up on furniture, etc. You'd want to be home, which it sounds like you will be! :trophy:

There was something I neglected to mention in the previous post about diapers. The idea of sleeping with you does mean she would need to wear a diaper at night, and if she is wearing one during the day, then she is diapered 24/7. There is a certain benefit in letting the dog sleep without a diaper at night, for example in her own playpen next to your bed. It is healthy for the skin to be able to breathe, and comfortable for her, and lets her groom and curl up more naturally. Most dogs who dribble during the night will move to a clean part of the bedding, they don't just lie in a wet spot. If you give her a nice comforter or blankets or bath towels for bedding, especially as small as she is, she'll have the whole playpen to move around in and snuggle into clean bedding all night. This means you are washing doggy laundry every two or three days but to me it is worth it. (My dog's bedding consists of a fleece pad, a quilted bottom sheet, and a fluffy comforter. Three sets of these are roughly one load of laundry, or one load of laundry every 3 days.) My one dog who is in diapers can't wait to get her diaper on in the morning so she can start playing. By about 9 or 10PM she is ready to be out of diapers and put in her own clean playpen bed. We call it "Diaper freedom"! :D

Let me see if I can find the photo of the dog resting on a cushion. If I do, I'll post it separately.
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby CarolC » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:22 pm

OK, here are a couple of pics Bobbie posted, showing dogs lying down in a wheelchair. Including the links where the originals are found, as she gives some explanation to go with them. :smart:

Bobbie_pic1.jpg
Bobbie_pic1.jpg (50.55 KiB) Viewed 616 times
http://handicappedpet.net/helppets/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=18565&p=95734&hilit=pillow#p95734

Bobbie_pic1.PNG
click to enlarge
http://handicappedpet.net/helppets/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=14550&p=77143&hilit=pillow#p77143
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby critters » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:20 am

:whale: My Baby, who was a severely brain damaged cat and who was 5 pounds soaking wet, was able to swim in almost any kind of pan or tub. She was long and skinny, so it took 1 floatation vest to fit her girth and another, on top of it, to fit her length. She was able to get some independent movement that way. Similarly, your baby may be able to do hydrotherapy in a cement pan or the like, if you wish.
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby wheeliepom » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:16 am

Thanks for all your responses.

1 week post injury and surgery and my girl is showing a lot of progress! Immediately after the surgery things didn't look promising but as of now she is regaining sensation in her hind legs/paws and can move her tail a little bit. I gave her paw a good squeeze and she looked at me like "Hey!!" so definitely seems we have that deep pain sensation.

My closest hydrotherapy facility with a treadmill is about a 5 hour drive from me (assuming I don't use my lead foot at all lol). Is it insane for me to consider making that trek weekly? I know how amazing the results can be and quite frankly I do have the time and funds to go and spend a night before coming back. Anyone else ever moved mountains to get their pups to facilities? Would love some encouragement. I know I can do basic swimming in a kiddie pool but I keep watching those treadmill videos and feel convinced it will be a big key in recovery. My pup is only a baby so I feel like we need to take on this crazy adventure because I can still potentially give her 10+ years of walking/continence if I put the time in now.
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby CarolC » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:48 pm

OK, I'm trying to think about this, and here's what I'm thinking so far. First, it's wonderful of you to be willing to do that (and fortunate you are able). Yes...I think it would probably help. I agree, I think the treadmill is absolutely great. That being said, many really well known dogs here have rehabbed only through swimming in a pool, pond, lake, etc., and walked again.

If you are driving 5 hours each way, it does sound like a good idea to stay overnight. :snooze: :sleepingdog: Here is my thought, and you could ask the facility about this. They are probably going to want to introduce your dog to the treadmill gradually, at least that is my experience. They may put her in for 5 min the first session, 10 min the second session, seeing how she does, and build up. You don't want her to be scared, she needs to learn what is going on. You can read about my dog's experience with the treadmill on this page: http://www.fourfurfeet.com/2004.html

So anyway, it might be an idea to ask them if she could have at least 2 and maybe 3 sessions while you are there initially. What I mean is, let's say you leave home at 6 and arrive at 11, she gets her first session. They take her out, dry her off, and a few hours later before they close, she gets a second session. Then ideally, before you leave to drive back home the next morning, you could take her back for another morning session. This would be during the introduction and getting used to it phase. The next week possibly the same. After that, maybe just one on the day you arrive and one on the day you go home. I am NOT saying this because I believe packing in a lot of sessions in quick succession is helpful. I don't think it is. But I am suggesting this for the early sessions when she may only be in the water a few minutes, and is really just there to get the idea. Once she is used to it and able to do 20-30 min sessions, two per trip would probably be effective, like one on the day you arrive and one before you go home the next day.

