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Problems with Rimadyl?

Species: Dog
Breed: miniature pinscher
Age: 8-11 years
she seems to have paralysis of her front left paw. she can not stand on her own and it is always knuckling. we took her to the vet with neck pain as she was favoring that shoulder. the vet did not seem concerned with the neck pain even though he had told us her white blood cells and liver enzymes were really high. her prescribed rimadyl for pain. she wasnt even in pain. after 2 days on it she seems back to normal. we stopped giving her the rimadyl. another 2 days she was barely walking and was , what we thought, in need of those pills. after another 2 days on the rimadyl she did not improve and now showed signs of her front left paw knuckling over seemingly having no feeling in it at all yet when she seems determined to walk on all 4 she can. at dinner time or when she wants to scurry over to her favorite spot under the table she has used all 4. she is heavy, 26lbs and after holding her to stabilize her legs, shes able to walk normal on 3 paws while i hold her left arm. she moves all 3 other paws with normal movement. it seems she only chooses to attempt to move when i am holding her paw up close to her body. after a return trip to the vet he referred us to a specialist claiming it could possibly be a tumor causing paralysis and prescribed prednisone. after doing research on yours and other sites ive read the horrible side effects of rimadyl of which, im sure you are aware, is partial paralysis. today after 3 days off of rimadyl and 1 day on prednisone she was walking with all 4 paws near normal for about 5 minutes. after going to the bathroom and drinking water she walked back into her bed. after laying for about an hour i tried to stand her up and stabilize her again and there was knuckling of the left front paw again. after massaging it and placing it on the ground for her she was able to walk about 4 steps using all 4 paws again before knuckling yet again. ive read many positive reviews about dogs recovering from this. ive read on your site that it can be helped with anti inflammortory i am asking you for your opinion. is there maybe something other than perdnisone to help? is there any recovering from the state she is in now? i am hoping that she can recover from this after immediately stopping the rimadyl. i truly appreciate your opinion and your response. thank you. -joe

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Joe. I'm so sorry to hear that Ginger is having these problems.

I want to start first by talking about Rimadyl. Rimadyl does not cause paralysis. Just to be sure I just re-read the label insert of Rimadyl that I have in my office and paralysis or weakness is not a known side effect. I have put many, many animals on Rimadyl and have never seen one have neurological side effects.

I think the confusion may have come from this question about Rimadyl. The person asking this questions states that they have done research and found that wobbliness could be a side effect of Rimadyl. But this is not something that I have seen before.

So, I don't think that Rimadyl was a bad choice for Ginger.

The knuckling that you have described means that there is a problem with the nerve sensation going down to her foot. The radial nerve is often the culprit. When I see a dog with radial nerve paralysis the first thing I think of is inflammation in the neck. If the spinal cord is inflamed in the neck then this can sort of pinch the radial nerve and cause these issues.

If there is inflammation in the neck then usually a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as Rimadyl will help. This is likely why you saw some improvement when you first started Rimadyl. But, it concerns me that the problem came back again.

The next step, as was done with Ginger would be to try a stronger anti-inflammatory drug such as prednisone. If these problems are simply because of inflammation in the neck then a course of prednisone will be really helpful and could even cure the problem.

However,if the problem is coming back or is not getting better then I get concerned about more serious issues. One of these issues could be if there was an intervertebral disc that was bulging. These discs are spongy pads between the bones in the back and neck. If one of them bulges it will push up on the spinal cord and cause neurological problems (i.e. the knuckling). Unfortunately if a bulging disc does not get better with an NSAID (Rimadyl) or a steroid (prednisone) then the only way to fix it is surgery. This surgery is difficult and needs to be done by a specialist and is quite expensive.

The next possibility for a cause of these nerve problems is a tumor either in the neck or somewhere along the leg. While sometimes we can remove these tumors with surgery, the procedure is very costly.

I wish I had better news for you. If you want to go further with figuring out what is going on you can talk to your vet about having an MRI done. This should give us a diagnosis. An MRI usually costs $1000 or more though.

