Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process

My posts are behind the real time events; I'm writing things up as I can because I've been putting a lot of time and work into taking care of her and figuring out what's is going on with her legs and how to fix it. Last time I roughly explained what has been happening.

She is a young girl, full of life, and I've been really worried about her.

I don't even want to imagine what not being able to run, play and chase critters all she wants would do to her. Because that is her life. That is what she loves. That is what makes her happy.

Temporary restrictions are one thing, as long as we can figure this out and fix it.

After the last event, we immediately made an appointments both with her chiropractor and her primary vet. The chiropractic appointment was for Friday and primary vet's appointment was for Monday. In the meantime, when her primary vet read my messages, she also wanted to book her in with an orthopedic specialist, who, luckily for us, was going to be at their hospital the next week. We agreed to that and made that appointment as well.

The next day she looked good but we decided to do a leashed walk only just to be sure, particularly until she had a chance to get adjusted. Of course, the leash can restrict her movement geographically, but cannot restrict her enthusiasm much.

When she came back she looked a bit stiff but not bad. It wasn't until later that day, when is was about time for her afternoon walk, when I felt she didn't look quite right. She'd normally mostly relax between her walks but something was telling me she looked TOO quiet.

When hubby asked whether we should start getting ready to go, I expressed my doubts whether we should and whether she'd really want to go.

We decided to put the walk on hold. After further examination we discovered that the muscles on her pelvis and lower back were brick hard. She is solid and her muscles are tight but they were like rocks. A thorough massage seemed to have loosened them up and make Cookie feel better but we decided she should take it easy anyway.

The next day was her chiropractic appointment.

Her pelvis and lower back were quite a mess with substantial joint dysfunction/restrictions. The chiropractor felt that it was indeed possible that these things could be causing her symptoms depending on her movements. But it was important not to jump to the first available conclusion and ignore other potential causes. This made perfect sense to me. The obvious answer may or may not be the right one.

Fixating on one theory can make one miss what is really going on.

The main worry was that it could be something neurological or systemic. Though we have gone through spinal issues with Jasmine and this didn't look anything like it. But there is no rule that same problem couldn't present differently in different dogs.

I went on to research all potential causes to consider or to be ruled out.

Full range of possibilities ranged from toxins, parasitic infections, other infections or inflammation, neurological issues, immune mediated disease, cancer ...

Leaving those things on the table to discuss, I felt that systemic didn't make much sense to me because there was nothing progressive or consistent about the symptoms.

There were also no suspicious findings on Cookie's recent lab work.

It made more sense to me to look into and consider things that come with transient problems. And because we didn't manage to get a video of the event, I grabbed the list I gathered and went on youtube to see whether there would be visual match with any of those.

I reviewed at least a dozen of videos of dogs suffering from each the following: focal motor seizures, myasthenia gravis and exercise-induced collapse.

None of those was a visual match, not even close.

  • focal motor seizure - very little or no control over the limbs; Cookie had control of them they just didn't respond properly
  • myasthenia gravis - lot of stiffness and rigidness in the affected dogs; Cookie exhibited none of those, her legs were more as if made of rubber rather than stiff
  • exercise induced collapse - heavy panting, all limbs affected, drunken in appearance and falling all over; Cookie didn't exhibit any of those things
The closest match visually were dogs with DM but it still wasn't a good match either. Plus that is also progressive.

Based on that I revised notes from the last event:
  • no drunken sailor signs observed
  • no signs of distress observed
  • no typical signs of pain observed as far as I could tell
  • no heavy panting observed
  • no trembling or shaking or loss of control of the limbs observed
  • no stiffness or rigidness observed; rather rubbery, flaccid in appearance
  • fully alert and responsive
  •  only hind end affected
  • don’t know whether tail was moving or not, didn’t think of looking at the tail, was focused on the legs
  • I don’t believe there was any knuckling present though didn’t have the presence of mind to really look for it or test for it but I think would have noticed if it was happening
  • did not appear as limp/favoring of any kind I’ve ever seen
On Monday appointment I presented the vet with 4 pages of detailed notes and observations.

