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Can a herniated disc be making my dog this sick??

October 20th, 2005, 11:46 PM
This is my first time posting here. I'm worried sick. I have a 7 year old shih-tzu who was diagnosed with a herniated disc. His own vet was fairly confident without an MRI and the specialist concurred and put him on prednisilone, and 4 weeks of crate rest.

That was 2 weeks ago. He had his last dose of prednisilone two days ago but he is no better. I've never felt that the medication was helping him and we were told it would give him diarrhea and instead he has been constipated. Additionallly he has become so weak that instead of merely limping he is is in a fog and falls right over when we stand him up. He can, with great difficulty, get his "sea legs" and walk to me but he pants with the effort. We don't need the crate since he doesn't pull himself into a standing position anymore.

I googled prednisilone and found that it can caust muscle weakness--but could it be this severe?

The vet was not hopeful and felt that he would need the MRI and surgery but that the surgery is often not successful and could leave him paralyzed. I felt that was an extremely bleak scenario without at least trying some different medications first.

Does anyone have any insights for me? This is my first dog and I really didn't know how much I would love this guy.

October 21st, 2005, 03:18 AM
Prednisone is generally highly effective as an anti-inflammatory in dogs - as well as humans <g>. Also, since your dog has only been on it for two weeks, it is unlikely to create such adverse side effects unless your dog is allergic to it or there is something else at play. I have actually seen what might qualify as bizarre results in humans (it's known as prednisone psychosis but unless your pooch exhibits a complete personality transofrmation - a glassy look in his eye, lack of communication, etc - that does not seem to be the case). Could he be constipated due to lack of activity? I don;t know if pumpkin works with dogs but it does relieve the prob in cats. I would wait till someone who knows for sure responds tho and before you follow through with anyting, it is best to consult your vet. He or after all knows your dog's history and has all the clinical data.

Herniated disc is actually not all that uncommon (tho some breeds are more prone to it than others) and treatment depends on the degree and duration of neurological dysfunction. If it's a mild case, rest and medications should be effective, just as it would be in humans. You did not mention what type of gerniation is involved, what vertebrae - I ask b/c herniated cervical vertebrae (neck and upper spine) is worse than say the thoracic or lumbar vertebrae, the former possibl leading to paralysis.

Surgery is usually indicated only after conservative measures (like crate rest and meds) on several occasions has not helped. It also of course depends on the diagnosis but I can only guess that since your vet does not deem an MRI required, he has all the info he needs. There are often occasions involving vertebrae where a scan or muelogram is more helpful than an MRI. Obviously, a scan is the least invasive of the 3 and often provides very helpful info.

However, if you think you need another opinion, I would consult another vet. I am not a vet but it sounds like your vet thinks your pooch should recover with conservative treatment. I am, however very knowledgable about the spine and spinal surgery - not due to my own medical background but to my own spinal problems. (Tho I have treated and operated on 100's of children with spinal cancer - at the risk of giviung away my age, lol)And I would question your vet's suggestion that the surgery is "often" not successful. A friend who raises Yorkies and who is also a GP recently shared the most recent journal on this problem which showed that "Over 90 percent of dogs improve with this surgery" (This is with a hemilaminectomy, the typical procedure used to correct disc herniation in dogs). You might want to ask him, if he suggested the opposite, why he cited such a glaringly opposite an outcome? :confused:

You can also minimise the pressure he puts on his spine keeping his weigy fown tho that does not seem an issue in thie acute phase. Training him not to jump on furniture also helps. My neighbour has a dashound with huip displasia and she has built ramps fopr him around her home. There is also someone on thios site quite knoqlegable about hip displasia in dashounds especially and he may have more insight than I.

Still, if you are concerned with the speed of his recovery, I would contact your vet!!! I hope he is feeling better soon!

the gang
October 21st, 2005, 07:34 AM
just like to tell you that dakota had this same thing, fell off sofa, i did no oppertion,predosone plus2 other med. we also got him a dog chryo wounderful------- 2 times a week for a couple of months this has been a long road for dakta he was parillzed but know with the help he is about 95% better hope this helps do not give up.

October 21st, 2005, 08:22 AM
I'd go to a chiropractor for a 2nd diagnosis and treatment.

October 21st, 2005, 10:10 PM
We finally got a call back from the vet who prescribed the prednisolone (after more than 24 hours) and she said it was the strongest medicine available. I then called a chiro who happened to be at a veterinary convention when he returned my call (within the hour) and he said that all of the vets in his vicinity said thatprednisilone is not nearly as strong as prednisone and there are more effective ways of treating.

He is willing to make a house call on Sunday.

In the meantime we took him to his former vet and he took x-rays and said that he can't tell if it's a herniated disc or not--he saw some possible deterioration at the top of his spine and can't say that it ISN'T soft tissue. If it is then we are looking at surgery.

In the meantime he gave him a shot and will give him another tomorrow and then oral meds. Which he said are ten times more effective than the prednisilone. Within 10 minutes of getting the shot he was looking around. In a half hour he was picking his head up and an hour later he was sitting by his bowl and did at least attempt to stand--his back legs are still too weak, but it was an immediate difference.

In 3 weeks he will be x-rayed again to see if there is any evidence of further degeneration, indicating a more serious problem. I'll be praying like mad between now and then--and I'm sure I'll keep you updated on his progress. You are so nice to have offered me your support. I've been having a really crummy day dealing with this !

the gang
October 21st, 2005, 11:43 PM
the chryo is the way to go

October 22nd, 2005, 09:58 AM
get the xrays from the vet to show to the chiro.

October 22nd, 2005, 12:33 PM
Well he just had a second shot and responded somewhat. The vet is still hedging about a tumor and seems to be leaning in that direction but won't commit.

He's going to take oral meds beginning tomorrow and we'll see if he continues to improve with them.

And thank you for the advice. I did take the x-rays with me when I left the office today.

October 23rd, 2005, 10:35 AM
I suspect that the person that CyberKitten referred to who has been through worst case scenarios Dachshund disc disease - 2 times - 2 soul mate dogs - is me. I would ask a neurosurgeon to do the MRI. If only one disc is effected I would have surgery done as soon as possible. With my dogs it was every single disc in back and neck. Surgery on one or two discs would not scare me - I would have dog on table as soon as possible - and even with treatment with steroids, it is possible problem with reoccur. Dachshund disc disease is really kind of different but same principle. Before steroid treatment, Dachshunds were pts when the calcified discs caused paralysis. Then research proved that steroid treatment - dog stayed at vets, put on steroids and moved to increasingly smaller cages to restrict movement as body functions returned (if they did). Steroid treatment often though was just a temporary fix - my first guy had 3 - 2 week stays at vet dealing with this. Then in 1988 he became a pioneer in Dachshund surgery. Sure there is a gamble, but if given a choice, for me it would be surgery - and in some cases there is no choice - and delaying the surgery can hasten the paralysis. I really hope your dog will be okay. Re the suggestions to take your dog to a chiropractor - I am afraid I cannot agree in this case - not until your dog has had an MRI and you have a definite diagnosis. If I had taken my Dachshunds to a chiropractor, the treatment would have resulted in paralysis for sure - and even faster, due to the presssure put on their spines. That is just my opinion - too informed I am sorry to say. I just would get the all clear from the neuro before rushing to a chiro - you absolutely do not want to make the problem worse. Best of luck and please report back on outcome.