Can I ask for some ongoing thoughts for my boy please

Discussion in 'Chit-Chat' started by Boxergirl, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    My special boy, Al, has declined rapidly in the last two weeks. We had him to the emergency clinic where my daughter used to work yesterday. We both wanted the doctor on staff to be the one to look at him. She's very, very good and she's also a veterinary chiropractor. After imaging we have no definitive answers. The xrays were all clear, so there's no cancer elsewhere, but the area around the C4 vertebrae showed some pitting and other worrisome things. Her first thought was Multiple Myeloma or degenerative disc disease. Also possible degenerative myelopathy. Or any combo of the above, including all of them. Further neurological imaging would be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. There is no definitive diagnosis of DM, that's just a process of elimination. The only way to tell that is by analyzing the spinal cord after death. He definitely has the symptoms of DM, but the sudden onset would not be the norm. Of course Al's never been normal, lol.

    So this was my question to her: If we do the neurological testing and the results show cancer or disc disease, is it treatable. The answer is to a point. Multiple Myeloma is very receptive to chemotherapy. Disc disease would require surgery and a lengthy and painful (so she said) recovery and there are risks involved with the surgery itself. Given his age and his history of severe generalized anxiety, neither of us feel that any of those treatments would help his quality of life. Her recommendation was trying a very high dose of Prednisone and Gabapentin for pain. If I don't see an improvement with the Pred in about three or four days, we'll start tapering him off. She told my daughter in a private text that she didn't expect it to work, but it was worth a try.

    Today he's got two doses of Pred under his belt as well as two doses of pain medication. I don't see any improvement in his ataxia (wobbliness/lack of coordination), but I see a huge difference in his body stance and his general behavior. Clearly he's been in a significant amount of pain and the meds definitely seem to be helping that.

    He's still a very happy boy. He thinks he can run an jump and it just looks like his legs are made of rubber. It's hard to watch. He needs to be supported when he poops and pees and he's also having difficulty holding it now. Al turns 9 on September 24th. I expected to have him longer and I'm more than sad because I know that what we're dong is just pallative care. Like I said though, he's still very happy and now I'm going to feel free to spoil him rotten. Unfortunately he can no longer run in the back yard. It's not safe for him. He also can still wear a collar, but we can't use it. I'm using my Front Range harness and it doubles as a lifting harness for now. I'm also going to get him some grippy socks because we have hardwood floors. I'll include some videos and pictures in another post. Just in case any of his symptoms can help someone else. For now, please enjoy this picture of him in the exam room yesterday. They put a blanket down so he didn't slip on the floor.

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    April Nicole likes this.
  2. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    This is a test commonly done for DM and other spinal/neurological issues. The foot is supposed to spring back. His front and back feet are both staying knuckled.


    This is a picture of his front foot knuckling. Most often he's doing it with both feet. He looks like he fell over here, but he was just sniffing the ground.
    IMG_6881.jpg
    This is him walking today. It's a good day. I mainly posted this so you can hear how clearly his feet are dragging. Very different than long nails clacking.


    And this was a bad day.
     
  3. marke

    marke Well-Known Member

    sorry to hear this news , hope Al can get through it ………..
     
  4. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Marke. I don't expect much improvement or for his quality of life to remain good for much longer. I can hope, but I don't expect it. He's happy for now and as long as his pain is controlled, I can't ask for more. He's also really enjoying the extra attention he's getting. It seems that people have a soft spot for old, skinny, and wobbly dogs.
     
    marke likes this.
  5. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'm sorry Boxergirl.... I don't have any solutions, just a big cyber hug. He's your Babe....we all know how that feels. Hugs to you and the family.
     
  6. Michele

    Michele Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'm so sorry. Hugs to you all.
     
  7. glen

    glen Super Moderator Staff Member

    Im so sorry, cant give you any advice, but i can say al is in the best home and has the best owners any dog could have, sending hugs to you all and prayers of help and comfort.
     
  8. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone. We all know where this is heading, and it's okay. The pain medication has made a huge difference to him and I'm so grateful. I'm going to whip up some belly bands for him today. I tossed all of Leo's away and Al is too skinny to use them anyway. I'm also going to get him some grippy socks. I just bullied my way into a vet appointment on Friday. I'm not seeing the vet that I wanted, but they put me in at 7:30am, which is technically before they open, so I can't be picky. Besides, all we're doing is adjusting meds and getting refills. I'm sitting her laughing at myself. I am SO not a pushy or insistent person ... unless it comes to those I love. That receptionist probably hates me.

