May 31, 2013

TPLO Recovery Day 6!

Woohoo! I have officially hit a new record for monthly views on my blog! I'm excited to see that my #1 post is on the Vizsla heat cycle, now at over 1k views. It's so important for people to know that they need to wait until their Vizsla girl is completely developed before spaying. I've had many emails from people who are curious about when they should get their girl spayed and my answer is always the same - wait until they are at least 12 months old and have completed 1 heat cycle. My plan was to wait 2 years for Riley, but I decided it would be better to have her spayed at the same time she was under anesthesia for her knee surgery. We got close - 2 heat cycles and 20 months!

6 days since Riley's surgery and I'm beginning to see the dog I used to know before her injury happened over a year ago. She has a new bounce in her step and is starting to really support more of her weight on the leg. I'm calling her the bionic puppy because of the plate/screws in her leg. We just might have to dress her up as a Borg drone for Halloween. ;)

Swelling has gone down!

Front view of suture

Side view of knee while standing
I'm really thankful that UC Davis placed the suture on the inner part of her knee. Riley has plenty of scars, so that doesn't bother me, but it does look nicer to have it partially hidden on the inside.

Almost standing normally again!
I've been sleeping on a mattress on the floor with Riley at my parents' house because she's used to sleeping with us in bed at home. I think this past week I've had probably 24 hours of sleep total, but I don't mind. Maybe it's training for children someday? It's been interesting getting up between 2-4AM to give her pain meds. I'm lucky she's such a good patient and sits quietly while I give her the pain pills! I knew she was feeling better when yesterday morning at about 3AM my mom walked into the room carrying Riley who had taken off up two flights of stairs to go visit with her! Needless to say, she's sleeping in the crate at night from now on until she's healed.

My husband took some more videos this morning of her walking that I will post as soon as they are up on YouTube. I am hopeful that someone can see these blog posts/videos and feel encouraged about recovery from TPLO surgery for their own dog.

I think for one of my next blog posts it will only be fitting to share with the world how Riley saved my life. I owe her an immeasurable debt that I'm sure I will never be able to repay. <3

May 29, 2013

TPLO Recovery - Day 1 Videos

Here are some videos from Riley's 1st day of recovery. As you can see, she had already started using the leg again and when she took a step she used the leg correctly. I tried taking a video on day 2, but it was raining and, being the diva that she is, Riley didn't want to get her paw wet. :) She's using her leg much more today. I will try to get a video to show her progress. We are all hopeful that she will continue to heal quickly. Poor thing is going a bit stir crazy and I am missing my weekly hikes! 7.5 weeks to go until she can have daily 10-15 minute walks... *sigh*

May 27, 2013

TPLO Recovery Day 3

Sooooo sleeeepy...
Riley seems to have turned a corner today. She is pretty consistently putting her foot down and bearing weight on the leg. When she *does* use the leg, it's amazing because she walks the way she did before the attack happened over a year ago. There must have been a small tear in the ligament caused by the attack that just worsened over time until it hurt so badly she didn't want to put weight on the leg. I feel terrible that she suffered for this long. There is a large lump on the inside of the leg the doctor says was caused by the arthritis from her ligament being torn. Unfortunately, that will never go away.

On to the positive news! Her swelling has also decreased from yesterday and her stitches look good. I'm paranoid about infection, so I constantly check her sutures for strange discharge and redness. So far, so good.

Swelling is better (note large lump on inside of knee)

Interior view of knee/sutures
FYI - if your vet prescribes Tramadol (a VERY strong synthetic opiate for pain management) be aware that your pup will not realize when they are full. Riley typically eats only until she is full and then stops. On the Tramadol she will eat herself sick. I didn't understand why she was so hungry until I did a bit of research online about Tramadol. We're now carefully measuring out her portions until she is off the meds.

