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Paralyzed Rottweiler.

Species: Dog
Breed: rottie mix
Age: 8-11 years
10 yr old rottie mix 100 lbs suddenly became unable to move or walk 5 days ago. He went from running and acting normal to almost paralyzed in an instant. All he could do is lay on his side very stiff. Hospital and vet don't have clear answer. All tests have come out normal. May be a disc issue. He is on steriods, pain meds, muscle relaxers. Vet said He can feel his legs. Last night he lifted his head, was able to put his two front paws in front of him, and turned to his other side, none of which he could do before. He isn't stiff anymore today. Today he is doing this a little more. But his breathing is labored and he had a very bloody BM. He is eating normally, drinking normally, and he knows when he has to use the bathroom (both urine and BMs) but he can't get up to go. We don't want him to suffer but also don't want to put him to sleep if he is improving. Vet said give it 7 days and then we would make a decision. Surgery and MRi's were not really an option since he is so old. With the labored breathing and bloody BM am I making his suffer even more or are the new signs of movement hopeful. We are at a loss.
Thank you

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Michelle. I am so sorry to hear that Jake is going through this. This must be so difficult for you.

While it is very difficult for me to try to come up with a diagnosis without seeing him I will do my best to give you a few ideas.

It does indeed sound like this could be a disc issue. While some disc issues are obvious on xrays, not all are. If it is a disc issue and he has some feeling in his legs then there is a decent chance that he could return to normal. The fact that he is showing improvement is excellent!

Another possibility is a condition called a fibrocartilaginous embolism. This happens if a small piece of cartilage breaks off and causes a lesion in the spinal cord. However, most dogs with this do not tend to make any improvement, so this is less likely. Unforutunately the only way to diagnose this is with an MRI.

Do you live in an area where there are a lot of ticks? Some ticks can excrete a toxin which can cause paralysis. It's a good idea to mention the possibility of tick paralysis to your vet. If this were my case and I lived in an area with lots of ticks I would definitely treat with a tick medication. If a dog has this condition it goes away within 12-24 hours of getting rid of the tick.

I have also seen dogs have similar symptoms because of a bleeding tumor in the abdomen. However, this should be obvious on xrays and bloodwork.

It does sound like your vet is doing the same things I would do. I really hope he improves!

I will be heading out on the road soon. If you have more concerns, just hit reply and I will respond within the next few hours.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Is the large amount of blood in the stool or the labored breating major issues here? We do have a call into the vet on these two things. Can that be medicine side effects?
We hate to keep running him to the vet in case we hurt him more by moving his VERY 100lb self! And it is a difficult task to say the least!

Thank you so much.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

The blood in the stool could very well be caused by the stress he is going through. It may be nothing to worry about.

My first thought about the breathing is that it could be because he is in pain. You may want to ask your vet if they feel more pain meds are necessary.

It is also possible that the paralyis is moving further up the body which would not be good news.

It would be good to check to see if his gums are pink or very pale. If they are pale this could be due to blood loss which could be tied to both the blood in the stool and breathing. If they look pale another vet visit is a good idea.

I really hope he does ok! I willl be unavailable for several hours but if you have more concerns I can reply later tonight.

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.