Miss M, 12 yo Great Dane with History of Canine Meningitis and Knee Surgery

3/2012

Hi Deborah- Thanks for giving me directions to your webpage. Lots of interesting food for thought. I would like to make an appointment with you. Let me give you a bit of background on our dear girl. Our elderly Great Dane, MXXX, is still hanging in there but over the last month she’s having more and more problems with mobility and her back legs. She’s 12, and had ACL surgery two years ago, soon after we lost her brother (house mate but not litter mate). Aside from her back legs (and hips) letting her down, she’s really very healthy. She also has a history of canine meningitis which gives her a chronically stiff neck. We are able to treat that with acupuncture and supplements for the most part though occasionally a short course of Prednisone has been necessary. Since her ACL surgery she has gone to walk on the water tread mill every other week (sometimes more often)… This has really been a help. She always walks better after a day at physical therapy. I feel like she’s hit a bad spot though. Previously we were able to easily go for two 15-20 minute walks daily. She would sometimes get tired towards the end and I’d have to help her home, but just as often it went just fine. Now she always needs help home every time. She also can no longer get herself up, but always needs help (I have seen her get up on her own when she is very motivated, but I actually discourage her from it as I think it strains her and she tends to get abrasions from scooting to try and get up). Finally the lack of exercise is effecting her bowel movements. MXXX is our “first born love child.” We’ve had her since before we were married and we will do anything we can to make her more comfortable. I thought it might be time for her to have wheels for her back end. Dr. D said that you might have some good ideas for helping her to keep using those back legs to help her keep the muscle she has and help her bowels and digestion keep working. Any advice you have would be most appreciated. Please let me know when you might be available for an appointment.
Regards,
K. M.

Excerpts from the first report from her owner a week after my first visit with MXXX:

“MXXX is doing well on her new food, increased fish oil and joint supplements, and her new exercise regime. She’s doing really well with the 3-4 shorter walks per day. She has also done well with the hills. I have not been as good with the cavalettis. We went to the park and walked over some railroad ties. These were a bit too tall for her. She got over about 5 of them before she got tired and started hanging up on them. We rolled up blankets and walked over them in the house one day, and that seemed just fine. All and all she seems more energetic to me which I really like seeing. She is still pooping only once a day, but the quality of her poop seems better.”

“The massager is kind of a mixed bag.  Sometimes she seems to tolerate it really well and enjoy it. Sometimes it seems to really annoy her.  It’s not clear to me what the clues are yet for when she’s going to accept it vs. when it’s going to annoy her.  Also she tends to lay on one side and not the other so her right side has gotten more massage time than her left.  But we’re working on it.”

and my reply:

That’s a great feedback report.
Yay!
The blankets seem like a good idea until she gets more used to the project. Then maybe some tree branches before railroad ties 😉 The railroad ties may always be too big for her…I had one client use a row of several of those folding chairs one takes to sporting events. She had a Golden Retriever, and they were able to do cavaletti work in the carpeted garage. Some people buy things to use from the home fix-it warehouse when I instruct them on what to buy and if we can’t find free stuff that is suitable around the house to use. You don’t usually need to go to a lot of trouble.
Good job keeping up trying the massager. My preference, if you were to get any of it done, would be along the spine to increase circulation where she is probably guarding the most.
I am letting Dr. D know how things are going, too.
Sounds great!
Blessings-

…and from additional comments I placed on Facebook:

She had already done quite a bit of water treadmill walking, but it just wasn’t dynamic enough to improve her neuro-muscular status, at least, not to the degree it could be improved or to the degree that was necessary for better function at this point. In this case, solid program design of land-based drills and exercises that are easy to do in the home environment have made rapid improvements!