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Neck Pain/disc Issues


Guest Nat_JJ
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This may be a bit long but I am just after some advice/experiences of other dogs as I am a bit confused, and obviously worried about my boy. We have seen 3 vets but only 1 (his regular vet) seems worried. I do trust his regular vet but having seen 2 other vets that didn't seem too worried it has got me thinking.

 

Jasper (12 in December) has been referred to a specialist for some on/off problems he's had for the last few years. He seems to pull his neck every now and again (he has trouble getting up from a lying down position and he can't shake his head properly and can't stoop down to the floor) and his regular vet is worried about disc issues. Whenever this has happened previously he just has anti-inflammatories and it clears up no problem.

 

Until a few weeks ago this hadn't happened for almost 2 years and it was worse than it normally is, he was yelping just turning his head to the side and his front leg seemed quite stiff and sore. I got him into the vets (it wasn't his regular vet) (where Jasper proceeded to shake his head no problem I might add!) and the vet checked Jasper's knuckling reflex - vet said he was slightly slow to correct it but nothing really to worry about, gave him an anti-inflammatory/steroid injection and some anti-inflammatory pills and by the time his 3 or 4 day course of pills had gone Jasper was totally fine again. We saw his regular vet for a routine nail clip shortly after and she asked how he was but she seemed more worried about the knuckling reflex and she mentioned that the disc could be pressing more on his spinal cord, and worst case could maybe progress to paralyse Jasper and that we should maybe think about referring him to a specialist just to double check as she doesn't see a lot of disc issues.

 

I went away to have a think about it and last Tuesday (about 3 weeks after the other flare up) Jasper then started with the reluctance to shake his head again. It wasn't as bad this time, he just seemed a little bit stiff and again shook his head no problem whilst we were at the vets. We saw another vet who again didn't seem too worried but I said to go ahead with the specialist referral just to be on the safe side, we came away with some pills again and he was back to normal by Thursday/Friday. On Thursday I had a phone call from the referral place and scheduled him in for this coming Wednesday, a consultation, scan and possible surgery (that in itself was a major shock - I didn't think a specialist appointment would come through so quickly!).

 

Anyway to try and keep this short(er) has this been what course of action you have done or have you gone about it another way? I obviously want the best for Jasper and cost isn't an issue but I don't want to put him through an anaesthetic/treatment at almost 12 years old if not needed. Yes he is in pain when his neck problems flare up but at any other time he is perfectly fine, galloping about like the big loon that he is. Surely if it was major disc issues the pain/problems would be more continuous and wouldn't be fixed after a short course of anti-inflammatories. Next month would have been 2 years of having no problems at all. Any input of your experiences would be greatly appreciated. I just want to do the best for my boy.

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Guest normaandburrell

If you trust your regular vet, I would follow his/her recommendations, as this is the person who knows you and your dog best, not only the dog's medical history, but your general philosophy of handling your dog's medical issues. If I had heard possible surgery even before the dog had been seen by the specialist, I might be shocked, too, and I suspect that is a major factor in your reconsidering seeing the specialist. You can always go and just say that you are not prepared to agree to surgery right away.

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I have had to deal with quite a few hounds with neck/spine issues and the associated pain/symptoms. It has been my experience involving several years and several vets and injury from mild to very serious that the best thing to do is supportive care primarily with something like a tramadol / robaxin protocol if needed /as much as is needed. Personal preferance again but I would only use the Rx NSAID's on a temporary basis if at all. I have found Duralactin can do an acceptable job given on a daily basis and it is safe. Personally no way would I subject a 12 year old to surgery-especially not one as 'healthy' as Jaspar. The frequency of his episodes no way would warrant any further intervention to me. My Cash was actually disabled and in pain on a daily basis for most of her life and still managed to enjoy life. Hers was so griveously injured that surgery would not have even been possible. Sounds to me like you are taking great care of him and he is lucky to have you! Hugs to all! PS- I know how much you would like to 'fix' him so he wouldn't have to endure it at all but sometimes it just isn't possible. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

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The phone call was a MAJOR shock! One minute my dog just had a bit of a stiff neck, the next minute he's schedule for scans and possible surgery, being dropped in on Wednesday and picking up on Friday after his possible surgery!

 

All we have done so far with regard to treating him is just giving him anti-inflammatories when it flares up. He hasn't had/is not on any other medication at all. We do rest him when it flares up. We have also tried multiple harnesses but he is a stubborn one and flat out refuses to move in one! If we put it on him in the house he lies down, if we put it on him outside he roots himself to the spot and will not move, not even for treats - and we have not just tried it once or twice and given up, we have tried it a lot but he is extremely stubborn when he wants to be.

 

I do feel like we have not tried anything and are just rushing into the scans, but all I keep thinking is what if he does become paralysed and I have not done anything to help him - my vet warned me and I ignored her. This is all I keep coming back to at the moment. I want to help him but I am really struggling to make a decision, I really am 50/50.

 

Racingdog - Thanks for your kind words. What you mentioned is exactly one of my trains of thought. This is the first couple of episodes we've had in two years, he's had them before and been fine so why do different than we have been doing. When he hasn't got the stiff neck he is bouncing around, dashing about, spinning and twirling like a crazy boy so he can't feel poorly surely.

 

I think I may ring the referral place and see if I can get the specialist to have a quick chat with me before Wednesday.

