(Note: This blog has been written by Janet P., Pets Alive vet liaison)
It’s been one week today that Robert came home from the hospital. And what a hectic week it’s been! For anyone who doesn’t know Robert’s story, he was found in NYC with some abrasions on his body and no control of his hind end. He was brought to the city shelter where he sat for three days until his sweet, pathetic face was seen by our staff and he came to Pets Alive. Upon examination by our vet, he suggested we rush Robert directly to Oradell Animal Hospital (a 24-hour specialty practice) since the extent of his medical needs were beyond the realm of typical vet hospitals.
Oradell Animal Hospital admitted him later that evening and during his week long stay he underwent many tests and procedures (from ultrasounds, MRI, and finally spinal surgery). His neurologist diagnosed him with several conditions:
- T3-L3 myelopathy- non ambulatory paraplegia
- Traumatic disc rupture T13-L1, left sided hemilaminectomy on 3/1
- Upper motor neuron bladder and suspect chronic bladder muscle injury
- Suspect HBC (hit by car)—multiple abrasions (head, R elbow, R hock)
- Traumatic hepatopathy-resolving
Although no one could guarantee success, Robert’s neurologist was hopeful that surgical intervention and ‘cleaning’ up the region surrounding his ruptured disc could help restore Roberts previous functions. Our biggest setback was that no one could conclude how long Robert sat with this injury before receiving medical care. The longer he had lingered, the less of a chance that he would be able to regain the ability to walk or have control over his bladder.
His spinal surgery went well and was basically uneventful. But it took Robert several days before he had an appetite which limited what medications his doctors could get into him. Finally, with the help of a gastromotility agent, he regained his appetite and thus was released back to our care. Currently, Robert can not urinate on his own and needs to have his bladder expressed 2-3 times daily. He is suspected to have some damage to his bladder muscle from having an over-full bladder for a period of time, and thus is on several meds to help regain tone to his bladder muscle. The doctors are hopeful that by keeping his bladder empty, it can start to heal, however they did stress that he may always have trouble urinating. For the past week, we have been catheterizing him daily to make sure his bladder stays as empty as possible. Only time will tell whether he will gain better control on his own.
In addition to his bladder medications, Robert was discharged with six other medications, ranging from pain medications, to antibiotics. He takes approximately 10 pills three times daily (thank goodness for liverwurst!). His doctors stressed the fact that Robert needs to stay strictly confined for 4-6 weeks. He may be carried or sling-walked to go to the bathroom several times a day, but this should be his ONLY exercise. Dogs are at risk of rupturing more disc material from the site where surgery was performed if they over-exercise during the first month after surgery, so keeping him still is a priority. We are also keeping him on well padded surfaces and making sure he is not laying in the same position too long as he will develop pressure sores. Robert also has gentle range of motion exercises performed throughout the day as well as massage of his muscles.
Fortunately for us, Robert has been a sweet boy throughout our handling of him. It is indeed heartbreaking to see him get frustrated with his immobility, but even if Robert is to use a cart in the near future his spine needs to heal for several weeks first, or MORE damage may result.
Robert now has a small run built outside where he can lay on warm sunny days to help keep his spirits high. His switch to a high fiber diet has helped firm up his stool and keep it easier to keep clean. Robert also has a splint on his hind right foot, due to instability from his probable car accident. We are changing in regularly as needed to keep it clean and dry. At this point, only time, patience and healing will tell what is in store for Robert. He is scheduled for a recheck with his neurologist in one week. And although we are all praying that he regains the ability to walk and urinate on his own, our most important focus is keeping Robert comfortable and happy. And hopefully, with lots of love, everything else will fall into place!
Filed in Animal Rescue, Case Studies by kerry on Mar 15, 2012. There are 30 Comments