She examined Cookie and we discussed things in detail. She too didn't feel her problem was systemic in nature. She also didn't believe it was neurological - top contender remained musculoskeletal problem, which brought us back to our initial suspect, Cookie's pelvic region anatomical issues.

Unless something changed, that was our working diagnosis pending the appointment with orthopedic specialist.

Continued here

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!


  1. So glad it still seems to NOT be neuro or systemic. Looking forward to hearing what the orthopedic specialist has to say.

    1. Me too, though from what I gather this kind of stuff can get pretty debilitating too :-(

  2. It's so scary when our pups have something going on and we can't figure it out. I really wish they could tell us what was wrong.

    I hope they figure it out and I hope Cookie feels better soon! Poor girl!

    1. Thank you, Lauren,

      we're working very hard on getting her all better if that's possible.

      It's scary when you don't know because you imagine the worst. Sometimes is scary when you do know too, though.

  3. Replies
    1. We did get what seems to be the answer in the meantime, though not liking it much it's better than some other potential things that it could be. Better but it still sucks, hopefully at least mostly just temporarily.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through this. I hope they find some answers and that something can be done to help Cookie!

    1. I'm so sorry she has to be going through this. We do have some answers since, though I'm not liking it much, it could be worse things than what it is. I'll make another update next Tuesday.

  5. It sounds like you've got some good doctors who are going to whatever needs to be done to help Cookie and figure out what is going on. Glad to hear that they don't think it's neurological or systemic. We are purring for a good visit with the orthopedic specialist and hope that a definite diagnosis and treatment plan is reached! Purrs and prayers -- the KCC Gang

    1. Yes, though I actually really wish we were close enough to see Jasmine's vet; unfortunately he is 413 km away now. But might make the drive to see him anyway potentially.

  6. I hope you can find answers soon. I would be beside myself!

    1. Thank you, Carleenp, we got answers; now we have to figure out what to do with them to get Cookie back to her life.

  7. Poor Cookie! Reading the comments I see that you figured out what was the problem. I hope she has a great recovery. I can't help but think how lucky she is that she is your dog. You are so thorough in helping the experts find a diagnosis.

    1. Yes, seems we got it figured out. Her hip flexors are in bad shape because of the shape her pelvic area is in because of her old untreated pelvic injury. It was the initial suspect.

      Sore hip flexors are a bitch to treat and the underlying issue with the pelvis we can't do much about other than chiropractic and prayers. My heart is broken for my little girly.

  8. I'm so happy to hear that you have a diagnosis for Cookie. Poor baby, I hope she recovers quickly. Kudos to you for doing so much research and advocating for her health! She is one lucky girl!!!!

    1. Thank you, Rosa. Unfortunately, this is not a thing that can be recovered from quickly. Though we're working really hard in order to make it as short as possible.

  9. You are the best patient-parent! You gotsa take notes, and help da vet figure out what is going on. It's hard, it's scary and you is doing great! I know you'll figure it out!

    1. Thank you, Mattie. I wish my trying so hard could make things easier on Cookie and make her heal faster. Not sure it can do that but I'm doing my best.

  10. So sorry to hear she is going through this. It is so hard when we try to figure out what is wrong. Sometimes I wish our dogs could speak to us and say what it is they are feeling. I hope you find the answers soon. I'm looking forward to the follow up on this, and hope all will be well. Such a sweet baby.

    1. I wish that all the time. Though humans can speak and often go without diagnosis for ever in spite of it. It seems we do have a diagnosis now, now we need to figure out what to do with it to get the girly back into shape.

  11. As a pet parent to a dog with chronic health issues, I feel for you. Staying focused yet flexible is how we approach his supportive care! I'm eager to read more in this series...

