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For the second time in less than one year an adorable, chubby, Daisy Dog was brought to the office for an acute onset of back pain. She did nothing obvious to cause the intense pain she endured for simply scratching.
Upon completing a comprehensive physical examination I noted that she had a problem. Knowing that, when I inverted her paw, she was standing on the wrong side of her paw. This is a clear indication that something neurologically was amiss. An x-ray of her spine showed that, due to herniated discs, there was a narrowing of two disc spaces. She had a similar problem, confirmed with an x-ray, a little less than one year ago.
At this point pet owners have a variety of options. The one that will likely give the best result is to have the patient examined by a veterinary neurologist. Yes, there are such individuals. In fact, there are two centers in this state that do nothing but examine and treat pets with spine, brain and other nervous system issues. They are equipped with the latest in diagnostic and surgical equipment designed for neurological conditions. I have made many a referral to these facilities with generally very good results. I tell the owners that they should be prepared to make a sizable investment on their pet’s behalf.
Another option, that works a fair amount of the time, is to completely confine the patient while starting them on a rigorous and lengthy course of steroids. For a full month, the pet MUST be kept from stairs, running, jumping and any other form of rigorous activity! This is easier said than done. At the time the diagnosis is made, the patient is in considerable pain, so confining them is quite simple. Once the steroids are given to decrease the swelling in the spine, thus preserving their spinal cord, they are no longer in pain. As you might imagine, subsequently curtailing their activity becomes quite a challenge! Simply jumping off the couch, bed or going down the stairs may be enough to cause permanent, irreparable damage to their spinal cord resulting in paralysis!
There is yet another option to end the pet’s pain and suffering. In the event that the former two options are not going to work, the only way to resolve such incredible pain is euthanasia. This may not seem to be a fair alternative, however, the as the condition progresses paralysis and intense pain are the likely sequel.
Should your pet show a sudden onset of problems while walking or demonstrates intense pain while moving, call ASAP for an examination. A prompt diagnosis of any type of neurological problem is essential for giving the pet owner the best options to relieve their extreme discomfort!
For more information about this and other pet health concerns, contact an expert, your veterinarian.
Dr. Stephen R. Thimmig leads the health care team at the Zeeb Pet Health Center and Three Shears for Pets; visit them on the Web at www.pethealth.net.