    Here's a tip I found online and it really does work. Take a reusable grocery bag and cut off the sides, leaving the bottom and the sides that have the handles. It works great as a DIY lift harness.

    upload_2018-9-12_10-11-43.jpeg
    https://mybrownnewfies.com/2015/07/22/diy-lift-harness-large-dogs/
     
    Sheila Braund likes this.
  9. April Nicole

    April Nicole Well-Known Member

    Boxergirl, I am so sorry. Al is such a wonderful and special dog. I have been so touched by him, and touched by how you care for him. 9 years of steadfast love, patience, and complete devotion...
    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I know this is so hard. Just know that you made all the difference in his life. You gave him a chance, when I'm sure most would have seen him as a lost cause. You gave him a reason to live :) And now I'm sure in his hour of need you will see him through it, and make sure he's comfortable and loved. Al will never be forgotten. I'm sure I can say w many on this forum that he has made such an impression, and has touched me sincerely.
     
  10. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    And I just messed up. He's been regularly walking 20 minutes, slowly, to find just the right place to poop. I had to walk down the block to take something to my in-laws and I thought it would be an easy three minute walk for him. We went very slowly and he set the pace. We even rested on the way. I had to carry him half way back. I feel awful. I'm not giving up on him yet. We'll have a medication adjustment on Friday morning and we'll take the rest day by day.

    April Nicole - thank you. I always say it's the hard ones that teach you the most. Al has been an encyclopedia! Lol. And worth every minute. I'm going to give him all his favorite things on his birthday.
     
  11. Nik

    Nik Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry to hear about this. I have a soft spot for Al and have enjoyed reading about him for so long now. I am glad to hear that the pain meds are helping keep him pain free and happy. I hope you get as long as possible to continue to spoil him rotten and enjoy the time you have left.

    Also thank you for sharing the do it yourself tip for a dog lifter out of a shopping bag. I am sure that will one day come in handy for many of us.
     
  12. Sheila Braund

    Sheila Braund Well-Known Member

    oh Boxergirl I’m so sorry your guy and your family are going threw this.... Thank you for sharing the pictures and videos ....... He looks so adorable.... I agree with doing all you can to spoil your lil guy! I know and can feel your pain .... your heart..... these pups of ours do become our heart... I’m praying and seined as much loving energy to Al and your family (((HUGS)))
     
  13. DennasMom

    DennasMom Well-Known Member

    Love that sweet face!
    I can see why he's your special boy. :)

    So sorry he's being extra-special. The knuckling under is worrisome, for sure. But, glad the pain meds are working and he's happy!

    I'm in the "turmeric users group" on facebook, and many people feed their dogs "golden paste" (GP) to help alleviate the symptoms of DM. I give Denna GP to help with joint issues - her limp disappears when she's on it and it also shrinks the two fatty lumps that have appeared recently... so, I'm a believer in the GP... not sure if you've considered it or not. GP is ok to take with both prednisone and gabapentin according to the vets that monitor the FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/415313751866609/).

    Since I know your the sciencey/research type - here's one article for you on GP and Omega 3's: https://www.news-medical.net/news/2...gical-function-after-degenerative-damage.aspx

    Sending healing thoughts your direction!!
     
    Nik likes this.
  14. DenyMcKusker

    DenyMcKusker Member

    I am really really sorry. It is so awesome that you are able to share and educate while you are dealing with all your emotions. THANK YOU!!! We lost our CoCo to DM. It is beyond horrific. I had never heard of it and I am 60 years old. I thought I heard it all. CoCo weighed 125 lbs. I was able to use a hind quarters sling when it was just in her hind legs. When it moved to her front legs I could not lift her. I am a little person. When I saw what she went thru emotionally to just potty where she was ( I had pads under her), it was against everything she believed in. I knew what I had to do. Al is beautiful!!! I personally have degenerative disc disease (severe arthritis) and I take Gabapentin for it. It works really well without messing yur head up. It will also help him sleep better.

    Really ... thank you alot for taking the time to educate. Wish I had known what was going on when CoCo got sick!

    Take Care and give Al a great big hug and kiss from all of us in Austin Texas!!!
    Deny
     
  15. Jarena

    Jarena Well-Known Member

    I’m thinking of you and your boy. Lettie and I send hugs and slobbery kisses. If you need anything, I’m always here.
     
  16. sjdavenport

    sjdavenport Well-Known Member

    I'm really sorry to hear about Al. I know he's always been your special boy. The ones that make you work extra hard somehow become the closest to your heart. He couldn't possibly be in better, more caring hands. I love the pic you posted - despite all the old man grey, Al still has the perfect puppy face.

