Thursday, February 26, 2009

Benadryl and its Doggie Benefits

Bailey is now 9 days into her CCL post-op recovery and she's doing well. As part of the healing process though, her incision has started bothering her... it's getting itchy. I thought about trying some kind of hydro-cortisone cream, but was worried she'd ingest it through licking and I didn't want to interfere with the healing of the incision either. I also considered just leaving on her BiteNot collar to prevent her from trying to scratch it, but I didn't want to leave it on her 24/7. And while I prefer not to give her drugs if I don't have to, I eventually decided it would be a good idea to at least try giving her Benadryl (based on the recommendations from my trusty Yahoo Orthodogs group).

I researched this for awhile, to make sure there weren't any possible serious side effects (I couldn't find any) and to make sure I gave her the correct dosage for her size. The generally accepted dosage (found on various veterinarian sites) was 1-2 mg per pound, twice daily. Bailey is around 62 pounds, so I decided to start with 2 pills twice a day to see how she did, knowing that I could up the dosage if needed. Thankfully, it seems to be doing the trick. I'm sure she's much happier without being so itchy and I'm relieved to have found an easy solution.

As an added benefit (at least in how it pertains to keeping her quiet during her recovery), it also has a calming and sedative effect. She's sleeping through the night and her restlessness has tapered down quite a bit. If giving her the Benadryl can help us get through the next 8-10 weeks without her reinjuring herself, it will be worth it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Week Post-Op... and Another Scare

Bailey and I have made it through the first week of her CCL surgery recovery, finally. Only 11 or so more to go... sigh.

Last night we had a scare (well, I did). I had been giving her marrow bones to keep her occupied in the evenings when she was restless, and last night she refused hers. This was my first real indication something was wrong. Then she didn't want any dinner. Uh-oh. I mixed some pumpkin in her food and she decided to eat it. Ok, whew. Everything must be ok then, right? Not so.

The next few hours, she seemed to get progressively more and more restless and anxious. She'd try to lie down and rest, only to jump back up a few seconds later and pace. She kept asking to go out to the bathroom, but then couldn't go when we were outside. After watching this for some time, the sudden thought entered my head that she may have swallowed a bone fragment from one of the marrow bones and it got lodged inside her. That thought sent me into a panic, thinking I'd better get her in right away to find out. Of course, this occurred at 10:30 at night, well after clinic hours.

I tried calling the clinic where she did surgery, but they didn't have an answering service after 10pm (I tried anyway... twice). I then called a clinic I've taken her to in the past that I knew had 24-hour on-call service. One of their vets kindly called me back and managed to calm me down somewhat. She had me check Bailey's gum color and test her gum capillary response, both of which were good. Her feeling was that this was likely not an after-hours emergency that required her to be x-rayed and examined immediately, although she made it clear she did not want to talk me into or out of anything. She suggested trying Pepcid AC, so I did that and decided to wait and see how the evening went.

It seemed to help... huge relief (to Bailey also, I'm sure). She started to stop pacing so much and was able to doze off and on throughout the night (which I tried to do with her). I ended up having another night of maybe 3 hours sleep, lying next to her on the floor... dressed, with my shoes on, and the leash, my coat, and the phone right next to me (just in case). A likely overreaction on my part, but I had never seen her that way and it scared me.

This morning, she was finally able to go to the bathroom and put my mind at ease. She has spent most of today sleeping, catching up from last night no doubt. And I worked from home (thank goodness they let me when I need to) and kept a close eye on her.

And to finish on another good note, here is today's picture of her incision... it looks great, except for the part where the staples popped out. Yay!

The vet clinic who calmed me down after hours and very late at night, even when Bailey was no longer a patient there (thank you!!): Woodford Vet Clinic

Monday, February 23, 2009

Protecting The Incision

Well, I've officially humiliated my dog.

In an effort to keep Bailey from licking, biting, scratching and generally messing around with the surgery incision site, I'm putting her in a protective collar during the day when I'm away from home and can't keep an eye on her. Now, I've been trying to convince her that this collar (called Bite Not) that I got for her is actually much more attractive and comfortable than the traditional e-collar that the vet sent her home with, but I don't think she's buying it. What do you think?

This is her look of shock and horror that I'm putting her through this nonsense:

This is her look of resignation and sorrow:

And this is the look of humiliation, while she is cursing me under her breath:

The Bite Not collar is actually pretty darned awesome from my point of view and definitely a worthwhile investment for me. When she was wearing the original e-collar from the vet, she wouldn't lie down, kept bumping into things, and was generally pretty stressed out while it was on. With this collar, she has her peripheral vision, she can easily nap in it (which I've witnessed), and she tolerates it surprisingly well.

For more details on the Bite Not collar and where you can buy it:

P.S. They also have them for cats! What I can't picture is how you'd actually get your cat to hold still long enough to allow you to put it on...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Cooked For My Dog

Yes, it's true. Many people may not think this is a big deal, but for me... trust me, it is. I rarely cook for myself. Why then would I do such a thing? Good question.

