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Puppy knuckling on back legs.

Species: Dog
Breed: Pug
Age: 3-6 months
Hi I have a pug who is 5 months old, he was fine until about 2 week ago. He started knuckling his back paws and dragging them. I went to the vets and they told me to rest him and gave me anti inflammation medcine as they said his nerve in his spine was swollen. After a week of rest they told me he was improving and to rest him longer for a full recovery. Today they called me and said its a malformation of his spine and I could snap his back at any time just by holding him. Please can you inform me if you think this sounds correct and what options I have. He is not in any pain and is as happy as he always has been. Thank you in advance


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh dear. I'm so sorry to hear that this is happening. It sounds quite serious.

When a dog knuckles his back paws and drags them this means that there is an injury to the spinal cord. It's often hard to know whether it is a serious injury such as a prolapsed disc pushing up on the spinal cord or something not quite as serious such as inflammation around a disc. In most cases, inflammation is the culprit. If this is the case, then anti-inflammatory medication combined with rest usually does the trick.

However, it is really unusual for a 5 month old dog to have either of these problems.

Did they take some xrays of his back? I am assuming that the idea of the congenital malformation came from looking at xrays.

If he doesn't seem to be in pain, a condition called Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) is a possibility as well.

You may want to ask your vet if there is a specialist nearby you where you could go for a second opinion. Most major cities will have one.

Unfortunately, getting a complete diagnosis may only be possible with a test called a myelogram. More information on that here: Myelogram for dogs. A myelogram can be a little pricey (on average about $1000.)

If there is a serious problem, you can talk to your vet (or the specialist) about Shai living with a wheelchair. Many dogs can live really well in a wheelchair.

I really hope things improve for him 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. 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:

Hi Marie. Thank you for your response. No. X rays were taken and I was surprised about the changed diagnosis after me leaving the building. The vet said he spoke with a neurologist who informed him about the malformation. I'm very worried and I will look for a second opinion. Do you think its possible to find out the vet who checked him over when he was born and do you think this is due to the breeder?

Thank you


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hmmm....it's a little unusual for a neurologist to be able to make that diagnosis without examining the dog or taking any xrays.

I just did some research to see if there are certain spinal problems that pugs are known to carry and here is what I came up with:

-Sacrococcygeal Dysgenesis - this is a problem where the end of the spinal cord is deformed. Does your pug have an obvious problem with the tail? This condition is sometimes also called corkscrew tail. The weird thing is though that this would not likely just come on all of a sudden.

I still would think it would be a good idea to have a specialist, or even another vet take a look just to confirm the diagnosis. If this is a bulging disc or something similar, it's possible that surgery could cure him.

It's hard to say whether this is due to breeding or not. If this truly is a congenital disorder it means that it was something he was born with. However, it's very unlikely that anyone would have been able to know if anything was going on until he started to do the knuckling.

If you have a contract with your breeder, you may want to take a look at it to see if it covers congenital disorders. However, most of the time, what I see on contracts is that the breeder will take the dog back if there is a problem. Unfortunately that is not usually what most owners would want to do!




Customer reply:

Ok thanks. Which kind of specialist do I need to see a neurologist?

Thanks


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

If you have access to a neurologist then that would be the best choice. Not all major cities have one, so if you have an internal medicine specialist that's not a bad idea either.



Customer reply:

Thank you so much


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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.