If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
Hi, this is Dylan's mom again.
I am home with my paralyzed dog for 4 days now and I have mixed feelings about it. I'm tired, I'm wondering if my dog can recover, and I'm happy to see that I can handle the work better than I thought I could. Dylan has a recheck appointment on Saturday and I hope to see more progress then. If not, I may get discouraged and may have a hard time continuing, because I don't know how I will be able to get work done and do other things when taking care of my dog takes all my time right now...
I have some more questions and hope some of you can help me.
Expressing bladder: they showed me in the hospital how to do it and I did okay the first day or two, but since then, I can't get my dog to pee. I can't pick him up to express him (I watched Molly's video but that won't work for us), so I need help figuring out what to do while he is lying on his side.
Acupuncture: I am wondering whether it is worth trying accupuncture and whether it is expensive. Can someone tell me how it works and how it helps?
Taking breaks/leaving house: because I can't express the bladder well right now, it's tough for me to leave the house for very long. I'm still trying to find a routine, but I feel trapped in the house all day. How do the rest of you get out of the house/go to work/take breaks? My dog requires a lot of attention, so I don't see how I can get away for more than an hour...
Thanks so much for your help, Anna
When you start dealing with extreme health issues, it is overwhelming. There are links to expressing and many experts here on board. Go to top of board and "search" express. You need a break and someone who understands. Do you have any friends nearby that can give you some company or relief?
You are worn out with work, worry and lack of sleep and I understand your doubts and questioning your own judgement.
When I brought Jude home, there was no guarantee of anything. 2 broken hips and a shot and splintered front leg. I too was overwhelmed, but at least I didn't have the doubts. This boy screamed I WANT TO LIVE. And he came thru loud and clear.
You just need a break, some sleep and a chance to cry and let the tears wash away your pain...
Hi Anna. This has got to be terribly hard on you. Here are some URLs which might help you out. HANG IN THERE - NOTHING CAN GET THE BEST OF YOU! I hope these help you. Best of luck to you and Dylan!
http://www.handicappedpets.com/Articles/express/ (Handicapped Pets Article - directions on expressing the bladder)
http://members.rushmore.com/~dds/Inform ... ladder.htm (How to Express the Bladder)
http://www.ourdds.org/work_edu_bladder.html (Disabled Dachshund Society)
Allicks & Gabriel's Website
Anna...After reading your message, I can feel the despair in your words...I know you can do this...if you love Dylan, you can do it...An injury like this takes time...please don't get discouraged...I had the same thoughts as you about my doberman, Willow....scared, not knowing what to do...Willow died last Monday night....But,
I was prepared and committed to do whatever it took to get her back on hr feet....I received a lot of encouragement from this message board. You will, too. Carolyn
If you haven't been able to get Dylan expressed, you need to go ahead and take him to the vet and let them do it. You don't want him getting an infection. While you are there, discuss the expressing issue with your vet and have them assist you again. It is their job...don't leave until you feel you have it down. There are meds they can give Dylan to make expressing easier.
There are going to be a lot of us and downs while you are getting accustomed to all of this.
Do you have a good crate for Dylan? A nice wire crate could allow you more freedom. I express Oscar, put food and water in his cups (they attach to the cage so they won't tip) and he is good to go for quite awhile. Dogs usually sleep while you are away. Dylan should sleep unless he is in pain, and if that is the case, you need to get something to control it.
Have you gotten a sling yet? Again...they make lifting and moving a lot easier.
Remember your mindset will reflect on Dylan...if you are postive and upbeat his mood will reflect that...if your upset/crying and frustrated, Dylan will worry about you.
Get the proper tools to help you...Crate/good expressing skills/a sling and I assure you things will get easier.
Hang in there...HUGS,
One side effect of Prednisone is that it makes the dog drink more and urinate more. You will have less of a problem after his dosage is decreased and finally stopped. I remember one person on this message board with a big dog and the dog was having to urinate about once an hour, 24 hours a day. I'm sure you can imagine how tired they got! I don't know what instructions your vet gave you, but usually the vet will have you begin to decrease the dosage at a certain point and eventually stop it. I seem to remember with my dog, Prednisone was twice a day for a couple of weeks, then once a day for a while, then every other day until the pills were used up. Hang in there. Prednisone is temporary (but it really helps).