It does sound like your vets are doing all of the same things I would. Again, I wish I had better news for you.

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:

thanks doctor. i have been reading so much that i may have gotten some info mixed up about rimadyl. i thought that i read somewhere that although rare some dogs are intolerable to NSAIDS and after seeing this i assumed ginger was one. are some dogs intolerable to NSAIDS? now that she is on prednisone, should we continue with the rimadyl? it helped her so much that we thought we could discontinue the rimadyl and if it returned some months later we would have some here to readily give to her. thank you again.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah, now we're getting into an area that is indeed complicated. I'll see if I can summarize NSAID issues for you.

First of all, there are many NSAIDs out there for dogs - Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, Previcox and others. All of them are meant to help decrease inflammation. However, some dogs can have side effects with these drugs. Our goal is to use them when the benefits outweigh the risks.

The most common side effect is mild stomach upset - possibly with vomiting or diarrhea. This is not a big deal and stops once we stop the drugs. A more serious side effect would be stomach ulceration.

NSAIDS can also have some effects on the liver or the kidneys. In a healthy dog this is rare. But if a dog had an underlying condition then an NSAID could make it worse.

And then there are some dogs that can have what is called an idiosyncratic reaction to Rimadyl. It is really rare, but some dogs can suddenly go into liver failure after taking Rimadyl. When it first came out, this reaction was seen in several labs. We don't know if labs are more affected by Rimadyl. But, in my opinion, labs are a breed that commonly have arthritis and so I think more labs were put on rimadyl than other breeds. This side effect is why Rimadyl got a bit of a bad name. It is really rare though. In 12 years I have treated one dog who had serious liver issues because of Rimadyl. It is generally a good drug. Every drug has potential side effects.

Your vet will advise you on how to continue with medications, but it is important to know that you can't use Rimadyl and Prednisone at the same time. This will greatly increase the risk of stomach ulceration, liver issues or kidney problems. If your vet has her on both Rimadyl and Prednisone you may want to call them. Usually, in a situation like this the idea is to totally stop the Rimadyl and just use the prednisone.

Customer reply:

dr. marie you are being beyond helpful and i thank you. you are giving me much insight in a much needed time as im sure you know. i am considering the specialist and taking into mind the costs and possible outcomes. i have only one other question for your expertise. i have been looking at dog leg splints and i do think she may be a candidate for one as it is only one of her paws that is immoble. she has feeling in that paw from her shoulder to her wrist and is able to stand on her own when i prop her wrist straight on the ground. have you had any experinences with leg splints for dogs at all or dogs in gingers condition? do u think it is possible for a splint to help in this situation? this will be my last questions i thank you so much for your wisdom and help.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome. Sorry for the delay this time - I was spaying a cat. :)

I personally don't think a splint would be a good idea. My experience with splints is that they can often cause more harm than good. It's really hard to get a splint to stay comfortably on a dog. It might be something I would consider temporarily if a dog had a minor fracture. But, it's not a treatment we usually use for the type of problem Ginger has.

Customer reply:

thank you i now know the prednisone will help her but im not sure what side effects i can expect to see? i also forgot to ask if there was any other methods such as acupuncture that you've maybe had experince with or know of having a chance to see results? thank you

Customer reply:

thank you i now know the prednisone will help her but im not sure what side effects i can expect to see? i also forgot to ask if there was any other methods such as acupuncture that you've maybe had experince with or know of having a chance to see results? thank you

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Some dogs can have side effects on prednisone. The most common is an increase in thirst and urination. Usually we start off at a high dose and then gradually lower the dose. As we lower the dose the side effects get less.

I'm not a huge fan of acupuncture. I have, however, seen dogs with back and neck problems do well with chiropractic care. If you do this though you need to make sure you see a chiropractor who is a veterinary chiropractor and not a human one as there are differences between the canine and human spine.

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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.

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