Anyone have experience with Ataxia? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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Anyone have experience with Ataxia?

Hello all - I came looking here for help for my girl Xena, though I wish I'd seen this years ago. Ah, well...

To the beginning - she has very bad hip dysplasia, but I didn't know how bad till age 5 when I had the x-rays done - until then she went to dog parks every day (her favorite running partner was a Pharoh Hound!!! ). Gradually over the years the hips deteriorated, then the knees - she was on senior food at age 5, supplements by 8ish. The playgrounds stopped between 7 and 8. She was always very active with an obscenely high play drive. She also chased a burglar out of the apt when she was 1.5, and got between me and a mugger at 9. She is now 13.


About 2.5 months ago she started to trip over herself and fall. I thought it was the hips/knees. Occationally she'd step down on her toes on the side with the injured knee - and I thought she wasn't picking her paw up high enough somehow. She ate, drank, and seemed happy enough so I just took it as another stage of old age.


Then I came home from work one day 2ish weeks ago and she could barely stand. Next morning, at the vet. He diagnosed her with Ataxia "Drunken Dog Disease" - a progressive neurological disorder that often affects the back end, causing them to fall all over like they're inebriated. It can have a gradual or sudden onset, and while it can have several sources there is no definitive cause or cure. My dog is not displaying any of the secondary signs very strongly to determine which type of Ataxia she has, though cerebular is suspected.

In the past few weeks it's gotten worse - she can't really stand without help, she drags her butt along. She thinks she's supposed to go INSIDE not OUTSIDE...and despite rugs, wee-wee pads and my best efforts the wood floor underneath is puckering from the piss while I"m at work. Most nights when I come home I'm cleaning for an hour or more.


She hasn't given me the look yet that she's ready to go, but since I can't be home all the time to clean when she goes she's covered in piss when I get home, and I know that's not good. This is my first dog, and I don't know what to do. Beyond that she's 77 lbs and too big for me to carry into the car by myself now (I'm a 145lb woman). I don't know what to do. I'm getting her back on Rimadyl hoping that it's the pain that's inhibiting her from standing/walking but the few steps she takes are almost sideways...which Rimadyl will not help. And if it is cerebular ataxia as my vet suspects my question becomes...when is it time to...you know... Because it's always fatal, though sometimes it can progress slowly. Sadly that doesn't seem to be the case now.





Thanks in advance for letting me write a three tissue post for my first time here.

--Xenas Mom.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:20 PM
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It sounds like you need to sling her for now.. u can buy them with padded handles or just use a sheet. Ypu put it under her belly just in front of her back legs and hold it like a sling to assist and steady her walking. Put a short leash on her to maintain control and guide her. This should enable you to rinse her back end off. Otherwise she can get urine burns and sores from ammonia.

Use a tarp on your floor, go to a thrift store and get absorbent towels and comforters and blankets to absorb and keep her comfortable. I say thrift store because you probly wont want to be using any of these after your shower. It may help to get rid of some hair on her hindend ..under her tail and anything else that is holding wet urine on her.

Hope it helps and Im really sorry about your dog. She sounds amazing and like a real loyal friend.

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:22 PM
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dogs can get "drunk" on water , when they drink copious amounts at one time which then disturbs there salt ratio , an electrolyte imbalance.

I would recommend you pair these words Dogs Naturally magazine / ataxia and then go through the pages and pages of vet written articles that come up with some reference to ataxia .

I spent the better part of the day with the editor / publisher of this magazine today and she was saying that in the next issue Sept / Oct , there will be a new vet on board that will answer questions .

At least it will inform you so that you can ask better questions and get better results .

hope this is of some help

Carmen
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:25 PM
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I'm so sorry to read this. I think you'll know when the time comes, and it seems like it's going to be coming soon. Even with her issues, Xena's had a wonderful life all the way to thirteen years old. She was a very lucky dog to have you, and I know you were lucky to have her. It would be a better world if we all had such a dog in our lives.

I hope you find peace.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Drunk on water...all the time? I'll keep an eye out for the article you speak of but forgive me if I look a bit dubious. Such an electrolyte imbalance in humans I'm familar with - it can be fatal and takes an insane amount of water, and the effects are usually fairly short duration (there was a radio contest to drink water for a Wii and the winner, a woman, died winning the Wii for her kids - it was all over the news at the time where I live).

As for the sling...I carry her butt now, that's not a problem but she won't walk off the porch. I get her onto the porch and she turns right around to go back inside - and as SOON as her hind end is through the threshold, she pulls her feet up and starts to piss in buckets even as I'm carrying her so I'm dragging her butt back outside - while she digs her front claws in resisting me pulling her back outside - she believe she's supposed to go inside....which cannot continue. My new house smells worse than a dirty dog kennel now.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:33 PM
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Many times the sling will not only be easier on you and your back, but allow her to feel much more steady and willing to walk. I was a vet tech for 25 yrs. I was just trying to help.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:43 PM
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dear dubious -- the condition is known as hypoanatremia - something which we should know about , especially when we have dogs that tear around like fools in this extreme heat (when will it end) and then gulp down buckets of water .
The District of Columbia Academy of Veterinary Medicine
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Tazor - I didn't mean it like that, sorry if it seemed so. I'll see what I can put together and try it.

Carm - thanks for giving the name, I'd forgotten. I'm dubious because she's not drinking buckets of water - far from it. And she's not outside - she resists every attempt I make to get her outside, even if just for a few minutes to try to get her to go. That's why I really don't think that's what this is. I'll read up as suggested regardless, thanks for the input.

Last edited by Xenas mom; 07-25-2012 at 10:58 PM.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 10:52 PM
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It could be some level of dementia. Linus (who left us at 15) NEVER did tell us he was ready to go and seemed happy till the end, and sometimes I wish I had made that decision for him as he died while I was away at work. He just got to where he would pee when ever he walked and then he got to where he could hardly walk and would pee and lay in it, and we went through two carpet shampoers...shampooing every night.

These are hard times I know -- I am afraid I can't offer any help. Just wish I had some answers. I like that magazine from what I have read though.

Nancy



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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-25-2012, 11:06 PM
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your dog has achieved a very great age , especially for all the problems she had , so congratulations for your great care . The links to hypoanatremia were given to help explain what your vet did not , could not , and called Drunken dog syndrome.

wishing the best for you
Carmen
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