I don’t write about Dembe all that often on this blog, mainly because he has his own blog. However this last week has been a roller coaster of emotions. I always try to share as much as possible with my readers ( and thank you for reading!) whilst holding back a little so I have some privacy. Dembe is a huge part of my life and is my baby boy. So you can imagine the emotional turmoil I was in when he had to go to the vets all day. It has had a knock on impact with my health, leaving me exhausted, several migraines and generally feeling well below my usual level of shittiness.
On Wednesday last week ( 29th September ) Dembe had to go to the vets for the day to have some X-rays taken of his front legs. Dembe has had an intermittent limp for a few months this year and conservative measures of rest and pain relief were just not working. He was also showing signs of being stiff when he got up after being laid down for a while. All things we should not be seeing in a dog that isn’t even three yet.
Dembe had to have both legs x-rayed, 3 different positions for each one and to do this he would need to have a general anaesthetic. We really didn’t want him to have to under go a G.A but we had done all we could and we needed to know what was going on with him and that he wasn’t in pain.
Mr Myasthenia Kid dropped him off at the vets at 08.30am and so began the longest day of our lives. We were told that we should hear something by 2pm and that if we hadn’t we should give them a ring. Jay caved at 13.50 as he needed to know Dembe was ok. We found out that he was fine and that he had been out for a little walk and had been to the toilet. We were told the vet should ring us back in an hours or so.
The vet rang back around 90 minutes later and if it was actually possible those 90 minutes seemed longer than the whole of the rest of the day. Sadly she told us that Dembe has bilateral ( both legs ) Elbow Dysplasia, – you can find out more about ED here. The vet told us that his left leg is more badly affected than his right. However both legs are only showing very subtle changes on the x-rays. The x-rays will be sent to an orthopaedic specialist who will provide us with their expert opinion. The good news was that there were no bone fragments floating around the joint, so he wouldn’t need any immediate surgery. As the condition was discovered early treatment will be conservative management, getting his weight down, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. He will adore hydrotherapy as he is a water baby, as any self respecting Labrador is!
I have never been so glad to see my baby boy in all my life. He really wasn’t with it when I saw him walking down the car park. Everyone kept telling us what a lovely boy he is and they thought it was so sweet that he had come down with his blue dinosaur. The vet nurse talked us through after care and said he would probably be out of sorts for 24-48 hours. She also told us that there was a risk of him having diarrhoea as that was a side effect of one of the medications he had been given. They had also given Dembe’s nails a trim. She said that he doesn’t like his legs or feet being touched, I said no doing his nails is a two person job!
When we got home I said to Jay do you think he wants to go around the block but Dembe made it clear that he didn’t want to by going straight into the house and jumping on the sofa with his carrot.
Dembe had a really awful time after the general anaesthetic. He cried solidly for 24-36 hours, only stopping when he slept, briefly! Or when he was eating or out for a walk. He had awful diarrhoea as a side effect of the medication he had been given. As he won’t go to the toilet in the garden this meant Dembe had to be taken around the block frequently. Poor Jay was out at 9pm, 10.30pm, 1.30am, 2.30am and 5am on top of the frequent trips around the block during the day.
The crying went on through most of Thursday, just a little whimper constantly. It was clear looking at him that he still wasn’t fully out of the G.A. His eyes were like saucers. I was very relieved when his natural treat box arrived and he was very interested in it. The chewing broke up the crying.
He had a huge hairy cows ear to chomp on and that cheered him up.
He was so sad and pitiful it was heartbreaking that we couldn’t comfort him. The first time he was really happy and started looking more like himself was when he had a present delivered from his Auntie Beverley. She had sent our beautiful boy a Turtle toy. He wagged his tail like mad and was so happy he paraded it around the bedroom!
That was the first time we saw a glimmer of the Dembe we know and love since he had come home from the vets. He was still having diarrhoea on Thursday during the day so I had to ring the vets and get him some stuff to soothe his belly. The vets advised us that it might take 24-48 hours to resolve.
Dembe was a lot better Friday still a bit whingey but we had longer spells between cries and he spent an awful lot of time sleeping.
Yesterday (5th October) our vet rang us to give us the details of the report the Ortho Specialist had written. The specialist concurred with our vet, that Dembe does have bilateral Elbow Dysplasia. We were given 3 options 1) CT scan to provide more detailed images and then from what they show form a plan, this would involve another general anaesthetic, 2) Open up both elbow joints – arthroscopy have a look inside with a camera and see what is going on, obviously this involves another general anaesthetic, 3) manage conservatively with hydrotherapy & Physiotherapy using pain relief when needed. Mr Myasthenia Kid and I had already discussed this at length before we saw how Dembe recovered from anaesthesia and had decided on avoiding surgery if both vets concurred that the joint is showing subtle changes, which they did.
The vet talked me through the things that we can do at home, so any slippery floors need to be covered up as much as possible with rugs. Well all our downstairs rooms are laminate flooring, I had already ordered some runners to cover large sections of the floor to stop him slipping. Upstairs the bathroom and Mr Myasthenia Kids bedroom are also laminate flooring, so I will need to get a small rug for the doorway in Jays room. The bathroom already has bath mats down. So we were ahead of the vet with actions we could take, as we were with the next few suggestions.
The vet told us to start him on joint supplements, we started him on Golden Paste last week. I made up a batch for him and he is really enjoying it. I have also got coming some green lipped muscle extract and some salmon oil. Both highly rated as supplements for dogs with joint problems. I just hope I can get him to take them! He is such a fussy animal.
We also need to get his weight down to the skinnier side of normal as this will put less strain on his legs. So we are actively trying to get his weight down, going on how he looks rather than weighing him at the vets.
Exercise, he can no longer have professional dog walks. He can no longer walk for longer than 25 minutes at a time, during that time he can’t chase after a ball or play with other dogs both activities he loves because we can’t risk a fracture of the elbow or making his joints worse. I am so sad for him, I can’t lie I hid in the bathroom last night for a bit and just cried and cried.
Dembe has been referred for Hydrotherapy so we are awaiting the physiotherapist to get in contact with us. This will be used to strengthen the muscles around his joints and protect them in the long term.
So last week was very full on with all the stress surrounding Dembe and what they would find in the X-rays. Dembe has been very clingy since he was in the vets for the day. But he is walking much better and is no longer as stiff as he was getting up from a lying position, that makes us happier with the decision we have made regarding conservative management.