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Dog with back problems.

Species: Dog
Breed: Dachshund
Age: 5-8 years
I know it's log winded, but I wanted to include all the information possible...

My dog Tex had his IVDD episode on Friday night 9/9/11. He was staring at me sitting on the couch and wanting me to pick him up. He usually would put his front paws up on the cushion for me to pick him so I thought it was a little weird that he was just standing there staring. I reached down to pick him up, touched his chest and he let out one of those screaming yelps. He then cowered on the floor, afraid for me to touch him. I wasn’t sure what it was of if I had touched him weird or what. I asked him if he wanted to go potty outside and he got excited and went down the stairs into the backyard. He walked a little, but just kept looking back at me. I figured he really didn’t need to go and said, “O.K. let’s go back in the house.” He just stood at the bottom of the stairs. Then my brain started working and it clicked that it might be the back issues that I had heard about that Daschunds usually have and that I knew his parents had had in the past. I carried him into the house and he hid under a chair. I didn’t bother him. He would try to come out but then just stop where he stood, afraid to move. I decided to put him in a carrier and take him to the Emergency Vet. I called the Emergency center. They seemed to think that it would be O.K. if I waited to see the regular Vet first thing in the morning. He was calm and not shaking anymore so I decided we would go to the Vet first thing Saturday morning. I had looked up a few things on the internet that night, but just to try and diagnose the problem when he originally yelped and I hadn’t come across this site yet. Not knowing any better I took him out of the carrier and we got in bed. We both slept in the same position all night. When we woke in the morning, I put him in the carrier, carried it to the front yard and let him out to do his business. He lifted his leg to pee, just not as high as usual. I then put him back in the carrier and we went to the Vet.

As per his usual, the Vet took Tex back for his exam and came back and talked to me. He said he was going to give him an anti-inflammatory and keep him for observation. He said for me to give them a call Monday afternoon. When I did he said he still yelped a little when he was taken out that morning, that his right leg was a little weak with slight knuckling over, and he wanted to keep him another day. During this time I read everything on the web site and any other site I could find. When I called back on Tuesday to check on him, the Vet asked if he could keep him until Thursday. Feeling confident that I could provide 24/7 cage rest, I said that I would rather have him home. I picked Tex up Tuesday after work. We were sent home with 1 5mg Prednisone tab for 9/14, skip 9/15, 2.5 mg 9/16, skip 9/17, 2.5mg 9/18. Although he felt better, seemed to walk the few steps I let him fine, I kept him caged other than taking him to the potty. It was hard keeping him caged, but for his own good we did it.

On Wednesday 9/14, I gave him the 5 mg Prednisone in the morning. I bought and set up a wire crate for Tex, because he had been recovering in the plastic carrier. After work on Wednesday I introduced him to his new crate where he ate his dinner and played with a Kong. After his dinner I carried him outside to potty. When I picked him up to go back inside he did wince with pain a little. I put him back in the wire crate and after a while it was bed time. I went to bed and left him in the crate. After a while he started whining. I figured it was because he has never not slept in the bed with me when we were both home. He kept whining so I went to check on him. I open the crate to pet him and noticed that he had wet in the crate where he laid and didn’t bother to move. This really scared me, so I picked him up to see if he could still stand and he could move both back legs so I cleaned the crate, put him back in and laid next to the crate to keep an eye on him. He quit whining, but I noticed he was panting pretty hard. This went on for a while and I was really getting worried. I called the Emergency Vet again and they said it was probably a reaction to the Prednisone and again basically talked me into not coming in. I gave him a piece of ice and the panting quit. He then slept throughout the night. The first thing this morning, Thursday 9/15, I picked Tex up to go to the potty. He peed but wouldn’t lift his leg, he just leaved forward a bit, he then took a few steps to go number two and both back legs gave out on him and he sat down. We immediately loaded up and went to the Vet. The Vet wasn’t in yet, so I explained everything to the Nurse/Vet Tech that was in and dropped him off. Especially since today was supposed to be a skip day with the Prednisone, I want the Vet to reassess and maybe change the med schedule. I’m waiting for more information.

Here are my questions:
1. How long does a Vet typically need to keep a dog for something like this before releasing him to the owner? Should I have left him there longer?
2. I’m not sure what dosage of Prednisone Tex was given on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. All I know is that I gave him 5 mg on Wednesday. If he was given a higher dose the other days, and the 5 mg was a taper dose, could that be why he regressed on Wednesday? If he was given 5 mg all five days, is that a strong enough dose? He weighs approximately 20 lbs and is 6 yrs, 11 mos. old with no other health problems. What medicine regimen would you suggest – dosage and frequency?
3. The Vet was unconcerned about prescribing a pain med. Should he have one no matter what, or is it unnecessary in what was initially a mild episode.
4. Also I asked about Pepcid AC and the Vet said that at the dosage of Prednisone he is getting it shouldn’t be a problem.
5. Will proper anti-inflammatories and 24/7 crate rest keep him from getting worse or might he get worse regardless?
6. Does anyone know of a specialist in the Waco, TX area?

I’m frustrated and scared for my sweet dog. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your detailed question. I'm sorry to hear that you and Tex are going through this tough time!

Back problems are definitely common in daschunds. When a dog has problems with his back, it means that either there is inflammation around his discs in the back or possibly that a disc is bulging. The inflammation or bulging disc pushes on the spinal cord and this causes pain. If there is enough pressure on the spinal cord then we can see neurological issues (such as the knuckling) and possibly paralysis. Hopefully Tex simply has inflammation and not a bulging disc. If the disc bulges then some dogs need surgery in order to be healed. But, if there is just inflammation then we do medication plus rest and just give the back time to heal.

So, let's see if I can answer your questions:

1. I don't routinely keep a dog in the hospital when I see this condition. However, if I have a patient who won't stay still at home then I think it is a good idea to keep him in the hospital with cage rest.

2. Unfortunately I can't legally advise you on dosing of medications. When we use prednisone for back problems, we generally tend to do several days on a high dose which really helps with inflammation, then we taper the dose down. The dose that he is on right now is very low. If he is still having issues (pain or knuckling) then he will either need an increased dose, or need to be switched to another medication. You'll need to talk to your vet about this.

3. At the higher doses, the prednisone is a pain med as it is an anti-inflammatory. We can't use most other pain meds along with prednisone. If a dog was really painful I may add a narcotic. Again, you'll need to talk to your vet about this.

4. I would normally not prescribe pepcid unless I was using a very high dose of Pred for a long time.

5. No one can say for sure if a dog will continue to improve or if the disc will rupture and need surgery. But, crate rest is our best bet to help his recovery.

6. Your vet is the best resource for a back specialist, should things get worse. If he needs back surgery then your vet should have a specialist that they usually use.

The good news is that most dogs with this condition really do not need surgery. But, if at any point you think his symptoms are getting worse rather than better then he needs to see the vet again right away.

Hope all is well!

I'll be online for just a few more minutes tonight. But, if you have more concerns I'll be checking in in the morning.

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.

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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.