    I too am in the struggle to keep Mazey comfortable and pain free. Galliprant wasn't cutting it, so we recently switched her back to Metacam, which gave her a severe bleeding gastric ulcer (she actually had to have a transfusion Thursday night), so no more NSAIDs for her ever, which has sent me on the warpath to find even more alternative treatments for her pain. She was already on gabapentin, we've added in amantadine (NMDA receptor antagonist - good for chronic and neuro pain) and methocarbamol (muscle relaxant). She's already been getting laser therapy, acupuncture, twice weekly physical therapy, and all the nutraceuticals under the sun. Seriously, ALL of them. Since we had to stop the metacam, she's been really painful, so I had a minor meltdown yesterday, and in an act of desperation, ordered a few more things to try. I ordered her a Back on Track bed (supposed to reflect the dog's own energy back as a far infrared wavelength, increasing circulation, etc), an Assisi loop (a targeted pulsed electromagnetic field, supposed to decrease inflammation), and even CBD oil. They haven't shipped yet, so I can't say how effective any of it is, but fingers crossed!

    I know you weren't looking for any recommendations, but if any of the above is suggested for him and you want to hear from someone who has tried it, let me know! I know Al and Mazey's disease processes are very different, but when it comes down to it, pain is pain.

    Lastly, my thoughts are with you, your family, and Al. That final decision is never an easy one. It's obvious how very loved he is and that you will always do right by him. Give him a kiss for me. Hang in there!
     
  17. TylerDurden

    TylerDurden Well-Known Member

    I‘m sorry to hear about Al. At the same time, I hope the medication adjustment has shown some results. We are all very glad to have you, and I have personally enjoyed reading about Al and your special relationship. You are both in my thoughts.
     
  18. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    Thank you all again. It's nice to have somewhere to go and share these things with people that truly understand that a dog isn't just a dog. Al hasn't been an easy dog and I'm tired of hearing smart comments from people close to me about how much easier it will be when he's gone, or other less kind remarks. So help me, if one person says that to me when the time does come I'm going to knock them on their butt.

    We had a bad couple of days. After the trip to the vet, and all his overly rambunctious behavior, he was in awful shape. I just ordered a front lift harness for him. I didn't go with the more pricey models available because I'm trying to be practical and he doesn't need more than some help in front. I'll give a review of it after I've tried it for a while.

    Sjdavenport ... I'm sorry to hear Mazey's uncomfortable. You know she's my favorite girl. You have always gone above and beyond what so many people would have done to keep her comfortable. Our situations are different, but I think I understand how hard it is when you feel that you're running out of options. Please let me know how the new products work. I can tell you that despite some of the bad reviews I've seen for the Assisi Loop (mostly from skeptics that haven't actually tried it), I think it's most definitely worth a try. My daughter bought one. She brought home a kitten from her ER clinic that got his front legs stuck in the bars of a crate for an extended period of time - like over 18 hours. We thought he was going to have to have permanent damage to one leg and have the other amputated. The same vet that saw Al recommended the Loop for the kitten. After just one use we saw improvement. After three uses the improvement was dramatic. Both of his legs are fully functional now and I honestly feel that the Loop helped. I hope that you find it's beneficial for Mazey. I understand the skepticism about it's effectiveness, but I swear it really seemed to help.

    We also have an Alpha Stim. My daughter bought it to use for both herself (anxiety) and her dog (separation anxiety). I know it's been used for pain relief. I'm going to have to talk to her about it and do some research. I think it's worth giving it a try. Another good thing is that it's rechargeable, unlike the Loop that has a finite number of uses. It was pricey though. Professional discount helps, which you would have if you're interested in one. I think she received a discount in addition to the usual professional one because she bought it at an expo, but I'm not sure. Also, some insurances will cover it. Her pet insurance didn't, as there isn't enough information available about it yet. Just another thought for you.

    Al says, "Happy Monday!"
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  19. Jakesmum

    Jakesmum Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry to hear about Al, he is such a precious boy! These are the times about having a beloved pet that I just hate to go through, and I know what you are dealing with as we are going through the same thing with Jake. I will be thinking of you and Al!
     
  20. Nik

    Nik Well-Known Member

    I am sorry to hear about the rough day and also happy to see Al's face at the same time.
    I am also so angry to hear about all the people telling you it will be easier after. That is so not okay.
    Sending lots of virtual hugs and slobbery kisses from my pack to your's. <3
     

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