Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 5

Week five is here and so far it's been going well.  Portland has had a pretty dry start to our wet season so going for potty breaks and for short walks multiple times a day has been pretty easy.  Fin has full range of motion, we started actively doing range of motion exercises at week four, and we should have started them around week two.  We have been doing light stretching this past week.  And this week we started swimming!  It was so much fun.  Fin loves the water and after a half an hour, he was pretty tired and ready to go home.  As long as he feels well tomorrow, I think we will try to go swimming once a week until we are up to week eight, or maybe to week ten.  Fin has been doing so well I'd really like to start letting him off leash to go potty, but I know as soon as he is off leash he will go tearing around the yard.   So, for now we wait for the healing to be complete.  From the different sources (see bottom of blog) it sounds like every dog is different, but if you are strict with conservative management, the ligament should be relatively healed by week eight.  At week eight, pending any setbacks, I am planning on allowing leash-free pottying in the yard.  Maybe for Christmas.  We have had success and all four paws on now on the ground during pooping!  What a wonderful thing to celebrate, and we are very thankful that we can see progress in his knee strength. 

Just for fun, Fin got to chew up an empty box of Jubelale.  It was a great boredom buster.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let's go around the block again!

Round and round the block we go.  This week has been the best yet.  We have worked up to walks around a small block in our neighborhood.  I normally walk the dogs for exercise, so we walk pretty fast, but the walks we do now are slow and Fin gets to sniff everything.  He finds this very very exciting.  After not being out of the yard for two weeks, this was awesome! 
Fin has never had a problem making his own fun, as you can see.  But these past few weeks have been especially boring so I've been teaching him, and his sister, to play dead.  He seems to really enjoy learning something new, and the treats don't hurt either. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Subtle things to look for

Dogs are great at hiding their injuries which makes it harder to tell when they are really putting full weight on their injured leg again.  One very simple observation you can make to see if your dog is actually using his foot is to look at the nails and the hair between the paw pads.  During the first week of injury Fin's toe nails and hair on his injured foot were much longer than on his uninjured foot even though he didn't seem to be limping.  This means that he was not using that foot to push off the ground, but simply using it to touch the ground without bearing his full weight.  This week his nails are back to the same length as his 'good' foot's nails and he is putting pressure on his injured leg with enough force to grind down the nails normally.  We are not doing anything different this week from last, just the same very short walks.     
                     Fin before his injury, our goal is to get back to ball playing,
                     a pretty far off goal right now, but we will get there.

A great way to keep track of your progress is to get a wall calendar, either on your computer, or a wall calendar.  Start with the date of the injury and write down everything you do with your dog everyday and any changes you see no matter how small you might think those changes are.  Make sure you note any limping, or pain you notice.  Look at the feet and note if the nails are longer, or the same length as the other nails.  

Also, and this might sound funny, but notice if your dog is able to squat comfortably during potty times.  Fin is still struggling with pooping and sometimes poops with only three feet on the ground.  As a male dog, he seems to be able to stand on that leg to urinate, but not squat to poop.  It will be a big milestone for us when he poops with four legs on the ground. :)

Keeping track of improvements will help you see that you are making progress, and your dog is healing, even if that progress is slow.