If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
Three days ago, we came home to find Wally limping, holding his front right paw off the floor. We thought maybe he had a splinter. He was licking his paw. About two hours later I saw him fall. He had weakness in all four legs. I rushed him to the 24 hour vet, and in the preliminary check up, the vet said she thought he had a spinal chord injury. After an MRI and a spinal tap, they confirmed he had a FCE (fibrocartilaginous embolism). We picked him up from the vet last night. He can feel me touch three of his legs, has good strength in his left front leg, and nearly no feeling in his right rear leg. He has some feeling in his other two legs and can move them a little, but not much. He can urinate on command in our yard with me holding him up. He hasn't had a bowel movement yet. I am most concerned that he hasn't wanted to eat or drink, although I know it is early. We are keeping a very close eye on him, and hope he starts taking some food and water today. The doctor thinks he will eventually regain enough feeling and strength to walk again someday. It is hard to see that happening, but we have hope.
It has been a week, and we are now done with Vet visits and are at home with Wally. He is doing better than I had hoped. He is able to stand up by himself, eat, drink, and relieve himself outside. He has pretty good strength in his left legs, but nearly no aid from his right legs. Our vet told us that we may start to see some healing and improvement in a few weeks. We bought a dog stroller, and are getting used to our new life with a disabled dog.
Yes, improvement is the norm with FCE and it sounds like he is doing well. Have you looked into doing physical therapy with him? Do you have a place in town that does doggy PT? If not, I would consider getting or making a sling and helping him practice his walking. It may need to be a front and rear sling to hold him up on both ends. For that you could put a regular doggy chest harness on him and loop a leash through the top to support him, and then get something to support him under the hind legs. Some people use a bathtowel looped under the stomach, or you can try a wide sash or a long winter neck scarf, just something to support his hindquarters a little while he walks. They say aggressive physical therapy is helpful in recovery from FCE. Swimming would be especially good since he is weak primarily on one side and the water would eliminate the balance issue.
Thank you, we have not looked for a PT, but that is a great idea. He is amazing me every day. My expectations were pretty low after seeing him the first couple of days. He is a very determined little guy. He is doing his best to walk and has been able to go farther every day. Yesterday he walked about 40 feet in our back yard and after relieving himself, actually jumped up an 8" step onto our porch and walked into our house. He is not putting weight on his right front foot and uses his right rear leg kind of like a peg leg. He keeps it stiff and uses it to support his right side. He even jumped from the couch onto the top of the backrest of the couch yesterday too. I'm not sure how he does it considering he is so unstable and really can't use his right legs. We have been working with him moving his legs. He seems pretty happy and overall doing better than we hoped. Thank you for your support.
So glad you decided to join us over here. And so happy he is doing better every day.
As I mentioned to you, we have 2 pugs that had FCE, and both are walking, one can run to some degree.
On the jumping, I would be careful, till his balance and control are a bit better, you want to avoid any further injury by a fall or slip etc.
Again welcome, Joan
Keep the faith. My Choc Lab had an FCE in his back legs on April 5, 2010. He barely had any feeling and they could not get him to urinate. He had to stay in an ICU for a week because they couldn't decide if he had any feeling in his legs. They did a bunch of tests. He spent two weeks in the pet hospital mainly because he couldn't urinate. He was moved into the Physical Therapy section the second week. His first two weeks he couldn't move anything and today he is urinating, walking and kind of running on his own. He just started using his tail more the last couple of days. It is the hardest thing to go through. I got him accupuncture and chiropractic care once a week (he had pet insurance to help pay for the hospital). I truly believe in that (Pet insurance doesn't cover this). If you can afford I highly recomend. The first time he had accupuncture, he passed out for a almost a half hour. It relaxed him so much. They chiropractor is who gave me all the hope. He could push a spot on his spine and my lab would kick both legs out and his tail would shoot straight up while he was in his wheelchair. It was the darndest thing. He said there was a lot of swelling back there that could take months to settle down. Just seeing the chiropractor manipulate his legs and tail like that made me feel really good that there was movement there if we could get the swelling down. He wanted me to ice it but you know how dogs are. My dog wanted nothing to do with that.This forum was my savior. Ask any questions, these people have already been through it and can help a lot. Most times they could answer my questions better than my vet.
My yorkie Pluto had an FCE @ 2yrs old in May of 2008. He is very happy now. The first few months after were very hard but he made progress every day until he was able to get around on his own. He was completely paralyzed. When we brought him home from the hospital he could not walk or go to the bathroom on his own. It was horrible. But, we kept at it and now he has most of the use of his legs although his right front leg does not work at all due to self inflicted damage not the FCE. Just keep the faith and your little guy will get better. Pluto is not able to do everything he once could but he is a very happy little man. We didnt have PT available in our area and one of the things we did that seemed to help the most was put him in a fitted life jacket and let him swim in the bathtub. The wheel chair helped too, I used treats to make him try to push himself. Keep coming back here!! The support from others here saved Pluto and Me.!!
Thanks for the replies everyone! Wally is doing better than we could have hoped at this point. He is walking, wagging his tail, and even running. He runs differently since his right side is still effected. He drags his front right foot a little when he walks, and walking on pavement caused a callous and a open sore. We have restricted his walking to the house and back yard in the grass. His sore has healed and though he would rather walk with our other dog, he doesn't seem to mind being in a dog stroller on those walks. Thank you again for your advise and support.
Such good news Paul!! That is a very speedy recovery period, and it will get better as you go. Such a great testimony for others going throught the same ordeal.
We have just taken our staffy x Sasha to the vet and we are pretty confident that all the symtoms point to FCE. She will have to have an MRI tomorrow. We are devastated but reading your replies it seems like with alot of care the outlook could be good. What is the chance that she will be able to walk again?
Could she be permanently paralyzed?
I was hoping some of the people with FCE dogs would check in this weekend, sorry you have not heard from anyone so far. My dog's physical therapist said 85% of dogs with FCE will recover. Of the 15% that do not, either the owner gave up or the dog gave up. Some owners give up because they cannot provide the nursing care for a down dog due to their schedule or their own health or other personal reasons. Some dogs become stressed by vet appointments, the change of routine, a tense worried atmosphere at home, etc., and become depressed. Therefore they recommend always being upbeat around your dog. If you feel like you have to cry or something, do it where the dog will not be aware of it. It can take time for the dog to bounce back, but most will improve enough to be able to get around and lead a good quality of life, even if in some cases they may not walk as well as before. Dogs which do not improve can use a wheelchair, and a wheelchair can also be a rehab tool for a down dog, especially if it's a large dog.
They recommend intensive physical therapy for FCE. If you have professional physical therapy for dogs where you live, I highly recommend it. They can do therapy on your dog and show you what exercises to do at home.
If you have any questions about daily nursing care, the bladder care, etc., please be sure to ask.
Thanks we decided it was best if we put her down as she was very stressed. We thought it was the best thing for her. Very hard decsion to make but we felt it was fair on the dog.
Thanks for your time.
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