Voyce Success Story: Bonnie and Bella
When Dr. Robin Downing first met Bella, a 12-year-old German Shepherd Dog, it was evident that her new patient needed help. Not only was she having trouble navigating stairs, she had low energy levels, generalized hind end weakness and scored an 8 out of 10 for pain in her hips and back.
A different veterinarian had diagnosed Bella with osteoarthritis, and her owner Bonnie was concerned that Bella’s pain was not under control, despite taking medication. That’s when Bonnie decided to seek out Dr. Downing. Watching her dog struggle was difficult for Bonnie, since the two are particularly close. So close, in fact that “Bella’s main goal in life is to find out where I am,” she says.
Dr. Downing immediately prescribed a three-pronged approach to manage Bella’s pain: drug therapy, physical therapy and the Voyce Health Monitor™.
Once Dr. Downing explained how Voyce would contribute to Bella’s overall therapy by providing objective, data-driven insight, Bonnie says she was all for it. She loved the idea that “Dr. Robin” would have immediate access to Bella’s key vital signs and other important wellness indicators, like activity levels.
In just two months, Bella’s pain was reduced dramatically, with her pain score dropping to a 1 out of 10. However, she continued to have muscle weakness, which led Dr. Downing to diagnose her with Degenerative Myelopathy, a progressive disease of the spinal cord.
Despite this diagnosis, Bella’s pain levels continued to be well controlled until an accidental fall down the stairs. To help aid her recovery, Dr. Downing recommended acupuncture with electrical stimulation every three to four days. During this time, she kept a close eye on the data collected by the Voyce Health Monitor, and asked Bonnie to observe Bella at home as well.
Although the acupuncture sessions seemed to relax Bella, Bonnie didn’t notice improvements when it came to her dog’s pain and mobility. These observations were backed up by the data from Voyce.
Dr. Downing noted that each time acupuncture was administered, Bella’s activity levels on the days of treatment were moderate to high and decreased significantly and consistently in the two days following treatment. She also found that the longest period of uninterrupted rest was reduced after each of the first two treatments, indicating that Bella may have been restless due to discomfort.
Although medication had been effective, acupuncture was not significantly helping to alleviate Bella’s pain. The decision was made to discontinue the treatments based on the data that Dr. Downing was seeing.
Even after Bella’s pain was once again under control, Dr. Downing continued to monitor her. By comparing her current data with the data collected before the fall, she found that Bella’s activity level had decreased dramatically.
This came as a surprise to Bonnie because Bella’s changes had been difficult to observe. Dogs are experts at hiding their pain and discomfort, even from those who know them best.
At this point, Dr. Downing suggested that the Degenerative Myelopathy had progressed to the point that Bella might need a wheelcart to help her get around more easily and maintain a good quality of life.
While Bella works on getting adjusted to her cart, Bonnie has taken every measure to ensure Bella’s comfort, including putting rugs and carpeting down on all hardwood floors, installing ramps where necessary and bringing Bella to Dr. Downing regularly for therapy and checkups.
And of course, Voyce plays a big role as well. Bonnie is grateful that she has such valuable insight into how her dog is feeling. “(I feel) more comfortable knowing that she is being monitored by Dr. Downing’s practice,” Bonnie says. She also loves to look at Bella’s data and check on her resting respiratory and heart rates. The medication reminders and articles about senior dogs have come in handy as well.