My husband and I just adopted a 10 year old Yellow Lab. We've named her Shea and today is her one week anniversary with us. Shea came to us with what appeared to be either a respiratory or cardiac condition and even though she'd only been with us for a few days we felt that a vet visit was needed. Long story short, she's been diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis, which I understand is common in Labs. I'm looking for any personal experiences with the tie back surgery because it sounds pretty scary to me with a post op mortality rate as high as 30% due to aspiration pneumonia. Shea also has old knee injuries that have scarred over so she walks with her rear legs stiff, although we think we might be able to limber her up a bit with some physical therapy. Shea is an absolute doll. We just adore her and we want to make sure we make the right decisions for her regarding the laryngeal paralysis. Right now she seems to be doing quite well although we've only had her for a week. But she hasn't had any respiratory distress type episodes at all. She does get out of breath and starts her heavy panting but we can get her calmed down pretty quickly. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
I don't have any advice but lots of hugs and kisses for Shea, and a big thank you to you for rescuing a beautiful senior!
I'm sorry your new baby was diagnosed with LP. Our old guy, Mick was diagnosed with it when he was a little over 11 years old. Below is a word document I typed up recently to pass on to people who have asked what we did for Mick. Please forgive any gender mistakes. These lifestyle changes gave us over 4 years with Mick after his diagnosis.
As scary as it is, it's important to stay calm when he is having trouble breathing. Stress will make the episodes worse (or bring them on). Just sitting and petting & talking to him during an episode should help.
Heat, humidity, cold and wind will bring on an episode. Not only did Mick wear a coat when it was cold out, but, in the bitter cold or wind he also wore a homemade scarf (the end of a thick hunting sock held in place with a Velcro muzzle).
Also, get him used to drinking out of a spritz bottle. Spritzing some water in his mouth will help end episodes. At first we thought it was the cold water, but eventually we realized it was actually the swallowing that stopped the episodes. You don't want to "flood" him with water, just little bits at a time. Plus it's an easy way to give him a quick drink when you're out someplace.
Avoid putting pressure on his neck. A tracking style harness is great for walking dogs with LP because of how the straps are. Premier's Sure Fit harness is the same style, and what we used. A leash can be clipped to either the ring at the front of the chest or the one on the back.
Oh- if they aren't already- raise his food and water dishes so he doesn't have to stretch his neck to eat or drink. My vet suggested feeding smaller meals more often. When I told him I fed Mick out of a huge dish so the food was spread thin, he said that would work, too. The idea is for them to eat slow.
I put Mick on ArthriSoothe about a year before he was diagnosed. I thought he was slowing down because of arthritis. Eventually I learned it actually had more to do with the LP (acquired LP causes muscle wasting from the rear forward). Anyway, we're thinking the ArthriSoothe was one of the reasons Mick's LP didn't progress as fast as the vet thought it would. Little by little, other supplements were added- MSM, Biotin, Cholodin and Vitamin B Complex. Except for the ArthriSoothe and the Biotin, all Mick's supplements were crushed. The Biotin was a capsule, so I just opened it and sprinkled it on his food. I bought the horse version of the ArthriSoothe (a powder), and adjusted the dosage (more economical that way). At 75 pounds, Mick’s maintenance dose was 1/8 tsp a day.
The biggest mistake we made with Mick was treating him like an invalid after he was diagnosed. He lost a good amount of muscle from lack of exercise in that period. And, with LP, once it's lost, it's gone.
I'm currently doing research on this condition at Michigan State. If you are not already aware, Idiopathic Laryngeal Paralysis is now known to be a more widespread progressive neurodegenerative condition called GOLPP (Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy). If you're interested in learning more, please visit our website at Welcome GOLPP Dogs (formerly "idiopathic laryngeal paralysis") — College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. On the site, you will find some information that should be helpful very helpful for improving Shea's quality of life. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. Best wishes!
Awesome incredibly informative thread. Great job all!
To the OP - no advice, but want to say BLESS YOU for adopting a senior dog with a health issue. There is a special place in heaven for you.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Ditto on the special place in heaven. I am sorry I have no advice or experience. Prayers for Shea!
Maxx & Emma Jean
Ozzy - 10/16/02 - 06/28/11 - Always in my heart.
Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go - but learning to start over.
I know that one of our GOLPP dogs here at MSU concurrently had Cushing's, although I'm not sure where the dog is at now....doing well I assume if no news is good news.
And although hypothyroidism has also been associated with GOLPP, we did a study last year which showed there was no correlation between the two (the paper has not yet gone through publication). Hypothyroidism is unfortunately just another condition which frequently affects geriatric labs. On a good note though, with frequent monitoring, it is a relatively easy condition to manage.
Hope this helps a little! Best of luck