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Managing Disabled Pets

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Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Amanda on 3/19/2014, 8:27 pm

Given that I'm dealing with this myself right now, and have been all over the internet for information/ideas, I thought I'd start a thread for sharing our tips and tricks for dealing with disabled pets.

What medical treatments/medications have you tried, with success?
What alternate treatments have you tried? What has helped and what hasn't?
What mobility products have you tried? How have they worked?
What incontinence products do you love? hate?
What methods have you employed to deal with incontinence issues?

Any other helpful information you can share to help others?

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Amanda, mom to Nell, Lucy & Ava
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Amanda on 3/19/2014, 9:29 pm

Here is my synopsis of experiences:

A bit of background - Nell is 11 years old and has very limited use of her back legs. While we have not done an MRI, 2 vets have agreed that it's one of two possible issues - a tumor or a disc pressing on the nerves.

She currently has a cart that we ordered from Eddie's Wheels We've been very happy with the cart and Nell loves it!

A couple months ago, she started having issues with leaking urine. I've tried several different diaper products and most have been an epic fail. PeeKeeper works the best. It's not perfect, from what I feel is a comfort standpoint, but it serves the purpose and once you make some adjustments to the fit, it's the best I've tried. I tried traditional style diaper products (both disposable and very high quality washable) None of them stay on because Nell drags her back end. If you have an incontinent dog that is still fully mobile, these products would likely work a lot better for you. The diaper from DogQuality is very nice quality! It's very similar to a washable child's diaper. I just couldn't get it to stay on Nell.

As for medication, Nell started taking Proin for the urine leaking and it's been a miracle. I went from leaving the PeeKeeper on her all the time to hardly using it at all.

We did a short course of steroids and while we saw some very small improvement, I decided (along with our vet) that the minimal improvement wasn't worth the side effects we were seeing and possible effects down the line.

Just a couple weeks ago, we started hydrotherapy. The aim is twofold. We want to strengthen her core so she can get herself up onto her back legs again and we want to keep her front legs/shoulders strong and pain free. She's only had two treatments but I also work with her at home with a bottoms up harness and also just by putting her into a standing position and supporting her so that she is forced to put weight on her legs and stop the deterioration of the muscle. She is able to get herself into a standing position on her own, now and then. In addition to the neurological issues, she also has a luxating patella so that leg will take a bit more work to strengthen and allow her to stand more regularly as it's currently always wanting to swing inwards which is like knocking her kickstand out from under her.

Onto the fun part....elimination management  Very Happy  Nell has only had her cart since December and given the god-awful snowy winter we've had, she hasn't had a lot of large blocks of time to get outside and get used to eliminating in it. Even if she does urinate, she tends to just sprinkle and mark and doesn't empty her bladder. So, I've been emptying her bladder for her. It's very easy to do and it both helps prevent UTIs, from the urine sitting in the bladder, and helps with accidents. While the Proin helps immensely, if her bladder gets too full, she doesn't have the control to hold in the "overflow" and will then leak. Some people do it right over the toilet but I seem to lack the coordination for that (and I have a spastic dog). If the weather is nice, I just take her outside and do it in the grass, even if I'm doing it for her. For inside, I use these.

Now, the most fun part  ashamed Bowel elimination! I think Nell has pooped in her cart once, since Dec. Some dogs, while they love motoring around in their carts, just don't take to eliminating in them. After dealing with a few weeks of begging her to go in her cart only to have her poop in the house later, I decided I needed to manage this process. So, I took to the internet and some friendly advice from others and decided to learn to do it myself. It has saved countless hours of frustration, carpet cleaning and pug bathing. Don't get me wrong, we still have accidents but they're minimal. Everyone has their preference as to how to tackle the bowel stimulation process (sounds sexy, huh?) Instead of going into each of them in detail, I'll direct you to this link. I started by using a baby wipe and rubbing the area until the magic happened. It generally works but can take a while and I sometimes worry about irritating her skin. Just a few days ago I tried the ice cube method and bam! I heard the angels sing!! Worked like a charm. I was so excited (and so sad at the same time that such a thing makes me so excited these days). Some people swear by the q-tip method but it doesn't really work for Nell.

