We are big animal lovers here at my house. We have had lots of pets over the years, of pretty much every imaginable description, and they are family members to us, not just pets. None of them are outside pets, they all live in the house with us.
We have a big dog – a Rottweiler / German Shepherd mix – named Napoleon. We should have named him Bear, because in reality, he kind of looks like a bear since he has a huge body, and a much smaller head with a pointy snout, LOL.
We got Napoleon in an unusual way, in that he chose us. We had gone to eat at a local restaurant which had karaoke, because at the time my son was dating a girl who aspired to become a singer, and we thought it would be good practice for her to sing in front of an audience of strangers. When hubby went out onto the patio to get some fresh air (and a break from some of the horrendously bad singing, LOL), he found that a couple of employees were out there with a puppy on a leash.
As the story was told to us, this puppy had been owned by some people out in the holler whose house got busted for making meth. When the cops burst into the house, the puppy ran like crazy, out into the woods. The owners went to jail, and the neighbors started looking for the puppy, since there are some wildcats and bears in that area, which meant the poor puppy was in danger. They eventually found him days later, half starved, and this young couple (relatives of the folks who found him) took him in, only to find that their landlord would not allow them to have any pets. It was obvious even then that he was going to be huge, after all.
So, they took him to work in the hope that someone there would take him in, and they would not have to take him to the pound.
As soon as Napoleon laid eyes on hubby, he ignored everybody else and headed his way. Hubby is a bit of an animal whisperer, you see, and critters of every imaginable description are automatically attracted to him. At that time we had a cat and two very elderly dogs with serious health problems – a 17-year-old beagle and a 19-year-old cocker spaniel / pit bull mix – and were not really looking to add to the family, because of concern about stressing the elderly dogs.
This puppy was not about to take no for an answer though, so he really laid on the charm. Before I knew it, hubby was in love with this dog and was asking if I wanted to adopt him. Of course, after seeing those expressive eyes and realizing he had chosen us as his new owners, I could not say no.
Now, in all truthfulness Napoleon is not the smartest dog on earth, probably due to having been exposed to meth fumes from the time he was a tiny puppy, but he is extremely sweet. He is also extremely spoiled, as are all our pets, and sometimes we laughingly say that he does not even know that he is a dog, LOL. Other times, it is obvious that he has no idea how big he is, because he wants to be a lap dog though he outweighs me. He will actually hug us by getting up close and leaning into us, and his giant tongue is always ready to cover our faces in doggie kisses. Needless to say, we absolutely adore him.
Napoleon is now seven years old, and we have never regretted for even one minute taking him in and making him part of the family. He had been diagnosed with elbow and shoulder dysplasia years ago, when he was limping on and off on one front leg. Okay, we thought, we will treat that and move on, and thus we did. He takes a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, and is treated with Tramadol for pain. He cannot take Rimadyl or other NSAIDS, however, because it caused him to develop a hemorrhagic condition of the intestines which landed him in the ICU for days, and nearly killed him.
Last week, it became obvious that he was in severe pain, but this time, for the first time, it was in his rear legs. First it seemed to be one, then the other, so we began to worry that he had injured his spine. Even just lying down, he would whine in obvious distress, though he was already on Tramadol for his other pain, so we took him to our veterinarian immediately.
We were quite surprised by the entire situation, because as far as we were aware, he had suffered no injury. Napoleon is an inside dog, who goes outside just to potty or nap in the sunshine, but we have a fenced backyard and nothing out there which could hurt him. So we just thought that perhaps he had sprained a muscle while running up and down the fenceline, which he does sometimes when he sees other dogs outside.
The vet did x-rays of his rear legs and his spine, and we were shocked to be told that in addition to the shoulder and elbow dysplasia, he has severe bilateral hip dysplasia as well. They doubled his dosage of Tramadol, as well as his dosage of supplements, but he is still in tremendous pain.
They said that they do not recommend hip replacement surgery due to his age and the fact that he has multiple dysplasias. They did recommend that we consider starting laser treatments in a couple of weeks, when we have his pain more under control, and said they have had some good results with it in treating hip dysplasia. However, I had never even heard of that treatment before, so I still have to do some more research on it.
One thing is for sure, and that is that we are not giving up on Napoleon, anymore than we would give up on any other family member. Some people, as we all know, simply euthanize dogs with a diagnosis of severe hip dysplasia. However, other than being in pain which restricts his movements quite a bit – but which we hope will become more manageable as we try different treatments – he has a good quality of life. He is spoiled rotten, gets lots of love and attention, still enjoys that love and attention, and the truth is, he was never a very active dog anyway (and now we know why).
Until and unless the vet tells us that there is nothing which can be done to alleviate his suffering, we will continue looking for treatments, and we will spend whatever is necessary to help him. We are not at all interested in any of the various scam treatments seen on the internet, though. We want (and need) to find proven treatments used by experienced veterinarians for this particular condition, and of course, it is possible that there are treatments out there with which our vet (who we love and trust) is not familiar.
That brings me to the point of this blog post. If anyone out there has dealt with severe hip dysplasia in their dog, what worked and what did not work? Can you share your experiences?