For the first time in months, Denny did not have a treadmill session this week. On his last check-up with the Rehab Vet, she said as long as he was getting his walks at home he could start spacing out his treadmill sessions a bit more. So now he is on bi-weekly visits.
While that’s great – it’s nice to have a bit of a break from them – it kind of makes us sad. It seems Denny has reached his plateau with how much mobility and balance he is going to regain with the therapy. Her theory has been that with exercise Denny can strengthen his muscles to help support his back and maintain his mobility. He’s definitely better than he was when we started, but he’s not as improved as we were hoping.
So we’re starting to look around for other things we can do to help him. We actually ordered one of the back braces we had been looking at several months ago. It came the other day, so we’ve only had a small experience with it. It’s the Lil Back Bracer. It’s made of neoprene and has stays inserted into it (like boning in a corset) to help keep Denny’s spine straight. He tolerated us putting it on him very well and didn’t complain whilst wearing it. It does restrict his movement a bit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The only down side is that he got pretty hot when he was wearing it, so we took it off after a while.
The purpose of this brace is to support his back, not “fix” it. It was invented for dogs with Inter-Vertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) to give them some relief during flare-ups.
I can’t say for certain if it’s helping, but Richard swears he saw an improvement in Denny’s gait immediately following his afternoon in it. I need to watch more carefully before & after next time to see. Maybe I’ll video him so I can compare.
We’re still doing his walks as weather permits, but it’s starting to get really warm and Denny doesn’t do too well with the oppressive heat. So we’re trying to make sure he goes out in early morning or evening and he doesn’t over-do it.
Meanwhile, we got some exciting news this week! The back brace we had looked at several months ago is finally in full production! I had previously posted a link to the MB Spinal Brace website, but it was still in the prototype phase. Now that it’s being manufactured, we have taken Denny to see the Vet who told us about it so that he could be measured for a custom brace! We really liked this Vet – he was very knowledgeable about new procedures being tried and was very excited to have us want to be involved with this new brace. Denny will be the first dog he has had try this, so he’s anxious to see if he gets any relief.
Denny had his chest, belly and spine measured so that he could get the right fit for him. The Vet is going to order the brace and we’ll take Denny back to have him apply it. It consists of a band of material with curved metal inserts that goes around his chest, another around his belly and adjustable metal rods that go down his sides connecting the two parts. It is supposed to hold his body in alignment so that his spine can be straightened. Right now he has a very rounded spine with his back end sloping downward. This device sounds very much like the adjustable back braces that are used for humans with scoliosis, so the theory makes sense.
As this is so new, there really isn’t too much proof behind it but the inventor has several videos on his website of dogs he has been treating with his prototypes. The results are very encouraging. If Denny’s problems are the result of his spine compressing on his spinal cord, then this should alleviate his symptoms. If we see no improvement, then his problem is probably the spinal cord itself deteriorating. Either way, this should give us some answers.
That’s definitely been the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal – nobody has been able to definitively tell us what is wrong with our little guy. So, we’re going to keep trying everything we can so that we can hopefully find something that will make him more mobile.
We will post photos of the brace once it has arrived!