What I'm trying to avoid is a situation where you make a 5 hour drive, discover they do a few exercises and put her in the treadmill for 5 min where she may not even move her hind legs very much the first time, then they hand your wet dog back to you, and you have a PT bill, a hotel bill, and 10 hours of total driving, and you're asking yourself, was this worth it? You want to kind of understand what to expect at first. So maybe you can talk to the actual therapist who will be doing the therapy, explain the situation, and see how they can work with you.

Again, I am not suggesting intensive PT in the beginning for a couple of months, spending a small fortune and wearing out you and your dog, then quitting because results are not as expected. The nerves cannot do more than they are ready for, no matter the amount of PT, it takes time. You'll get a feel for it as you go along. Remember the most important thing to know is, the nerves are healing a tiny little bit in the background where you cannot see it, every day, even though she looks much the same. And healing does not continue for weeks or months, it continues for years. Since you are starting out with some function already, it may not take that long, but I would try to be prepared thinking "this may be a long haul", and if it turns out she improves more quickly, that's great. But steady PT over time to support her recovery will be very helpful. You're probably looking at months rather than weeks, but each little sign of improvement is so exciting, it keeps you going! :wink:

If you will be driving 10 hours every time (hope it isn't lead foot lol!) I'll tell you what I decided on, because I drove 45 min each way, which is considerably less, but it was the expressway and I wanted to be safe. I felt it was safer to have the dog crate placed sideways in the front seat (seat belted through the handle) so the dog is facing you and riding sideways. That way if you have a sudden stop (Heaven forbid), then she is only thrown sideways against the crate hitting her shoulder and ribs, whereas if the crate was facing forward, she might hit her face and really be injured and you don't want that.

I got a blanket for the crate especially for PT sessions. You can see the set-up here, where the photo is taken from the driver's seat looking sideways at the passenger seat: http://www.fourfurfeet.com/2005.html You can see there is a towel in the bottom to prevent sliding around, and the blanket if needed for when the weather is cool. You can also pack a little travel hairdryer if your weather isn't warm.

I hope this made sense. I am excited that you are thinking about doing this. Some of the PT facilities will have packages, in other words a certain number of sessions including a certain number of modalities for a set price. Or in some cases you can just pay per session. They will have to see how they can schedule her, to fit her in with their other clients, and then you'll be all set.

Please post back if you actually do give this a try. That is a long way to drive, but if you can do it safely and can afford it... :angel:
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby wheeliepom » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:53 pm

Yes well I am definitely a good 4-6 weeks out from her being well enough to be cleared for any sort of therapy so I have some time to mull my options over. I'll check with the PT of course to see what they recommend. I work remotely so I could even go spend a week or two there while she is getting acquainted with the treadmill. Perhaps even going out twice a month would be sufficient along with regular swimming at home in between. I also would be interested in doing laser treatments and any other alternative therapies they have in a massive city versus my tiny beach town, so the trip wouldn't be just for one hour of therapy. :D

I'm well aware it will be a long recovery. I am sincerely considering doing this for 6 months to a year to see what it yields. I know if I had a child in this situation I'd make the drive without hesitation, and while she might not be a human she is my baby. I'm just a crazy dog lady, what can I say?

Awesome safety tips! It will be a long drive along a nice, safe and well maintained highway so I definitely want to make sure she's secure god forbid something somehow happens.
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby CarolC » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:14 am

How are you guys doing?
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby wheeliepom » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:57 am

Thanks for checking in Carol.

I actually just finally got to bring her home last night, 3 weeks after the incident! She's still on strict crate rest while her wound and spine continue to heal but she's doing really well.

Still maintaining all the sensation she regained, her tail still moves occasionally and she can push back with her legs. I'll be sticking to ROM exercises until she's cleared for physio, then I'll be looking into setting up a plan for that along with acupuncture and any other alternative therapies I can find in my area.

