Another flare up...
Mocha was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease about a year ago, and so far, he's been pretty good with his back. After the initial bout of muscle spasms and back pain (when he was originally diagnosed), he's only had one other flare up (in July 2006). I've taken preventative measures to slow the progression of the disease; I bought him a ramp for the bed and couch, lift him in and out of the car, carry him up stairs, etc.
Usually, when my alarm clock goes off in the morning, he jumps up and tears down his ramp and waits at the bedroom door for mom to take him for his morning business. Yesterday morning, however, he just layed on the bed. Not thinking anything of it, I got up and did my business and got ready for our morning walk. I reached out to pick him up and he yelped and cried for a few seconds. It was enough to wake up hubby out of his comatose state. I checked Mocha over to see where the pain was originating from, and found his belly was rock hard (muscle spasm....again) and shying away from me touching his back. I scooped him up and hubby and I took him just over the rail for his business (I live in a condo, and pets aren't supposed to do their thing on the property). He just sat in the snow, and looked at me with his big brown eyes
We took him back in the house, I gave him a dose of his Metacam, and put him on the bed with dad. I left for work, but I called hubby later on in the day, and Mocha still had not done his business. By this time, I was getting quite worried, but Kris said he'd take puppy out at lunch and see what he would do. Well, luckily at lunch time, Mocha had a big pee and a poop, and seemed to be doing better. When we came home at 4, he was up and full of energy, meeting us at the door and doing his little doggy thing
But now this morning, his back legs are wobbly again, and he's very reluctant to move around. I gave him another dose of his Metacam and carried him out for a pee (which was a quick one because it's a little chilly out here this morning). He did his thing and trotted back to the door; seemingly having a bit more coordination in his back legs. But I carried him down the hall, and have built him a nest on the couch beside me. I warmed up my bean bag a bit (for 30 seconds vice the two minutes you are supposed to) and have that on his back, on top of the blanket he's laying on, just so it's not directly on his skin. And here we've been for an hour...
If this is another 'true' flare up, it's not as bad as the last one for sure. He's still fully continent (he lost bowel control the last time for a few days), and seems to have more control over his rear legs. He's just really sleepy and cuddly and reluctant to stand or move. I think this weekend will be one full of cuddling and love (should go rent some movies ), and hopefully he'll be a little better by Monday.
I just can't figure out what happened during the night or the previous day before the flare up.... I think I'll do some more research today and see if the flare ups could be just the disease progressing or what. Because I thought it was a result of trauma or over use....or maybe it's both. At any rate, I'll keep my that this won't last three months like the last one. I just wish Mocha could talk to me and tell me what exactly hurt and what he wants me to do about it.
Sorry this was so long....just thought I'd keep everyone up to date!!
That is really too bad about your pooch. Our little Hobo just got over his second bout in two years also. As a human with herniated discs I can tell you that it doesn't take a huge "trauma" for a flare up in me to occur and with Hobo's second flare up there was nothing unusual that had happened. Sometimes it can just be a sudden movement.
Because Hobo is part Shihtzu he has a curly tail and when his nerve is pinched his tail goes dead straight. That is how we know what is happening. Both times we have been lucky enough to get him through it with prednisone and complete rest. He has never lost use of his legs or his bowels/bladder so I think we have always been able to catch it early and both times I have been on time off from work so I was able to be home with him pretty much 24/7 so I was able to see his progress.
It is funny because when he is finally feeling better he WILL NOT let us lift him up and down off the furniture....he would rather stay on the floor than be lifted up and the look he shoots is enough to make us laugh!
I don't know what kind of pooch you have but if you are lifting him be sure to do it from under hisl belly with your forearms in front of his rear legs and in back of his front legs. Don't round his back as it can push the disc out more.
Hope that this flare up is just a short one and that he continues to be able to maintain bowel/bladder control and that his back legs don't paralyze.
