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Down in the hock.

Species: Dog
Breed: Rough Collie
Age: 8-11 years
About two weeks ago I came home from being away a couple of hours and noticed my dog couldn't lay down and was pacing and pacing. Also she was "down in the hock" on one side and seemed to be having some wobbly walking. I called my vet and he said to bring her in the next day. She did not lay down for 17 hours! The vet watched her walk and said it was a back injury. He put her on 15 days of prednisone (20mg), one a day for 10 days then every other day. Also Robaxin, and Tramadol, also Valium to help her calm down and rest. The meds seemed to help and she could lay down and rest. But now she has been off them for 3 days and can't lay down again. She has a great appetite, no vomiting, diarrhea, etc. We are in a very rural area and the nearest CT scanner is 6 hours away one way and truthfully we can't afford it. Our vet says an X ray won't show anything is this true? Does it sound like a back problem to you? Should I try a different vet for another opinion? We really don't want to lose her as she is like a child to us, and it is very distressing to see her like this. Do you have any opinions, options, etc.? She also has spay incontinence which is usually completely controlled with Proin, but with the prednisone she is constantly wet and gets urine burn which I am treating with the recommended salve from the vet.
Thank you

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear that Ripley is really not doing well. I'm concerned by the symptoms that you have described.

Most likely, if your vet felt that there was a back problem, then Ripley likely had some neurological problems when she was examined. Do you remember the vet trying to knuckle her over on her toes to see if she was able to place her foot back properly? This is one test that we do to determine if there is a back issue.

What is a little strange though is that back problems don't usually affect one side more than the other. (They can, but it is not the norm.)

If she has neurological problems and one leg is affected more than the other then I get concerned that this may not be just a simple back problem. Many back problems can get better with a short course of the medications that you have mentioned. But, if the problem persists then there is something more serious going on.

One possibility would be if there was a tumor either in the spinal cord or affecting the nerves to the affected back leg. Unfortunately if this is the case then our options are limited.

It's also possible that there is a problem with one of the joints such as severe hip dysplasia. Something like this could show up on xrays. If this is the case then she may be able to be maintained with medications, or she could possibly have surgery to get some relief.

If this were my case I likely would be taking xrays to look for things such as a boney tumor or severe arthritis. It is true that many back issues will be difficult to detect on xrays, but there are some conditions that we possibly could see.

I think she really should see a vet again. It's really up to you whether you want a second opinion, but I think your current vet is doing the right things. They likely will be ok with doing xrays now that her condition has not improved.

I really hope things look up soon!

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:

Yes she had that test and does not knuckle under at all. She had surgery this August for bone spur in her knee, but it was the opposite knee that she was weird on now. Also after that surgery, she developed what i suspect is an esophageal stricture and can only eat canned dog food. They did do an epidural during her knee surgery, could that have done something? Is it feasible to maintain her on these meds for a while or are we heading for euthanasia? Again thanks.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It is interesting that she has issues with her esophagus. You may want to ask your vet about the possibility of something called myasthenia gravis (MG). MG is really not common but it can cause esophageal problems as well as very unusual musculoskeletal problems. MG is a treatable condition.

It is very unlikely to be related to the epidural.

Your vet may decide to keep her on these meds...this is fine. But, it would be much better to know exactly what we are treating!

If you have more questions I may be a few minutes before I can reply. We have some people just arriving for a superbowl party. But feel free to reply and I will respond as soon as possible.

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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.