    1. Cookie is too young for supportive care :-( Hoping we can get her body back together working properly.

  12. I am so sorry you are going through this. It is SO difficult to watch your fur baby struggling and not know how to help! I can relate, as Carmine has some kind of gastrointestinal issue going on, and we can't seem to figure out what's going on. We're waiting for the results of a bunch of lab work at the moment, which will hopefully lead us in the right direction for a diagnosis and treatment. Please hang in there and keep us updated. I hope and pray for a diagnosis and easy treatment for your baby.

    1. Sucks when the babies are ill. Sorry about Carmine, hoping the lab work will give you some answers. XOXOX

  13. I am so sorry that your baby isn't feeling well! It is so scary when you know your dog isn't quite right but can't identify the exact problem. I hope the specialists solve the puzzle for you soon!

    1. Thank you, Daisy. It sucks badly for the poor girly. She's so full of live and she loves being able to run, play and chase critters so much. And has the perfect place for it. And just got fresh snow which she would enjoy immensely ...

      Gotta get her fixed on the double.

  14. How frustrating and scary. I hope you find some answers and can act on them soon. So awful she can't do the things she loves. XS

    1. It is truly awful that she's house-bound like this; she loves being outside, running, playing ... she's born for that and that's what makes her happy.

      We do have answers that seem to make sense in the meantime and acting on it. So far it looks like there is a long road ahead getting things working properly for Cookie again, though :-(

  15. Oh, poor Cookie (and you)! Hope she's moving a bit better since you wrote this. Or at least not in pain. If it's anatomical, hopefully it's something that can be treated without too much invasiveness. Hope it's anatomical, though, and not a disease. :( Best to you!

    1. It's so no right for her to have a body that is not hundred percent. She so deserves one.

      As it seams it is anatomical and mechanical. I'll post another update on Tuesday again. She had the ortho consult and was ordered 1 - 3 months strict rest! :-( hoping to cut down on that substantially with intensive treatments.

      As for her pelvis and one leg being shorted; doubt there is much we can do other than counter with supportive treatments.

  16. I HATE mystery illnesses in our pets :( I have a few dogs who have been through this process and it is always so hard trying to keep them comfortable while not actually knowing what the problem is...

    1. Yes, mysteries such. "Knowing is always better than not knowing." -Gregory House

      Though knowing sometimes sucks too.

  17. It's very good that it's not neuro...and I hope you get answers very soon. Being the mom of a Husky with Canine Epilepsy, I understand checking and ruling out all things...although very frustrating with not finding the cause, each time something is eliminated you are one step closer to discovery. Here's to getting answers and a healing plan very soon!

    1. Thank you. We got what seems to be the answer now but it still sucks for Cookie because best case scenario is long strict test while the underlying cause there isn't much we can do about other than trying to counter it with chiropractic and other therapies. I will update on Tuesday.

  18. I'm glad to hear that the problem doesn't appear to be a nervous system issue or systemic. What a scary thing to have happen! I would be really shaken up if I were you. I hope that you are able to get to the root of the problem quickly.

  19. Yes, that part is good. Though mechanical can get quite debilitating too.

  20. Sorry to hear you're having more medical troubles but glad Cookie has been diagnosed. I hope you find a good path to recovery and she's once again able to enjoy playing in snow, even if it's next Winter...

    1. Thank you, Mary. It's heartbreaking to see such a young, vibrant, vital girl not being able to do what she loves. I'm really hoping she'll still get to enjoy THIS Winter. Working hard toward that goal.

  21. Looking forward to the results - it is never easy to read something like this but I know your sweetie is in the best hands possible.

    1. Thank you, I hope she is [in the best hands possible]. Update on results Tuesday.

  22. Good luck to you and Cookie! It's a good thing you've been watching her so closely, and keeping track of her exact symptoms. That must be helping a lot.

    1. Thank you, Lindsay. Yes, accurate history is important for any diagnosis; doing my best. Would had been great if I had a video but unfortunately that I didn't have so had to rely on description.