Please keep us posted. I know how pathetic they look and I know that feeling of angst when they don't hop off the bed first thing in the morning! Sounds like you are well set for the necessary TLC for now.
Just curious, are treatments like accupuncture/ accupressure and shiatsu or tellington -touch massage ever helpful with this disease ?
Just curious, are treatments like accupuncture/ accupressure and shiatsu or tellington -touch massage ever helpful with this disease ?
I'm not sure... I should ask my vet, as they do chiropractic and accupuncture there. To tell you the truth, I never even thought of it. Even though I regularly go to a chiropractor....jeez, I feel dumb
Thank you for your input diandpat, it's good to know that there's someone else out there with some experience with this disease. This is different than last time I think. He's not as hunched up as he normally gets, and his back legs aren't as wobbly. I tried to lift him off the couch just a half hour ago; I had one arm between his front legs, supporting his chest, and I was about to scoop his bum up when he cried again. I had put no pressure on his back area whatsoever at the time, in fact, I wasn't even touching him (maybe his anticipation of being lifted up??). Which prompted a lot of second guessing as to if I have been medicating Mocha unnecessarily for the last two days. I checked his back like the vet showed me (gentle pressure on either side of the spine and watch for his back to twitch. He'll also turn and look right away if he's in pain), and nothing. He just sat there and looked at me like I had two heads I checked his legs and feet, to see if maybe he was wounded there, but there's nothing. So, I'm quite confused now as to what is going on. Maybe it is another flare up, but not quite as severe, or maybe it's affecting a different area of his back (although probably quite unlikely).
Nonetheless, he doesn't seem to be in pain right now, and he's happily gnawing away on this little chew toy. I'll see how he is tomorrow morning, and I'll be taking him to the vet for a 'once over' early in the week.
You know, I think it's the anxiety of not really knowing what is wrong, or what to do that makes having a sick pet such a stressful event. I know I feel so helpless, like I'm failing Mocha, because I'm supposed to be his guardian, and he's in pain I'm sure he knows that myself and his 'pa pa' love him dearly and would do anything for him. Well, at least I hope so I'll keep you posted as to what's going on Thank you!!
My advice will obviously not come as a surprise due to my horrible experiences with this disease, but I would get puppy to vet a.s.a.p. I would not try to diagnose or do research myself - but to vet and if necessary leave her there for higher dose steroid treatment if vet deems necessary. I would also have a general X-Ray done by regular vet for comparison to last 2 sets of X-Rays. I fully expect it is a relapse. Before my first Dachshund had the back/neck surgery he had 3 "events" of paralysis - all within 1 1/2 years - starting at age 1 1/2, with surgery at age 3. Also, has your vet shown you how to help your pup relieve bowels and bladder when not able to do it himself due to paralysis? We had to do this during our pup's recover time. It was difficult after the surgery as well - we had to use a sling to help support rear end. I hope all goes well, but really, I would be hanging out a vet's door.
Luckily so far, I haven't had to help Mocha with his bowel and bladder function. The last flare up he had, he was incontinent with his bowel twice, and then it sorted itself out. We're taking a trip to the vet this afternoon (lucky for us, Mocha's vet is on call this weekend). And boy do I have a list of questions for her!!
It's funny though, he's fine today. He went down his ramp with no problems this morning, and just wanted to run to the end of the earth on his walk. I'm still keeping him quiet though, in fears that this may be the 'calm before the storm'. He vomitted bile this morning after our walk, but promptly went and ate his breakfast, and seems right as rain now.... I'm going to wait a little while and see if he needs his analgesic (I'm just a little concerned after he vomitted, and don't want to rush things).