I know you are working with your vet and a physical therapist. I find it surprising that you are doing weight bearing exercise. I realize people get concerned over possible loss of muscle mass, but crate rest for a back injury usually lasts longer than 3 weeks, and no weightbearing exercise is done during crate rest.
You are right about your back, and in my opinion (having a back problem myself) it is better for you not to do any lifting that will injure your own back. If you strain your back the discomfort will color every decision you make. If your own back goes out, you will be unable to care for him and then with nobody to care for him your options will be limited. The person I mentioned above, who had the dog who had to be toileted every hour, had a pre-existing back/shoulder problem that flared up, and she had to go to the chiropractor.
About expressing him, if he has partial bladder control but is not emptying, then yes, it is important to see to it that his bladder is emptied. Expressing is one option, but there is another one that might be easier for you. Catheterizing. The vet gives you a long thin flexible tube and you thread it into his pen*s carefully and it drains the bladder. Murphy's Dad and his wife tried and tried to express Murphy and could not, and finally the vet had them catheterize. BethT also tried to express Waffles (another large male dog) and could not, so she cathetherized him. Later she learned to express him in his wheelchair. I am sure I would find it difficult to express a large male dog who is lying down when I have a back problem and bending over and exerting myself is unconfortable and risky. I suggest you talk to the vet about catheterizing. That is what I would do in your situation. I can't lift an 80-lb dog either.
About getting out of the house. Yes, you are right. At first you do feel tied to the house. You feel like a nurse on call. But you are also right to get away for an hour. Go to the mall and walk around with a coke and windowshop. Go to a cafe and have a piece of pie and flip through a magazine. You will not be this tied to the house always, but it does sort of work out that way at first. There have been people who posted on this message board when they were leaving their dog alone for 3 hours for the first time! As Cindi said, keep in mind that they usually will sleep while you are away.
You have every reason to be stressed out and worried, and it doesn't help if your back is bothering you. There are others here who have been there and done that. I remember the first few weeks I had my dog home, it seemed I spent all my spare time either doing something for my dog or else thinking up a better way to do it. If I was having lunch, I'd be staring off into space trying to figure out a better way to fix her bed, or whatever. I think that just goes with the territory. To me the worst of it is, if you were doing all this for a disabled husband or aging bedfast parent, the whole world would have sympathy for you and many people would be able to understand what you're going through because they cared for someone, too. But you can do just as much (or more) heavy lifting and daily work with your dog and nobody will have a clue. But Anna, people here understand--many have been there, done that.
Here is an article Dianne found on caregiver stress--I found it helpful:
<a href="http://www.specialneedspets.org/caregvrs.htm">Caregiver Stress</a>
Here is a really nice website written by a man who was caring for his very senior dog who could not walk. You may be able to relate to some of it!
<a href="http://www.geocities.com/petinspiration/">Pet Inspiration</a>
I hope you can hang in there, and I hope this helps. Better days are coming and you <i><b>will</i></b> have more time for yourself before long.
God bless you! I have always felt that you can judge a persons character by how they act toward animals--as a matter of fact I remember the point at which my now husband, "won me over" and that was when I watched him with his dog and saw the compassion--you truly have a remarkable character!!!!!! Good luck!!
Thanks for your response and encouragement. I'm glad your Jude has been able to do well. Is he able to walk? Can you tell me how long it took for him to recover and how long it takes til things feel easier?
I do have one neighbor that offers to sit with my dog if she is at home and I need to go out. She's offered to sit with him while I go to an appointment tomorrow afternoon. Other than that, it's tough to find help because of everyone's work schedules. I have more energy in the evening when everyone gets home anyway...
I'm not sure I need to cry yet. I'm just tired (napping a lot), getting cabin fever from being stuck inside, and wondering how I can do the meetings and workshops I agreed to do that are coming up in the next two weeks, that would require me to be away 4 hours (one meeting) and two days (one workshop). My boy tells me he wants to live and wants to get better, but I don't know how I can return to work while he needs so much care...
