The ups and downs of DM

We’ve been doing swimming this summer, but less so then last year. She needs help to keep swimming with her hind legs this summer. Underwater treadmill would probably be more helpful at this point as it would require more hind leg use. She seems to enjoy the swimming and seeing her doggie friend Milkway while she is there.

She has both good days and days that are more difficult. I judge many of her days by how well she is able to get up/down the steps, whether or not she plays in the yard and how much trouble she has getting up from laying down. The DM journey is full of ups and downs.

Back to swimming

Sierra is back swimming again and has been very perky since her swim yesterday. We just did 5 minutes in the pool as I didn’t want to push her too hard the first day. She swam the five minutes with ease and wasn’t too tired the rest of the day. I am going to try for 7-10minutes tomorrow or Thursday (depending on the weather).

I am also going to work with the families dog that has been kind enough to share their pool with me as their dog is having some hind end weakness. Hopefully, I will have a video to follow in the upcoming weeks.

I only wish the water was this nice:

The pool water was a chilly 70degrees this week.

Waiting for aquatics

Sierra is having more mobility problems and has lost some muscle mass since she last hurt her foot/nail. I know pool season is just around the corner and I am hoping that will make a difference again in her mobility. Her biggest problem is the back three steps. There are too few for her to walk down carefully, so she tries to jump down her back legs and often looses her balance and falls. I try to cue her to go slowly, but she isn’t always careful enough.

We also had some issues with the fabric from the CoolAroo bed. It’s a stiff canvas and when Sierra sleeps her legs kick while she dreams. Since she has poor sensation she doesn’t wake up while kicking her legs. This was causing rubbing and then bleeding on her legs. It required wrapping and protecting her legs. I am now using pipe insulation on the edges of the beds to protect her legs- it’s been working great.

Finally, Sierra cut her leg while getting into the self service tub at the groomer. There was a lot of bleeding, but it healed pretty quickly and didn’t have much of an impact on her overall. We are hoping to keep what skills she has until she is able to get back to swimming, then we might get some mobility and endurance back.

Canine Rehabilitation course tomorrow.

I am very excited to be attending the first Canine Rehabilitation course for occupational therapists tomorrow. It’s going to be a great day with hands on training. I feel like I will come back with greater insight into OT’s role in canine rehabilitation as well as tools for continuing Sierra’s rehabilitation.

The last few weeks have been tough for her. She tore open a nail on a walk around town and has been limited to the backyard and house. She seems to have lost some muscle mass and stability. I am glad swimming season is just around the corner.

Spring is here

Time to get back into a walking program with Sierra.  She really loves her Coolaroo beds and they are really good at supporting her.  In addition, if she has anymore incontinence issues I can easily place a chux pad under them!  Here she is in her new bed

I bought the first bed in December and just purchased a second Coolaroo for downstairs.  She loves sleeping in this thing.

Sierra went to the beach

Sierra got to take a few long walks on the beach this weekend. The beach is an ideal place to walk a dog with degenerative myelopathy due to the forgiving nature of the sand. She was able to walk for about 45 minutes the first day and over an hour on the second. This jump in the amount of exercise was a bit rough and it looks like she may need a few days of recovery, but it certainly helped improve her mood in the middle of January. Sierra did well in the car, but we continue to have difficulty with good positioning in the car. The back seat really isn’t big enough to allow her to move around at all and the only movement she can get is a little weight shift or the weight shifts through the cars’ acceleration and decelaration.

When traveling with dogs with limited mobility consider the following tips:

  1. try to ensure good positioning and alignment when lying in the car (make sure all limb are aligned and not being crushed, twisted or laid on)
  2. make sure your dog can shift his/her weight to avoid pressure sores, turn your dog from side to side every hour if they are unable to weightshift
  3. offer water
  4. stop and take rest breaks and get your pet out of the car, even if it’s just onto the grass at a rest stop, allow them to take a potty break (including expression of the bladder if necessary) to minimize bladder infections
  5. try to keep travel calm and decrease stress, some pets love to travel and enjoy the change of scenery and some become more stressed, know your dog and choose accordingly

winter blues

Sierra has been having a harder time getting around. She is a bit more unstable and the lack of exercise through the winter is really starting to show. If the weather will get a bit warmer it would be helpful for taking her on short walks. Right now her time outside is very limited. I wonder how much mobility and strength she will regain this year if we can get back to swimming. Also, she will be going in for her senior vet visit again soon.

Waiting for winter

I had been hoping for winter with it’s cooler weather for Sierra. Well it’s here now and it’s not all I hoped it would be. The weather seems to be hard on her when she is outside for dinner. It’s also hard for me to be motivated to take her for walks when it’s windy and very cold.

She is doing well overall. She is still ambulatory, but has sudden falls when walking. She is able to walk up and down the stairs without help. She has not had any more episodes of incontinence. She is still on the supplements, which truly seem to make a difference. Exercise would also make a difference, but I’ve been less then successful keeping up with that piece.

Overall, she is happy and just like her “normal” self.