My little while ago something weird started happening with my dog's back legs. They seemed to almost be collapsing. At first it only happened intermittently and only lasted a couple of seconds before they came right. Then it started escalating very rapidly.
Like all old dogs, Purdy sleeps most of the day. After this started, it seemed that whenever she got up, her legs would twitch. I realized they were making involuntary movements, which were like a kind of kicking motion. She would sometimes not be able to right herself immediately, and floundered around kind of like a fish out of water, dragging her back legs behind her. It was very scary and it started happening more and more often. I was beginning to think I had to make that dreaded appointment...
I went onto the Internet and found several forums where other people had posted about their dogs that had the same sort of problem.
Some of the dogs had been diagnosed with arthritis, and had responded to arthritis medications. Some are really big dogs with heavy bodies and it seems like their legs aren't strong enough to support their weight, but that wasn't Purdy's problem. When her legs were working, they were fine and there was no stiffness or pain.
At some stage during my research I discovered that the symptoms of organo-phosphate poisoning include involuntary muscle spasms and weakness. Of course I checked the label on the flea treatment I was using and bingo.
I stopped using it immediately and washed her really well to get as much of it off as possible. I live in Florida, and we have fleas everywhere. They live in the sand outside, so it's impossible to stop them totally. It is imperative to treat your house first, and there are natural products you can use that do seem to keep the fleas at bay.
I found and purchased Flea Free, an all natural product that goes in the dog's water and food and works by creating an enzyme in the dog's blood that stops the female flea from laying eggs. Somehow the fleas realize this, and jump off. (Male fleas don't bite.)
I also noticed she was always very thirsty when the attacks were at their worst. Old dogs sometimes forget to drink regularly, and they get dehydrated quite quickly. I now make a point of putting the water bowl in front of her whenever I think of it. I also purchased some Pedialyte, and I started putting two cap fulls in each bowl of fresh water.
The improvement has been almost miraculous. The episodes immediately became less frequent, but they still happened a lot at first. It's only been three weeks now, and I truly cannot believe the difference in Purdy. This past weekend she didn't make one mis-step. It's like she has a new lease on life.
I'm blogging about it because maybe it will help someone else keep their dog a little longer.
I'm thrilled that my beautiful little rescue dog has her life back. She was rescued from a puppy mill in Arcansas eight years ago and was so debilitated they put her age at around twelve years. I thought I was buying a senior dog to be company for Frank, who was thirteen at the time. She's never really been able to handle any flea control without frequent vomiting. I guess her immune system was permanently damaged.
Purdy's story inspired me to write my next novel, Backwoods Boogie, in which redneck detective Twila Taunton, and her quirky friends rescue a large number of dogs from an illegal puppy mill.