Denny and Charlie (and the rest)
It started with OnePug...

Vet Visits

Monday, 4 June 2012 17:43 by robbi

Well it’s been a couple of weeks of highs and lows! When last I posted, Denny had been measured for his new brace. We were told by the vet’s office that they would call us the next day to let us know it had been ordered, but I didn’t hear back. I called them the following day and was told that the brace was out of stock already! A couple of days of frantic phone calls back and forth, we were told that the brace was not out of stock and our brace had been ordered.

Last Wednesday we received a call saying our brace was in and Denny could come that day to have it fitted. We raced to get him there before they closed (the office is the other side of Houston.) We got him there, the brace fitted, and then put Denny on the floor to see him walk. He fell over! It turns out the brace was just a little bit too long and the back band was pushing against his hips making it impossible for him to move his back legs. A quick measurement confirmed that the two side pieces are about an inch too long. So, the vet told us he would contact the company the next day to see if an exchange could be arranged. We were so disappointed!

Thankfully, the office called us on Friday to let us know that the company agreed to an exchange and our new brace was being shipped out! We expect to hear from them within the next day or so to tell us the new brace is in.

Meanwhile, Denny had his check-up with his Rehab Vet on Monday. She did a chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture on our little guy, which he enjoyed. After reviewing his charts and his progress, she said we can stop the treadmill sessions since Denny is capable of doing regular walks now. His last two treadmill sessions he was able to go for a full 8 minutes, so his stamina has improved greatly. I’m happy that we don’t have to put him through the stress of the treadmill and don’t have to make the weekly trips to their office, but I am sorry that we didn’t see as much improvement in his gait as we had hoped. I guess we’re now pinning our hopes on this back brace. We will definitely be posting his progress.

PhebesOnBearMay2012

In other news, Maggie & Phoebe had their annual check-ups with our regular vet. We’re a bit sad, as the vet we really liked at that office has retired. He was just wonderful with our guys and even had Denny (who really hates being examined) wagging his tail and being cooperative. The new vet seems fine, but it’s not the same. It is so hard to find a vet that we really are in synch with; we’re really picky about their care and have often strayed into the “alternative” treatments for ailments over the years which makes some vets uncomfortable. It’s too soon to say if this new vet is a keeper or not, especially as the girls received a clean bill of health and need nothing further at this time. I sure hope it stays that way!

Denny’s Bracing News

Sunday, 27 May 2012 09:10 by robbi

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.

DennysLilBackBracer

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!

Bribery

Monday, 23 April 2012 18:17 by Robbi

Denny, like most pugs, is very food-motivated. Very food motivated. Extremely food motivated! He will risk injury to try and get a good snack. Especially if it’s people food.

A great example is his visits to his regular vet’s office. He does not like going to the vet anyway, but if they have to touch his paws to draw blood he gets very panic-stricken. Any amount of reassuring or trying to hold him seems to exacerbate the situation. But at his vet’s office they have discovered a magical item that distracts him from what they are doing: cream cheese. They keep a tub of it behind their counter and whenever they need to distract a doggy, they simply dip a biscuit into the cream cheese and hold it at a height so the dog can lick the cream cheese but not quite get a bite. It’s like crack. Whenever the deed is done, the dog can have the biscuit. Denny usually licks off all the cream cheese and then looks at them to give him a top-up. It never fails to do the trick.

When we first started taking Denny for his underwater treadmill sessions, we were a bit unsure about how he would react. He hates being in our pool (though he is a very good swimmer) and cannot stand to even walk around on wet grass. You can see the look of disgust on his face as if to say “but Mum, my paws will get wet!” whenever I try and take him out after a rainstorm. And sure enough, the first time he was put in the treadmill and it started to fill with water, he seemed a bit panicky. A treat helped calm him down. He walked well but his ears were down and we knew he wasn’t thrilled with it. He was rewarded at the end of the walk with more treats.

He obviously remembered that.

The next time we took him he started fussing when the little life jacket was put on him. A couple of treats later and he let us proceed. Then the treadmill started. More treats were needed to keep him focused. This has continued and by last week’s session he was eating during the entire walk. He actually only walked about half the time. The tech would hold out a treat and he would walk to get it. Once he had it he would “ride” the treadmill to the back of the tank. She would hold out another treat and he would go get it, and then “ride” the treadmill again. If she held the treat but didn’t give it to him, he would show his defiance by standing still and riding the treadmill back again. No words of encouragement from us made any difference. Our wild gestures and clapping meant nothing. When his time was up I was exhausted, but he had barely started to pant. He had won the battle.

This week, we tried a different approach. We came armed with a jar of peanut butter and a long-handled wooden spoon. Once Denny had his harness on and was in the treadmill, Richard opened the peanut butter jar and coated the spoon.

We had Denny’s undivided attention.

He didn’t even seem to notice the water filling the tank, as his tail was wagging and his gaze never left the spoon. Richard lowered the spoon at the front of the tank and the tech started the treadmill. Denny licked and walked, licked and walked. I am proud to announce that Denny broke his previous time record and walked for a total of 6 minutes today!

We’re definitely bringing the spoon and peanut butter next week.

Okay…random pug pics!

Charlie says “Hi!”

Charlie

Stewie says “Honest, Grandpa said I could have his slipper!”

StewieSlipper

Um, I don’t think Grandpa wants it back now Stewpot.

AquaPaws–Underwater Treadmill for Dogs!

Friday, 6 April 2012 17:50 by robbi

When we decided we wanted to try laser therapy for Denny, I had to do some research to find one near us.  Our local vet didn’t offer it and the Rescue Vet that does is an hour away.  We were hoping to find someone local.  The Rehab Vet that we did find is only about 35 minutes from us, so multiple appointments in a week are possible without cutting too much into our work life.

The Rehab Vet we found listed a slew of services that I didn’t think we would be using.  One of those is Aquapaws.  It’s an underwater treadmill.  They have two of them – one for dogs and a larger one for horses!  Apparently this vet sees a ton of horses.  In Houston – who knew?

Anyway, I wasn’t very familiar with the underwater treadmill and I didn’t think it was anything that Denny could benefit from.  But it turns out that it has been exceedingly beneficial.  He has gained muscle strength and stamina through these sessions.  And while he doesn’t really like them (he hates getting wet) we know it’s worth it to continue them while we are seeing such good results.  We bribe him with a laser therapy session when he’s done and that seems to keep him happy.

I took Denny for his latest session this Thursday.  I tried to get some photos of the machine and his session, but I was obviously moving too much and they’re kind of blurry.  I’m going to post them anyway, so you can get an idea of what this is all about.

This is a shot of the machine.  There’s a ramp that the dog walks up (though Denny usually gets carried.)  The door is then closed and sealed shut and the water is pumped in. 

Treadmill filling with water

The vet tech stands with her feet on either side of the treadmill to watch over Denny while he’s walking.  He’s wearing a harness here – the first few sessions he wore a life jacket and hated it so badly that they’ve switched him to this.

Note the ears are down :-(

And then this is my view for the next few minutes.  I’ve watched him each session.  The first one he skipped a few times and didn’t always use all 4 paws.  He now goes the entire time without dragging back legs or missing a step.  His time has also been increased and he now does 5 1/2 minutes.  I’m so proud!

Treadmill Time

After it’s all over, he gets dried off with a towel and taken into one of the rooms for his laser treatment.  By the time she’s done with that, he’s mostly forgiven us.

Denny waiting patiently for his Aquapaws followed by his"spa treatment" of laser therapy.

Love that boy!