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Sore neck after blood draw.

Species: Dog
Breed: sheltie
Age: 8-11 years
This afternoon, I took my dog for routine labwork and the tech took it from his jugular vein. When he came out to me he was very stiff around the face and neck and whimpered when I touched him. It just happened that the chiropractor was there and we were next to be seen. She said his neck was inflamed and his \"head\" was out. This is a common occurance so I wasn\'t too alarmed but still concerned about his reluctance to move. When we got home he sort of regressed and couldn\'t open his mouth or look upward.
This really concerns me because he has dermatomyositis and is affected mainly by muscle weakness. He has been loosing a lot of muscle over the last 6 months or so. I did take him back to see the chiropractor a few hrs later and there has been some improvement but is barking less and unable to pick up his tennis ball.
My question is what do you think may have happened to him and how can I prevent this from happening again? I have no idea what is in store for him as he ages and would love to speak with someone that has been through this before, as hard as I know it will be.
Thank you so very much.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Cody is not doing well after his blood draw.

This is definitely not a normal thing to have happen after having blood drawn from a jugular vein. I can think of a couple of things that could be happening. It is possible that somehow Cody has had some damage to his neck. It is unusual though for this to happen after a blood draw.

When we draw blood from the jugular vein, we do need to hold the head and neck in an extended position. It certainly is possible that he struggled a bit and had needed some more firm restraint. I cannot say, however, that I have ever had a dog have this degree of discomfort after even vigorous restraint.

This makes me worry if there was a pre-existing problem with his neck. It is possible that he had an intervetebral disc in the neck that was on the verge of bulging. Then, the restraint or positioning for the blood draw could have done some damage. If this is the case, it may also be that there is simply some muscle spasms in the neck area.

It will be tough to know what to do from here. It sounds like Cody will need to be examined by one of the vets to determine how serious the problem is. He may need some xrays. The difficult thing, though, is that it is sometimes hard to see disc problems in the neck on an xray. Cody may need to have some anti-inflammatory medicine for a few days. But, if he is on medication for dermatomyositis, then anti-inflammatory medication may be contraindicated.

With all of that being said, the difficulty in opening his mouth is not normally something we see with neck pain. It is something, however, that can be seen with a flareup of dermatomyositis. A flareup can be triggered by some type of trauma, so it is possible that if he struggled for his blood draw that this triggered the condition. But, I do not believe that neck pain is usually a sign of dermatomyositis. So, it is tough to know what is going on.

Is Cody on prednisone or pentoxyfilline at all right now? If so, the vets may decide to increase the dose for a while to help him get through this. Or, if not, he may need to go back on it.

This is a tough case. I know it must be frustrating to you (and to Cody). I think it is unlikely that the vet staff has done anything wrong.

I wish I could give you a more definitive answer...I hope he is feeling better 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:

He has been on pentoxyphyline twice a day for yrs. He also gets previcox 1/2 tab daily. He sees Dr. Seeley once a month for readjustments as he has a history of spondylsis. I will watch for a flare up. I do know that he is just not himself since. He is quiet this eve but I did see him shake after being out in the rain a while ago. I will keep a close eye on him. I do appreciate your time.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You are very welcome Sharon. Hopefully he will be much better in the morning!

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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.