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Thread: Dachshunds and Intervertebral Disc Disease

  1. #1
    Gold Member manningmsj's Avatar
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    Default Dachshunds and Intervertebral Disc Disease

    Has anyone ever had any experience with this? Our four year old female dachshund was diagnosed last week. Our craptastic pet insurance doesn't cover the surgery and due to some recent home renovations (thanks a lot, Sandy) my OH and I have no room on our credit to foot the seven grand on our own. Plus neither of the local universities that perform the surgery have payment plans. We were literally stuck in such a shitstorm of bad luck when this happened and there is only a small window of opportunity to act with this. Heartbreakingly, we had to accept that we could not afford the surgery inside that window. If we had a few more days, possibly we could have gotten it together, but the chances of recovery drop down to just 5% after 72 hours.

    Our girl is home now and on strict, strict crate rest for at least a month. She's on a cocktail of pain meds that would make a junkie jealous and she seems to be improving. She still has her sense of superficial pain and she's starting to make "purposeful movements" with her hind legs again. There's no guarantee she'll walk again, but we feel hopeful. I've been looking into acupuncture and I've set up an appointment for her next week. Has anyone tried this on their pets? Was it effective?

    We are willing to try anything at this point. When we realized we just could not come up with the money (after three hysterical phone calls to my daddy where yes, I begged), we both made a promise to do everything else we can to make sure her life is still happy and healthy. This dog is like my fourth child, silly as it is, and I would do anything to help her. I even had a friend of work try reiki on her. I've read a few things about swim therapy too, but I can't seem to find enough on it to form an opinion. I'm willing to give anything a chance so as long as it doesn't cause her further damage.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Surgery isn't ever really a good answer for animals, especially orthopedic surgery. Consider that you might pay out 7 grand and your dog would screw up the surgery with one jump or twist.

    Alternative medicines are so sketchy for both animals and humans. At least we humans have a choice to try them. Dogs don't and can't tell you if they are working.

    Water walking is very good for dogs, if it doesn't freak them out making their injuries worse. The water boxes for that therapy are very confining.

    Small dogs like Dachshunds do really well with dog wheelchairs like Walking Wheels or Eddie's. Research and get the best you can afford.

    Good luck!
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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, I don't have any advice, but I know how shitty it is to have a pet go through a health ordeal. I agree with Olivia, do some research and see what you come up with. Keep calling vets and try to see if there are any specialty vets in your area. I've mentioned Care Credit before, as we had get that for our pets way back. It was great. We had two pets that ended up costing us over $6000 in about 6 months. Everyone I've ever known with pet insurance has been very disappointed with it when it came to anything beyond vaccinations and dental cleanings.

    I hope your girl continues to make improvements I know how much they mean to us.
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    Elite Member Bluebonnet's Avatar
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    That Care Credit thing is awesome!
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    Elite Member Mrs P's Avatar
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    Pet insurance = not worth it if you have a pure bred. Sadly, all predisposed medical conditions that are common in certain breeds aren't included in insurance most often. These conditions are the ones that cost the most money! Hip dysplasia tends to be a common one. With dachshunds, spinal disc problems and heart problems are common. I'm so sorry to hear about your furkid
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  6. #6
    Gold Member manningmsj's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for the advice! I keep starting to type a mini-manifesto on the pup's progress (which is great so far!!!), but then the hubby beckons or the kids start playing with the phone or the broken dog needs a drink or... Well, you get the idea. Mini-manifestos end up being deleted halfway through. But I do appreciate all the advice and well-wishes and will try to post a condensed update soon.

    Thanks again!!!
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  7. #7
    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    Glad the pup is doing better!! I know what you mean about someone always needing something from you
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    All I can do is offer support and best wishes for your dog, and I do hope that she is feeling better.

