mini tala update

For any of you who are following the Tala saga in detail, I now have a clearer picture of the diagnosis. (I certainly don't expect the majority of wmtc readers to follow this closely, but since some friends are, it's easier to post it here.)

Tala does not have canine degenerative disc disease. She has a more specific condition - also chronic, progressive, and degenerative - called cauda equina syndrome, or lumbrosacral disease.

German Shepherds are prone to this. Although Tala's personality and her size run much more to her Husky side, she clearly has strong Shepherd genetics, too. Apparently her disinclination to climb stairs was a huge clue.

Our regular vets agree that our conservative approach is wise, at least for now. There are several different types of drugs we can try, which can be used in combination, with a possibly positive synergistic effect.

The folks at OVC in Guelph are incredibly skilled, caring, and thorough, and it's a state of the art facility. But they are often lacking in two areas.

One, like many specialists, they fail to see the whole dog. For example, after Cody's tumour was removed, they recommended chemotherapy. Cody was 13 years old, with arthritis, creeping dementia, and severe hip displaysia. No way we were taking her to Guleph every three weeks for chemotherapy! But they really pushed it. We had to use our own judgment and consult with our regular vet to chart a more rational and humane course. So when it comes to surgery, I wouldn't necessarily accept their guidance.

The other area where they are not always stellar is communication. The orthopedist we saw (Tala's first and second OVC appointments) was exceptional, and we came away understanding Tala's condition was probably a compressed nerve caused by cauda equina syndrome. But after meeting with the neurologist (the third appointment), I was dazed and confused. Now, however, he's given his report to our regular vet, and I had a long chat with her. And only now do I really understand what's going on.

Our vet also suggested we get a second opinion. There's an experienced person at the Mississauga-Oakville Animal Hospital. I think we should go for that, too.

It still sucks. But I'm now at least I feel I have a better handle on what's happening. Small comfort, but it helps me cope.

At wmtc5 in 2010, someone had moved some couch cushions. Late in the night, when all but a few guests had gone home, we found Tala in this little den. She had never been on the couch before and has never been since!


James Redekop said...

Thanks for keeping up informed! We're wishing Tala the best.

Amy said...

I don't know whether my comment went through, so if this is a duplicate, dump it.

What I said was....

It is always good to have as clear a picture as possible. Does this diagnosis change her treatment in any way?

The pictures are adorable. Kisses to Tala.

laura k said...

Thank you both :)

The treatment changes only in the sense that there are more medications to try, and to try in various doses and combinations, than I thought. This gives me more hope that we will find a medical, non-surgical treatment that will allow her to have more movement without pain.

On the other hand... I now also know that the outcomes of this syndrome can be quite bad. Enough deterioration of the lower spine would effect bowel/bladder control and lower body/hind leg function. That doesn't happen in all cases - but it happens.

Northern Girl said...

I’m so sorry to hear about Tala. It’s hard for you when there is no clear cut choice, but your vet seems very good, and a second opinion may shed some more light on the answer. Hopefully there is a non-surgical answer. Is she in pain? Is she able to go for a short walk?

Laura if you are ever in Guelph and need anything please let me know.

Love the photo of Tala in her “cubby”.

johngoldfine said...

Thanks for updating us. My fingers are crossed that the easier, pleasanter routes are the ones you all find yourself on.

laura k said...

Thank you, John, and thank you, NG, for your offer. We really appreciate it.

On total exercise restriction and with medication, Tala does not seem to be in pain. Last time, when we stepped up her exercise a tiny bit and stepped down the meds a tiny bit, the pain returned - that's what sent us to Guelph the second time and third times.

Now we'll begin new medications, give them a chance to kick in, and try again to increase her exercise a tiny bit at a time.

On earlier posts re Tala, you can see the pen we have set up in the yard and read more details.

MSEH said...

Thanks for the update.

I'm thinking Tala needs her own special place on the couch. ;-)

laura k said...

Thank you MSEH. :)