Friday, April 22, 2016

How Pixel's Suffering & No Tail Left Behind Helped Another Dog Get Relief from Docked Tail Pain - Dollie's Story

When I first started No Tail Left Behind, my soul purpose was to help bring awareness to the suffering that dogs are enduring at the hands of tail docking. I had to share Pixel's story with the world and hopefully help others in the process. I've been sharing every bit of research and information I've found to educate others about this terrible practice.
Over the last few years, I've been contacted by hundreds of pet parents, pet foster parents and rescues organizations seeking information, help and answers about dogs in distress from docked tail issues of varying degrees. I've heard so many times, "my dog is suffering just like Pixel!" so I know that my efforts are very well worthwhile to help other dogs like Pixel because so many are suffering in silence. Often times, people ask me for help and information, I give it to them, then I don't always hear anything back from them. I am absolutely okay with that. I am just here to help.

However, I recently heard from a wonderful woman named Jennifer who shared her dog's story, and it's incredible. She didn't ask me for help, she found all the information I have provided online, and then used it to save her own dog! You are not going to believe what you are about to read, yet she did the exact same thing I did for Pixel, except I didn't have anyone online to turn to for information. This is why No Tail Left Behind is so important.

Here is Dollie's Story as told by her Mom Jennifer:

Dollie came home with me when she was 10 weeks old.  Her first visit to the vet revealed she was a healthy pup.  Over the following few weeks, I noticed her sniffing and licking her hind-end area more than normal and she just wasn’t acting like a normal puppy.  I suspected she was suffering from stress. After another visit to the vet, Dollie was given antibiotics for a urinary tract infection.  Her symptoms didn’t improve.
Then one evening while checking her for ticks I discovered a swollen lymph node on the inside of her hind leg.  Our vet wasn’t concerned with the lymph node and attributed the licking to a heat cycle.  I also requested radiographs on her hips because I was concerned about her waddle.  Images showed moderate hip displaysia…

Her odd behaviors continued, including:

Obsessive licking and chewing to the point of disturbing her sleep.
Not coming when called, just freezing and staring at me.
Shooting away like a rocket after going #2.
Hiding in her room for no apparent reason, as if she were in trouble.
Sensitive to her back or rump being petted.  Cowering to touch.
When comparing her tail wagging to that of our other Rottie, her wag was very slow and controlled.
Wouldn’t stay in a “sit” position during obedience classes, although she performed every other command perfectly.  She’d either remain standing and bite at her leash or go to a “down” position.

It wasn’t until I found blood spots on the carpet a couple months later that led me to the source of her misery.  I examined her from head to tail and found a bleeding purplish bump on her nub and the hair was missing.  Another trip to the vet...

Frantic, I took her to the closest vet.  I was told she was having phantom pain in her tail and that the bump was a scar.  But to be sure it wasn’t something more serious he advised me to take her to another vet for a biopsy.  He also didn’t want to try to remove the bump himself because there wasn’t enough skin to close the wound afterward. 

I made another appointment for the following day with her regular vet. Meanwhile, I searched and searched the internet for anything I could find about tails and phantom pain. I found very little useful information.  Then I found Pixel’s story and No Tail Left Behind.  I was sure I had found the answer.

Dr. P~ examined her tail.  Thankfully, it wasn’t cancer.  Again, he explained phantom tail pain and nothing could be done about it, she’ll learn to live with it.  I asked for her hip radiographs so I could see if she had a bone fragment at the end of her tail like the one in Pixel’s x-rays.  The fragment was hard to see since these were images taken of her hips, but it was there nonetheless.  I told him Pixel’s story and that I wanted him to remove the piece of bone.  He advised against it and said she would still have phantom pain whether the fragment was removed or not and that the procedure would likely leave her incontinent.  I was told to train her to leave her tail alone and given some salve to help heal the wound.

I cried all the way home. It was devastating to learn that my little girl would be burdened with pain jolting up her tail for the rest of her life.  At that point I hated people.  Not all people, just vets and backyard breeders.

At our next obedience class a few days later, I talked with our trainer Lori about Dollie’s tail and about Pixel’s story, she agreed that Dollie’s tail pain was likely the reason she wouldn’t sit on command.  Lori told me to see her vet, Dr. Tom, at the Headwaters Veterinary Clinic, where she takes her litters of Springer Spaniels to have their tails surgically docked and sutured.

Dollie & Pixel both had damaged vertebrae at their tail nubs from docking
I went to see Dr. Tom and told him about Dollie’s tail and also about Pixel’s story.  He listened to what I wanted him to do and why.  Dollie was taken in for more radiographs of her tail while Dr. Tom went to his computer and looked up Pixel’s story.  When he returned we looked at the images of Dollie’s tail fragment and he said I was 100% accurate with my diagnosis and that Pixel’s story helped to convince him of that.

Dr. Tom looked at Dollie's radiographs (X-Rays). He pointed out the fragment on the screen and the bone that it was attached to (both a dark shade of gray.)  He said it was likely that Dollie’s tail had been lobbed off with a dull tool that had crushed the end of the last vertebrae (causing nerve damage) and leaving behind a fragment (shard) of the missing vertebrae.  Both would have to be removed.

