Paralyzed dog Chesney

Our paralyzed dog…This.Is.Hard.

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Last Tuesday, without warning, our dog Chesney lost the use of her back legs. A trip to the vet and x-rays revealed what the veterinarian believes to be IVDD – most common in Dachshunds or other long-back dogs. Chesney is a German shepherd and while it isn’t as common, it can happen – out of the blue. Unfortunately she seems to have pulled the short straw.

The vet told us that Chesney would be showing significant signs of improvement after her pain diminished – she predicted approximately three days for something good to happen. Today is day 5 and we have seen nothing to provide us with hope that she will get any better.

This Is Hard

To be perfectly honest – this is hard. Almost impossibly hard. Beyond the emotional distress we are all experiencing watching our beloved dog struggle, is the physical challenge. Getting an 85-pound dog outside with a sling to potty is physically challenging – and that is putting it mildly.

Not only is it incredibly difficult to get her up and out the door, but her pee gets all over her tail and feet – so we have to continually give her sponge baths and wash her bedding.

Not even a week has passed and she has a urinary tract infection – the antibiotics may cause diarrhea. Diarrhea may be the end of me.

I’m in a dead panic because when the holiday break ends, my husband goes back to work and my kids will return to school. I am pretty sure that I am not capable to getting Chesney in and out of the house myself and I am terrified.

There is a ton of conflicting information about this – exercise her legs daily…don’t move her legs until she has had weeks to heal. Put her on steroids – don’t put her on steroids. Do water therapy – don’t bother. Stick with traditional pain meds and anti-inflammatories – avoid them and keep her on natural remedies to protect her kidneys and liver. Whatever we try, we will wonder what we did wrong if we had only tried the alternate option.

Not to mention – I have been called up for jury duty starting the first week of January. I have already deferred twice (I was scheduled to be out of town during the first time and the second time happened when my husband what changing jobs and we didn’t have a car because he lost his company car.) Will they let me defer again? Do they even care that I am taking care of a paralyzed dog? If I have to go, what will happen to her while I am away?

I am overwhelmed – we all are – it is terrifying and depressing. We are barely looking forward to Christmas – we are stressed and sad.

But the kindness

But I can’t end this on a completely down note. We are stressed, depressed and overwhelmed, but the kindness we have been shown is remarkable. The founder of the American Red Lion fund (who I have worked with to help raise funds for abused animals, as well as victims of natural disasters) graciously established a fundraiser on Chesney’s behalf. Strangers have given their own funds to help our family give Chesney what she needs – we are humbled by the kindness of people we don’t even know.

We found someone to administer cold laser therapy and acupuncture and she has graciously offered to come to our home to continue treatments because it is very difficult to get Chesney in and out of our house and car.

My sister has come to our house to sit with Chesney when we had to leave for a short time.

Paralyzed dog

People have reached out via Facebook, email and text to offer words of encouragement and provide hints and suggestions.

I have been put in contact with a local woman who is going through the same nightmare with her own three-year-old shepherd, Mona. We are sharing stories with one another – it’s a positive outlet for share hopes, concerns and frustrations.

We are grateful to everyone who has donated, shared the fundraiser, sent messages of hope and words of advice.

We are doing our utmost to keep Chesney happy and comfortable. We bought her a new therapeutic bed, new toys, new chews, dog wipes and a sling harness (which sadly didn’t work much better than the towel that we were using).

We are praying for improvement, but wrapping our head around the fact that Chesney may be permanently disabled. We are hoping that things to get worse – that the UTIs don’t continue and progress to kidney infection…that the paralysis doesn’t travel up her body and impact the rest of her legs or her lungs. That she doesn’t become so depressed that she gives up completely.

Please keep Chesney in your thoughts. Thank you.



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Yesterday:  Dog dumped at shelter for getting into the trash – more here.

Just an adorable game of hide and seek!

Hold me please

15 replies
  1. Barkley's Mom says:

    Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. I know how hard it is to deal with a big dog that can’t walk, we went through this with Barkley our 95lb boy and we are up in years, I hope she turns around and gets better,

      • Barkley's Mom says:

        No sadly, but he was close to 13 years old and just kept getting worse until one day he wouldn’t even try to get up. We had to say goodbye to him 3 days before his 13th birthday. Our Spunky however, who we lost at age 15 would have spells of not getting up when she got older and would usually rebound in a few days with pain meds and steroids. I truly hope something can be done for Chesney she is such a beautiful girl.

      • Penny Eims says:

        though Chesney is only 8, she is already to the completely can’t get up stage and that’s what’s killing us

  2. BnB's Mommy says:

    There are organizations that will make a wheel chair, so to speak, for Chesney. It straps around her middle, it has wheels and once Chesney learns to use it, she will be as Mobile as she was before the IVDD.

  3. Sue says:

    Here are some sites to get information. I will pray for your girl’s recovery.
    And, I’ll search for more information.

