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IVDD in Basset Hound?

Species: Dog
Breed: Basset hound
Age: 5-8 years
Frank has had a very hard stomach for 2.5 days now and he is not drinking much water. Yesterday he did poop normal but today he hasn't and he is having trouble walking up steps. He does want to eat but I'm not feeding him much. I was thinking maybe bloat but he shows no other signs. What should I do?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Frank is not well. I have a few questions for you to answer before I type out a full answer for you:

  • Is he vomiting (or even just retching/ trying to vomit)?

  • Have a look at his gums...are they pink, really pale pink, or white?

  • You mentioned that he does want to you think that if he had the opportunity to eat a full meal that he would? Or is his appetite reduced?

  • Do his back legs seem weak or wobbly at all to you?

Thanks...I'll be waiting for your answers and then we'll see if we can figure out what could be going on.

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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:

No he has not vomit nor has he tried

His gums are pink

Yes he would eat a full meal if I gave it to him

His back legs seem fine but he can't get on the sofa by his self and he sleeps a lot. His breathing seems fine though.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

OK, thanks for answering those questions.

Keep in mind here that I can't give you a diagnosis over the internet. But, I can definitely give you my thoughts on what is going on with Frank.

His symptoms don't sound like bloat to me. Usually dogs with bloat will be trying to vomit but not able to get any food up. They will usually be pale and really not want to eat. While bloat is always something we need to consider, it seems less likely to be the culprit to me.

My best guess is that this is a problem with Frank's back. Basset Hounds can be prone to back problems. I'm concerned that he may have some inflammation between his vertebrae, known as IVDD. You can read more about this here: IVDD in dogs.

Most dogs with IVDD will be reluctant to jump or go up the stairs. This is because it causes pain in their back. I will often have people telling me that they feel their dog's abdomen is sore, when in reality it is a sore back. When a dog has a sore back, then touching the abdomen can cause back pain.

Thankfully most cases of IVDD are not serious and can be treated with medications. But, some cases can be quite serious. I am assuming that Frank has some inflammation around his spinal cord but it's also possible that he has a bulging disk. If there is disk material bulging out of the spinal cord then some dogs need surgery.

Because IVDD is painful and has the potential to be serious (i.e. lead to paralysis) I would highly advise that Frank has a vet visit today. Hopefully you have an emergency vet you can see today! The vet will be able to asses him well and determine if there is back pain. They would do some tests with his back legs to determine if this is just a pain issue or if there is worry about paralysis or neurological issues. They may possibly want to take some xrays.

If the vet feels that it is not too serious they will prescribe medication that will really help relieve his discomfort. He will need to rest (i.e. no jumping or stairs or running around) for some time as well. This is very very important if he has IVDD.

If the vet feels that bloat is at all a possibility then they will take an xray to determine if the stomach is bloated. But I would be surprised if this was the issue.

There are of course other possibilities. (It's hard to know exactly what is going on without seeing your boy.) But, I think a back issue is most likely.

I really hope he is ok!

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

What would make his stomach very hard then?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I've seen this quite often with back pain. I believe it is caused by muscle spasms. When the back is sore, everything around it is sore and tense.

There are other things that can cause a hard stomach. You mentioned bloat, but again the symptoms don't exactly match. Another possibility is pancreatitis. This causes a hard, painful abdomen, especially in the front part (i.e. just behind the ribs). But dogs with pancreatitis don't want to eat and are vomiting.

An abdominal tumor could cause the abdomen to be hard but this really shouldn't cause him to not want to do stairs or jump.

Customer reply:

Thank you very much for your help. I will monitor him today and hope we don't have to make the trip to the emergency vet and go to his normal vet tomorrow.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sounds like a good plan. Keep him very quiet and don't encourage any jumping, running or stairs.

And if things get worse, or if you notice his back legs getting wobbly then I would take him in today.

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

Thanks again for your help it turns out he has 2 inflamed disc's between his L1 and L5 he has been put on painkillers and muscle relaxer

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks so much for the update. Hope he's feeling better soon!

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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.