This is a follow-up to Dog with Spinal Cord Concussion: Zani’s Story Part 1
In February I told the story of my dog Zani’s accident and traumatic spinal cord injury. Today, almost four months out from the accident, I’m publishing a video diary of the first days of her recovery.
There are several types of spinal cord injuries in dogs. Many of them are debilitating. My previous article describes how my small dog Zani got a traumatic spinal cord injury on February 8, 2018, after running full speed into a fence. I didn’t know what we were dealing with, but I knew what to do. I called a friend, moved Zani carefully to the car, and we went straight to the vet.
Zani was semi-awake but as limp as a rag doll. But it turned out that considering the severity of the blow, her injury was probably the luckiest one she could have had.
After taking her to the vet immediately after the accident and getting her X-rays and a CT scan, Zani got the diagnosis of a spinal cord concussion. I then took her home again. I was shocked that they sent her home with me since she had no use of her legs. She couldn’t walk, crawl, or even use them to steady herself while lying down. But the vet was confident Zani would regain the use of her legs over time, possibly even making a full recovery. The X-rays and CT scan showed no fractures, nothing dislocated, no obvious bruising of the spinal cord. She told me that when the cord is bruised, damage can be permanent.
Zani’s ability to use her legs did come back, beginning the next day and increasing gradually.
The embedded video shows Zani’s daily progress at walking, starting the day after the accident. I created the video so people whose dogs get this rare injury can see the progress of a dog who recovered.
Starting the first day, I had to take Zani out to the yard so she could try to pee and poop. She is one of those dogs who won’t eliminate if she is not comfortable in a situation, including that she will “hold it” for 36 hours or more. No indoor solutions would work and she would hate a diaper. So I knew I needed to try to get her outside even though she could only flail and struggle.
The first few days as captured in the video are hard to watch. I had to let her stumble around because she wouldn’t even try to pee if I was close or trying to support her. She did work out how to pee on her own the very first day, and I was able to swoop in and help her stay steady when she got in position to poop. (I got lots of practice with that move with dear little Cricket.)
Every dog’s situation will be different, as will be their abilities to heal and return to normal activities. I don’t know if Zani’s response was average, above, or below, but I do know that I feel very fortunate about her recovery. At almost four months out, she can run at about 75% of her former speed. She tends to list to one side or the other when she is moving fast, but she also corrects herself. She gets on and off things successfully; she has learned to be careful about it. She can go up and down flights of steps. The main clue that something is still wrong is the listing when moving fast and that she often nods her head or holds it a bit sideways when trotting. She also does some odd thrashing in her sleep that is new.
I will be consulting with a rehab vet soon about what exercises Zani can do and what might be contraindicated. I want to know how I can best help her. I also want to discuss the likelihood of problems as she ages resulting from her gait abnormalities.
At this point, I don’t think she will regain 100% of her pre-accident abilities, but as long as she is not in pain and can do things that make her happy I am good with that!
Related Post and Video
Copyright 2017 Eileen Anderson