Thanks again, Anna
i feel for you. we all do. a caregivers job is the most stressful i think. i do that for a living sometimes 7 days a week, 10 hours and more a day. i do in home health for the elderly, i have a disabled mother ,elderly that i have to look after. plus i have cricket who has to be looked after. my plate is full also. i NEVER get out alone to myself much, but it took a long time before i could come to grip with it all and accept it. when cricket got paralyzed , i was at the end of my rope, so many hours in a day but not enough. ut after i got the bladder and bowels under control, he didn;t require as much from me. get the hang of expressing, the predizone will be cut down and he will pee less. cricket went all the time before they cut his drugs down. now i empty him in the morning, swing by my home sometime during the day, and at night when i empty him he is good till morning again. but while he was crated to heal, i kept pads under him because of leakage. but like i said it WILL taper off. just make sure he is completly empty in bladder so he doesn't get infections.
i also worry about you lifting him, you both could be hurt. mine had to have complete crate rest for 6 weeks. vet said not much movement so he could heal. i am lucky, my boy is small and i use the touch method to empty his bladder. but there are lots here who have big dogs and will be able to advise you better on that.
but take my word, the stress will let up. i myself cried and worried till i ended up in E.R. with chest pains. now i wonder why, i still have as much to do, still not enough hours. but it just got easier. i wish i was near you to at least give you a hug and some time to yourself. i myself had no support till i found this board of marks. but anna, when i come home at night and cricket runs(yes runs) to meet me at the door with his wet sloppy slurps, i am reminded of all the GOOD things that came out of all that stress. you are in my prayers , take one day at a time, we are here for you.
god bless you anna.
connie and cricket
Anna, it took several months. I was able to carry him for the first month or two, up a long house, to the porch, down the steps and outside.
Then as he got bigger, I would drag him by his armpits (long before I ever found this board) the same distance. I tried to put him on a sheet and pull the sheet, but that never worked.
I had no assurances, in fact the vet said, he'll never walk, you have done all this in vain. Of course dogs who cannot walk in Beaufort (for any length of time) were summarily executed in 2002. Probably still today. But I didn't care, he wanted to live, so off to the journey we went.
Took several months. But Anna, he would watch the others run and play and frolic. He wanted to be a part of our world. He had been starved, shot and run over. His first night home, I cooked pork chops. He was in total disbelief and NO ONE was allowed in his kitchen. When he realized food came from the fridge, he dragged himself to the front of it and parked himself there, guarding his stash. It was a journey I will never completely get over, it still brings me to tears.
When you find yourself in need of some human companionship, just holler, your friends will come through foryou.
Best of luck
Good Morning Anna,
Hopefully, you slept well and are ready for another day. You may not believe us when we tell you that it gets easier, but it does.
Pain: Like CarolC said, if *you* are hurting because of your back, it can "color" everything. If you are able to take Aleve, or Ibuprofen, I would suggest that you try it for back pain.
Mild depression: Most of us probably functioned with a mild to moderate depression the first 3 weeks. We were in disbelief that we could actually *do* the job required to keep our pets alive. The naysayers make it harder. Avoid people that make you unhappy.
Bladder care: Although I express a 25 lb. dog (for 1 and 1/2 years) and you have an 80 lb. dog there are some similiarities. I use my closed fists to apply pressure instead of finger tips. My vet never bothered to tell me that my dog needed expressed, and no one in the office knew how to do it when I later asked. So I had to teach myself. Included at the bottom of this page is a link showing a full cat's bladder. The location would be the same for a full dog's bladder. If you haven't tried fists to express, read Martha's Method here.
http://www.handicappedpets.com/cgi-bin/ ... read=15230
I have not tried this method with a dog on his side as my paralyzed dog wants to stand. But it should work.
Travel: You may want to board your pup at the vet and have him expressed by the techies while you travel overnight. Most pets can wait @8 hours between expressing during the day.
Offers for help: Take your neighbor's offer top help and get out now! Walk around the block, go for a short drive. Deep breathe... Sit and stare into space while doing nothing. Your mental health affects those around you.
I'm very sorry that you are riding this emotional rollercoaster. So many of us have been through it, and hope that you can safely get through this too.