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We went through something somewhat similar a few years ago with our boy Sunny. It all started with a head-on collision with our other hound, and then a few weeks later he started with neck problems and intermittent front leg lameness after hard running or playing. Our regular vet couldn't find anything wrong (he wasn't poking him in the right place!) so we just treated with painkillers and rest, which would resolve the issue temporarily, but then it would recur a few weeks or months later.

 

Eventually we took him for a second opinion to a greyhound vet, who found the problem within five minutes by examining him: a misaligned vertebra between his shoulders which was putting pressure on the nerve which runs down the front leg, hence the intermittent lameness. The treatment initially was a muscle relaxant and painkillers, and we then followed this up by going to see a McTimoney chiropractor. The chiropractic improved things quite a lot but didn't completely resolve the situation as Sunny would still have flare-ups from time to time and needed regular sessions. A few years later Sunny needed high-dose steroids for something unrelated and this appears to have solved his neck problems as he's had no problems at all for the last two years.

 

I think in your situation I'd be a little reluctant to put a 12 year old through an anaesthetic for the MRI, but on the other hand it would be nice to know what's going on and whether there is a disc problem or not. In your shoes, I would probably consult a greyhound vet first and then if they said an MRI/specialist was necessary, go ahead with it. I was lucky, though, to be within travelling distance of the legendary Bill Steele in Essex. If I hadn't had access to a respected greyhound vet, then I probably would have asked for a referral to a specialist centre. It's possible the specialist might be able to give you quite a lot of information even without doing a scan - on the few occasions that I have consulted a specialist, it's always been worthwhile.

 

Regarding surgery, this would be an absolute last resort for me after I had tried everything else, and I certainly wouldn't want to be pressured into making a decision on the day of the scan, unless there was a very compelling reason to do so.

 

Had our local chiropractor not been able to help my boy, the next thing I was going to try was this alternative vet in Oxfordshire: he has some information regarding neck/back problems here: http://www.alternativevet.org/dog_diseases.htm#back and here: http://www.alternativevet.org/dog_diseases.htm#disc

 

Good luck with your decision making - I remember well the hours of agonizing over what to do!

 

 

SunnySophiePegsdon.jpg

When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship. ~ W Scott Lineberry

Always Greyhounds Home Boarding and Greyhounds With Love House Sitting

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The phone call was a MAJOR shock! One minute my dog just had a bit of a stiff neck, the next minute he's schedule for scans and possible surgery, being dropped in on Wednesday and picking up on Friday after his possible surgery!

 

All we have done so far with regard to treating him is just giving him anti-inflammatories when it flares up. He hasn't had/is not on any other medication at all. We do rest him when it flares up. We have also tried multiple harnesses but he is a stubborn one and flat out refuses to move in one! If we put it on him in the house he lies down, if we put it on him outside he roots himself to the spot and will not move, not even for treats - and we have not just tried it once or twice and given up, we have tried it a lot but he is extremely stubborn when he wants to be.

 

I do feel like we have not tried anything and are just rushing into the scans, but all I keep thinking is what if he does become paralysed and I have not done anything to help him - my vet warned me and I ignored her. This is all I keep coming back to at the moment. I want to help him but I am really struggling to make a decision, I really am 50/50.

 

Racingdog - Thanks for your kind words. What you mentioned is exactly one of my trains of thought. This is the first couple of episodes we've had in two years, he's had them before and been fine so why do different than we have been doing. When he hasn't got the stiff neck he is bouncing around, dashing about, spinning and twirling like a crazy boy so he can't feel poorly surely.

 

I think I may ring the referral place and see if I can get the specialist to have a quick chat with me before Wednesday.

You are correct. What you have been doing all along works. If it works don't fix it right? I too was advised by one of my vets that Slim could go down paralyzed at any time. There simply is no way to be 100% sure they won't-and that includes if they have surgery. Like I said he's lucky to have you. All will be well because you love him so and love cures all-it is the most powerful force in the world. And not to worry for you either as you can never do wrong when you operate out of and are motivated by love :) as you are.

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Thanks for your reply Hawthorn and all the information. I will certainly have a read over the links you posted. I am glad its not just me that agonizes over making a decision. After I got over the initial shock phone call I thought the scans sounded like a good idea but the more I think about it, the more I talk myself out of it. I don't know of any greyhound vets around here so that's something else I will follow up on. Thanks for your help

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I promise you are not alone with the agonizing!

 

Your local greyhound adoption kennels are the best place to get recommendations for greyhound vets, or local tracks, if you have any near you (I expect you worked that out for yourself :)).

 

I don't know if Loughborough is within travelling distance for you, but there is this practice: http://www.caninesports.co.uk/ .

 

I can't recommend them personally as I haven't consulted them, but I have seen them recommended by other people on forums. If I see anyone recommending a greyhound vet I generally keep a note of the details for future reference, as good greyhound vets are few and far between.

SunnySophiePegsdon.jpg

When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship. ~ W Scott Lineberry

Always Greyhounds Home Boarding and Greyhounds With Love House Sitting

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I've had a dog with neck pain that comes and goes. I just treated it with meds when a flare up happened. If your vet recommended a specialist, then a consult would probably be a good idea, but like others here, I would be very, very reluctant to put a 12 yr old through surgery! The anesthesia for an MRI, well, if the dog is otherwise healthy, it might be OK, but I would think about whether it was really necessary if you weren't going to do the surgery anyway. Good luck with whatever you decide!

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