Finally, on the subject of bowels. Diet is very important!! I cook for my girls but do whatever works best for your dog. I also just added probiotics. Find whatever makes your dog have nice, solid bowel movements. It's critical with an incontinent dog. You don't want an incontinent dog with diarrhea. Trust me!

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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Renee on 3/20/2014, 12:28 am

What a great thread!

Well, as far as medication goes, I have seen the best improvement by using Methocarbomol for Ichiro. His hind end / back deterioration is painful and stiff for him, which is not always the case for all dogs. It's been 2 years since he's been able to curl his tail. It is permanently down and very stiff / tight. The methocarbomol is a muscle relaxer. Before he started it, he was not able to get comfortable, especially at night. He would circle and be up all night, now he's able to relax.

He has narrowed down quite a bit on the back end from the muscle wasting, but we have not tried any muscle building exercises as of yet. We did do acupuncture / laser therapy, and saw minimal improvement. I gave it a solid 5 months before stopping. I know it works for some dogs, and I have seen that success myself, but it did not help Ichiro.

He is not having any urine incontinence, but he does lose his bowels when he runs or jumps. So far, it has not been a big issue, as it is not every time and he doesn't drag through it.
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Amanda on 3/20/2014, 12:32 am

Good point about the meds/pain. Nell isn't in any pain, which I didn't mention. If she was, our plan of action would change quite significantly I'm sure.

I've considered trying acupuncture but since the hydrotherapy is new, I want to stick with one thing for a while so I know specifically what is/isn't working.

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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Renee on 3/20/2014, 12:35 am

It seems that most of the degenerative stuff is not specifically painful to them, Ichiro is an exception.

We did not have an MRI on him either, as he was rejected as a surgical candidate by the specialist up here. We are just managing the pain for him, which has really stabilized this last year. It seems I had him in and out of the vet every week for a while, but we have the right combination going now, and we limit his activity so he doesn't push himself too hard.

I agree on trying one thing at a time, so you can pinpoint what works or not. I did that with the acupuncture and laser too. Three months of just acupuncture before adding in the laser. I sure wish it had worked, but it didn't.

Also, we did pred at the very beginning, and that did nothing.
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Amanda on 3/20/2014, 1:02 am

The hydrotherapy provider also does laser therapy, which I was hoping to try but since there is a possibility that her issue is a tumor, the laser is contraindicated. If we start to see more and more improvement, it's more likely it's a disc and then we can possibly circle back to the possibility of trying the laser.

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Amanda, mom to Nell, Lucy & Ava
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  donnag on 3/20/2014, 8:49 am

Thanks for the great thread. Viv has starting having some minor issues, dropping poop balls and having some trouble jumping up on the sofa. Her tail is down all the time and her hind end has drooped a bit.  I'm taking her to the vet again to have some X-rays and see if they can spot anything. She will be 10 in May and from what I've read the problems seem to start around 9.
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Amanda on 3/20/2014, 9:06 am

donnag wrote:Thanks for the great thread. Viv has starting having some minor issues, dropping poop balls and having some trouble jumping up on the sofa. Her tail is down all the time and her hind end has drooped a bit.  I'm taking her to the vet again to have some X-rays and see if they can spot anything. She will be 10 in May and from what I've read the problems seem to start around 9.

When I first started noticing issues with Nell, it was with jumping up on the couch. She could still do it but it took a couple tries. She just didn't have the strength in her back legs to propel her up. Hope the x-rays give you some answers!