I've never been prescribed steroids for him though. After his initial diagnosis a year ago, the emergency vet gave us Metacam for pain (10 kg dose once a day), and the doggy equivalent to Robaxicet for muscle spasm (he had that twice a day). I'll ask the vet if steroids are indicated for Mocha's situation. And I'm sure I'll have another set of films to add to the collection (I have them all here, just in case we have to take a trip to Calgary for surgery). Mocha is also 'missing' one of his lumbar vertebra (emergency vet said it's the wierdest thing; dogs are supposed to have six I think, and Mocha's only got five, or is it four...I can't remember), which could be adding to his complications.
At any rate, I'm curious to see what the doc has to say, and to take a look at the films again, and see if there's been any change. I'll keep you all informed. Thanks everyone for your advice and kind words. It really means a lot to me and Mocha
Hope that the vet's report is favourable. Our vet opens every Sunday - started doing this several years ago and it really caught on. I am so grateful. Fortunately there is now a full service Vet Emergency service in Toronto - open 24 hours a day - but it sure is nice if something happens to be able to rush to your own vet.
Well, we're back. What an exciting adventure (it's snowing here, and people forget how to drive ).
We had more X-rays, and there has been little change from last year. Mocha still has good deep nerve/muscle sensation in his rear legs, which is a good sign. The vet does this little test where she bends his feet so that his nails are on the ground instead of his pads, and then times how long it takes for Mocha to correct (it should be almost immediate). He did better now than he did back in September at the end of his last flare up.
The vet says that he's having a bit of a flare up, but it's a relatively minor one. Steroids aren't indicated at this time; there's not enough inflammation/swelling in the area. We just have to take it easy, and I'll give him analgesics as needed. He's a pretty quiet dog and prefers to cuddle than run around like crazy, so we should be okay. I'm taking him back to see the vet next week, just so she can document any progress or changes in his condition.
As for the accupuncture/accupressure, I was wrong, my vet office doesn't provide the services, but she gave me the name of a vet here in the city that does. She doesn't know if it will help with his condition, but I'm going to call them tomorrow and ask some questions.
So, that's the latest and greatest. Hopefully Mocha will be feeling better very shortly. Thank you everyone for your kind words and suggestions. I'll be sure to keep you all updated with any more information
Good news. Hope Mocha's condition does not worsen. I am ever so familiar with the gently putting my finger under puppy's foot to see if he will correct placement - very handy test. I meant to mention yesterday re the pain when you wanted to pick Mocha up. Always be prepared that there might be pressure directly on a spinal nerve - and to be bitten should the pain be really bad when you have to pick Mocha up. My guy came close to biting my husband - out of fear - this was the time we had to each take 2 corners of the blanket and carry him to vet that way - just too much pain - and then she had to give him a major local just to be able to examine him - so just be prepared. Re acupuncture - certainly talk to the vet who does it - but with my Dachshunds - definitely not called for. Be careful of sudden movements that will aggravate Mocha's condition - e.g. somone soliciting - hammering on the door so that Mocha will feel need to jump down fast to defend property - despite having a sign on front door clearly indicating that there is a dog inside recovering from major back surgery - and NO SOLICITING PLEASE! Didn't work and my guy jumped down. I do not understand why people always assume you don't mean them.
I've had a few close calls with being bitten during the last flare up. And I know he doesn't mean to do it. I find that I'm able to tolerate a lot more when he's in rough shape. Lucky for us, we live in a condo, so we don't get that door to door crap I know when someone is coming to visit because I'll see them coming to the entrance (I face the parking lot), and no one from the building comes to see me, unless it's one of the other board members. The only thing that gets Mocha going is when daddy gets home, but I'm able to anticipate when that's going to be, so I'll lift him off of the couch if he's cuddling with me, or gently hold him back so he doesn't go barreling for the door!
Mocha is great today. His left leg doesn't seem to want to bend like the right, but it that's all it's going to be, I'll take it!! I left a message with the accupuncture vet, but they haven't called back yet. They'll probably call my work (where I phoned from), but we were allowed to leave early due to the road conditions (freezing rain ).
Thank you for all of your advice, and I'll let you know about the accupuncture. I'm excited about it!!
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