After Bailey's surgery this week, I knew she may not have much of an appetite. I also knew that the anesthesia and pain meds can affect the digestive system and make it difficult for things to pass through. Plus, Bailey has always had a sensitive digestive system... one thing ingested that's out of the ordinary could send her into a few days of diarrhea easily (ask me how I know). AND, last but not least, her pain meds needed to be taken with food. My goal was to get food in her stomach that would be easily digestible and entice her to eat even if she didn't really feel like it.

Here is the result:

Sure looks appetizing, doesn't it? Well luckily for me, to Bailey it did. It was very simple (even a non-cook like me was able to accomplish it). Ingredients: cooked ground chicken (beef or turkey would work just as well), plain white boiled rice, a few scoops of canned pumpkin (not the pie mix, just pumpkin), and some chicken broth for extra flavor. Mix it all together and that's it. I just stuck it in the frig and made enough to last until I got her converted back to her regular food.

You may be wondering about the pumpkin... well, I discovered through numerous online tips (many through the awesome Orthodogs Yahoo group I belong to) that pumpkin is great for digestive issues with dogs. If things aren't moving, it will help them move along. If they're moving too well, it can help with that also. I was a little worried that Bailey might turn her nose up at the pumpkin (she's not a normal "wolf down anything edible" labrador), but she didn't. And without getting into any of the unpleasant details, let's just say it worked great.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Emergency Visit to the Vet

Well, darn it anyway. We couldn't even get through one week without having a moment of panic, resulting in rushing back to the vet's office. Sigh.

Before I go on, I'll let you know all is well. I'm still not quite sure what happened (I didn't see the exact moment), but here is my best guess.

Bailey was getting a little restless and bored (who can blame her?), so I decided it would be a good idea to reintroduce the Kong - a favorite among dog owners who need to keep their canines occupied and content. I stuck a treat in it and plopped it down in front of her (she was standing at the time). She had this look of "cool!", so I thought "great, problem solved!" and started to walk away. Two seconds later I hear a loud yelp and then she started crying and hobbling around frantically. It was definitely a my-heart-is-in-my-throat moment, as the first thing that entered my mind was that she did something to the internal repair done on her knee.

Once I got her somewhat quieted down and standing still, I tried to figure out what happened. Then I saw something shiny on the floor... a few of her staples. Oh crap. I looked at her incision and saw that it had started bleeding. Oh double crap. Lots of swearing occurred. I grabbed the phone, dialed the vet and explained the situation. They asked me to bring her in right away and me, being somewhat panicked, got her there in record time (yes, they gave me a look of surprise when I walked in).

They put us in an examining room right away and the vet was in right afterward (these guys are awesome). Dr. Keith immediately crouched down by Bailey to greet and try to calm her - and then reached over and put his hand on my arm... "you ok?". Poor guy must have known he had a panicky dog owner on his hands. He examined her and said he could not feel any damage done internally to her knee repair, which was a huge relief. He checked out her wound and thought it would be ok to leave it as is. So all is well and I can breathe normally again.

So what happened to cause this? My guess is that Bailey saw her Kong and momentarily forgot her leg was hurt and tried to lie down normally instead of being cautious. It maybe caused too much pressure on the incision and caused some of the staples to pop and the incision to break open some. She's been much slower and more careful since then, although it could be from soreness more than just being cautious.

This is her "sorry, Mom..." look:

My awesome vets: Crossroads Veterinary Clinic

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Day After Surgery

Well, it's the day after Bailey came home from her CCL repair surgery. Poor girl looks miserable (and I'm sure she is). Last night was rough. She definitely had some bad pain for awhile that even the morphine and percodan couldn't mask. I felt awful for her.

Some good news - the vet said her x-rays were great! She has awesome hips and her knees show no sign of arthritis. All bodes well for a successful recovery for her. Her ligament had been completed severed (ok, his words were that it looked like it exploded... ugh), but there was no damage at all to her meniscus. I'm relieved that she's over this first hurdle.

Today she's been quiet and dozing off and on. Since she (and I) only had a few hours sleep last night, I'm glad to see her resting now. She has a lot of difficulty maneuvering around, which is understandable. Lying down and getting back up is quite an ordeal for her. Taking her out for bathroom breaks has been challenging. I keep her on the leash both outside and in the house, to keep her from moving around too much.

Here is a closer view of the surgical site on her leg... the first photo is right after I got her home from surgery. The second photo was taken today and it already is showing some improvement with the level of swelling and redness. Those staples look painful.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dog's Worst Nightmare (what - no more fetching??)

Yes, it's true.

Bailey, my 9-yr old yellow lab (why do people always qualify this with color? "black lab", "chocolate lab"... I dunno) that I was playing fetch with, ruptured her CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) in her right hind leg the other day.

Fetching the ball is her favorite game ever. EVER. I haven't yet figured out how to break it to her that her fetching days may be over. That picture in the sidebar of this blog is her, doing what she loves most. What a bummer.