04 February, 2008

Hydrotherapy ROCKS!!!!

I've just gotten back from Kiera's hydrotherapy session and it is the best thing I have ever done for her!! She found it difficult but the people there were great and really supportive of her. She had a 5 minute session in the Hydrotherapy pool which is a swimming pool rather than a tank with a treadmill at the bottom of it. She put her little doggy lifejacket on and they hooked her up to the safety cable and off she went. Well, she didn't actually go anywhere because the safety stopped her but she swam for 5 minutes with a couple of breaks in between. Afterwards she was able to stand on her own - yay puppy!! We bathed her because the pool is chlorinated. She was able to sit up on her own with no help getting up. Then we put a towel around her waist by her hind legs to support her and she WALKED out of the pool area and into the reception area!! She wee'd all over the carpet in reception (whoops) which apparently happens quite often when dogs have hydrotherapy. I've been told they often do #2's as well (just so you know if you are going to take your dog...). After a small rest Kiera then walked (supported again) from reception to my car. I can't really believe it. Now that we are home she was able to get from the car almost down the steps but stumbled on the last one and gave up trying to walk all together. She is now enjoying a well deserved rest on the lawn in the shade. Next session is on Thursday so lets hope I can report on an even better outcome then!

Kiera's Physio sessions

Here is a description on how I do Kiera's Physio sessions. I have found that in 2 days of doing it, she is much more flexible in her toes (so important for walking!). She also loves it and normally falls asleep while I am doing it.

With Kiera laying on her side I sit with her paws facing me. I then slowly massage in small circles going from just behind her ears all the way down to the base of her tail and then all the way back to her ears. I do this 3-4 times.

Then I move to her shoulder and hip. I was doing them separately at the beginning but have found doing both at the same time is pretty easy. Again working in small circles, I make my way all the way around her shoulder and hip. Remember that their shoulder muscles connect to their neck so find the connection and massage this too if you can. I then work down both the front and back of her legs to her ankles and paws including her toes. I do this up and down a few times to warm her up.

Then I start to work on her motion. I work on one leg at a time and have both hands on her leg while moving it. I move her leg in an exaggerated simulation of a step with one hand on her mid leg and the other pushing against her middle toes using her nails. I keep the stretch going on her toes the whole time in motion. Once I have been working on her front leg for a few minutes, I then go to her hind leg doing the same as for the front.

Then I scoot her forward with one hand on her lower back and the other on her shoulders so I can flip her over. We have wooden floors so she is easy to scoot around. If you have carpet then perhaps put your dog on a towel or blanket, so they don't get carpet burn, and pull them around on that. To flip her, I take hold of her legs closest to the floor and slowly roll her over onto her other side.

I then repeat the same process as above for her other side. Sometimes I have to take a break in the middle because she demands a tummy rub by rolling onto her back. I figure she can get spoilt as much as she wants while she is sick - we are just happy to have her home and getting better!! This will probably come to bit me in the bum later on when she is better but I'll deal with that then.

Good luck with your Physio, keep it up no matter how tired you feel! Your dog will benefit from it and that is the end goal isn't it?

The Next Few Days - Milestones and Exhaustion!!

We have now gotten into a routine with Kiera which is great. Well, great for her, exhausing for me. I think I need to review how I am managing my time. I end up doing so much and them am so tired by the middle of the afternoon that I end up in tears.

I have started a diary of Kieras progress - both here and on paper. It is good to refer back to and I can take it to the vet so I don't forget (my memory is like a sieve on the best of days!). There is a checklist at the beginning of the days log and includes; bladder (I check 3-4 hourly), physio (3-4 hourly), her pills (she is on Antirobe for some toxins found on a blood test - possibly from eating cat poo - ick!), and if she poos. I tick things off the list and then log things in a diary format noting down the time. I've taken a week off work to look after her and thankfully our specialist offers a boarding service and I can drop her off before work and pick her up at the end of the day when I go back to work next week.

Kiera's symptoms have improved considerably since she came home from the vet. Her jaw has stopped chattering and her head has stopped shaking (similar to a Parkinson's sufferer). She can now sit up sternally (laying upright rather than on her side) from both her left and right side. When she was at the vet the shaking and jaw chattering normally stopped when I got her sitting sternally. The way I did this was to place her paws apart so they could support her once she was up and then raised her head and guided her up (similar to how you would guide a horses head into the direction you want them to go). Once I started the motion she was able to get herself up. Much easier than the first week when we had to lift her into the sternal position!!

Yesterday (day 2 of being home) we had a few milestones. I had been giving Kiera her Physio all through day 1. I will go into this in detail in my next entry. I have seen an improvement in just 2 days in how she holds her legs and paws and hopefully my technique will help you too. After her morning toliet, I put her on the front deck so she could watch the goings on outside and keep cool. It was time for her breakfast and I decided to see if she could support herself sitting. She had been pushing against my hands in Physio the day before so I thought - why not try it and see? I had to lift her into a sitting postition and once her paws were placed properly (she had been knuckling at the vet) she was able to support herself for a full minute! Yay Kiera!!! She was so pleased with herself.

Milestone #2 yesterday was when it was time for a toliet break. At the vet, they showed me a dog cart they had which Kiera was able to propel herself in. Only a little, but hey, anything is better than nothing at the moment! I have been researching dog carts on the internet and we are looking at the option of converting an old wheelchair, shopping trolley or baby carriage into a cart for her. To purchase one for her size would cost about $1200. In the meantime I have been racking my brain on how to get her up. A bath towel was the answer! I placed the bath towel between her front and rear legs which fit almost perfectly. Then I gathered it up and held on tight as close to her body as possible without it being too tight. Kiera is 38 killos (about 83 pounds) so she is pretty heavy for me to pick up. I lifted her up and found it was far easier than trying to scoop her into my arms or bundling her into a blanket and lifting her in it as a sling. She had a little trouble placing her feet at first because her front legs are much stronger than her hind ones. With a little coaxing though, she was able to stand with me supporting most of her weight. Man she was heavy!! Then we shuffle-walked from the front deck onto the lawn when she did her business. On the way back is when the magic happened. We got to the point where the lawn meets the deck and she was walking quite well so I slackened off on the towel a little and she took 2 steps on her own! As Homer Simpson would say - WOO HOO!!!

Kiera improved her steps again later that afternoon when my husband helped with the towel sling. Kiera took proper length steps though she couldn't take her weight herself.

I am now looking at Hydrotherapy and will call them today to see when I can book her in.

I must also say, if you are looking for more information on Coonhound please have a look at this blog; http://coonhoundparalysis.blogspot.com/ I have found it invaluable with the information provided. Thank you Bonnie and Gary for creating your blog and also giving me the inspiration to create my own one.