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Save Your Dog! A Few Things You Should Know....

Updated on September 23, 2009

I didn't know there was a treatment....

Poor, Sweet Angel
Poor, Sweet Angel
She could still run and play
She could still run and play

Get the facts from multiple sources BEFORE you put them down!

I love dogs. And I had two of them - Angel and Dragon. Dragon (still alive) is my daughter, and Angel (deceased) was the family doggy.

Angel was put down before her time - and I learned later that it could have been delayed.

If you or someone you know loves a dog, please read...there are a few things you should know:

Incontinence - It Is Treatable!

Angel was very old (17 years). She had cataracts that made her nearly blind, she had thinning hair (though prescription shampoo and sprays helped it grow back), and by age 15 she was covered in ugly tumors head-to-toe (I ended up spending over $300 at the vet to have them removed because they affected people wanting to pet her). After the special shampoo, spray, and tumor-removal -- she was cute as new again! She also had a leg that often popped out of the socket, causing her to limp -- but that didn't stop her from being happy and running and playing! But the worst was yet to come: incontinence.

At age 17, Angel lost her ability to hold in her peepee. Every single day, I'd have to give her a bath and wash her bedding because when I arrived home from work I'd find her sitting in her own filth - cold and shivering from being wet. It was sad to witness, but it was also extremely frustrating and time-consuming to deal with. I did not blame Angel, and I did not show frustration toward her - I tried to be sympathetic. But the fact was, it was a daily hassle and sorrow.

I discussed the situation with my vet, stating that we could not have a dog peeing in the house with our wood floors and so Angel had been staying in the garage (after years of being with us in the house...very sad). The vet agreed that was not quality-life for Angel. We discussed the possibility of "putting her down," and the family agreed, so we scheduled the appointment for the following week. One more week of love for Angel. Now, she is gone.

Can you imagine my extreme distress when my personal doggy, Dragon, developed incontinence a few years later at the age of 13?! That was one of the worst days of my life because I thought it meant that I had to put her down, too! Again, I was living in a place that could not tolerate dog urine. I was devastated. And I found myself, again, visiting the vet for a consult - and this time, I was crying my eyes out hard-core.

However...this time, the vet told me something completely different. She said, "You don't have to put her down - there are pills for this kind of thing."

I was like, "HUH???" Why wasn't I told this for Angel?

I tried the pills with Dragon, and guess what? They worked like a charm. They are called PPA (also known as Proin, or phenylpropanolamine) and they come in brown chewables (50mg instant-release), or solid white non-chewable pills (75mg slow-release). At first I gave Dragon the chewables, which are two-a-day, morning and night. But I was really bad at remembering to give them to her on-time (particularly in the morning) - so I switched to the non-chews, which are only one-a-day because they are slow-release, and which I quickly push down her throat right before dinner time (and I set my cell phone alarm to remind me at 8pm). She gets one consistently each night at 8pm, and as long as I let her out for one last potty right before bedtime, and limit her night-time water, she wakes up dry!

So there you have it: PPA is a potential solution for your doggy! Please ask your vet about such options. You DO have options!

Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome (also mistaken as Stroke)

So the PPA was working well for Dragon's peepee problems. But around age 15, Dragon suddenly appeared to have had a stroke.

I had just parked my truck at the grocery store, Dragon was in the back of the truck, and suddenly I heard a "Thump!" I looked back and Dragon had fallen down. She stood back up, but then fell down again. "Silly dog," I thought to myself. But when I got home from the store and opened the truck to let her out, that's when I noticed her stroke-like symptoms.

She suddenly had a strange head-tilt. She was wobbly, having difficulty standing straight, and she kept falling down. Her eyes were moving around funny, left-to-right, constantly. She wouldn't cross the gap where the truck bed separates from the tailgate (similar to what elderly experience with dementia). And I later found out she now wouldn't cross any lines whatsoever, such as the metal bar at the base of the front door. But the worst was that she couldn't stand straight, so when I put her on the ground, she'd take a few steps and then fall! Get up, a few more steps, and then fall! She'd plop down on her side. It was extremely heartbreaking. I thought, "This is it...I'm losing her."

It was after 7pm and my vet was closed for the day. So, crying very hard, I decided to research the symptoms on the Internet. And I'm SO glad that I did! Because I found out that she most likely had something called "Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome" (also known as Canine Vestibular Syndrome, or Vestibular Disease), which is usually a TEMPORARY syndrome! Apparently, the symptoms only last about one month (sometimes two), and then they go away. In some cases, the head-tilt is permanent; but the falling, the eye-movements, and the wobbliness go away on their own.

I took Dragon to the vet the next morning anyway, and sure enough - they said it was probably Vestibular Syndrome. They prescribed some medicine for nausea (because they said the eye-movements and wobbliness is because Dragon is DIZZY in her head), which will go away in time, but until then - she needs nausea medicine to prevent vomiting, and help her keep her food down and be comfortable.

It was a little hard for about three weeks because Dragon needed help to go to the bathroom (or else she'd fall down!). Fortunately, I didn't have a job, so I was able to give her constant attention. [Note: I recommend you take time off from work, or ensure you have a constant babysitter if this happens to your pooch - because they will need assistance with walking.] Here's what I did: I took a long leash, attached it to her collar, then wrapped the long part around her belly (just in front of her legs) to help lift her up. Basically, I was holding her up by her neck AND her belly. If I didn't help hold her belly up, she would fall over. A lot of attention, a lot of potty-assistance, a little nausea medicine - and she was all better in three weeks! She didn't even keep her head-tilt. She was completely back to normal!