    Vets' charges will often bankrupt people, it's an outrage, but what can we do? It's obscene.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Had a nice conversattion with an older lady who was telling me her dog (small mixed breed) was feeling poorly/ Xray showed 4 kidney stones. The big vet clinic in Dallas wanted to do surgey-$800. She could not afford it. Called her daughter who lives in a near by small town. The vet there gave her dog a shot to desolve the stones, kept him 4 days, sent him home with 2 antibiotics and a diet change bag of kibble. Cost-$140. I think we need to drive a bit longer and get good care for cheaper.
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  10. #10
    Gold Member manningmsj's Avatar
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    ITA. The condensed version of how the pup is doing is basically this... The pet emerge doc basically offered us two options - surgery or euthansia. Thus the reason for this thread. She made everything look so fucking bleak. I lived in Manhattan for years and there's carted dachshunds everywhere. When I asked if the worst case scenario was that Sally ended up a "wheelie dachshund", which wasn't meant to be glib because clearly that was not ideal, this lady legit told us she highly recommended against it because it "ruins marriages" and every person she's known who chose that regretted it. For rill? My dog having to wagon her ass around is going to end my fucking marriage? I think maybe she was talking about dogs that lose all control of their bowels and bladder, but still. Sure, there's a difference and that requires more care, but whatthefuckever. It's not exactly grounds for divorce. Sally didn't lose control of herself completely to where she couldn't stop going; it was just opposite. She couldn't go at all and we had to express her bladder for the first week. Which sounds gross, but it's actually located in their stomachs. In any case, we sucked at it. Her abdominal muscles were so tense we couldn't find the "balloon" half the time and only were able to successfully express I think two times in nearly a week. And of course everytime we took her to our regular vet her bladder wasn't full enough for her to show us the right way. So eventually she lost control and had accidents. She even got a UTI from her urine being too concentrated. It wasn't fun at all . But we dealt and took care of her and kept her as comfortable as we could. My hubby was like the pee police, constantly trying to help her express, and then obsessively checking her bedding to make sure she wasn't lying in a mess. We tag teamed cleaning her up when she did so she wouldn't get a burn - he lifted while I washed. Granted it was just a week, but we did it. Now if her whole life had been reduced to that kind of discomfort, then yes. I would've had to let her go. But she was on crate rest and we were advised not to purchase a cart until we knew how much she'd recover. We were allowed to take her outside and let her try to go, as long as she was in a sling and harness with full support. She was not moving her back end at all at this time, so I feel like that was the closest we came to seeing what her life might be like with a chair. And she tried to run . You've never seen a dog less aware of her disability. She was still our Salad. So I do think that had she gone down that route, even if we did have to take care of her outputs for her, it wouldn't have been the end of the world. We would have gotten our shit together, learned how the hell to find her damn bladder, and continued to provide her with the same happy, playful life she's always had.

    Luckily she didn't go down that route and we were fortunate enough not to be swayed by this bitch vet's bias and put her down that night. Because then we saw our regular vet two days later and Sally wagged her tail in her office. She'd regained reflexes that were absent at the emergency clinic. It wasn't a definitive sign that she would be okay, but it was hope. And we ran with it. And now a month later, with the help of acupuncture, I'm happy to report that the vet (not our regular, a specialist ours recommended) declared her "fully functional" yesterday. She can walk unassisted (with little rubber booties for traction), she does her business on her own, and she's pretty much back to herself. She has some ataxia and pain, which will continue to be treated with a few more sessions with the specialist. But the doctor told us that the goal is to restore a dog to full function without pain and that in three weeks of treatment Sally is basically there. She is confident in a FULL recovery.

    I get so angry thinking thinking of that idiot vet. My husband keeps saying we should take Sally in there and be like, "hey, remember this dog? The one you told us to euthanize because she would be too much of a burden? Yeah, she's fucking walking after a month." Ironically, when I told both our vet and the specialist the story, they both guessed the vet we saw before I even told them. And even though her name was on the prescription for the pain meds she sent us home with that night, the papers faxed to our vet didn't say who saw her. It was all very sketchy.

    The worst part is that I had a friend at work who about a week before took her four year old male dachshund to the same clinic with IVDD. I haven't had the heart to ask her who she saw or what his condition was like (the paralysis can sometimes go high enough to affect breathing), but she put him down that night. I've basically been avoiding any updates on Sally when she's around. I'd feel horrible if I put my dog down and then found out she may have recovered if I'd just given her a chance to try. I feel like we just got lucky that night. We have a vet we trust and we didn't want to make any decisions without her input, plus we had three kids at home waiting for their dog. But like this lady, I trusted what I was told and really wasn't expecting our vet to tell us different. I think we mostly took her home out of shock, so we could have time, and in the hope that we could somehow find the money for surgery. And in return we got our dog back.

    Stupid fucking vet can kiss my dog's functioning ass! And I would advise anyone to do some research and get a second opinion before making any decisions about the life of your pet. Unless you trust your vet implicity, and even then I would use caution. Just like humans, treatment for animals is not completely black and white. There are alternative therapies, drug trials, physico, etc. Don't let any vet tell you it's surgery or death. Sally's odds were higher with surgery, even my vet agreed, but a diminished chance is still a chance. In our case, it was totally worth taking. ;-)

    And okay, maybe that wasn't so condensed. Sorry!!!! I also don't mean for this post to sound preachy. I just feel like this experience taught me a lot about dealing with a sick pet. I feel like we dodged a bullet and I can't even take credit for ducking out of its way. We totally swallowed the bullshit we were fed; we just were too upset to take action that night. But had we not been too distraught to outright refuse to say goodbye, we would have done what the doc recommended. In fact, before taking her to our regular vet a day and a half later, we made sure the kids said goodbye. So no soap boxes for me. Just friendly advice, even though I doubt anyone needs it. I naturally assume I'm the most ignorant person in most rooms.
    Last edited by manningmsj; October 20th, 2013 at 05:14 PM.

