Sunday, January 22, 2012

Half Way Home!

As an update, here's a little video of Buster eating spaghetti last week.

He is now 9 weeks post-op.  Last week he went to the doc for follow up.  The orthotics are securely attached to bone.  His femur about half healed.  In about 8 weeks the bone should be set solid.  He's taking slighly longer walks now and asking to go to the plaza every day.yo

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Pancakes for breakfast; need we say more?

Yes?  Marrow bone for entertainment yesterday.

Dog is happy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Free From Shame

Buster had a great day--Dadurday is always a favorite day.  Yesterday was an excellent day too.  I took Buster for his suture check.  They removed the staples (How is that done?  Is there a big medical-grade staple remover?) and proclaimed the stitches well healed.  So as long as he leaves the incision alone, he's free from the cone of shame.

The first thing Buster did after I removed the cone was to wag his tail.  He then immediately cleaned his tail.  Then he kissed me.  Fun!  I carried him inside and he got a big drink of water on his own.  He spent a lot of time sniffing things because he could finally get his nose to the surface.  He spent a very long time smelling me.

We're two weeks post-op.  The swelling stopped nearly 8 or 9 days ago.  Buster is weight bearing and trying to play and run and jump.  This is still prohibited so we're keeping him medicated.  His mood is greatly improved since we removed the surgical collar.

Tune in tomorrow.  We'll offer a video on how to lift your dog.  Great for fitness buffs and dog lovers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Your Warm & Your Cold: Compress Instructions

Buster rested most of the day but on his afternoon walk, he trotted on a little further.  He also tried to stand only on his hind legs this afternoon.  We are drugging him but we will be increasing the dose.  Certainly his left leg was worse than his right leg because he just didn't show so much energy and enthusiasm last time.  Also he was out on much heavier doses of tramadol and Acepromazine.

Today I'll talk about how we handled cold and warm compresses.  Many vets (and human doctors) recommend using a pack of frozen peas for an ice pack.  I put some ice in a freezer bag and reused the same pack.  I don't like to waste food and I won't eat peas that have partially thawed and frozen repeatedly.  I always wrap the bag of ice in a medium-sized towel.  When ice is applied directly to the skin, it can cause nerve and tissue damage.  Wrapping the ice helps to prevent that.  Leave the pack on for five to ten minutes.  Cold compresses are usually used for about three days but follow your vets instructions.

Warm compresses are trickier.  They must be moist.  You can't just warm up a towel in the clothes drier.  As previously mentioned, I use rally and sweat towels for this purpose because they are easier to wring out and they can wrap around the dog's limb length-wise (see photo).  Simply wet the towel with warm (not hot) water.  I try to wet the interior and keep the center the warmest.  Wring out the towel, gently lift the dog's leg, and wrap the towel loosely so that it covers the scar.  We add a second dry towel over Buster's lower limbs and hips (not shown) to help hold in the warm heat (California homes are not well insulated).  Let it rest for five to 10 minutes.  Warm compresses last at least two weeks, after stitches and staples are removed, and possibly longer.

It is important that you do not use boiling water and that you do not heat the damp or wet towel in a microwave.  Heated water or towels from the microwave will burn your dog.  Do not use anything except warm tap water.  Test the temperature on the inside of your wrist like you would a baby bottle.

Of course, I am only a pet owner.  If your vet gives your any instructions that contradict mine, you must follow your veterinarian's instructions.

Don't be surprised if the warm compress helps draw out fluids.  That's part of of the reason for a warm compresses.  It also helps relax the muscle, which promotes healing.  Some vets will recommend that you do passive range of motion after or during a warm compress.  This is a case-by-case basis so carefully do as your vet recommends.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shake a Leg

Buster remains restless.  Right now he's giving an indignant look about his imprisonment.  He paces a little and shakes his back half, something I don't recall him doing after his last surgery.  He certainly was more heavily drugged after his first TPLO.  He certainly is quieter when he's more heavily drugged.

He continues to be needy.  He even barked at me when I went upstairs to fold laundry.  I try to make it up to him by staying close and spending time giving him attention and affection but I can't spend all day at his side.  So I try to leave for errands every day, whether I go to the gym or to Costco (where we buy his frozen blueberries).

He did drink this afternoon.  He continues to drink water with diluted amounts of broth, a bit of pumpkin, or other flavoring.  We make plain water available to him at all times but he does not drink it.  So we offer the flavored liquid after meals and once or twice a day, allowing him to drink as much as he wishes when he will drink.

