Cora's Bathroom Care
My expectation with these pages is to provide insight and experience as to what we have found works in our particular situation, dealing with a GSD that "has" DM (Degenerative Myelopathy), with the hopes that it may provide help forthose of you having to explore ways to fulfill long lives and enjoyment with your afflicted dogs. I also say "has" because DM is a diagnosis by process of elimination, and sometimes the process of elimination is more invasive and uncomfortable than dealing with possible DM head-on. That said, I will provide images, links, and directions to help you in your support of your companion.
Research, research, research...never an end. Shortly after this happened, Cora spent one day sleeping almost all day, and did not even try to empty her bladder until around 4 in the afternoon. This, I felt, was much too long, and we were concerned that perrhaps she had lost the sensation to trigger release. What I knew COULD happen then was for the bladder to back up into the kidneys, and kidney failure would be next. Not a good prospect.
I had read how to express a dog's bladder, but I couldn't really tell if I was doing anything, and no urine came out, but after several minutes Cora released a big puddle, and then promptly relieved herself intestinally also.
We have figured that much of what may be considered incontinence may be the failure to recognize when a dog needs to go out, and then failure to get it out in time. Secondly, it would also include failure to empty the dog as much as possible.
Right now Cora still has control, she is able to hold it, let us know when she needs to go out, and able to release it, even being able to "mark" on top of other dogs' marks. So I am not having to express the bladder as others have and are, and my experience there is lacking.
I should mention that this means I am on the move with her, keeping the hind end supported to keep the feet from knuckling under, but even when she has booties on, I don't wish to allow the feet to drag.
As mentioned before, we use the "Depends" Belted Shields with Buttons, that are adjustable, a 30 pack. Buy them at Target, or Walmart. I haven't checked to see if Walmart sells its own storebrand...it may be worth a look. I eyeball about 4-5 inches down from one end, and cut an "X" for the tail to be drawn through. In conjunction with the Helpemup Harness, the elastic button straps run through the rear lift handle and provide a secure fit. I am also able to remove the Depends easily after Cora urinates, and then manually help her empty the bowels. Many times she spontaneously empties them for herself, and then I will follow through to make sure it is emptied even more. There is almost always some more farther up the bowel.
I had read about using a surgical glove to do this, and to wash the glove after each use, but in an emergency while in the car I had no glove with me, so I cut a small portion of a plastic bag and used that successfully. So I then decided to use small pieces of plastic wrap, tear off a dozen at a time, and carry a few in a pocket with me always, so I am never without. The benefit is, I can just throw this scrap away, not have to carry a soiled glove, or wash it!
With myself facing backwards over the dog's haunches, position the dog's feet properly, to approximate the correct elimination posture, and to keep the feet clear of dropping poop. Using the plastic wrap (or a glove, if you choose) I stick my index finger in the center and then fold back and wrap around the remainder, spit on it, and then insert it gently into the dog's anus. Insert it no farther than 1 - 2 inches at most, otherwise you may hurt your dog. Tickling a bit, I can usually feel the waste, and it empties quite well on its own. After this passes, with my finger still inserted, I may test to see if there is still more, and then "tickle" it forward by gently tickling up against the tail bone inside. This usually encourages an almost equal amount to empty, and then I feel quite satisfied I have relieved the dog of any soon needs.
DON'T forget to remove the elastic straps from the Depends prior to disposal!
The benefit is an empty dog, and I don't need to put another Depends on her until bedtime, as I will do this again towards mid-afternoon, and then again before bedtime. This usually makes for a good night's sleep, for all of us.
When traveling, the diaper makes it convenient to place the droppings inside, bundle it up, and dispose of it neatly. Otherwise, at home I have a large bucket with a plastic bag lining the inside, and just drop or shovel into it the waste. I have also been able to back Cora up to the bucket and get her to poop inside the bucket directly, and this is a BIG benefit when it is raining here, as it does this time of year.
We tried some adjustable Depends, with velcro attachments, but everytime Cora turned over, these pulled down over her hocks, and were very unsuitable.
We do not use any type of "doggie clothing" as this just holds more heat and moisture against Cora.
After initially introducing yourself with this function, you will find it becoming second nature, and quite satisfying to know that you are doing that much more to support your friend, and yourself.