Back a few years ago, when Trooper was diagnosed with Diabetes, I blogged about our daily routine and the things we did to care for him. My hope was that someone in similar circumstances might see it and come away with both some hope and ideas on how to cope and care for the dog. I'm going to do a little of the same now with Angus. I'm going to title each such post Canine Broken Leg Care (Part I, II, etc.). Maybe what we do isn't going to be unique or even interesting but Angus isn't the first, last or only dog to be so afflicted and maybe someone will find something in these posts they can use. I invite anyone who has firsthand knowledge or experience to leave tips and ideas in comments. If you have something you'd like to go on the blog please drop me an e-mail and I'll incorporate it into a post.
One of the first things we did was to try and anticipate issues. Pain management, feeding, cast care and safety were our first priorities.
We have a section of floor that is a pretty slick vinyl type flooring. With Angus having a cast (It's actually a covered splint but cast is easier to visualize and for all intents and purposes that's what it is) that goes from shoulder to toes so slip and trip hazards had to be addressed. We got some heavy throw rugs and taped them both together and to the floor. We used duct tape because, well, there's nothing it can't do. We trimmed the rugs around the spaces to fit. This should address both trip and slip problems. We also went around the house and picked up anything off the floor we thought would cause an issue. It's a lot like child proofing. Toys and rawhides go in the toy box and stay there until needed.
Angus sleeps with us. He's also jumpy and I mean that in two senses of the word. He reacts to sudden noises by jumping to his feet and if he's on anything, like the bed, by jumping down and running to investigate. One of the things that the Doc said that stuck with me is that Angus has no idea the extent of his injury or what he shouldn't do. That's up to us to address. I had visions of him taking a header off the bed in the middle of the night while Lu and I were sleeping and knew we had to do something. It's 2 1/2 feet from the bed to the floor. Yeah, that's potentially bad. So we took off the bed frame and box springs and put the mattress on the floor. Angus has shown signs that if reacted to quickly enough he will wait to be lifted down. I think part of that is that we've insisted he not jump down from anything since he was a puppy. He still does it from time to time but generally he's pretty obedient. But changing the potential from almost three feet to 10 inches lessens the possibility of another tragedy significantly. We added a foam doggy mattress at the foot for additional insurance. Plus Lu is already a light sleeper so throw in her natural Momma Sense with heightened awareness and we both sleep better. This will be our sleep area for the next few months (though I have since moved the box springs into storage).
The Doc wanted us to put a plastic bag on the cast when we went outside but I was again concerned about the potential for a slip. I came up with something else. I cut the foot out of a couple of my socks. they slip over the cast easily but hold very securely and provide nice protection and a little warmth. The cast is open at the very tip so we can check his toes for circulation.
Unfortunately it started raining the night we brought him home so I came up with an alternative to the plastic bag idea. I put a baggie on his cast
And then slipped a sock on over it. Genius right?
Yeah, it didn't work. The sock slipped around too much and eventually came off. The baggy/sock combination was too slick. I still think this can work with a little ingenuity but lacking that I went the redneck solution route instead. I turned a sock inside out, put my fist inside it and duct taped the end. I then turned it back right side out, worked out any creases and slipped it on. It works surprisingly well and goes on and off easily while still being secure. We're not going swimming so I don't need absolute waterproofing I just need it to be water resistant and this design accomplishes that well. The sock got wet but the cast stayed dry. I then change him back to a regular dry sock when we come inside. If the rain keeps up I'll go back and work out the bugs in my baggie design but this is an entirely acceptable alternative. Hey, I have plenty of socks and lots of duct tape.
His cast also makes it difficult for Angus to reach the floor with his mouth while standing. He'll eat treats and lick plates while laying down but not food or water. I was going to build a simple raised tray to hold his food and water bowls but Lu had a better idea. We bought a canine travel bag many years ago. It's a plastic and vinyl box that holds food and treats in the base but has a tray at the top with two bowls. It stands about a foot off the floor, the perfect height.
Angus can now easily reach his food and water without straining himself. Many of you out there with skills could do much better and I am wide open to suggestions but for now this will do nicely.
As for food it's important that Angus keep up his intake while not eating so much as to add on excess pounds. That's going to be a real issue I can already tell. We started him on rice with a little chicken flavoring but that can't last. We're transitioning him to his normal food though we're monitoring his portions and treats very closely. His weight is good at the moment but we're going to be obsessive about it really for the rest of his life. He can't get chunky (and he tends toward that anyway), especially right now.
Medication is also critical. It's important to keep Angus on an even keel. Too much and he gets sick and lethargic. Too little and he's in pain and can't eat or sleep. YoYoing may be the worst of all. Going from too much to too little and back over and over again causes too much stress on his body. Keeping him on a strict medication schedule and monitoring him for changes and signs is very important. We give him one Tramadol at 10AM, 2PM and 10PM. We give him one Rimadyl at 10AM and 10PM. Right now that seems to be ideal but we're watching him closely. Doc also wants us to give him 50 mg of Benadryl occasionally to keep him calm and relaxed. Apparently it has the same effects on dogs that it does on humans. I saw what a rigorously regular medication schedule did for Trooper so I tend to be obsessive about it.
Normalcy. This is a tough one. We've gone back to his old schedule and routine as much as possible but there are changes and we're all going to have to adapt. Still, incorporating as much of his old routine as possible seems to help his mental state. For instance. The Doc says we can give him 5 minutes of walking 2-3 times per day. Light and easy walking. On leash, no running or jumping and yes that is a fight with Angus. As far as he's concerned just cut the cast off and let's go! Still, there was something we could do. He used to go walkies every night at 6:30 PM. Regular as clockwork. When done he got a nice chewie treat and it was time to settle in for the night. Bed usually followed shortly thereafter. We are continuing that routine to the extent possible. At 6:30 we get ready, grab coats and a leash and head out. Angus gets excited and it feels just like it always did to him. We walk around the yard and maybe to the next door neighbor's driveway. 5 minutes and it's back inside for his chewie treat and settling in. It doesn't seem to matter how long or far we go just that we go. He and Lu head for the bed about 8:00 or so. Lu reads and Angus cuddles. It's normal and usual for him. It feels right. Medicine and a pee break at 10:00 and we're done for the night. Even now, so soon after the surgery, Angus shows every sign of settling into a comfortable routine and that is a large step toward normalizing his life which reduces his stress levels and makes controlling his Run and Play urges easier.
That's where we are right now. I'll post regularly on his progress and any issues and solutions we come up with. If you're reading this because you're looking for information to help your own pet out and stumbled in I hope you find what I've written useful. Please check comments and send me a message if you have any questions. Again, please comment or e-mail if you have any suggestions, tips or knowledge to share.
For my regular readers and those of you who have so graciously left us prayers, suggestions, kindness and words of wisdom please check back here on Sunday for a special Thank You from Angus, Lu and me. It'll be little enough but it will be a heartfelt expression of our love and gratitude.