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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. I'd like the opinion of others regarding my baby girl Sarah who I had to have put to sleep last night and I am absolutely devastated.

I know it is too late now for anyone to help but I can't stop wondering if I've been given misleading information in the hope it would settle my mind.

Firstly, a little info on my baby girl. She was a 5 year old desexed female labrador who was not in the slightest over weight, she weighed 29 kilos (64 pounds). She wasn't a guts like most labs and had over an hour every day of swimming & chasing the ball as well as harassing the life out of my poor cat (they really loved each other and chased each other around the house all the time).

Six nights ago (22.06.2014) after we'd been for our nightly walk and ball games, Sarah ran back into the yard as per normal & had a big drink of water while I locked the shed door. (The water bucket is right beside the door I was locking so she was in my sight the whole time). Next thing I know is she is about a foot away from the bucket with her bum in the air and down on her front elbows (paws extended to the front) & her head between her front legs.

I panicked and while racing to the house to phone the vet I kept telling her to stay (even though I knew she couldn't go anywhere, I just thought she wouldn't think that I expected her to follow me as usual). I took her to the after hours vet & they initially thought she'd slipped a disk but when she (the vet) pinched her between her toes she still had feeling and pulled her paws away. They asked me to leave her overnight for observation, which I did. 2 days later they said that I could collect her but that she still couldn't walk. By this time they (the vets) had made up their mind she had ingested a puffer fish & was poisoned & that she would regain mobility & be as right as rain in a few days - she just needed nursing which I could provide at home. I found this a bit hard to swallow as it had been about 10 hours since she would have been near a puffer fish & there was absolutely nothing wrong with her prior to collapsing. No vomiting, no frothing at the mouth or anything. As I am not a vet I assumed it must be possible for them to get sick so many hours after ingesting the poison.

I nursed her at home by turning her every 1/2 hour, giving her physio & naturally feeding & watering her. As for toileting, she was too big for me to lift outside so I had a mattress protector on her bedding which I changed every time she had a wee. She didn't use her bowels but the vet said not to worry until Monday (the 30th June) as she had had a lot of diarrhoea whilst there & that her tummy would have been be totally empty.

As she wasn't improving and seemed to be getting distressed I took her to another vet yesterday (Friday 27.06.2014) for a second opinion. The 2nd vet felt Sarah needed to have an MRI to confirm what was going on. She (the vet) thought it was a problem either in the brain or the spine & suggested I take her home & keep her on valium to help keep her calm for the week end & hope she improved & then to decide on Monday whether to take her to a specialist about 3 hours drive away for further diagnosis or to have her put to sleep. So, back home we come. We were only home a couple of hours and she became distressed again so I gave her another valium. It had NO effect & she kept wriggling her way up the bed so she could press her head against the head board. To me this was saying she had a hell of a head ache & at one stage while I was laying beside her, she looked deep into may eyes and I KNOW she was saying "Mum, help me PLEASE!!!!!" I couldn't stand it anymore so I rang the after hours vet & took her in. He checked her all over & he was the only one who had had success in being able to get her in any form of standing position all-be-it only her back legs. NOTHING was happening with her front legs, they were totally void of any strength, although she could still move them when laying down & still had feeling when doing the pinch test.

This 3rd vet felt Sarah had more than likely suffered a spinal stroke somewhere between the base of her skull & her shoulder blades. At the time, this made sense to me and I made the dreadful decision to have her put to sleep. Now that I have had time to digest all of this I can't help wondering why her back legs would have still been OK? Her back legs were fine, she'd even been pressing really hard on me with her back legs when I was sitting on the side of the bed.

Can anyone tell me if it would be normal for Sarah to have strength & mobility in her back legs if she had suffered a stroke higher up in the spinal cord & why (if she'd had s stroke) she could still move her front legs while laying down?

Sorry this is such a long post but I am beside myself at the moment and hoping someone can give me some answers.

P.S. Sarah was comprehending everything around her also. She knew when someone came through the front gate, when I or our cat walked into the room etc. etc. so her brain had not been affected.
 

