I am going to be taking Stella into the vet tomorrow, I’m worried once again her urine has a terrible smell but Unlike when she had the uti and it smelled like ammonia. I don’t know how to describe the odor this time. She also tried to eat a little green plant outside because we do not have any grass near us so that really worries me sick. Every day brings a new stress or a new issue it seems it’s very hard to handle And breaking my heart.
It is absolutely normal to worry about your dog, that's our job, and nobody should ever underestimate the amount of stress that goes with this situation. The first weeks are by far the hardest. But at some point you turn a corner and it does get better. It sounded to me like Stella was having fun in her wheelchair before the gymnastics. It sounds like she's pretty chipper. They say that is important.
My dog's physical therapist said 85% of dogs with FCE will recover, and of those that do not, either the dog gave up or the family gave up. Families may give up due to inability to do the nursing care, lack of time, or hearing negative comments from others. The dog may give up if he is stressed from a worried atmosphere at home, too many vet visits, etc. That's why they say it is especially important with FCE to keep your spirirts up around the dog and be positive. If you must cry, do it someplace where he will not know, but come back to him and be upbeat.
It is so hard when you don't know how things are going to turn out, and the daily care is substantial, trying to do so many new things and get them exactly right. And even though she is "just" 25 lbs, 25 lbs is plenty to have to deal with. But maybe most of all is the amount of thought involved. It doesn't matter what else you are doing in these first couple of months, your mind is never far from thoughts of your dog. How do I fix her bed better? How can I fit her PT into my schedule today? Can I get time off work for a vet appt? I need to do laundry because we are on our last dog blanket. How can I get her diaper to stay on? How can I get other family members on board to help? I'm scared to look at my bank account. Is there anything I should be doing that I'm not already doing?
Really, you just have this constant soundtrack in your mind turning over all these thoughts, like you're trying to find the best answers for everything. The thoughts come when you eat, when you drive, when you're at work, when you go to bed at night. Even just all that thinking is a lot of work. It might be a good idea if you could get out of the house for a while, go walk around the mall (or your favorite craft store, bookstore, whatever), and force yourself to spend one hour of "me time". If you *make yourself* do this every little while, you come back *a little* refreshed and better able to keep going.
Also, I hope you aren't shorting yourself on sleep. I have seen where some people start out getting up in the middle of the night every few hours to express, but it isn't necessary. If you express her at bedtime, she should be able to go 8 hrs till morning and be just fine.
One of the topics I posted my second month here had a title I'll never forget: "What I worry about......besides "everything"!" Maybe you can relate. But the work you are doing is helping, and the prognosis is good for FCE. I'm glad you've got one vet who is positive and helpful. It is a huge help to have someone who has seen all this before and can tell you in person that there is reason to be optimistic. My dog had a spinal fracture, not FCE, and she had a very slow recovery. But my motto is: a slow recovery is still a recovery.
Glad you were able to get a vet appt tomorrow. Your dog is lucky she has someone in her corner willing to do all of this. Would love to see a picture of her if you ever want to post one.
Thank you for the good thoughts! I’ve been meaning to post but have been so busy. The updates since last time is I took her into the new vet and had them do a urine culture and sure enough she still had a uti and it was ecoli that was resistant to Clavamox hence why it came back 1 day after we finished it. So we are now in baytril and she seems to be doing better and finally sleeping. It was strange even though she has no control over her bladder and can’t feel, the week we were waiting for results she was up ALL night moving around so I was up with her. She must have felt some discomfort because once we started meds she’s been sleeping through the night. No new updates as far as new movement or deep pain yet we went to our weekly acu appt and I got her on two new Chinese herbs plus paid for her to have an hour on something called a PEMF bed so hopefully that will help yield some recovery results. I’ve had a few down days since we haven’t had much improvement but trying to stay positive and believe she will get better because that’s our only option. Thank you for thinking of us! Hope all is well with you.
Nerves heal very, very slowly. With my dog, it seemed like maybe if I really stretched my imagination I could think she had improved a tiny bit about every 6 weeks, and I wasn't sure of that.
I've been wanting to ask what exercises you guys are doing at home? Are you bicycling, massaging, doing resistance?