    What to do with the acutely paralyzed dog? The 48 hour ……

    Dog Intervertebral Disk Disease | Back Pain, Paralysis ……/intervertebral-disk-disease-ivdd-dogs

    Non-Surgical Options For IVDD? Keeping Hope, And Dogs …

  4. Jane says:

    Hi Penny, So sorry Chesney & your family are going thru this. I had an older dog with stenosis who lost use of his back legs. We used sling as you are doing, and daily aspirin, Chinese herbs and glucosamine/ chondroitin supplement, regular acupuncture and eventually Prednisolone, (all from vet). He had previously been on Rimadyl for a short time but it caused a stroke-like reaction. I am personally leery of that med due to risks (so is my vet) but for some dogs it does seem to work well. I think right now (understandably) you are catastrophizing as to worst case scenario, the “what ifs.” First, they are treating her UTI, right? I think is unlikely therefore to progress into kidney infection. Second, it’s only five days out since beginning treatment, I would give it more time, take each day- each minute- as you go. Some dogs take longer to heal.
    Did vet say her disc has actually ruptured? Are they recommending surgery if she recovers sufficiently?
    Here’s one thought: my dog was male, had prostatitis at one point, and frequent bladder infections, which decreased over time. BUT he occasionally had bladder infections. Once, he completely lost use of his back legs and I took him to urgent care- the vet was young and clueless. I left the clinic without treatment, and took him to my regular vet the next day, who- first thing- checked his urine, and he had a bad bladder infection.
    Point is, he had a chronic spinal condition- stenosis- already impacting his back legs, then all it took was a UTI to push him over the edge, he lost use of back legs and presented very acutely in a way that the urgent care vet wanted to recommend tons of $$ tests without even doing a physical exam. Once the UTI was treated, his low back and use of legs improved a lot.
    Not saying this is what is going on with your girl, but just keep in mind, even a simple thing like a UTI can have dramatic impact… I would try not to panic, treat the UTI, keep going for now, give her a bit of a chance to heal.
    If it were me, I would get out of jury duty. I’ve been let out of it before when taking care of a sick family member, or when working in a nursing job where there wasn’t a replacement nurse. She is your family member. You’re taking care of a sick family member.
    Can you get pee pads perhaps, for her to use inside, when you are home alone with her? Also, there are pads called Chucks (chux?) pads you can get at medical supply stores- disposable, blue plastic back with padded white absorption paper on front… that could be tucked under her on top of her towel? Sorry this is long. Keep updating us. Try to take things one day at a time… give her a bit of a chance and things will improve slowly. If she continues to deteriorate, trust your vet, she will let you know. Chesney herself will too. Hugs.

    • Penny Eims says:

      she can’t pee unless I lift her and the pressure of the towel pushes on her bladder – so it’s a very physical thing to get her urine emptied. The veterinarian did not recommend surgery – she was quite confident that this would be something that would resolve sooner than later (which isn’t happening at all) Chesney did have her urine checked on Tuesday – that and her blood work were clear. I wish that I could just leave her on a pee pad and throw it away – my life would be so much easier. Diapers won’t really even work because the urine has to get out somehow 🙁

  5. Jane says:

    Hi Penny, this is my 3rd attempt to comment, doesn’t seem to be working. So sorry Chesney and you are going thru this. I think, understandably, ur anxious and scared that the worst is going to happen. Planning is good and necessary but try to take one day, even hour by hour, at a time. Five days is early days for her, I would give a little more time to see if improvement happens. Sounds like ur doing all the right things but (she is 8?) some dogs take longer to heal. My dog had bloat surgery at age 12 and he recovered slower than I would have liked, but ended up ok and with decent quality of life for a few more years. They heal slower the older they get. This dog also had stenosis & progressive loss of his back legs, muscle wasting etc, but gradual not sudden as w/ Chesney. Did your vet say her disc was ruptured? Are they considering surgery if she improves enough?
    With my dog, we used acupuncture (with electro acupuncture), daily enteric aspirin, Chinese herbs, glucosamine/ chondroitin, fish oil, all from vet. Eventually when he got very bad we used Prednisone. I tried Rimadyl initially but it caused stroke like adverse effect so we discontinued. It does work well for some dogs. Here’s one thought- my dog had chronic recurring UTI so we had to watch for it. Once with a UTI he presented very acutely and lost use of his back legs. When UTI was treated he was fine again. UTI can definitely impact functioning. NOT saying this is what is wrong with Chesney, but keep in mind a UTI might slow her recovery. I do not think it is likely to progress into kidney infection if they are treating it.

  6. Jane says:

    Also, try to take one day at a time. I would get out of jury duty. I’ve been released from it when taking care of a disabled/ ill family member, or when working in a nursing job taking care of someone in their home. Presently, YOU are taking care of an ill family member. Also, is there a medical supply store there? I use chucks pads, could put under her on top of her towel, will keep her dryer. (You can tuck it under using your hands, palm down, slide under her body). They’re white absorbant paper fabric, other side blue plastic. Can also buy cloth ones that can be laundered.)

  7. Ann scharf says:

    My heart breaks for you. I’m sure you love your vet but have you taken her to a specialty vet hospital? I love my vet but when my little guy had an acute eye problem I was not satisfied that we were doing enough so I went to a veterinary specialty hospital but they were unable to help so I finally went to University of Pennsylvania Vet Hospital, known as PennVet. This was all in one day! PennVet was able to treat without surgery and save his eye. We now go there for all out follow up care for his eye. I am a medical doctor so I knew we needed to do more which is why I pursued it. Just a thought for your Chesney. Look for a good tertiary care Vet School Hospital.

  8. Gena says:

    There is a product called Glyco flex plus they guarantee 41% muscle strength improvement in hind legs in 4 weeks. I use it on my dog he did improve.


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