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Need help - my dog can’t walk -

Neurological Disorders Resources. Treatment and care for pets having pain or trouble walking or standing due to spinal injuries or neurological disorders like IVDD, FCE and DM.
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milliesmum
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Need help - my dog can’t walk -

Post by milliesmum » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:42 am

Hi, I am brand new to this group - I have a seven year old American bulldog and she cannot walk. Quick background: she is a rescue and came from a horrible beginning. she’s had every problem under the sun. In 2014 - she was diagnosed with heartworm, mast cell tumor, tumors on her memory chain and a pregnancy with 12 puppies. Her uterus was infected and had to be removed. The puppies did not survive. In 2015, she had 17 teeth pulled and another mast cell tumor. In 2016, everything seemed good and I thought we were home free, and that we were finally through all of her battles. In 2017 she was diagnosed with bone spurs in her lower back, likely from an injury as a puppy, (before I rescued her). In October 2018 she was diagnosed with lung cancer and given 2 to 6 months to live. We chose not to do radiation or chemo but instead focused on healthy food and holistic treatment. She is still here. In May 2019 she collapsed on a walk and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Just when I thought we’d had all we could take, at the beginning of February, (2020) her back leg seemed a little out of sync with the rest of them.

We went to the vet and got some anti-inflammatories and pain medicine and five days later she was stepping off her chair - not jumping – and when her feet touched the ground, she immediately fell on her right hip. Her walking ability has declined rapidly since then.

She is not a candidate for surgery because of her other health issues. She cannot go under anesthesia, which means an MRI is not an option. she cannot do prednisone because of her heart disease.

My vet referred me to a vet that specializes in rehab and pain management. The vet recommended we try physical therapy and acupuncture for a month and then reevaluate.

The reason I am writing today as I am having a lot of trouble navigating her care. I am single, and don’t have any help. She weighs 50 pounds and it is very hard to carry her everywhere. While she cannot walk, she is still continent. We just got a help’em up harness today, which is helpful, but I cannot get her to go potty while she’s wearing it. i’m sure it feels strange and she just doesn’t know what’s going on, but I know she’s got to go, and she just won’t go.

Does anyone have any tips? My pup is the love of my life and I will do anything and everything in the world for her. I bought a stroller and a wagon to help get her around. I think the harness will help when the wagon and stroller are too much trouble.

my biggest problem is dealing with getting her to go to the bathroom. Once she finally goes, I feel tremendous relief, but then immediately start getting anxious for when she will need to go again.

Thank you 🐾

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CarolC
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Re: Need help - my dog can’t walk -

Post by CarolC » Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:42 am

Hi milliesmum,

Big, big :welcome: .

You give a very good account of her history and answered the questions I might have asked.

Yes, it is an adjustment to get a dog to potty in a way theyr'e not used to, and each dog has their own personality. I had a dog that didn't even want to potty on a leash with me nearby and we went round and round the yard forever. In your dog's case, it sounds like a combination of not being used to the harness, and not being able to assume a squatting position like she's always done. On the urination, it could also be the beginning of lack of control of the urinary sphincters due to a neurological effect of the bone spurs. That can show up in one of two ways. It can show up as loose sphincters (leaking, dribbling) or tight sphincters (difficulty initiating urination). If she is having any trouble defecating, that could also be influenced by her heart condition, because congestive heart failure can make it more difficult for a dog or person to bear down and strain and exert themselves for the effort. You can only use your intuition to discern how much of any of these possibilities might be at play.

There are ways to make a dog urinate if she is having trouble. You've probably heard of it. It's called expressing the bladder. It is where you squeeze the pet's abdomen to help them pee. Here is a video showing one method, used with Bonnie, who also wears a harness.



There are many other positions and methods described in this article. If you skip down to the end of the article, you will see many more video demonstrations. (I'm not having any luck getting the Scout's House video which is on the list to play this morning.)

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=16027

It may be that once you squeeze her belly and help her overcome the sphincter, she will be able to completely empty by herself. You'll probably want to monitor her as time goes on to be sure she is still emptying completely. If she is developing neurological effects from the bone spurs pressing on her spinal cord/nerves, it may decrease her ability to urinate over time, I don't know. If that's the case, you can still help her empty completely by continuing to squeeze until she is done.

Bowel management is another part of this. One thing I have observed is that it is easier to empty the bladder if the bowel is empty. Again, she can't walk and get a lot of exercise, and she can't squat, and she may not be able to exert herself as strongly as before with her heart condition. You can help her defecate if needed. This is called expressing the bowel. There are a number of methods to do this, too. They all involve stimulating a reflex in her bottom to "poop on demand". The methods are described in this article, which also has videos at the end.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=18586

I like the ice cube method, or the pinch method. Many people like the Q-tip method. If you can stimulate her to empty her bowel before you take her out to urinate, it may make it easier. At least you can try it and see if it makes a difference. You can do it outdoors, but with my dog I did it indoors. I just put a potty pad under him and had a nice box of kleenex nearby. When he began to go, I dropped kleenex over it right away to cover the smell (it helps a lot). Then roll up the whole business inside the potty pad and it will contain the smell in your trash bin fairly well (kind of like fastening a baby diaper shut for disposal).

If you happen to have a dog that is sensitive and won't let you touch her under her tail, that's OK. The bowel does take care of itself even in complete paralysis. It's just more convenient if you can manage it by expressing the bowel as needed.

I hope these ideas will help. I certainly know what it's like to be alone with a large dog, I cared for my golden retriever alone when he developed mobility and potty problems in old age. He was 63 lbs and I couldn't lift him. I'm glad you've got a harness to help you manage her now.

You have been so dedicated to seeing your dog through her series of challenges. I hope these ideas will make it easier to handle this one, too. If you can think of any other questions, PLEASE post back! :D

:group:

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critters
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Re: Need help - my dog can’t walk -

Post by critters » Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:45 am

:whale:

milliesmum
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Re: Need help - my dog can’t walk -

Post by milliesmum » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:31 am

Thank you @CarolC - this is so very helpful. I’m so worried about my girl :(
I feel fortunate to have found this site.

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CarolC
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Re: Need help - my dog can’t walk -

Post by CarolC » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:40 pm

There is another way to express a large female dog that I like. The idea came from Eros's mom. You stand over the dog so her ribs are between your legs and you are facing the direction of her tail. (Think of riding a horse backwards.) Clamp her sides between your knees to hold her in a standing position, and bend over and put your hands on her belly to squeeze her bladder. You will not be lifting her in this bending position, you're just bending from the waist, but if you have a pre-existing back problem you want to do it carefully or maybe try another position.

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