Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Coming up to breathe...

Well, it's been a week since all hell broke loose. Zane is now walking again or rather limping, since his knee is still painful. Zane made steady improvements each day as the inflammation from the myelogram subsided. By Thursday evening, he was able to walk out to the backyard with assistance. By Saturday, he was able to walk around the yard on his own.

Some of the things that I have learned about caring for a dog with sudden medical issues....

1) Teach your dog to eat from a spoon or fork while he is healthy. When they are extremely ill and lose their appetites, they associate spoon feeding with especially tasty food treats from their humans. My dogs always know they are getting something great when it's on the end of a fork (like yummy scrambled eggs). Also, since Zane couldn't bend his neck, he had no way to get the food from the bowl. He had trouble chewing too so we relied on good, holistic canned foods. Another food we like is by Nature Balance. It's a semi moist dog food that comes in a long tube. It looks like summer sausage and is somewhere between a canned food and dry kibble. My dogs love this food. It smells great and is easy to feed since you can cut off slices for feeding. I will never be without this food in my pantry for feeding emergencies.
2) Build a ramp so you can get your dog in and out of the house without struggling up stairs.
3) Get a good harness like the Ruffwear webmaster. I should earn a commission on the sale of these harnesses since I am such an advocate for them! LOL We were able to lift Zane up and into a standing position with this harness. We could steady him while he tried to walk and offer him support so that he wouldn't fall over.
4) Keep dog diapers on hand as well as waterproof crib pads. They will save your dog beds and carpeting from the inevitable leaks. "Depends" also makes a disposable absorbent pad that you can place in the areas that the dog sleeps.
5) Crib mattresses can make a wonderfully waterproofed dog bed for a Dane. Cover it with a crib sheet and it will blend in with any decor. It's also cheaper than most dog beds ($40 in Walmart).
6) Just like with a newborn, sleep when the "dog" sleeps. For some reason, sick dogs seem to be more restless at night. The first night that Zane came back home, he was awake and trying to stand every hour. I eventually slept on his bed for a while with him!

We are gearing up now for the surgeries. I am looking to schedule surgery to repair the knee first. We feel it is important to get Zane walking on all four legs before we do the neck surgery. Zane can potentially have difficulty walking for 2-3 weeks post surgery (neck) and I will need him to help himself as much as possible. Since Zane will be down and out recovering, he won't be putting any additional stress on his neck. About a month later, we will go ahead with neck surgery. His knee can continue to recover while his neck heals as well. I am still searching for a local surgeon to perform the knee surgery. I would like to use a new technique called a TTA. It promises a speedier recovery..... You can read more about the procedure at

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