When he steps outside for his 2- to 3-minute forays, he is quite fast and heads off to the plaza every time.  I'm amazed at how fast he can move, despite the surgery.  Dog loves his plaza life.  I had to carry him home again today when he would not come back.  So much for my heavy lifting training!

Today Buster would like to give a shout out to his cousin, Hannah Hound.  Hannah was a stray who got hit by a car, which broke her leg.  A vet pinned her leg and later removed the pin.  Hannah went to the PSPCA, where my sister recommended her to Karl when he wanted to adopt a dog.  Hannah, in turn, recommended Sharon to Karl and a few years later they wed.  Good girl, Hannah!

The life of a stray is dangerous, as Hannah and Buster know.  They also know that most abandoned dogs don't end up with animal-loving families like theirs.  Spay, neuter, adopt, and keep your animals for life.

My family has a lot of pets.  If I work them all in, you will hear about dogs, cats, horses, lizards, and ferrets.  Those are just the current members...many others have spent their lives with us.  We are the better for it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Head Tremors or Head Bobbing in Bulldogs

Buster had another quiet day.  On his afternoon walk, he started to jump and run.  So he is definitely getting extra sedative now.  He has 6 more weeks of restricted activity!

His suture check is tomorrow (today's picture shows his incision and staples and yes, a bit of drainage).  Hopefully the stitches will be absorbed enough that we can remove the cone of shame.   It is okay to remove the surgical cone 5 to 7 days after the surgery but we played it safe and kept it on him until the surgeons say his sutures are safe.  We'll update you tomorrow.

We've mentioned previously that we give Buster a little plain yogurt every day.  About 6 months after Buster's first surgery, he got up one morning and walked to the kitchen, where we were eating breakfast.  We looked over at him and saw that his head was shaking and lashes blinking involuntarily.  It was like a seizure localized in his head.  We asked for help on Twitter and a friend of ours, @That1EBD, referred us to a blog post about head tremors in bulldogs.

It's a fascinating and largely unexplained phenomenon.  Although the tremors could be caused by epilepsy or even diabetes, one bulldog owner and breeder extensively researched case literature and worked with a vet to find that bulldogs commonly have tremors in pregnancy (okay, Buster is a boy so we can rule that out) and after surgery.  It is unclear why this happens but it seems that it may be low calcium levels.  Please follow the link above for an in-depth discussion of the topic.  It is possible that a seizure could be indicative of epilepsy or diabetes so talk with your vet if this happens with your bully.

Suffice it to say that Buster had head tremors one time.  We have consistently given him a little yogurt with each meal and periodically let him have a small amount of frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream.  I stress--small amount of frozen yogurt or ice cream.  FWIW, Buster recommends Yogurtopia.  We haven't seen any head tremors yet but they typically don't occur until 6 months post-op and they may not occur at all.

A Big Drink

Last night Buster would not go to sleep.  We went to bed and a short while later, he started barking to us.  I got up and checked that he was okay and gave him a sedative.  I held him and petted him and returned to bed. A few minutes later, he barked.  I had to lie down and hold him until he fell asleep.

Monday is a busy day in our house.  Buster spent part of the day alone, resting.  I came home and took him out briefly.  He trotted further today and I had to carry him home because he refused to come back.  Let the record show that I can carry a 70 pound dog half the length of a football field.  So, Buster is a fitness motivation for me...I have to keep up with my dog!

Today was the first day that Buster drank a lot.  We keep a bowl of water in his confinement area but he does not touch it, presumably due to the big Comfycone.  Sometimes he refuses a drink when we offer it.  Tonight I mixed a little liquid from garbanzo beans with a little chicken broth and a bit of pumpkin and diluted it all with water.  We think Buster drank a quart!  We added diluted broth to his breakfast and he still gets about a tablespoon of yogurt.  We'll need to devote a post to why Buster gets yogurt every day.

Today was the first day that Buster eliminated twice.  I mention this only because people who are nursing dogs after a surgery need to know that surgery can slow digestion down for a while.  It's been 10 days since Buster's surgery and related effects are still present.

Buster alternates between touching down, weight bearing, and carrying.  When he does bear weight, it is very light.  Nevertheless, he continues to improve.

Today's picture shows Bup just before bedtime, on his cushion, under a big grey towel, and in his Comfycone.  His big head is all that shows.