If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
Here’s our situation. Bijoux, my beloved 13 year old mixed breed dog, was diagnosed 5 months ago with a terminal, inoperable spinal tumor. She was given 2 to 3 months to live. So, if it is possible to be fortunate in this situation, we have been. Bijoux has not only lived well beyond her diagnosis, but has done it with a decent quality of life and a good attitude.
Here’s what I want to share with you. This is what she has taught me along the way plus a few miscellaneous tips.
1. Find a great vet. You need someone who really listens to both you and your dog. Someone who trusts that you know your dog. It should also be someone that is open minded and will do research, confer with a colleague, call a specialist, or do whatever else is needed when she doesn’t know the answer. I think Bijoux’s life would have been much shorter and less comfortable if my vet hadn’t been willing to search for solutions beyond the obvious.
2. Don’t give up hope when you reach a new stage of the disease. When this journey started, I expected a steady decline in Bijoux’s health. It hasn’t really worked that way at all. It has gone in stages. In a few cases, a new stage might be better than the one that preceded it. A the beginning of each new stage, you need to be very alert to what your dog is telling you and work closely with your vet to adjust medications and other treatments accordingly. We have just entered a new stage in the past couple of weeks and it has unnerved me. My vet’s sage advice this week has been to give Bijoux a chance to respond to the change in treatment and let her tell us how it is going.
3. Listen to your dog. Stop trying to figure everything out yourself and just listen to your dog. Dog’s have enough sense not to overanalyze situations like humans do. They live in the moment. For example, I spent 20 minutes crying a few months back because I could hear Bijoux grunting instead of sleeping. I thought she was in pain and that her quality of life was rapidly diminishing. Finally I realized she was just hot from the prednisone she was taking. I moved her bed away from the heating vent and she was fine.
4. Be your dog’s advocate. If you believe something is wrong, talk to your vet. Your vet doesn’t live with your dog and hasn’t spent a lifetime with her. Only you have. Trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, it probably is.
5. Be respectful of your dog. Before you lay hands on your dog to express her bladder or give her medicine, take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let the frustrations of the day interfere with this moment. Helping your dog is an act of love and respect; treat it that way.
6. Have a good sense of humor. It is your only defense against the messy moments. Bijoux lost control of her bladder many months ago. Sometimes in the early morning hours her diaper falls off as she heads to the back door in an earnest attempt to go out to poop. Unfortunately, she doesn’t wake me and I get up a few hours later and tread (often multiple times) in pieces of poop cleverly hidden in the pattern of my oriental rug. Trust me, you need a sense of humor when you have cold poop between your toes at 6AM. If you can’t laugh, you will go nuts.
•If you need a cheap elevated feeder, find a box of the appropriate height. Take a disposable bowl of the size your dog usually eats from. Cut a hole in the top of the box so the bowl will lay flat but not fall through. Tape the bowl in place with packing tape. Cover the entire top of the box with packing tape so that it is waterproof. Put your dog’s food in a second disposable bowl of the same size. Place it in the bowl on the box. Now your dog can eat without the bowl moving around. You can toss the disposable bowl or wash and reuse it.
•Baby diapers are much cheaper than dog diapers. If you have a dog under 35 pounds you can probably use them instead. I buy Huggies Natural Fit Size 6 for my 30 pound dog. Since she has a cropped tail, I don’t need to cut a hole.
•Shop around for the best prices on medications. Walgreens will let you enroll your dog in a program for uninsured medications. It immediately saved me $30+ even with the cost of annual fee.
•If your dog is on a lot of meds, write out a medication schedule to help keep it straight. Use an alarm clock. Set it for the next time a medication is due. Also, put your dog’s medications in different colored bottles if possible. Make it as easy as possible to ensure you are giving your dog the right meds at the right time.
•If your dog is slipping on non-carpeted floors, get mats. Cheap alternatives to nice rugs are: multiple small, cheap door mats with non-slip backing, yoga mats, non-slip drawer/shelf liners
•Try and make your life a little easier. Centralize cleanup supplies where you need them. I have diapers and wipes near the back door so cleanup is easy and quick after taking Bijoux outside.
I don’t know if this posting will be helpful to anyone else, but I think it is helpful for me to write it.
I would love to hear what you have learned on your journey. Thanks!
Last edited by Bijoux on Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This is beyond helpful. I think it needs to be a sticky somewhere.
I have a friend who is stage IV. All I could think of as I read this was applying to that situation. Your words of wisdom, of love, and experience are priceless.
Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful words. What a lucky girl Bijoux is. What wise words you share.
Thank you so very much.
Karen, Andy's ^i^ mom
Lethal White Aussies Rule!
INTERACTIVE RESCUE SITE!
Wow I am amazed at your love and energy you put in here and your dog is beautiful by the way.
I can ( proudly) say I almost already use all of your tips already! My incontinent , previous paralysed, mutt ( 14 years old yesterday) is walking on yoga mats and runners in our house. I did buy the dog diaper but never used it, I express him as much as I can and have wee wee pads on his beds.
One more tip : always have a yoga mat ready when you have to go visit the vet, their floors are slippery for our seniors.
