My dog, Fox (half dachshund, half aussie), had a ruptured spinal disc in september. I woke up that saturday morning because he was whimpering and then I noticed that he couldn't move his hind legs anymore. We instantly drove to the vet clinic and at this point his deep pain sensation was still intact. They operated him later that day and afterwards the deep pain sensation was gone for about two days. He had to stay in hospital for about a week and when he came home I had to start manually expressing his bladder. It kinda worked, but it was really hard because he kept pressing all his muscles against my hands. Even the vets said that expressing and feeling his bladder was really challenging. And I don't even want to start talking about the mood swings he had when he came back home.
We went to physical therapy twice a week eversince. After about 4 weeks he started peeing again - just a little bit, but I was really excited. It healed slowly but surely and now he can pee pretty good on his own. But I just can't be sure if it is enough. He walks in a sling and is exhausted after about 10 minutes. And he never peed all in one go and he still doesn't. He likes to mark places, but in my mind that means that he doesn't pee enough. At first I still expressed his bladder once a day, but at one point there wasn't enough to express and the therapist said that I should try letting him pee on his own. I was really scared, because I don't want him to have any pain oder bladder problems. But I tried. And it worked - for a few days. I found a little bit of pee on his pad and I instantly panicked. The vet said that it doesn't always mean that his bladder was too full, that it could have other reasons for him to lose a few drops of pee. But I'm just always very worried. He didn't whine or anything, so I don't know. Also, he still takes some bladder medication (Tamsulosin 0,4mg once a day and Myocholine 3x2,5mg a day - sorry if the medication has a different name, I'm from Germany). So basically they soften his bladder muscles, so it is easier for him to pee. But maybe it would be better for him if he doesn't take them anymore.
And on a more positive note: he also started to move his tail again. When it's time for food he wags his tail in excitement, so that's pretty neat!
I would really like to hear your experiences. How did you handle the whole bladder topic? How do you not worry every time something doesn't go as expected? When is the right time to buy a wheelchair?
They used to say to wait at least 6 weeks to get a wheelchair, to give the injury time to heal. Also some dogs will not need one by that time because they are starting to walk. For dogs that are not walking yet, the wheelchair can be used during rehab. For example, if you set the wheelchair so the dog's feet are down on the ground (not up in stirrups) then you can bend over your dog and hold his ankles and help him practice taking steps in the cart. You do the patterning of the steps for him and it helps his body relearn how to take steps by repetition. It might be easier on your back than the sling. I would continue PT, though. So the wheelchair is in addition to PT, not instead of PT. If your surgeon gives the OK, he could probably get one, since it's 6 weeks since September.
I looked up your meds and the Myocholine is bethanecol chloride. It helps the bladder contract. That is common here. Tamsulosin is one I haven't heard of, but I read it is to relax the smooth muscle of the bladder, especially in male dogs. The quote below makes me think the vet is using the 2 meds together for a reason. I guess you could ask the vet about trying him without them, but I'd ask and not just try it without asking. Or possibly the vet could try a lower dose. It's very cool that he's recovering bladder control! Woohoo!!!
If you're a pet person, I always think it's your job to worry. You're going to worry about everything. But it sounds like you did everything right. He got the surgery before he even lost deep pain, so that's in his favor. You're getting him PT. Around here they say "PT is King!". He's got bladder control returning and his tail is wagging when he's excited and happy. It sure sounds positive and he sounds like a dog that is likely to get his walking back. I hope you can continue the PT. Every day his nerves are healing a tiny bit more in the background where you can't see it, and PT will help him make the most of his recovery. If the PT is getting too expensive, maybe he could go less often, but the therapist could still have you doing exercises at home between sessions.Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat wrote:Bethanechol should only be used when the urethra is open, as when a catheter is in place, or with urethral relaxants because bethanechol can cause contraction of urethral smooth muscle as well. Theoretically, the bladder could rupture if bethanechol is given when the urethra is blocked, or in spasm
Don't let anyone tell you he should be walking by a certain number of weeks or months. It varies too much. No two injuries are the same. You are still in the early days, even though it may feel longer because everything is so intense the first month or so.
