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Dog suddenly paralyzed.

Species: Dog
Breed: Pug
Age: 11-15 years
My beloved Pug, Newt, passed away last October.She was 12 years old. She developed a sudden onset of complete paralysis of her hind legs. When I took her to the emergency vet I was told that she had some type of neurological problem. Surgery was an option but there was no guarantee that it would be effective. She was in a great deal of pain and I made the difficult decision to put her down. I know that you did not know my dog but I have been feeling a tremendous amount of guilt over this.

About a year and a half prior to her death Newt had taken a tumble down a flight of stairs. She walked off the edge of the landing due to her poor eyesight. She was almost blind at the time of her death.She did not seem to have suffered any ill effects from the fall. During her last few months she had slowed down quite a bit. She walked very slowly and sometimes could not even complete a walk around the block and I would have to carry her, but she never seemed to be in any pain. She also had developed a subluxing patella to her left hind leg a few weeks before she passed.

The emergency vet gave me a few ideas on what she thought might have been the problem and I have done some research on the internet. I would like to know what you feel could have been the cause of her sudden paralysis?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that you and Newt went through this difficult time.

The most common reason for a dog to be suddenly paralyzed in the back legs is a condition called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).

What happens in IVDD is that part of the discs between the bones of the spine bulges up and compresses the spinal cord.

Sometimes when this happens we can do surgery to remove the bulging parts. But, there is no guarantee that the surgery will be effective. In fact, I just had a question last week from a person who had a dog who was paralyzed even after having back surgery..

The other factor to consider when deciding whether or not to go through with back surgery is if the dog is healthy enough to be able to recover from this surgery. Poor Newt would have had a very difficult time recovering if she already had knee problems.

I'm so sorry for your loss. It does sound like you made the right decision.

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. AskAVetQuestion.com 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:

Thank you so much for your reply. I have read about intervertebral disc disease. From what I understand it is not likely that her fall a year and a half prior would have caused the disease and that a small dog like Newt would have been more likely to have IVDD. From what I have read it is also likely that since she was already paralyzed, she would most likely have still been paralyzed after any surgery. Newt was not a young dog but I still feel like she was too young to die. I thought that we would at least have had a couple more years together. I just don't feel that it would have been good to put a 12 year old dog through spinal surgery and that her quality of life would not have been very good after.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It is very unlikely that the accident that long ago would contribute to intervetebral disc disease.

Regarding the paralysis it's hard to say. Sometimes if we do surgery soon after the paralysis happens then the paralysis can be reversed. But, I agree with you that it would not have been fair to put a dog this old through surgery. It is a surgery with a long recovery time. And again, there was no guarantee that she would have been able to walk after surgery.

You definitely made the right decision as hard as it was.

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.