Saturday, January 27, 2007

update, day 36

This is an update on the health of our courageous little dog Simba, who has suffered a spinal cord injury. If you'd like to follow the story sequentially, start here. To see beautiful photos of him before the incident, go here.

A few of you have inquired about how Simba has been doing lately. I'm touched by your concern and really appreciate your interest; thank you!

I haven't been posting about him lately because not that much has changed. He's stable, and he's good with that, as far as I can tell. His back end doesn't work as well as it used to, but it doesn't seem to bother him much. He can get himself up & down stairs, although a bit slower than he used to and going up is much harder work now that his hind end doesn't provide as much boost as in days of yore. Sometimes he stops halfway, gathers his strength, and then finishes getting to the top. He can't jump up on the furniture any more, and while there may be some folks who think that's a good thing, we've never considered the furniture off limits and I'm sorry his options are limited when I'm not there to help. But he jumps down handily. I've put rugs near the places where he tends to jump down from furniture to help him with traction on the landing and that seems to be working well for him. So, all in all, we can't complain!

The vet showed me a test for whether his back was paining him: two fingers placed on either side of the spine, starting at the shoulders, exerting firm pressure, and slowly sliding toward the hind end. If there's pain, the skin will start to "crawl" as you approach the painful spot. I'm happy to report his skin is staying where it's supposed to when I do this!

The next 6 or 8 months will be the time period when his spinal cord's nerve cells regrow, if they're going to. In the interest of supporting his healing, I've begun investigating a cooked food diet for him rather than kibble. I've always given him a good brand of Kibble (IAMS) plus a good brand of dog biscuits (Mother Hubbard), but I went looking for articles on canine nutrition for dogs recovering from injuries and found a wealth of info that's convinced me it will be worth trying giving him more natural foods. We're starting with supplementing his diet with some cooked chicken and rice, and over the next week or two will gradually increase that amount and reduce the kibble to zero. Once he's completely on natural foods, we'll start adding some cooked veggies.

If this sounds odd to you, I totally understand. I have always believed that dried dog food was the best choice because it is nutritionally balanced. I also liked that because he never got people food, he never begged for it. Making this switch has made him inclined to watch me very closely every moment I'm in the kitchen. (My good dog knows he cannot come into the kitchen when I'm there. But the minute I leave, he zooms right in and gives the floor a good working over!)

But the processing of the components of dried dog food includes cooking them at very high heat both to dry them out and eliminate anything that could cause a smell, as well as adding preservatives so the food will keep without refrigeration. The high heat kills nutrients, the preservatives are unnatural, and when his body is struggling to rebuild itself, I don't want to remove good nutrients or add bad stuff. Time will tell if this is an improvement over his current diet. I'm convinced it will be at least as good for him, certainly not worse. So it's worth a try.

If you're interested, the book I'm using is called Barker's Grub.

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Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

It's wonderful to hear that he's doing well. I totally agree with the diet you're moving him to. A friend has changed his dog's diet to something very similar with rice and chicken. He's a bassette hound that had old age related back issues and combining therapy and shots with his new diet has made a world of difference.

Paz said...

I'm glad Simba continues to get better. It's such a good idea to look into healthier foods that will help him. Continued good thoughts are sent your way.