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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  donnag on 3/20/2014, 9:14 am

When Viv's tail started staying down I was worried but she ate fine and nothing else was off. People said she was depressed because of the recent changes in her life so I wasn't to worried but then she started loosing control of her bowels and having trouble jumping up, it would take her a few turns and she couldn't do it at all with a toy in her mouth. 
So far no leaking which I'm very happy for. Hopefully it's just aging and now it's totally manageable, although I'm not to thrilled when I wake up to poo in the bed!
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Soniebluvspugs on 3/20/2014, 11:49 am

Judge will be 15 in July. Background: he had broken his front right leg a year or so before we adopted him. We were lucky that we had all his previous medical information and his surgery was performed at the specialist vet we had used before. It was a bad break and required plates and pins. A year after we adopted him he started to be in a lot of pain in that front leg. We did see good response to accupunture for awhile, but finally it wasn't able to control his pain. We finally ended up taking one of the plates and some pins out as the surgeon thought that was causing the issue and he hadn't had much trouble until a few months ago.

A few months ago he fell down and had lost proprioceptive in the left side both front and back legs. He kept falling over to the left side and wasn't able to get up. So either  he has a slipped disk up in the neck region or a tumor. He was on a few rounds of steroids, but was still falling and knuckling on his front left paws.  He was also having issues putting his weight on his right side due to arthritis in that front right leg due to the break. We were finally able to taper off the steroids. We also did a few weeks of methacarbomol to help and I think that is what allowed us to sucessfully taper off the prednisone. We decided to crate rest him for few weeks in hopes that it is disk related and it would help the disk heal, which was really hard and we started adequan shots. He has made a miraculous turn around and is getting around so well. He started getting the shots once a week and is now down to just once a month. I also added Yucca intensive. I carry him up and down stairs and lift him off of furniture. He can manage the small set of stairs we have to get on the couch, but I try to lift him if I get to him quick enough. We looked into cold laser which I have heard great things about, but like Amanda mentioned it is contradicted if it is a tumor.

Judge has been on proin for a few years already.
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Amanda on 3/20/2014, 12:01 pm

Glad to hear that Judge is improving, Sonia! So are they now thinking it's less likely to be a disc or tumor issue since the Adequan made such a difference?

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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Renee on 3/20/2014, 12:23 pm

I've heard of these adequin shots.

Are they recommended for acute injuries or degenerative?
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Soniebluvspugs on 3/20/2014, 2:21 pm

Amanda wrote:Glad to hear that Judge is improving, Sonia! So are they now thinking it's less likely to be a disc or tumor issue since the Adequan made such a difference?

I think they are leaning more to it being disc related since it has responded so well to rest and prednisone. It's been about 3 months since it happened. I believe it started with him not wanting to go up the tall stairs we have in our bedroom to get up to the bed, but I just thought that was just due to age.  One of my other pugs needed an emergency eye graft done the week before he started falling over, so I think his symptoms progressed and I was so stressed from what was going on with Emma to notice he was getting worse. Until finally he just couldn't stand up at all and if we helped him up he would fall on his left side.

He was on prednisone a little over a month, we would try to wean him off of it, but were unsucessful a few times where his symptoms would get worse again and we would have to up the dosage.  We finally weaned him off and started the adequan shots. For us the adequan shots were more to strengthen his right side and help with the arthritis  he has mostly due to age and the previously broken leg. I think it has just taken time for the nerves to regenerate and the adequan has helped his joints. He was not righting his front left leg at all during the first few neuro checks, he has steadily improved and the vet is really happy with his progress. We also were able to get him down to a more lean weight which I am sure has helped. This was helpful when I was looking into disc issues. He did not seem to loose bladder function (he has had leakage for a few years so was already on the Proin). I did have to help hold him up the first few weeks for him to go potty and to eat.

http://www.dodgerslist.com/literature/healingpage.htm
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

Post  Pugsaunt on 3/20/2014, 2:42 pm

So very glad to hear that Nell and Judge and the other furkids are doing well.  Penny did have a problem with her arthritis, which limited her mobility a lot towards the end.  We did a round of physical therapy, which included ultrasound, hydrotherapy, and use of a TENS unit (I happen to have one) for pain.  The hydrotherapy helped a lot, as did the TENS for her front elbows.  Very hard to place, though for her poor hips.  We're sending positive thoughts to all the furkids.
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Re: Managing Disabled Pets

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