Jersey has been doing really well since being released from ‘strict crate rest’ and being put on ‘moderate exercise’. He’s allowed to go for short walks around the block, walk around the house, hang out in the yard or on the porch, etc. Fortunately, my dogs are lazy (just like me!) and so a ‘short walk around the block’ is more or less the extent of their daily exercise even at the best of times.
His movement and control in his rear legs seems WAY improved. He’s stumbling less, hasn’t ‘knuckled’ at all in a couple of weeks, and generally just seems stronger and more ‘able’. Thank goodness.
We’re still being extremely cautious with him around stairs and furniture– he *will* dash down our front steps if given the opportunity. Fortunately, there’s only 4 of them.. but 4 steps is enough to do damage if he were to fumble. So we’re having to be extra dilligent about always keeping the gate closed. Jersey is also being crated when we are not home to keep him from jumping on & off the sofa when we aren’t around. Likely he will live the rest of his life with these limitations– which sucks, but is necessary. Hopefully in time he will just learn to not even attempt the stairs and furniture (like Oslo has done) so we won’t have to be so constantly on-edge about it. The other issue is Jersey’s tendency to jump up on people’s legs and get EXTREMELY wiggly and wild when he greets people. We’re going to have to work on his manners in that department– big time.
Basically, any activity that causes jarring impact, or overt bending of his spine is off the table. For the rest of his life, we’ll need to try to keep his spine as ‘straight’ as possible, as often as possible. I know that seems like a daunting endendevour to many of you… But I’ve gone through this before with Oslo, and I can say that you truly do just get used to it. You learn that there are things that you dog can’t/shouldn’t do, and you learn to compensate for those things. After awhile it just becomes second nature. It’s kind of like learning to live without a microwave– it’s an adjustment at first, and is generally a bit inconvenient, but you learn to work around it.
He is doing VERY well, and we are so so so so relieved!
I’ve now had 2 dogs experience Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). The first one needed emergency spinal surgery, the second one was able to be treated ‘conservatively’ with strict crate rest and medication. Having gone through this twice now, I can say with confidence that the ‘secret’ to avoiding surgery, is to catch it early. Jersey was able to avoid surgery because I saw the symptoms straight away. Our experience with Oslo 3 years ago came in handy, I suppose.
Jersey’s early signs were VERY subtle. It was simply a reluctance to hop down our back step (it’s literally ONE step). He had done it without thinking a thousand times, and then one day I noticed that he hesitated ever-so-slightly at the step going out, and hesitated again coming back in. That set me onto high alert– I then noticed other subtlties… like an odd, unsteady ‘wobble’ in his rear legs when he took a step, his belly seeming firm and bloated… I wasted no time and put him in a crate immediately. It was 3 days before I could get in to see the vet, but crating him over those 3 days (rather than ignoring the signs, and letting him continue as normal– thus damaging his spine further) is likely what saved him. Had he been allowed to continue on, the disc damage would have gotten worse and it could have ended in full paralysis.
Recognizing those very first symptoms and getting your dog crated and on medication can truly be the difference between surgery (and/or possible life long paralysis) or simply being crate for a couple of months while the spine recuperates. It is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the early symptoms of IVDD. Spend a few hours reading up on it, watch videos, read online forums, ask questions… Arm yourself with as much information as you can– that’s truly all that you can do.