The other med she is on is called Previcox. This is an NSAID to help with inflammation and promote faster healing. It must be given with food or your pup can develop ulcers and stomach bleeds. UC Davis typically prescribes Rimadyl, but the last time Riley was on it she reacted very badly (hyperventilating, shaking, racing heart, etc). She seems to be handling the Previcox well and isn't having any adverse reactions.

*hunting* birds and putting weight on the leg!
In the picture above you can see she is putting almost equal weight on both legs. It's exciting to see her put her left foot flat when she steps instead of toe-touching like she has done for a long time. I have a few videos to show her progress that I will upload soon.

Tiny spay sutures
Last, but not least, I wanted to show her sutures from her laparoscopic spay. They made a tiny 1cm incision right underneath her belly button for the camera and a 2cm incision farther down on her belly, which is where they inserted the tools and removed her ovaries and uterus. I am extremely happy we decided to go the laparoscopic route. She has not shown any signs of experiencing pain in her stomach and has completely ignored the sutures. I highly recommend you go this route if you have the option.

May 26, 2013

TPLO Recovery Day 1 & 2

Yesterday was so crazy and busy I didn't even have a chance to think about my first recovery blog post. We picked Riley up from UC Davis around 10:30AM and she was thrilled to see us. The doctor let us know she hadn't eaten any breakfast (didn't surprise me) and walked us all out to the car. I thought it was too cute how she told Riley goodbye before we left. Dr. Sutton at UC Davis animal hospital is truly a wonderful person!

Riley in her "donut of shame"
On our way back from Davis, we stopped at Sonic for Riley's favorite treat: 2 hamburger patties and a small tater tots. She started drooling the minute our lunch was delivered and quickly devoured her patties and tots. I was glad to see she at least had an appetite. The trip was pretty uneventful. She cried most of the way back from being jostled around. I drove as slowly/smoothly as I could, but she was still in a lot of pain. Her injected pain meds must have started wearing off by then.

The incision site
  Poor Riley was in a lot of pain yesterday once we got home. I did as much as I could to make her comfortable, but she was very upset. The pro-collar also made her very nervous because she couldn't see what was going on behind her. She doesn't like it when we touch her back legs AT ALL. I don't blame her. I just hope this is not going to be a life-long phobia. :(

Relaxing and watching the birds <3
I used a food processor to grind up a bunch of her kibble. We mixed this with cottage cheese and leftover turkey fat/bits. She ate this very quickly, so we were thankfully able to give her the 2nd med she was prescribed. She is on a synthetic opiate (Tramadol) and an NSAID (Previcox). Tramadol is only for the pain, but the Previcox is an anti-inflammatory to help encourage blood flow and healing for the knee. The Tramadol is an amazing and strange drug. It eliminates all of her pain (she will actually lay on the leg) but it has caused her to be both paranoid and to experience some hallucinations. She "sees" things that aren't there and flips out for no reason. I'm looking forward to the day when I can stop giving her the Tramadol.

I love that little bare butt!
The doctor was very concerned before we went home that Riley was refusing to put any weight on the leg. She told us if she didn't start using it within 7 days we needed to call her right away and let her know. I guess it's very important for Riley to learn she can use her leg again so she can start building the muscles back up. This morning during her 1AM meds and potty break she actually put her foot down for the first time. It was only for 2 or 3 steps, but it made me so happy. We took her out again to potty later in the morning and she used her leg a little bit more for maybe 10 steps.

Toe touching this morning
I'm really hopeful about the outcome of her leg. I'll continue to post updates as I am able, to provide a good log of her progress for anyone else considering the surgery. I'm also going to request copies of her x-rays so you can see a before & after shot of the knee.