Please keep us posted.
mickey 1994- sept 26 ,2008
let all beings be happy
i couldn't agree more, thanks for the post. i know it will help all the newbies who come here for first time.
we all have to adapt to our pets needs. one more i can add to your list.
all vistors to my home, this is my disabled dog's home, if you don't like him, too bad, visit me somewhere else, he lives here , you don't. lol. nothing makes me madder than someone coming in here , saying, darn will you tell him to go away. all he wants is a pat here and there, geeeeeeeeee.
anyway, i admire you for all you do, no one can understand better than us that walks on the same path as you do.
our pets are special, but i have growned inside from doing cricket's care, he has taught me so much.
have a great day, hugssssssssssssss to all,
connie and cricket
Thanks so much...I am new to the handicapped pet thing and it is hard,but worth it when they give you a wet nosed kiss.My shih-tzu was hit by a car almost 3 weeks ago.He had pelvic surgery and is still unable to stand or walk.I have been expressing him 2-3 times a day(now very well I guess since he has developed a UTI) but I'm learning.I was considering putting him down but I've spent this much time and a lot of $$(nearly$2000.00)so far and have decided to keep him alive even if I have to care for him this way for the rest of his life.Looseing some of my freedom is nothingcompared to looseing him.I love the little guy so much.It's great to hear others talk about their furbabies this way and realize you're not crazy for loving someone with fur that much... Raiders Mom Kathy
Hi Kathy, that is so well said. You do give up some freedom when you have a paralyzed pet but you get more back in return. I really, really wish I knew the answer to your question about him snapping at you when you touched his bottom. A return of sensation does seem most likely, especially since you say he is also getting better at standing. One way to check it is if you can pinch his bottom sometime when he does not know you are there. If he responds, then you know he is feeling it. The return of feeling after paralysis can sometimes seem like a pins and needles sensation to the pet and it makes them want to chew at the tingly spot. Did you ever have your arm fall asleep, and when it began to wake up it felt all tingly? This is a phase some dogs go through during recovery from paralysis and it is temporary but while it is going on they can actually injure themselves by chewing. If you think he may be regaining sensation, you'll want to keep a close eye on him to be sure he doesn't start chewing. If he does, there is a medication that will take care of it.
I would recommend expressing 3-4 times a day instead of 2-3. It's a good idea to get the bladder fully emptied every 8 hours. Don't feel bad about the infection, my dog got a urinary infection at about the same point after injury as yours, and they put her on antibiotics just like yours. It gave me more time to get better at expressing. Did you see the article on expressing with all the tips? Here is the link:
http://handicappedpets.biz/wiki/index.p ... dog_or_cat
Keep an eye on chewing, too, dogs sometimes start chewing their feet when (we assume) they feel that pins and needles sensation.
A yoga mat! Why didn't I think of that?
Dog knows it's been ages since I've used mine for yoga. It's hard to cover 1800 sq/feet of wood floors to guard against slippery paws but this is brilliant.
Thank you for sharing your lessons learned.
I wish you continued luck on your journey.
Jessica & Doc
The last two vet visits I brought along a yoga mat for my dog ( I purchased for that purchase, now I should use it..)because the waiting room is completely tiled, it really helped!
mickey 1994- sept 26 ,2008
let all beings be happy
Just read your post. I am just starting on my own journey. My dachie Lexi ruptured a disc and is incontient and has paralysis in hind legs. Surgeon gave her 80% chance of walking again. I am praying for that. She is 5 days post surgery and there has been no change. It helped when I read to stay relaxed when expressing. I am nervous since I am new to this and want to make sure I am getting all the urine out. I quess I will find the right spot sooner or later lol. Thanks
This is really good stuff. Our miniature Dachshund Nathan is at the vet right now undergoing treatment for rear paralysis. This just happened yesterday. Over the course of the day, he went from normal, to sluggish, to tipsy, to paralyzed. We are heart-broken. We are waiting to see what kind of quality of life he will have moving forward. We cannot afford surgery. I'm reaching out to all of you for advise and support. I will not put down my dog unless his life will be a miserable existence and will do and learn everything I can to keep that from happening.
We're still in shock right now and aren't sure what to do next. All we know is that we love Nathan and want the best for him.
I have been there as well, from a healthy active dog mine was paralised overnight.
BUT..........he did not need sugery, he got Prednisone and months of rest, we put him in the yard to pee and had him in a confined area in out living room , so he could be part of our daily lives.
the first vet told me he would never be able to walk again , well I proved her wrong! He lived another 3 years, walked with a dragging paw , but he adjusted and was happy.
He was 14 when he passed , almost a year ago, and that had to do with age not with his condition.
hang in there, you know how your dog used to be but your dog adjust to his new condition, he just wants you to be with him as much as you can and make him happy.
Keep us up to date please, we care.
mickey 1994- sept 26 ,2008
let all beings be happy
I too have been were you are today. My dog was fine when we got home from work one evening and in a matter of hours was not walking. She did however have surgery and is still paralzyed in her rear legs however she is improving each and everyday. She gets stronger and does new things all the time it just takes time to heal. And they adjust very well. She seems to have adjusted better than we have to all of it. From what i have learn over the past 4 months is trust your feelings and your the one who knows your dog the best. Plus this is one the best site i have ever found the other people here are great and have a lot of helpful hints and advise so if you have a question or a comment posted it and i am sure someone here is has been through it. Hang in there it does get better.
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