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I'm so sorry about your loss. I have no helpful medical insight. It's very easy to second guess ourselves and our veterinarians in this type of difficult situation. Grief takes us to some bad places in our minds sometimes. I have the utmost sympathy for what you're going through.
 

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Like Grabby, I have no medical advice or experience.
Sometimes, we'll never know for sure. :(

I am so sorry for your loss. It's never easy but it hits differently when everything is fine and you have a seemingly healthy, young dog that all of a sudden is gone.

Take a moment and see what you gave her - you took her pain into your own heart and soul and that is the most selfless thing you can give to your pet.

Again - I am terribly sorry for your loss and what you are going through. :huddle:
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Dear Grabby & myrottenones, thank you both very much for your lovely words and heart felt sympathy, I really appreciate it. I guess if I can't find any answers here I'll just have to wait until I see my doctor next & ask him about spinal strokes but as you can imagine, it's driving me totally crazy at the moment. Thank you so much once again.
 

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I so sorry to hear about your loss.

I am not a medical professional, so I cannot give a meaningful opinion as to what happened with your dog, but I do have some basic knowledge of anatomy. It is possible for front-end paralysis but not hind-end paralysis to happen if the pressure or issue is happening on the arteries or nerves that come off the spinal column to the forelimbs. While it may originate on the spinal cord, the placement would have no effect on the spinal column at large, and the hind-end would be unaffected. It's a different cause, but think about when you have a nerve pinched in your neck and it hurts in more places than just your neck and makes it difficult to move your arm but you can walk around just fine.

From what I understand, spinal strokes are most common in healthy, active, young to middle aged, medium to large breed dogs, and range in severity, but can have a frustratingly long recovery period, with no guarantee that the dog will return to having normal use of the affected areas.

In the end it is all about you knowing your dog and knowing the dog's limits. She was talking to you, and you listened.

It's difficult not to second-guess yourself, but you gave her a kindness when she needed it, and you did it out of love.

I am sorry for your loss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dear BarkyMalarkey, thank you ever so much for your explanation, I think it has helped to understand a little of what may have happened. My mind is just not working properly at the moment and all my thoughts are getting all jumbled up but thank you once again.
 

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I'm afraid I also have no useful information for you, but your story touched my heart, I really feel for you. It's obvious that Sarah meant the world to you & her passing is, & will be very raw for a while to come. However, it sounds as though you did all you could for her & she will have been grateful for that. While I understand your need to understand & find out what happened, don't let it consume you, you need to grieve for your girl & only then can you move on & concentrate on the happy memories Sarah has given you. :huddle::huddle:
 

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Another with no useful info for you, but as someone who has a dog who was faced with a very similar situation, my heart goes out to you. I'm very sorry for your loss.

I was reading your girl's story and was brought back to when mine was paralyzed, multiple vets, MRIs, poor prognosis, etc--we almost did euthanize. I just wanted to let you know, in case you're second guessing the euthanasia vs having done the MRIs, ours were quite inconclusive, and even the neurologist wasn't sure what was going on or what chance of recovery he would have. The docs don't always have the answers unfortunately. I hope you will get some closure, somehow, though, and that you'll get through this grieving period okay in time. Again, so sorry for what you and your girl went through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dear JudyG & Crock, thank you for your posts. It is comforting to know there are others out there who care too. It means an awful lot to me as I have no family except for my darling cat Bubbles who his missing his big sister too. Crock, how did your baby end up? Did he recover OK? I do sincerely hope so.
 

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Yes, we were fortunate. That is him in my avatar, and he'll be five this week. He was injured when he was about 4-5 months old. After all was said and done between two different general clinics and one specialist clinic, a week+ of no answers, none being able to target the cause of all of his symptoms (suspicion finally on his neck after the MRIs), we gave it a last shot with an osteopathic therapist. She pinpointed the subluxation, worked on it, and by the end of the first session, he was trying to scoot out of his crate (have been paralyzed in all four legs at the beginning). I was a hot mess of tears, of course. It was about a month, with several more sessions, until he was fully recovered.

It's one of the roughest things I've been through, and my really goes out to you for having been through a similar (but worse) situation. I'm so sorry yours didn't have a happy ending, but one day, it will be easier to think of all the good memories you have of your girl.
 
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