Now it's just that frustrating waiting period but I'm just happy to have her home. The vet took great care of her but I think she's happy to be back in a more tranquil environment. She's slept like a log for 12 hours straight overnight and is back to napping after eating in the morning.
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby CarolC » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:51 am

I'm glad she is home and doing well. That's good news. You didn't mention any problems with toileting her, so I guess that is going OK? The first weeks of having a paralyzed or recovering dog are the hardest. You seem to spend all your waking moments figuring out better ways to do things. Even while you are doing other activities, it's in the back of your mind all the time. How can I do this or that better? What is a solution for this problem? After you develop a good routine, you finally relax a little. If you have any questions, however small, please don't hesitate to ask. Chances are someone here has been through it and will know what you are talking about.
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby wheeliepom » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:22 am

Toileting is a work in progress! She has no control so I am able to very easily express her bladder but I am not always sure I'm getting it all. I realized I will need to put her on a water cutoff schedule at nighttime. Between expressing and a nice layer of puppy pads we are 36 hours accident free on any furniture :D

The poop is a bit trickier! I have always fed her on schedule and knew when she would poop but it seems her digestion is slower now. She ended up doing all her poop in the middle of the night so I woke up a few times to pick the pieces up. I feed her homemade food so it's firm and low in volume so no smearing issues as of yet. I might try some of those bowel stimulation tricks today and see how she responds.

Diapers aren't even an option for us yet as she still has an open wound on her back that is healing. She doesn't seem to be a leaker other than when I've missed some expressing. She went dry for hours and hours yesterday. Hopefully I can figure out a good routine to keep us diaper free. She has mostly been snoozing so things might change once she becomes active again.

Oh and attached a big picture to increase cuteness of this thread.
Image
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby CarolC » Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:27 pm

Oh she is just absolutely adorable! :wub: I'd been wondering which color she was. She is sooo cute! Did somebody buy her balloons? :5balloons:

That is really good that she can hold her urine for a number of hours. It does make things easier. There are a few considerations while you are trying to figure out your routine. One thing is puppy pads, or adult incontinent pads (underpads), which are similar. They are great for keeping the bed dry, they will protect your sheets, your bedspread, the sofa, the upholstered chair, etc. So convenient, you can just throw them away. What they don't do is keep your dog dry. A dog lying on a wet puppy pad (or underpad) is a wet dog. They just don't have enough absorbent material between the waterproof layer and the papery top layer to absorb much. If she moves out of the spot it is no problem. If she sleeps soundly and may lie in a wet spot for a length of time, it could cause skin issues. It takes surprisingly little time for a dog lying on a wet pad to develop a raw weeping sore. It might be mistaken for a pressure sore, but it is actually a urine scald or urine burn. It's easy to see why, because the place that develops the sore is usually the bony part of the hip which is pressing down into the pad, therefore the urine will migrate to this lowest point (gravity), all because there is not enough absorbency. That was an awkward sentence, sorry.

Anyway, there are a couple of solutions for this. You suggested trying a schedule of withholding water before bedtime. I guess you can try it and see how it goes. One of the issues that can occur with paralyzed pets is urinary tract infections, as you have probably seen referred to in various places. It turns out one of the things that helps keep the bladder healthy for paralyzed pets is flushing plenty of water through the bladder. So while there is an advantage to withholding water and hoping for a dry night, there is also an advantage to providing plenty of water at all times.

Something that has worked for me is simply better bedding, and this will work especially well with a small, lightweight dog. There are pads made for human babies to keep their crib or playpen dry. They are fleece on both sides with a waterproof layer sandwiched in between. They protect your bedding or furniture just like a puppy pad, but they are fleecy enough that if the dog wets in her sleep, she is not lying right in it, the fleeciness is just enough to keep her up out of it. Another option is synthetic sheepskin like they use in whelping crates, it will work the same way. Let me see if I can find a link with a decent picture so you can try to see if they sell this sort of thing where you live. I'll attach a picture, too. They come in flat or fitted, I always buy flat (I have a long haired chihuahua who is 100% incontinent 24/7). They come in two sizes, crib size which is about 27" x 52" or playpen size which is about 27" x 38". You can machine wash and dry, very durable as long as you don't use chlorine bleach, and comfortable for the dog.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Garanimals-Qui ... 1101000162
pads.jpg
pads.jpg (29.11 KiB) Viewed 466 times

I think you're right, the digestion is a little slower in a down dog, maybe it has something to do with exercise. There is a tip they describe on Dodger's list, to learn the transit time of your dog's system. Feed her some raw carrots, and when you see them in the stool you will know how many hours it is between a meal and elimination. :)
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Re: New spinal injury

Postby critters » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:50 am

How cute! She reminds me of Charlie, the ancient disabled Pommie I used to have.

I second the bladder flushing thought. I quit giving my Buddy extra water when our vet said his pee needed to be concentrated. He then developed crystals and a neurologic bladder spasm with unhappy outcome. However, maybe doing extra water during the day, say, by flavoring it, might be enough. I don't know. I know what you mean about peeing all night, though!
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