Blue, miniature dachshund, healed after receiving emergency services and then acupuncture after attack by neighbor’s dog

The attack happened on Mother’s Day 2020. Britton Ritter had just returned from the grocery store, and her daughter, Arden, and miniature dachshund, Blue, greeted her in the driveway, as they liked to do.

“When they came out, I heard Blue yelp and my neighbor scream, ‘Apollo!’ at her dog,” Britton said.

Blue had put himself in between Britton’s daughter and the other dog to protect her. Four-year-old Arden jumped inside the SUV to safety. It took Britton a few seconds to fully realize what was happening.

“I saw his back legs dragging and said, ‘Oh my God, he’s paralyzed,’” Britton said.

She packed up Blue, age 10, and rushed him to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, where he was found unable to move or bear weight on his right hind limb.

“Blue either had a fibrocartilaginous embolism, basically the spinal cord equivalent of a stroke, or had a trauma-induced intervertebral disk disease. His condition worsened over the next 24 hours,” said Ryan Smith, DVM (LSU SVM 2009), DACVECC, assistant professor of emergency and critical care.

By morning, both hind limbs weren’t functioning, and he wasn’t urinating. Blue stayed in the ICU overnight.

“They told us they could do an MRI to know for sure what was going on, but that it wouldn’t change the course of treatment. Dr. Jessica Sullivan in the Surgery service was phenomenal. We avoided surgery. She suggested acupuncture,” Britton said.

Fortunately, Blue’s condition did not deteriorate further and was managed with pain medications, anti-inflammatories, and cage rest. It was suggested that Blue see the LSU SVM’s Integrative Medicine service for physical therapy and additional treatments.

“I had instant trust because of the way they communicated the treatment plan. They were open and honest. They were so comforting when I was so scared. I thought I’d have to put him to sleep,” she said of the dog she’d known since he was born.

The first visit involved evaluation, and 10 acupuncture sessions were recommended to help Blue.

“The veterinarian spent 25 minutes giving me a range of options so I could decide. She told us we could take it week by week, evaluate how he was doing, and come back as needed. She was conservative with my money,” Britton said.

Blue needed a harness to stand and to go outside to urinate. He struggled with bowel control.

“He’s very sensitive and would be ashamed when going in the house,” she said.

At the LSU SVM, he started with physical therapy two times a week and acupuncture once a week.

“I saw instant improvement with the therapy. I thought he’d never walk again. It was a huge improvement,” said Britton, who was given exercises for Blue to do at home.

Britton says one of Blue’s legs functions at 100 percent and the other at 70 percent.

“I thought it would take six months of treatment to get there, but it took less than three months,” said Britton of her prized dachshund.

“We’re the crazy wiener dog family. My mom and dad had a male and female dachshund, and we got one of the puppies, Blue. I’ve had him longer than my daughter,” she said.

When the Ritters first brought baby Arden home, Blue did fine around her and became protective of her,” Britton said. Both she and her husband are LSU alumni: she in marketing, and he in construction management with a master's in Finance, which they put to work for their construction company.

“It was a blessing Blue’s injury happened on a Sunday, and we ended up at the vet school. Treatment has restored her mobility to nearly 100 percent,” Britton said.

Contact

Sandra Sarr

Communications Coordinator

sarr1@lsu.edu