Saturday, July 21, 2012

Poppy's Injury

Poppy came up injured this week. I have no idea how it happened - we hadn't done anything particularly strenuous for a few days. Tuesday morning I woke up and she was suddenly lame in one of her rear legs. I noticed it was "off" right away, even though she was still bearing some weight on it. Her gait wasn't quite right. Then I had my suspicions confirmed when she ran down the stairs on three legs. I gave her half an aspirin, hoped for the best, and left for work. But, settled in front of my computer at work, my heart and mind were really at home with Poppy. What was going on? Just she just twist something? Did she rupture her cruciate (my worst-case scenario and the one that kept playing through my mind)? Pull her iliopsoas? Was it some form of canine sciatica? Was she feeling better? Was it getting worse? I called my partner Deb with my worries (especially my frets over a cruciate tear) and she offered to run over to my place at noon to check on her. Her report only served the alarm bells to go off louder. Poppy was no longer putting much weight on the leg at all. I thanked her for checking on her and promptly high-tailed home to check her myself and call the vet.

Deb's report was accurate - Poppy wasn't putting any weight on the leg. She was holding it off the ground and slightly out. I wasn't able to pinpoint the origin of the lameness. She seemed very sensitive to pain everywhere on her upper leg from hock to hip, front to back. So I called the vet and left a message and waited...

I recently switched over to a mobile vet, which, with the 3 dogs - one reactive to other dogs, one with anxiety issues, and now the deafie - is a much easier situation for all of us in contrast to loading everyone in the car and dealing with a waiting room full of other animals. Luckily, she was able to swing by in late afternoon. As soon as I went to get Poppy's leash on to take her out to the mobile vet clinic parked out front, Poppy's adrenaline went haywire as it always does when the leash and front door are paired and over-rode her pain receptors. Most of the distance between the front door and the vet's van were traversed with her walking on her hind legs (including the hurt one) out at the end of the leash. I told my vet "I swear all afternoon she hasn't been able to put any weight on that leg." She assured me that she sees that sort of thing all the time.

Once inside the mobile clinic, the lameness became a little more evident, although not nearly as extreme as it had demonstrated itself to be in the hours prior. I held my breath during the exam, steeling myself for the verdict should the cause be determined to be a cruciate tear. Despite the pain she had displayed in the house and especially during my examination of her leg, Poppy remained rather stoic during the vet's exam, only showing some mild discomfort and crying just a little bit at the manipulation of her leg. The vet was unable to give a definitive diagnosis, but had reason to doubt a cruciate rupture, at least a complete one, because she was not able to get much motion in the knee. Cruciate tears usually display a signature "drawer motion" in the knee when manipulated. She did think that Poppy was reacting to pain in the knee, but it was hard for her to tell for sure. The vet prescribed a pain killer and an anti-inflammatory (Rimadyl) and said we'll see how those worked. If she's still having trouble after meds and rest, then we could schedule an appointment to sedate her for a more thorough exam to try to pinpoint the problem.

Since I had given Poppy a little aspirin that morning, I couldn't start her on the Rimadyl until the following morning due to the potential for a reaction. I did give her a dose of the pain killer that evening, but it seemed to have little effect. When I woke up the next morning she was in more pain than ever, whining while shifting around and holding her leg cranked WAY up in the air and a bit out to the side. My heart sank. I hate to see my girl in such pain and I still worried about the possibility of some kind of cruciate injury. She was in way too much pain to allow me to examine her leg well. I gave her another dose of pain killers and her first Rimadyl. I carried her up and down the stairs whenever necessary, thankful that she only weighs 25 lbs. I brought her blanket and an extra dog bed down to the living room/dining room and gated off the stairs before leaving for work.

Considering how much pain she was in, I worried about how she was doing all day. I expected her to be in a similar state when I walked through the door upon my arrival home, but was met by a positive sight. She was running across the floor - on 4 legs! She wasn't bearing a lot of weight on her hurt leg, but some. That was a huge improvement from the state I had left her in that morning. The Rimadyl must have worked some magic.

As of now, she continues to improve. She is bearing weight on the leg and using it fairly normally, although there are still some indicators that it's a little "off" - especially when she sits, she's a little off kilter instead of sitting squarely, clearly favoring the side the hurt leg is on. My biggest challenge is trying to keep her quiet so the leg has a chance to be rested and heal. With my other 2 dogs, this wouldn't be such a problem, but Poppy is a special case. First of all, she panics in confinement, especially in a crate (except in the car for some reason), so crating her is definitely out as it would be counterproductive. I can confine her to the first floor during the day, but that doesn't really restrict her movement much and she still has access to the sofa, which she is jumping on and off of - I can only hope she's keeping it to a minimum. Since she's feeling so much better, it's hard to keep a damper on her Poppy-effervescence. Running around like a lunatic, wrestling with the cat, NOT staying and waiting for me to carry her up and down the stairs, jumping up and down on her hind-legs in her signature Poppy move - I feel like I'm after her and scolding her for all of these things non-stop. Trying to keep a lid on this whirling dervish of a dog while juggling several other things at the same time, including my other dogs, is a monumental, perhaps next to impossible, task. I've come to the conclusion that the only way I'm going to be able to keep her quiet is to wallpaper a section of wall with velcro and then make her a velcro coat and just stick her on the wall, only removing her to eat and go to the bathroom!

We'll see what happens, especially next week when the Rimadyl is stopped. I'm still worried it might be a cruciate related injury, but hoping like heck it is not.
A rare moment of repose

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