I would be interested in the mood swings. I haven't heard that mentioned very often. I remember someone whose dog was on steroids and she thought the medication was making him grumpy. I don't know if your dog was only being moody at first, or if he still is. Sometimes being grumpy can be due to pain, obviously. It takes a while for a major surgery to really heal. If you think he's still sore, you might mention it to the vet. Perhaps they would try some pain meds with him and see if it makes a difference. You have to be able to handle him to care for him and work with him.
That's what I thought! He can't walk yet and I think it might take some more time. I just thought it would be nice for him to move around a bit more and as you said, he can also use it in rehab and if he might start walking again.
I will continue taking him to PT, we just started going less. Instead of two times a week we dialed it down to one time per week. He also got acupuncture for the first time a few days ago and I had the impression that it already had an effect afterwards! In my mind money is no issue, he will get everything he needs. Although we spent all our savings on this, but it's worth it.
Now that makes sense! Thanks for looking it up and explaining it so well I think they do help him, but maybe they also cause his little accidents? Because he lost a few drops of pee on his pad two times in the last weeks. Or maybe it just happens sometimes. All in all his bladder control is pretty good now, which I am so grateful for! On tuesday he has a follow up appointment in the vet clinic and I will ask them if he should reduce the dose or stop taking them.
Thanks for the pep talk! I thought it's probably normal to alway worry, but it's really exhausting. Especially when he is making progress but has a bad day and I feel like he is taking steps back. I'm so anxious! The vet gave him a 80-90% chance of full recovery, but she also said that I shouldn't be surprised if it might take up to a year, because every dog heals differently. I'm pretty content with his progress! He also poops outside most of the time now, but I don't know if he really controls that.
I wasn't sure if it was normal for dogs to feel like he did. He really hates going to the vet, he sometimes even gets aggressive. But once he is on the table it's fine. When we went to the vet clinic he was pretty normal, just confused. They called me after the surgery and kept me informed every day after that. He was extremely hostile towards the staff and stopped eating completely, so he got a nasal tube. It got a little bit better towards the end of his stay, but when I picked him up he was completely out of it. At home he freaked out a few times and got very aggressive. He crawled into a corner, pooped everywhere and it was like he didn't really recognize we were at home. Every time I did something that reminded him of the clinic he panicked and got angry. It was also difficult to go to PT with him, as he would also be hostile towards the therapists. After about a week he calmed down more and after two weeks he was somewhat normal again. It was hard expressing his bladder, because then he would also freak out. My husband had to do homeoffice during this time because I couldn't handle him alone. Now, 9 weeks later, he is his old normal self - kind, playful, curious. At the beginning he got pain meds and Gabapentin, now he still takes Gabapentin but I am slowly reducing the dose. So I just thought maybe he was a bit traumatized from this experience, as he didn't understand was what happening to him and he was all alone in a strange place for a week.
They say dogs don't want to be seen as weak or sick because they are pack animals and they're afraid the other members of the pack might turn on them. I'm not sure how true that is, but if it's true, it would give a dog every reason to instinctively feel fearful and defensive when he's sick.
I'm impressed by your physical therapist. S/he must be really good at making friends with frightened dogs. If you're going to PT once a week, that will still help his recovery. Do you know what kind of exercises they are doing with him? You mentioned acupuncture. Have they tried any hydrotherapy (swimming, underwater treadmill?)
You mentioned something before that I didn't comment on. You said your dog liked to mark and urinate in a lot of places. That's normal for intact dogs as far as I know. My male dog is fixed and he pretty much empties his bladder in one stream. However he is still very motivated by sniffing. If I lay him in the grass he won't urinate right away (unless his bladder is super full). He'll sniff around until he smells something that seems to trigger him to release. Is that what your dog is doing? You walk around with the sling and he smells different smells and leaves his mark? Once in a while I have to move my dog to a different spot on the grass because I guess there are no satisfactory smells where I put him!