I did a lot of research on prices before the surgery and wasn't able to find much online. Here is a quick list of our prices for the surgery:

TPLO Surgery : $1,765.00
TPLO Plate/Screws: $687.25
Ovarectomy (Laparoscopic Spay): $495.00
Arthroscopy: $355.00
Hospital stay, Anesthesia, Meds, and Misc: $882.05

Grand Total: $4,184.30

If you factor in pre-operative exams/x-rays and 2 follow-up appointments scheduled for suture removal and more x-rays to make sure it's healing properly, we're looking at about $5,400. They highly encouraged us to have the plate/screws removed after about 4 months, which is an additional $1,500.

May 24, 2013

Knee Surgery & Spay Today

Say "cheese!"

 My baby girl is in surgery right now. The doctor gave us the option of doing an arthroscopic procedure first to determine if the cruciate ligament was torn (they aren't 100% sure). I agreed this was a great idea because if they were to look inside the knee and find that the ligament isn't torn, it means they can close up the 2 very small holes and we will move forward to figure out what is wrong with her knee. The doctor said she is a very special case. They don't ever see dogs under the age of 3-4 years old with torn ligaments because it is a degenerative condition. It is frustrating to know that whatever is going on in her knee is the direct result of the attack last year, but that's what I've always suspected.

We also opted to have her spayed while she is under anesthesia. I know at this point she does not have a chance of getting any hunting titles, so I won't ever breed her. It's upsetting because her current trainer told me she has an immense amount of potential due to her drive and how biddable she is. The doctor gave me the option of doing a regular spay or a laparoscopic spay. She explained that in a laparoscopic procedure they cut 2 small holes and only remove the ovaries, leaving the uterus intact. This is less painful for the dog and has a much faster healing time. We've decide to go the laparoscopic route.

Here's a great article on the method if you're interested in reading about it:

"Announcing a New Safer Alternative to Traditional Spaying"

Riley had a special breakfast of salmon, sweet potato, and kibble yesterday morning. We drove up to UC Davis an hour early so she could relax and we could spend some time at the park on campus before dropping her off. She had a blast! She "hunted" some squirrels, ate some delicious grass, and relaxed in the sunshine on the lawn.

"Come out and play, little squirrel!" ;)

"NOM!" Riley thinks UC Davis grass is delicious
I miss my baby girl and I'm anxiously awaiting a call from the doctor to hear how the surgery went. I will post an update soon!

May 20, 2013

TPLO Surgery is (Tentatively) Scheduled

Riley's knee fluid test came back negative for infection (yay!) but we're still waiting on the culture to develop. So far, the vet says there is nothing growing, but it will be a few days before they know for sure. She is tentatively scheduling Riley for TPLO surgery this Friday (5/24) pending the outcome of the culture. We hope there will be an open slot for her, but won't know for sure until Wednesday. It's all a waiting game at this point. I'm enjoying my time with the Ri girl and spoiling her up with all kinds of treats. Her favorites are sweet potatoes, blueberries, cheese, and bully sticks! :)

Silly girl "cuddling" with Auntie Bree

Quick description of TPLO (Tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy) surgery from Wikipedia:

TPLO, or tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy, is a surgery performed on dogs to stabilize the stifle joint after ruptures of the cranial cruciate ligament (analogous to the anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] in humans, and sometimes colloquially called the same).

The cranial cruciate ligament runs from the cranila mid part of the tibial intercondylar eminence to the lateral condyle of the femur. Normally, the CrCL prevents caudal (backward) movement of the Femur relative to the Tibia. When it ruptures, the joint becomes unstable which causes pain and can lead to chronic progressive arthritis in the stifle if untreated.

In a TPLO procedure, the tibial plateau, the portion of the tibia adjoining the stifle, is cut and rotated so that its slope changes to approximately 5 degrees from the horizontal plane. This prevents the femur from sliding down the slope of the tibial plateau when the dog puts weight on its knee. Thus surgery generally results in faster recovery times compared to other procedures to stabilize the knee. Most dogs (over 90%) are expected to regain a very active and athletic lifestyle with no post-operative complications and without the need for any long-term pain relieving medication.