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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    Glad to hear she's recovering!
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    What a nightmare! I wouldn't hold it against the vet for recommending euthanasia. I do condemn the vet for injecting drama and too much urgency into your choice. "Wrecked marriages"???? Who the hell is she to suggest that???? It is so manipulative. Was she pushing you into surgery for her own material benefit? I don't understand that vet at all. Damn, I've even dealt with very blunt German vets and they never said anything like that. No one should be forced to make such a huge decision like that with such short notice. What was she thinking?

    If you ever ask around and find out from other vets, I'd love to know what the deal is with this woman. It's very kind of you not to share your dog's situation with your friend. It would break her heart to think she euthanized her dog unnecessarily, even if she didn't.

    I'm delighted that acupuncture worked so well for your little sausage. My last dog would have thrashed around like a wild beast so it wasn't an option for her.

    When our dog, the most perfect hound in the world, started on her last decline we saw 4 different vets. All of them mentioned that euthanasia would be appropriate WHEN WE WERE READY, not before. Our dog held on for a long, sad year. We took her in before she lost bladder control since she fought so hard to get outside when she needed to go. It would have killed her to lose that control and she was almost there.

    Thanks for the happy update!
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  13. #13
    Gold Member manningmsj's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry about your hound, olivia. I had a dachshund mix growing up that lived until nearly 19. She went blind at 14 and the vet advised against surgery because of her age. Obviously no one could have predicted she'd live five more years. She made it work, though. She knew the map of our house so well. If we left a chair pulled out, however, she was screwed. We were lucky enough that her decline came up fast and hard. She was basically completely healthy until the last month of her life, so her suffering was minimal. She did start to lose her stool about eight months before and she lost almost three pounds in a week. Her regular kibble just went right through her. But the vet suggested a bland diet of chicken and rice as a last ditch effort to help bind her up. She lived on that until she died without any issues. It was only the very last week where she just stopped eating. I remember making her some scrambled eggs that last day because it was always her favorite human food. I laid down on the floor and put the bowl to her mouth and she just wouldn't bite. That was when we knew it was the end. It was horrible, but I remember being more sad for us than for her. She was letting us know. And she'd had a long ass run. I was sad because we were going to miss her so much, but I knew we'd done right by her. Can't ask for much more than 18 and a half years. I'm sure you did the same for your perfect hound.

    That's kind of where my anger with the vet stems from. If Sally were 12 or something and this happened and she lost bladder function, okay. But she's only four years old. I just can't get behind a vet telling a distraught family to give up on their four year old pet just like that. I have no idea if she benefited from the surgery. It's performed by a neurological specialist, so we would have been referred to a local university. Maybe she got a referral fee? No idea. But I do feel like she was almost hostile when we said no. I have no idea why because it was blatantly obvious how heartbroken we were. I was sobbing like a toddler in my husband's lap when she finally came to see what we'd decided. Plus she checked in on us like three times while I made phone calls to credit card companies, my parents, pretty much anyone I thought could lend us the money right then and there. It was clear we weren't declining because we wanted to. My husband seems to think she was offended when I said I was going to call our vet after she gave us the diagnosis. But I wasn't trying to impugn her. I accepted her position, but we're actually very close family friends of our vet. I was calling her to see if maybe she could do the surgery herself (didn't know it required a specialist at that point) or if she had any contacts that she could recommend that provided payment plans. It wasn't like I doubted what she was telling us, though I guess I should have. Turned out later she was even wrong about the location of the lesion.

    Still, I found it telling that both vets kind of said she had a reputation. They both even gave me the name of her boss and told me to complain. I think her deal isn't that she's sinister, but more rigid/conservative about medicine and possibly incompetent. I did some googling at we sat there and acupuncture kept coming up, but she told me there was "no science" behind it when I asked. In fact, there's a ton of science behind it. Nothing has guarantees, but it has proven effective. And ditto crazy dogs not sitting still. We have two dachshunds and if this had happened to the other, acupuncture would not have been option. She's fucking insane. Sally is pretty docile (read lazy) and it didn't hurt that she couldn't move during the first few treatments. I think that got her used to it, so she didn't freak out once she could move. Plus we bribed her with peanut butter.

    ETA: Oh, jeez I'm a ditz. Thank you everyone for the positive wishes!!! I appreciate it so much.
    Last edited by manningmsj; October 20th, 2013 at 06:38 PM.
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