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Thin after back injury.

Species: Dog
Breed: Mutt (maybe Rottweil
Age: 8-11 years
A friend found a dog years ago on the side of the road with an broken back. Break looks like he fell out of a moving truck. The vet said it was pretty bad and wasn't sure he would survive and if he did that he would probably be paralyzed. We adopted Buddy and nursed him back to health and he gets around pretty good. He still drags his back legs sometimes when tired or getting up, but most of the time he has a side to side hip waddle and keeps up with our other dog, Daisy well. My concern is that he is really thin in the back. His back legs are actually muscular, but his back half of his body is really skinny. You can actually see his back ribs and hip bones. On the body condition charts the front half of his body is ideal and muscular, but his back half where the break was is definitely thin on the chart. His vet ran blood tests and inspected him and found nothing wrong. He just said this was to be expected, but pictures I have seen of dogs with back injuries look don't seem to look like he does. We do keep dry food out for the dogs all day and our other dog, Daisy is healthy to slighty overweight. But our boy, Buddy has never filled out in back. He will not touch canned food. Is this really normal for dogs with a serious back injury? We estimate his age to be about 9 years old.
Thank you for your help!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a tough question to answer without being able to examine Buddy, but I would expect that the cause for the thin back end is due to the back injury. It is possible that there are certain muscles that are atrophied (shrunken) because they don't get the appropriate stimulation from the nervous system.

There are many different kinds of back injuries. I would expect that the majority of dogs that have a back injury actually have IVDD (intervertebral disc disease) but in Buddy's case we don't know the extent of the nervous damage that he has.

There is probably not a lot that can be done to build up these muscles. If this were my case I would be wanting to do some blood tests to see if I could find a reason for this but it sounds like his general blood work was good. And really, if there was a systemic reason for his condition it would affect his whole body.

You may want to ask your vet if an activity like swimming could help to build up his muscles. Alternatively they may be able to recommend a canine physiotherapist. Or, another option is to try laser therapy on the muscles if that is available in your area.

My guess though is that this is something that he just will have to live with.

I also don't think that the dislike for canned food is anything significant.

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.

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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.