He agreed to do the surgery and stressed that it was nothing short of an amputation and not to be taken lightly. There would be an extensive recovery time during which I would have to keep a constant eye on her.  If she were to get a hold of her sutures and rip them out she could possibly bleed to death.  He warned me of possible incontinence issues, infection, complications, etc.  Dr. Tom took a good bit of time explaining everything I needed to know.

Dollie’s surgery was a huge success.  After many sleepless nights and battles involving e-collars, she made it through the healing process.  Her nub is slightly shorter and is mostly soft tissue now, she can’t wag like other dogs so she uses her whole rump to show her happiness.

Dollie is a happy girl now and shows it by wagging her whole butt.  She is now able to perform “sit” on command in obedience class.  She’s no longer sensitive to being petted on her back or rump, and doesn’t run away after relieving herself.  And the lymph node is back to normal size.

I can’t express in words how grateful I am to Pixel and her story.  All of the behaviors associated with Dollie's tail pain have disappeared.  THANK YOU PIXEL!!  Her only complaint is the hair at the end of her nub curls upward and tickles her behind so it needs trimming every so often.

This experience has opened my eyes to the unnecessary and harmful practice of tail docking.  I fully support you, Jenny in your endeavor to get legislation passed that will ban tail-docking in the United States.  Good Luck and thank you for all you and Pixel have done and continue to do!

Thank you so much Jennifer for sharing yours and Dollie's story! Your loving dedication to your little girl is a true testament to what good pet parenting should be. I am thrilled that we are here to help pet parents find information to help dogs like Dollie get the relief they need.

Won't you support our efforts friends? Tell everyone you know that tail docking hurts, and tell them about us.

No Tail Left Behind...Because EVERY Dog Deserves a Tail!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Alternative Treatment Remedies to Relieve Docked Tail Pain - Acupuncture

Chronic nerve pain is a vicious thing to deal with, and it can be difficult to fully handle with just traditional medication, especially in animals. They cannot tell you in words exactly what is going on when they are in despair and seeking comfort. Dogs often try to hide their pain, deal with it themselves (licking or gnawing at a pain site which then only creates an additional issue) or they show pain in unusual ways that might initially appear to be "behavioral issues", such as refusing to 'come' when called, hiding, not sitting on command, or growling, snarling, snapping when touched in a certain area of the body. So, when one traditional form of pain relief treatment is not relieving the chronic pain flair ups on its own, sometimes additional treatment remedies need to be added to the mix.

For Pixel, I wanted to try acupuncture as part of her treatment plan for her docked tail pain, because her regular medicine regimen was not always giving her the relief she needed. Even after corrective surgery and her daily medications which include Neurontin, Tramadol, and specific supplements for nerve pain that includes Valerian Root and Chamomile, she still has terrible attacks of neuropathy and stinging nerve pain in her tail nub that just tortured her to no end. She can still chew her tail bald at times when the nerve pain gets really bad and I'm out of the room for a short period of time, as seen in the photo above.

Acupuncture is a centuries old Chinese therapy that has long been used as a way to help block/relieve pain or to "intercept" the pain signals from the nerves to the brain. To help you become more familiar with acupuncture, please read a history of this ancient Chinese medicine at the site, and read a story in Time magazine about a recent study proving that acupuncture really does relieve chronic pain. Years ago I was extremely wary of it and doubted its efficacy for anything, but as I've dealt with Pixel's chronic pain and sought to find every possible way to bring her relief, I gave acupuncture my full attention, researched about its benefits and sought out opinions and experiences from other pet parents who have used it as a treatment option for their own dogs' pain needs.

I started taking Pixel for acupuncture treatments in June, 2015 and she's had very good results with it. The veterinarian I found came by recommendation of a friend. He is trained specifically as a small animal acupuncturist (he does large animals too), Dr. G has a wonderful way with Pixel. He speaks directly to her so gentle and sweet, as if she was his own. He is very gentle when touching on her body, which is also extremely important, and he truly understands what is going on with her tail nub nerve pain. We've talked extensively about tail docking, about what happens to the nerves when the tail is cut off of a puppy and a dab of glue or a couple of stitches are sewn at the tip, and he knows that thousands of others dogs are suffering out there just like Pixel because of tail docking.

Dr. G starts Pixel out with a relaxation needle that goes at the top of her skull between her ears. This calms her down almost immediately as she always arrives stressed out because we are at a vet's office. She also gets acupuncture for her disc and spine issues, so she gets needles down her spine, in her hind legs, which are weak from the compressed disc spaces she has, and then he places several needles in for her tail nub. He has this all mapped out and follows it each time. He double counts each one, and then Pixel and I are left in the room to relax while they stay in her for approximately 30 minutes.

After each session, she's so calm on the drive home. She sleeps a lot, then she she's ready to play later with her sisters. I've seen marked improvement in Pixel's tail pain episodes when she's been able to get the acupuncture regularly. The effects, after a few sessions, last a very long time for Pixel. It's been pretty extraordinary! So I am a firm believer now in acupuncture treatment for docked tail nerve pain and any kind of chronic pain in dogs.

Have you ever used acupuncture, either for your pet or yourself? Was it effective? Please share your thoughts and views in a comment below.

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