You said she doesn't like water, so this may not apply to your situation, but here is some information on why/how swimming helps dogs recover. Partly it is that the water supports the dog so no balance or strength is required. But also, dogs have kind of a secondary system related to walking. It is called the crossed extensor reflex. Here is a post that explains it a little better.
My dog did not begin moving her hind legs in the water right away, it took several sessions. I'd have to go back and check exactly, but it might have been 7 or 8? So if you try it and don't see her hind legs moving the first few sessions, don't give up. I seem to remember another dog here who was too scared to do hydrotherapy. My dog was scared at first but they started with short sessions and built up and she learned to love it.http://www.dachshund-dca.org/diskbook.html wrote:Occasionally a dog that has transverse malacia of its thoracolumbar spinal cord (no deep pain sensation) can learn to "walk" again using the crossed extensor reflex that may still exist in the hindlimbs. Without motor connections to the brain, this reflex is "released" and causes the involuntary motor movements that are frequently observed in the limbs. Through extensive physiotherapy, many of these dogs learn to swing their bodies to get their hindlimbs under them and allow the reflex walking movements to be effectual. This form of walking is called spinal walking and looks a bit "motorized" but serves the function well.
If professional pool therapy is too expensive or too far to drive, it is something you can do in a lake or spa or backyard pool. There are some fun pics/videos here of people doing that.
Here is a great picture of Buster in the pool.
Here is Koro at the lake.
If she is afraid of water, there are other ways to help your dog get this kind of exercise. One is tail walking. The first time you hear about it you may think it doesn't sound like a good idea because we are all taught as small children not to pull the doggy's tail. But this is different, it is actually something done in rehab by rehab professionals. You bend over and support your dog's hind end by grasping the root of the tail down at the base. This way you can control her height so when she walks with her front feet, you are keeping her hindquarters the right distance off the ground for her to move her hind legs. Actually, you can set a wheelchair so the hind feet are on the ground, too (not up in stirrups) but in my experience there is some kind of extra bonus that comes with actually holding the dog by the root of the tail. I do not know if it is a physical stimulus, or having you close, or probably both, but it seems to encourage use of the hind legs more than just the cart. (If your back will allow you.)
Also, here is something I have said a number of times, and I'm pretty sure it's going to apply to a chi X minpin mix when it comes to doing exercises. I had to invest 40 minutes a day getting my dog tired enough to work. I got the idea from quarterhorses. You need to let them run flat out for a distance when you first go to ride in order to have a manageable horse the rest of the way. You have to give them their head and let them get it out of their system. For example, a nice long walk in the wheelchair would probably be a good way to get her energy level down so she can concentrate. Let her smell the interesting smells and see the interesting sights and kind of settle down. Then take her out and try tail walking. In my experience, if you don't let her burn off some energy first, and she is fresh and full of energy and eager to explore the world the minute you stand her up, she'll be off and running with you bent over supporting her and you won't be able to keep up!
The other thing I wanted to comment on goes back to something the therapist said. I think she told you to do your program at home and let her know when anything changes. She may not have meant it that way, but it kind of sounded like she put you off a little bit. There was a wonderful person here named Rajah's Mom. Rajah was 117 lbs and she was rejected for PT. Rajah's Mom finally got her in by asking them, "What could it hurt?" Later, she told me to try that when I mentioned Katie had been rejected for PT (after I had given up) and it worked!!! Because of Jamie's (Rajah's Mom's) encouragment, I was able to get Katie into PT after they had rejected us. So it is something you might want to keep in the back of your mind, in case the time comes when you want to get Stella into PT and the pool is open. I know you are doing a lot of therapy with the e-stim and acupuncture, etc. right now (which I would have liked to have tried, but they weren't available for us).
https://handicappedpet.net/helppets/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1524&p=6048#p6048 wrote: Rajah was denied therapy as well, but we just started going everyday until they let us in. (Mother's stop at nothing for their furkids!)
Wow thank you so so much for all that information. It took me a few days to go through it and I still have more research to do but I appreciate the direction you've given me. The goods new is I found a place about an hour away that specializes in hydrotherapy and has worked with FCE dogs, so I made an appointment for next friday which was their first available.
The majority of exercises I have done are - the e stim unit + massaging her legs + acupuncture + practicing in her wheelchair + holding her back end with my hand so she can walk about + plus pushing her feet into the ground or using her foot to scratch her ear. We were given those exercises by the rehab vet who was very kind but no mention of hydro because she cant feel/ stand etc.