Wishing you the best.
Hi, Dianne and others interested in an update.
I have been going through a tough time the past couple of days--a rollercoaster as you put it. I get joy from seeing my dog happy and my love for him continues to grow. I also get more discouraged about his ability to recover, our ability to transport him without injuring our own backs, our ability to afford continued care and supplies, but especially my ability to leave the house to do my work. Lately, I've been stressing about how I'm going to get to meetings that would require me to be out of the house for 7 hours, and do an overnight 2-day workshop out of town in a few weeks if I'm still caring for my dog. And I'm heartbroken because I love my dog so much and I have such a hard time letting go.
I've tried different ways to express my dog's bladder and I still can't get him to pee when I press around his bladder region. He'll pee on his own a few times a day and once during the night, and he's not on a schedule. So all this makes it hard for me to leave the house.
I did leave the house a couple of times today, just for a few minutes, and my neighbor said my dog cried and moaned the whole time. No luck with the sleeping... I feel like I'm torturing him when I leave, when I can't take him with me outside, etc. My dog hasn't been outside in 4 weeks and I know he can't be enjoying being stuck indoors.
I'm also starting to think that the vets missed part of my dog's injury. They only checked his neck region, but I found an injury in the middle of his back, which would explain his symptoms more (why he can move his neck and one front leg but is paralyzed in the back). unfortunately, we can't afford more tests, surgery at this point, or much of anything else.
I'm taking it day by day, but each weekend we talk about whether or not we are going to continue or whether it makes more sense to euthanize my dog. He's such a good, sweet boy, I hate having to make this decision, especially with so many unknowns and so many things I need to manage. So our plan is to get more information during the vet re-check on Saturday and then discuss our decision again... In the meantime, Dylan is resting comfortably at home, but still not able to do much (or feel much).
Thanks for your concern and your supportive thoughts, Anna
When you go on Sat. get the vet to show you how to express properly. Also, there are meds to help relax the bladder sphincter so you can express more easily. Have you gotten a sling? Slings would make things much eaiser, and would allow you to take Dylan outside. You said you have only left for a few minutes. My dogs howl like the world is coming to an end when I leave for the first few minutes. Then they settle down and go about their business. TRUST me you NEED to get away and let Dylan get accustomed to you being gone. Dogs don't have a sense of time like humans. If your gone 30 minutes or 7 hours it is the same to them. I'm sorry your having such a hard time, but a good sling, getting expressing down, and a good safe crate would really help your situation.
Also, I spent 3 days online and calling vets, vet techs and pet sitters for Oscar. It took time, but now I have two people I can call to take care of Oscar when I'm gone. Oscar can go 8 hours without expressing, so I express right before I go to work, as soon as I get home, and before bed. If I'm gone longer than 8 hours I call one of my vet techs to "pupper doodle sit". Most vet techs will pet sit on the side to make extra money, and they arn't expensive. Make a few calls.
I hope tomorrow is a better day...nose kiss for Dylan.
It does get easier! People have made some really good suggestions. As Cindi said, they do raise a ruckus when you leave, but they eventually quiet down. Disabled dogs seem to do that; I expect it's because they realize they're pretty helpless without you. Someone on here made a sling by threading rope through a pool noodle. You can buy those cheaply at some of the dollar stores. He probably could be out in your yard with you occasionally; a change of scenery would benefit you both!!!
Anna, I feel for you. Just talk it over again with your vet and see if things change for the better. If worst comes to worst and you truly can't take any more - or do any more - you realize that handicapped dogs can be adopted by people who might be in a better stage of life and state of bodily strength to take care of Dylan - even leaving room for you to visit as you can. You're tearing yourself up right now and doubting probably everything - but don't feel that you have only two options: to continue to struggle with doing your very best at the expense of both your own health and your finances, or to euthanize. There's more options out there that might relieve some horrendous pressure on you and your family while affording Dylan yet another opportunity to get beyond this point in his life. Stay close to this group. There are tremendous people here who have been in at least part of your position - and might be in the position to truly help you out while caring for Dylan. Keep your head up! All doesn't have to be lost here!
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