A dog owner has documented a rescued Maltese’s “journey” towards walking again, after she was “suddenly paralysed” from the waist down.
Christine Hsu shared a video to TikTok last month to explain how she discovered that her five-year-old dog, named Barbara, was suddenly paralysed. “She was rough housing with her brother, and all of a sudden she screamed in pain,” Hsu recalled.
She added that after she took the dog - who she recently rescued - to the veterinarian, they were told to “immediately go to a neurologist” before she loses “all deep pain in her paws”. Then, Barbara saw specialist who had her undergo an emergency MRI and said she would possibly have “surgery that day if needed”.
While her dog didn’t need surgery after the sudden paralysis, Hsu said that Barbara did need “physical therapy to get her up and walking again”.
The TikTok user also took the moment to describe Barbara’s difficult upbringing, before she was rescued.
“Barb has not had an easy life,” said Hsu, who’s based in Los Angeles, California. “She was abandoned by her previous family, and found on the streets at the age of five. Today starts the journey of getting her back on her feet.”
Hsu’s video has quickly gone viral, amassing more than 2.5m views on TikTok. In the comments, many viewers shared some sweet messages to Barbara amid her sudden paralysis.
“Manifesting a speedy recovery for Barb,” one person wrote, while another added: “Poor baby! Get well soon sweet pup.”
A third user commented: “Sending healing thoughts your way Barb.”
Other people expressed that they had similar experiences with their own pets, as one wrote: “The same thing happened to my family’s dog. The vet recommended laser and acupuncture and we did that for four months and she can walk again now!!”
According to the American Kennel Club, paralysis is “defined as an inability to voluntarily move parts of your body”. Symptoms in dogs can include “full or partial inability to move legs, dragging back legs, stiff-legged gait, or lack of coordination”.
Paralysis in dogs is often caused by general illness, ranging from “bacteria, viruses, fungi, or immune reactions”. In addition, “inflammatory and infectious diseases can cause the spinal cord to swell,” leading to paralysis, per the American Kennel Club.
Treatment for the condition depends on “the cause and extent of your dog’s paralysis,” with some veterinarians choosing to prescribe medications for “pain, swelling, or infections, and perform surgery”. The way that pets are cared for once they’re brought home can also vary, as they could be recommended to complete a crate rest - confining a dog to a crate or indoor pen. The organisation added that in other cases, they may perform “rehabilitation exercises” to help with the paralysis.
“Some dogs will improve quickly, others slowly,” the American Kennel Club noted. “Unfortunately, some dogs may never improve to the point of walking on their own again.”
Shortly after the video about Barbara was shared in July, a GoFundMe Page was launched by Jason Lu on Hsu’s behalf. While new donations are currently disabled, the fundraiser has received $10,015 as of 24 August, with donations going towards vet bills and physical therapy for Barbara.
Earlier this week, Hsu took to TikTok to share a six-week update about Barbara’s health. She began by sharing footage of her dog asleep in her stroller, while her legs were moving. “She started the week dreaming of the day that she’ll be able to run again,” Hsu said about her pet.
The video continued with footage of Barbara swimming in a pool, before Hsu explained why the activity was ultimately beneficial.
“I think this really helped her because later that week she started walking,” the dog owner said. “It’s a very cute stumbly walk, and she does get tired pretty easily. Everyday we have been letting her walk more and more, and she has been able to walk for longer periods of time.”
Hsu continued: “Some days she doesn’t really feel like walking. So we just let her relax, and take her and her brother around in the stroller. This week we have seen the most improvement from her, and are so excited she’s walking again.”
The Independent has contacted Hsu for comment.