So, back to the story of my dog Luna’s TPLO surgery to repair her ruptured cruciate ligament in her right rear leg. In my February 3 post, I described the days immediately following her surgery. Fortunately, the repaired leg was healing quickly and flawlessly. Unfortunately, Luna’s “good” leg suffered a fate similar to her other leg—the cruciate ligament failed.
As a result of her disability (she couldn’t use either leg at this point), I used a full body harness to help Luna move about. I “suited her up” in the morning and released her from the harness in the evening just before settling down for the night. The design of the harness allowed her to eliminate while wearing it. Worked like a charm.
During the first week of placing her in the harness, I tied a cone on her neck during the process. I wanted to be sure she couldn’t bite me were I to inadvertently cause her pain. I can report now that not once did she show an inclination to bite during this process. In fact, she began to shift her weight in ways so that I would have an easier time of slipping the straps around her. (Good job, Luna!)
Luna insisted upon staying outside in my fenced, shaded backyard when I departed for work each day. (Thank goodness we had a sunny month in Seattle this year!) A retired couple, her very special friends, would visit her once each day in my absence. Luna loved this!
About two weeks after her surgery, Luna had her first appointment with the rehab vet, who proved to be a wonderful person and highly skilled. This appointment coincided with her first post-surgical check-up, which she sailed through with no problems.
The rehab vet took a look at Luna and proposed the following:
- Crash Diet: Place Luna on a diet to reduce her weight immediately as being overweight was a serious problem for her compromised joints. Feed her 1/3 cup of her regular food twice daily and feed her ½ cup of veggies with each meal. If she insists on eating between meals, give her only vegetables. Luna weighed in at 83 pounds on August 10, the date of her appointment. She needed to lose about 20 pounds.
- Give Luna 1 teaspoon of psyllium twice daily to help her bowels move easily. (I bought it at Trader Joe’s at a great price.)
- Give Luna an Adequan injection now to help reduce inflammation in her joints. (Done at the appointment. $17.40)
- Consider taking Luna to a “dog spa” to swim or arrange for her to walk on an underwater treadmill in order to help with recovery.
After learning more about the underwater treadmill I asked, “Would it be possible for Luna to walk on the treadmill today? I think it would do wonders for her spirit to stand up on her own and to experience walking again.”
Luna in the tank, body and mood buoyed by the water.
Fortunately, it was possible for Luna to get in the dog-sized aquarium that afternoon. Using the harness, the vet helped Luna into the tank and filled it up with enough water to support a bit more than two thirds of her weight. (A computer on the wall and a remote control device held by the vet controlled the amount of water burbling up into the tank.)
The goal of this first appointment was simply to have Luna stand on all four legs for three sessions of about 5 minutes each. She did seem to “perk up”, even smile a little when the water buoyed her, lifting the weight from her legs.
Afterwards, we rubbed Luna down with towels. I bought a four-visit rehab deal ($360) and planned to take Luna twice a week for the next two weeks to see how she liked it and how she progressed.
BTW: At a recent visit to the vet for an Adequan injection, Luna weighed in at 63 pounds. The vet said, “You can see her spine and she’s got a waist now. She can go on a maintenance diet.” (Great job, Luna! Thank you, Dr. Kari Johnson for your excellent advice, care, and support!)
More about Luna’s successful slimming diet coming soon. Think green beans, okra, and pumpkin to add bulk, nutrients, and just a few calories to meals.