Sadly, when I was researching Vestibular Syndrome, I learned that many people who experience this with their dogs...believe their dog had a stroke...and that their dog will never get better (because they don't know Vestibular goes away!)...and therefore, they put the dog to sleep! Awwww, how sad! And again, it could have been prevented!

Deramaxx - May Be Doing More Damage Than Good

Dragon has extremely bad arthritis in her hips. I call her "Creaky Bones" because she literally creaks when she gets up! Poor puppy.... The vet gave me Deramaxx for the inflamation, and I was originally under the impression that it helped with pain, too. (I later found out that it does not help pain, supposedly -- it's strictly for inflammation, like arthritis swelling.)

So I would give her a Deramaxx every night before bed time, because if I didn't, she would cry non-stop from her discomfort. The crying was soooo bad that it prevented us from sleeping. And so, she got a Deramaxx every night as the vet prescribed. She liked eating the Deramaxx, which is a beef-flavored chewable tablet. She would get 1/2 a 100mg tablet at night (50mg).

Well, the crying went away. But almost a year into the Deramaxx usage, Dragon developed another similar habit: heavy, loud panting. She would pant very loudly all night long...again, it was enough to keep us awake. And it wasn't just panting...we could actually hear her lungs expanding and contracting! I took her to the vet, but they couldn't tell me what it was because they weren't hearing it (she only did it at night). After taking her to the vet a few times with no luck, I finally decided on my own that it must be the Deramaxx. After all, she only panted at night...and that's when I'd give her the Deramaxx.

So, for a trial period, I stopped giving her the Deramaxx. But then she started crying again at night! I remembered a long time ago that another vet said you can give aspirin to a dog in very tiny amounts, so I tried that. Well, the panting soon went away for about a week. But then it came right back. When I asked my vet about it, they said NOT to give your dog aspirin, and that it is basically the same as Deramaxx anyway. Hmmmm...that explains why the panting came back.

So I put her back on the Deramaxx, but then continued with my research. That's when I discovered Apple Cider Vinegar (a holistic remedy for arthritis), as well as feeding your dog home-made chicken/veggie stew (for better health and nutrition). A doggy-accupuncturist had told me before that carrots are good for dogs, so I started making my own version of a chicken stew with carrots for Dragon: chicken, chicken stock or water, carrots, sweet potatoes or butternut squash, apples, chopped/ground fennel seed (dogs love fennel!), garlic and oregano (a holistic remedy for flea control), and celtic sea salt. Brown the chicken, then add the rest and simmer to a soft stew (about 1-2 hours), and voila! Dragon's favorite meal! I put two heaping ladles in her bowl, then I mix in 1-2 Tablespoons of organic, raw apple cider vinegar, which is supposed to really help dogs with arthritis. (Dragon is 50lbs, so I use 2 Tablespoons.) I know! I had never heard of that! But guess what? It worked. Make sure it's real Apple Cider Vinegar though, and not that apple cider "flavored" stuff (not the same thing!).

To this day, Dragon has been off her Deramaxx (it's been over 4 months). She has a "back-up" prescription pill for pain called Tramadol, which I only use for emergencies (crying from pain at night). I've only had to use it twice in the past few months. No more Deramaxx, no more aspirin...but best of all - NO MORE CRYING and NO MORE PANTING. The stew has also helped her lose weight, which probably also helps with the panting.

Now we can sleep at night peacefully.

And best of all, I can rest easy knowing that I don't have to put my dog down for reasons that I never knew before were treatable. I wanted so much to share this with you, so you can learn from my mistakes, and the mistakes of others. Your doggy has options! Vets are like regular doctors, and regular people -- they don't all know the same information! Some vets think aspirin is OK, and some don't. Some vets think Vestibular Syndrome IS stroke, and some don't. Please, no matter what the situation, research heavily before you assume the worse. Get multiple opinions, call around to different vets, and research the Internet. You may find happy news for you AND your pet.

We love you, Angel. Rest in peace, you good, good dog. ♥


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    • profile image

      Celena 5 years ago

      My Basset Hound Duke is 13 and can't hold his peepee all day like he used to, plus he is having some hip and hind leg problems. We started using a wide exercise strap, like one you'd wear around your waist, and Poise pads and use like a diaper to protect from accidents. Works really well.

    • Paulart profile image

      Paulart 6 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      Wow fantastic hub information.

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 7 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      Thank you. Good hub. Dogs deserve the best.

    • Valerian profile image

      Valerian 8 years ago from California

      Aww, I hope your dog gets better really soon! Dear, sweet puppy....

    • profile image

      lynn 8 years ago

      Thank you so much for the info. My dog just had a stroke two days ago and after doing research and continuing to do so I found that there is LOTS of hope for a full recovery. I don't depend on just a doctor's advice, though diagnostic is important, because this is their field of expertise, but I do know from my experience that research is vital and the more you know of the subject the more options you have to assess the situation to come to your own conclusion. I REALLY appreciate this comment and I find it very useful as I will cook something like this for him. It is quite difficult as I have to hand feed him and put in his mouth before he can eat. I tried to put it on the plate and let him smell the food and try to eat, that wouldn't do it. I actually have to insert it in his mouth and only then will he swallow.