Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Riley Update

We finally had our appointment last sunday with the orthopaedic surgeon to evaluate Riley for hip replacement surgery.  Things didn't turn out quite the way I had expected.  The surgeon felt that although he might have some discomfort from his hip that his main problem was likely neurological or spinal.  She felt he might possibly have canine degenerative myelopathy (DM) which is a disease similar to MS in humans.  Another possibility is herniated discs or intervertebral disc problems which are preventing proper nerve language from his brain to his hind limbs.  Final possibilities include tumours or infections but that is not likely.

We saw the orthopaedic surgeon on sunday and I spent monday all snot and tears convinced of all sorts of horrible outcomes.  If he does have DM the majority of dogs have hind end paralysis within six months to a year.  There is no pain involved in DM as it is basically just all the nerves shutting down.  Monday was the day for me to wallow in my fears.  We had an appointment with the neurologist on tuesday morning so I sucked it up and moved on.  The neurologist did a good check over and we did a regular blood panel as well as the blood test for DM.   The DM test is sent to to the USA and will take 2-4 weeks for results.  The neurologist is leaning more towards disc problems than DM based on Riley's age and breed but it is hard to know.  Depending on the results of the DM test we may proceed with an MRI which should hopefully show the problem.  The MRI is very expensive (approx $2100).  Riley's regular blood tests did come back normal.

Riley's symptoms include intermittent dragging of his back feet.  The middle two toe nails are ground very short on those feet.  The dragging is generally worse at the end of our walk.  He has a very straight legged walk with his back end (minimal knee action) and when tired his stance gets wider.  His "bad" hip is the left one but he tends to swing and compensate more with his right leg.  I have thought that was strange but just assumed that it was his way of adjusting for the hip.   He sometimes shows general fatigue weakness in his back legs especially when more tired.   He also paces versus a regular trot gait quite a bit.  He is still my happy go lucky crazy boy always up for action and play and does not seem to be in any pain.  I discontinued his NSAID a few weeks ago when he had some tummy upset and it doesn't seemed to have made a difference to his comfort levels.  I believe that he did have some real soreness or injury back in June but it has mostly healed with his restricted activity levels.  We still walk for about an hour each day and this week I have given him more off leash freedom and he seems to be handling it well.

So it is a waiting game for now.  I have been mostly positive since my melt down day and just enjoying spending time with Riley.  He has so much joy for life that it is hard not to be happy around him.  He was so good when the doctors were poking and prodding him and even offered the neurologist his belly for rubs while we were talking.  Even when he was overwhelmed he just stuffs his head in my lap for comfort and let them do whatever was needed.  If it is DM there is nothing we can do and we will just enjoy the time together.  Some of his symptoms have been around for a long time (although much worse this last year) so now I'm probably inclined to believe it is a disc problem which could mean surgery and we will deal with that if it happens.

Keep us in your good thoughts please!

This summer in Oregon

Puppy Riley loving water already


  1. Sending positive thoughts Riley's way!

  2. Hoping there is a positive outcome for Riley's quality of life. You are a terrific dog parent to be doing all of this for him, but we know you also do it for yourself because you love him so much. Many hugs and positive thoughts being sent your way.

    1. You are right Sylvia. We get so much back so how can we help but do everything we can for them.

  3. Riley, you're in my thoughts bud. I have my paws crossed that it's not DM and it turns out to be something fixable...but no matter what it sounds like you have a wonderful human who loves you very much and will do what's best for you no matter what it takes to make you comfortable. That's the most important thing of all.

  4. I'll be thinking of you guys. I'm so glad he's still happy and pain free!