I want to try the tail walking as well it sounds interesting! Maybe we will try it this weekend! Her back legs have atrophied greatly and really feel like just bones even though I use the e stim machine.
Love those stories and pictures thank you so much for being such a resource. I appreciate more than words! cant wait to have new updates one of these days!
On the exercises at home, a common one is to bicycle the legs, doing a number of reps on each leg. That puts the legs through the full range of motion and helps keep her flexible. Another one is resistance. You can press up on the bottoms of your dog's feet while she is lying on the bed, and see if she will brace or push back. Another exercise they told me to do is "scratch all over". Several people here have used an electric toothbrush to stimulate their dog's feet. I'm not sure it has to be electric, but Matthew and Karen and Tan all used electric. I used to do "This little piggy" with my dog after her injury. On the last little piggy where it says, "This little piggy went Wee-Wee-Wee-Wee all the way home" I would close my hand around her foot and squeeze it and wiggle it, and she thought it was funny!
I figured I would post an update since it’s been a few weeks. We have gone to hydrotherapy 4 times now and are going to keep going twice a week.Im sad to report that there are no new changes or improvements yet. Our PT is so great with her and he has told us we have the first 4 months to make the greatest gains and the chances are much slimmer after that and he doesn’t want to mislead us. I appreciate his honesty, he is still working very hard with her and staying positive. I have started to slowly adjust my expectations for the future and have to learn to be ok if this is her new normal. It still makes me sad but I have to be grateful she is still with us today. We are at the 13 week mark and she still has very diminished if any sensation in her feet. Praying for a miracle still and hoping she is one of the wonder dogs that can make progress after quite some time has passed.
If you are in a situation where you are able to continue it, I would keep going past the 4-month point, but everyone has to decide for their own situation, finances, etc. Four months may be what the therapist learned in school or an impression he's formed from experience with many dogs, but usually when people mention a "window" like that, it seems like they more often say 6 months, not 4, but experience here shows that recovery continues for years.
My dog began walking a little after 9 months and built up to being able to walk 1/4 mile, which is good for a chihuahua. (She had a spinal fracture, a complete break, the 2 parts of her spine separated and were offset, her spine had to be put back together with staples and bone cement and she had no deep pain sensation for 149 days.)
The first months, and especially not knowing how it's going to turn out, are very hard, and people around you very well may not give credit for how hard this is. By the time my dog began walking, I had long since given up hope, but I was continuing the PT twice a day every day just because it was good for her.
Here was something I wrote at about 16 weeks.
https://handicappedpet.net/helppets/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1432&p=5522#p5522 wrote:I'm not going to give up, but it is mainly determination and stubborn persistence that's keeping me going right now. I want to be able to say I did everything and tried everything the very best we could, so I can look her in the eye for the next 10 or more years if she never does walk again. Oh dear.
The thing about her legs when you express made me smile. This was my very first post.Rescuedogmom wrote: ↑Thu May 09, 2019 4:36 pmAlso forgot to post this because I didn’t really register it as a change until my husband commented yesterday -when I go to express her bladder (she stands up with her front and I support/hold her back end) her legs spring out to the side when pushing on her bladder. It’s so funny they pop out like a spring so I’m not sure if it’s anything but hey I’ll take any movement or progress!
Could Use Encouragement?
We are 14 weeks and 2 days post spinal fusion for a chihuahua. We are doing the following: bicycling legs, scarf walking twice a day, tub therapy, and also standing exercises. She still has some strength in her legs but cannot stand or walk. She raises her feet like she's riding a little Harley when I express her.
Just wanted to share an update with Stella! She officially has deep pain sensation back!!!!! The PT started to question her lack of it and said she had it 2 weeks ago and it was confirmed today by our acupuncture vet!! Stella was getting her treatment today and her acupuncture vet took a bigger needle to bleed a certain spot by her toes and she whined, tried to move, looked, and got mad two times of trying. She also had to have the lowest electro acu session bc sheculd feel it. My heart is so happy. I know she gets stronger everyday and her feeling may not be strong yet but staying so hopeful. Just wanted to share my gratitude for you, her acu vet, and her PT. Thanks for believing in us. I don’t know what else is to come but staying hopeful!