I will be adding my own pictures/videos of Riley's recovery in hopes that this will be an encouragement to anyone dealing with the same issue. I have absolute faith in the vets at UC Davis. They are, after all, the #2 vet school in the country!


May 15, 2013

Bad News :(

A friend & I took a day off from work today to make the 4 hour round trip to UC Davis for an orthopedic specialist to examine Riley's knee. I'll be brief. Her cruciate ligament in her knee is torn. I had suspected this was the case all along based on how she had been favoring the leg ever since she was attacked.

The resident AND faculty vet both agree it's a ligament tear & requires immediate surgery (they wanted me to schedule the surgery for next week, if possible.) They also recommended the TPLO method, which will cost around $4,500. The vet also says it would be best for her to have the metal plate/screws removed after 3-4 months of recovery to avoid the risk of infection, due to her past history, which is an additional $1,500.

We're relaxing at home with my sweet baby girl and trying to figure out how we're going to make this work. Today's appointment cost $600 (a small fraction of what we've already spent). Please send prayers and good thoughts our way. We could use them. 

May 13, 2013

Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park

Reuben did the "Run For Your Lives" zombie run on Saturday. I decided to take the pups with me to drop him off and see if I could find a spot nearby to go for a short hike. We discovered a beautiful park with a place for the pups to explore and swim.

Entrance to the upper side

 Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park (that's a mouthful!) is located about an hour northeast of Sacramento. It's a gorgeous park and has all kinds of wildlife, including ticks, so make sure to check yourself before you leave.

Posing for a picture by the creek

I was very excited to discover it was a short walk to the creek. Riley's leg has been really bad, but she looooves to swim and it's a great way to tire her out without hurting her leg. Both pups swam for about 45 minutes before we went on a VERY short hike to explore the area.

Cooper goes full derp

Riley with a little silly lip action

These guys move so quickly it's hard to get good pictures of them! Riley and Cooper both showed off their derpy sides and made faces for the camera.

Pointing at the deer - "Mom! It's over here!"

The deer came bursting out of the bushes to the left

I always doubted the pups would be any good at hunting fur (as opposed to feathers). Well, they found fur for me. A very big, furry doe! Riley kept going nuts around a large cluster of bushes and she locked up onto a point a few times, with Cooper honoring. I just told her she was silly and kept walking. She was so frustrated with me that she ran around the opposite side of the bushes and barged right in... flushing a deer out right in front of me! I was so shocked I didn't even think about taking a picture. The deer definitely wasn't scared of me and just kind of stood there staring at me before she leapt away and effortlessly cleared the barbed wire boundary fence. A few seconds later my hunter pups came running around the bush and started trying to track the deer. I had to recall them a few times before they gave up. My lesson from that day was to trust my pups' noses!

I discovered a new panoramic setting on my phone and took a couple of pictures to show just how gorgeous the park is. If you have a chance and are in the area I strongly recommend visiting the park.

One flag left!

Muddy and yucky, but he survived
Oh, and my hubby did great at the zombie race. He "survived" (didn't run out of flags) and earned a medal for his accomplishment! Cooper's been running with him during the cooler hours of the day and they're both in great shape now.

May 6, 2013

May 4, 2013

Pups & Peanut Butter

I love putting peanut butter on my pups' noses. It's hilarious to watch them try to lick it off! After a few minutes, they discovered it was easier to lick it off each others noses. Smart pups! :)

May 2, 2013

Hunting Styles

"If you have a Vizsla you hunt with who is subtle, then get to know him or her and don't dismiss it as a lack of prey drive, as it may just be they have a different way of letting you know." ~ Aussie Vizsla Diaries

"Try telling them the freezer is full"

A brilliant blog post written by my friend "down under" about hunting with dogs who show their points in different ways. I hate it when people are discouraged by trainers who tell them their dog has no hunt potential simply because they don't have obvious, showy points. Please check out his blog! He has some great tips on bow hunting and training dogs the natural way. :)