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I have a 5.5 year old neutered male mini doxie with IVDD who has suffered his second episode of hind leg paralysis in the past 6 months and has now lost his deep pain tracts. This occurred almost a week ago now and he has been on steroids, crate rest, etc. as has been the case in the past and surgery is no longer an option. (He was seen at the University of Tennessee Vet School back in July and was turned down for surgery then---the vet thinks that his condition is past the point that surgery would help now.) He has a cart on order, but it isn't expected to be here for about 2 weeks. My question is this, since he has lost control of his legs (and bowels and bladder), he is refusing to eat or drink. We have tried switching brands, switching to canned, adding steak sauce, ketchup, giving his favorite treats, and he just won't take it. I am worried that he is getting weaker because of the lack of nutrition. My guess is he is depressed because he doesn't know why his legs aren't working. Any suggestions? I am desperate to help our little baby! I have tried searching the archives, but I guess I just haven't been using the right combination of words.
Derek & Crystal Dyer and
Oscar Dyer the Weiner Dog
Sage, Misty, Hunter and Oscar
I can think of several possibilities of why he isn't eating and drinking, in addition to feeling blue. One is pain. You know how when you strain your back it hurts? His back may be hurting right now. It should start to feel better when the steriods get the inflammation down, but you might ask the vet about a pain reliever and see if that helps. Please don't try any that you have at home, some human ones aren't safe for dogs, and some dog pain relievers can't be used in combination with steroids.
Another possibility is that his stomach/GI tract are bothering him from the steroids. There was a very sad case here recently where a dog developed bleeding in the GI tract from steroids. The dog lost his appetite, which may have been from the intestinal problems caused by the steriods, or a combination to other things. Normally, steroids should make him more thirsty and hungry, not less, so that needs to be checked. Are his stools black, or have you seen any blood in his stools?
Here is some information on medications:
<a href="http://www.dodgerslist.com/lit/drugs.ht ... gs.html</a>
He might also go off his food if he has a fever. One reason for a fever could be a urinary tract infection. It is not uncommon for dogs with paralysis or partial paralysis to develop bladder infections due to incomplete emptying of the bladder. Since you say he has no deep pain sensation in his hind feet, I think that is what I would check closely. If the spinal injury is lower back, they tend to dribble urine, but if it is mid or upper back or neck, they tend to have a tight sphincter and either can't urinate at all or can but may not empty completely. In that case the answer is expressing the bladder manually (or if you can't do it, then to catheterize the bladder several times a day). Here is a website describing the signs of a urinary infection and how to express the bladder:
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/Articles ... express</a>
If you want to check his temperature, here is a chart showing what it should be:
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/cgi-bin/ ... ratures</a>
One other good possibility is that he isn't hungry because he is really constipated. Maybe you can try to remember when was the last time he went? My dachshund usually goes about twice a day. Your dog may be backed up because he doesn't want to soil his bed, he can't squat, he hasn't had any exercise to get his GI tract moving, he's been on medication, and he's stressed. Also, something they don't tell you is that while it is true the GI tract takes care of itself in a paralyzed dog, it is *slower*. I give my paralyzed dog lactulose syrup twice a week to keep her stools soft (get it from the vet), and I also squeeze her bottom in such a way as to make her defecate. There are a number of variations on how to do this. Dianne wrote a good description of how she handles it with her dachshund Schnitzel. Do not try human laxatives on your pet without checking with the vet first.
<a href="http://www.handicappedpets.com/cgi-bin/ ... ">Dianne's method</a>
If he truly isn't drinking, I think I would give him some water with a syringe, or try a little chicken broth. You don't want him becoming dehydrated.
If you notice any signs of labored breathing, he needs to go to the emergency vet, don't wait.
I hope you will find out why your dog isn't eating, and please post an update when you do. I'm sure anyone who reads your message will be waiting to hear.
Hope this helps!
There is one very important piece of information missing from your letter. Are you manually expressing his urine? This is a VERY important thing with an incontinent pup as failure to express his urine will cause overfilling of the bladder and possible urinary tract infections, and or kidney failure.
Please let us know if he is being expressed manually (pressing on his abdomen) or if he is only leaking. There are instructions posted on this board, and/or someone here will describe how we do it. I have done it for 10 months.
My doxie refused to eat and drink for a brief period of time. We cooked up a chicken cutlet, defatted and cooled the broth inorder to get him to drink. Chicken baby food is another option, but the homemade chicken broth (NOT canned with the high salt content)really worked for us.
So the vets at UT weren't going to suggest another surgical round. Hmmm. There are other pups on this board that have been through the surgery more than once.
Dianne (lived in Memphis for 16 years)
Thank you so much for the love, caring, and concern that has been shown through this discussion board. I posted that message late last night (not long before he passed) and when I checked this morning the response was overwhelming!
As for the questions that were asked...
We were manually expressing his bladder. Our personal vet has been absolutely the best and advised me on signs to look for for a UTI, ideas on how to get him to feed, etc. We did try force feeding and watering, but as I am sure you know, doxies are quite stubborn when they have their mind made up. I like to think that my husband and I tried our best...I don't know... He looked peaceful though, so that is somewhat reassuring. I think he just decided it was time.
As far as why he didn't have surgery...
I am not entirely sure about this one. When Oscar first went down with his back in July, our vet immediately referred him to the neurosurgeons at Univ. of Tenn. who kept him in ICU for several days, did myelograms, etc, and the whole work up and decided that his neurologically exam wasn't bad enough to warrant surgery and recommended extended cage rest and sent us home on steroids as well as sucralfate and ranitidine for his stomach. Oscar actually improved and was *almost* his old self again for a short time, but would have a flare up every now and then and he would go right back on cage rest. When he was first diagnosed, he already had problems at multiple disk levels. When this most recent episode of paralysis occurred, I immediately took him to our vet who hospitalized him and put him on IV steroids. Based on his exam, our vet didn't thought he was passed the window where surgery would be of benefit. I guess in hindsight I should have gotten a second opinion or took him straight to the neurosurgeon myself, but its too late for that now.
I am a medical student (for humans) and I do understand all the side effects and interactions that meds can have. It is possible that he could have had a GI bleed from the steroids like someone mentioned or he could have been septic from a UTI or a number of other possibilities.... I am not sure at this point. My husband said though that Oscar kind of gave him a look earlier that day as if to say, "It's OK, I know you are trying everything you can, but it's just my time to go." I think he would have been OK in a cart, but he was such an active and independent little guy that I almost think he would have preferred it this way. It was almost as if he wanted to spare us the discussion of putting him down if the cart didn't work.
Anyway, thank you all again for all of your suggestions, and if there are any more questions I will try to answer them, but it may take me awhile. I nearly used a whole box of tissues just trying to write this.
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It is so hard ,and I am so sorry.
Karen, and the four-leggers.
I was sorry to read about your dog. If it was going to be that way, then I'm glad he went peacefully in his sleep. At least that is something to hold on to. Best wishes to you and your family.