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Last year when Loki was 5 yrs old they had an incidental finding of grade 3 lumbosacral spondylosis and varying degrees of spondylosis throughout his lumbar vertebrae. The specialist said he had a spine of a 12 year old dog, was amazed he was ambulatory, and went on and on about genetics. He was asymptomatic and we were hopeful he would remain that way. It didn't.

Since February Loki has become intermittently ataxic on his hind limbs, CP deficits that resolve with a few days rest, painful after/during activity, reluctance to jump, and occassional fecal incontinence. Rads show narrowed disc space in several areas and his spinal degeneration is progressing. Loki's been on rest for a couple weeks now since his latest problem. He spends his time looking longingly at the ducks (gotta help with the duck chores right? Time to sort'em? Pen them?) and gets quite upset when he is left behind while the other dogs go hiking in the woods.

So how do you tell a 6 yr old dog that his body is failing him? That soon the 6 mo old puppy will begin training on stock-- his stock? Loki may be mentally in his prime but his body didn't get the message. :(

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So how do you tell a 6 yr old dog that his body is failing him?

This may sound harsh, but in the light of the symptoms you describe, and no therapy to alleviate them, I am afraid that, were it my dog, the answer to that question would be "by putting him down".

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This may sound harsh, but in the light of the symptoms you describe, and no therapy to alleviate them, I am afraid that, were it my dog, the answer to that question would be "by putting him down".

That is certainly an answer that is reasonable within caring for a dog. It's an answer that I hope I would be able to recognize if I were in this sort of position. Not being there myself right now, I only hope that I could choose what would be best for my dog when and if it comes to that for one of mine. This is a sad situation for both dog and loving owner.

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I work in veterinary medicine as a registered vet tech and would call Loki's issues far from euthanasia. With rest he may still be able to return to some exercise. . Maybe once the inflammation decreases? He is happily playing bitey face with the puppy right now and will play a rousing round of roll the ball tonight. Still on nsaids but if drugs keep him comfortable and he can walk on his own power I see no reason for euthanasia. Of course I'm sure he finds roll the ball a stupid game compared to fetch. ;)

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Oh I'm so sorry to Loki, and especially Loki's humans. I started typing, and then read your latest response. So I think my answer is "you make the good days really, really good, and maybe there's a delicious thing to chew on at home when the rest of the crew goes hiking on the not-so-good days." Maybe Loki can get out once or twice with the pup and the ducks and not totally lose his opportunity to work them? In a small area or something so there's less running? (I don't really know anything about working ducks, but do know about adapting activities so people can get the joy of participating even if they aren't physically able to totally keep up). I tend to think in a situation like this, with a dog, I'm more concerned about the in-the-moment pleasure they're able to get on a daily basis, and less concerned about the long-term outcomes of "pushing too hard" because you just don't know how long they'll be able to keep going. I hope he finds some redeeming qualities of "roll the ball"!

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Well, Loki certainly knows how to pose for treats. ;) I'm hoping a bit of rest will have him feeling better and able to do more?

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Do you have time to take him somewhere and do something just with him the other dogs do not get to do? Is he suited for the children reading programs some therapy dogs do? I have seen some BCs do that, though mine would not be suited for it.

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Dean was getting quite upset that I was taking Tessa and Bandit out constantly and he was never going.

 

I started taking him out on his own outings and it helped. He went along with me to teach, I took him swimming, even let him go on a few car rides (although I can't do that much in the summer if I want to stop anywhere).

 

It helped a lot.

 

Now he is doing a lot better and is starting to do things in his own right again. He's much happier. But those extra trips just for him made a really big difference.

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So sorry to hear about Loki.

I agree with those who have suggested taking him on his very own outings. In my experience that kind of thing helps a lot. Wishing you the best.............

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If Loki has a favorite human or two, visits by himself to those special people might boost his spirits as well. Buzz loved having friends to visit him in his last days, you could see him light up for a while.

 

Good luck w/Loki - I hope he starts to feel better soon.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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I have some idea how you and Loki feel, since my Bonnie has become hard of hearing (it started at the age of 4) and is getting worse so I had to limit her sheep herding a great deal. I read that a dog does not know it's going deaf and is mentally none the worse for it, but I think that with a working dog it is not so simple. She knows she's not the chief sheep dog, and it bothers her.

 

I got a suggestion from a friend who has border collies but no stock, and she said that I should start tracking with Bonnie. Just right on our property so that she does not get lost in the process. I had taught Bonnie's mother to find objects that belong to us when she had an injury as a young dog, and she loved it to pieces, it is low-impact on the body (for Bonnie it makes no difference, but for Loki it does) and high impact on the brain, and it works on dog's instincts.

 

All best wishes for you both!

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I use Platinum Performance supplements with good success with arthritic dogs. Might give those a whirl. Have had much better results than any others I have tried.

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I think most every dog loves "private time" with their person. It sounds like that would be something Loki might love, and which would provide you with special memories on down the road...

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Loki's been relaxing around the house and got to run errands with me last weekend. He was quite pleased with himself and was sure the bank drive thru was all about him-- I mean, treats come out of a tube? Wow! ;)

Loki is hanging in there and on some new supplements along with pain meds. At the vets office he couldn't stand/walk without help as the floor was too smooth to provide good traction. Very sad to see as he didn't used to have issues with it. I guess we all get old, some sooner than others. I didn't think it'd be at age 6 though. :(

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You should check out www.handicappedpets.com, they have many products available to help injured/disabled dogs get around. A backend harness may be very useful to get him around.

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Have you tried chiropractic? This was a super huge "aha" moment for me when in animal chiro school: spondylosis as we see on radiographs can absolutely be reversible. In most cases that's not bone we're seeing, but simply mineralized connective tissue (which would appear as bone radiopacity). When connective tissue is placed under abnormal stress through injury, illness, poor confirmation, etc, the body's reaction is to mineralize soft tissues for added support. But when you remove those abnormal stresses through chiropractic, which restores the biomechanics to the way they should be, mineralized structures can de-mineralize and voila: improved movement and comfort for the patient

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I wish this had been known when our old Mac had spondylosis.

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Don't beat yourself up over it Sue. I think those claims are extremely unlikely.

I work in human healthcare, that spondylosis would be reversible by some simple manipulations would be great news. But sadly it isn't.

Think about it, mineralisation of weak tissue looks a lot different on radiographs than the bony growths you see in spondylosis. Not to mention on more modern imaging like MRI.

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If I had read those claims from "just anybody", I might be reluctant to pay them any mind. But I know Emily, who is a veterinarian of some years' practice, as well as having taking the training for canine chiropractic, and I give what she says more consideration than I might that of people I don't know who don't have a veterinary background.

 

I'm not saying that Mac's spondylosis was or wasn't what she described, but it would have been nice to know if there might have been a treatment that could have afforded him some relief. The vet that looked at Mac's xrays may or may not have even been taught to discern between true spondylosis and possibly mineralization as Emily describes. It may not have even been a condition that was recognized over 15 years ago when Mac was diagnosed. If it was what she has experienced, it would not have been the first time that a dog of mine could have been helped by a diagnostic procedure and a treatment that just wasn't around or wasn't common at the time we could have benefited from it.

 

I have found cold laser to be very beneficial to my old dogs, and I would never have thought that some years ago.

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