Dog Health Questions? Ask a Dog Vet for Answers ASAP
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I am very sorry to hear that Georgia seems so uncomfortable this afternoon.
I suspect that she has an underlying orthopedic problem that she has been living with for a long time. That would explain her picky behavior about finding just the right spot to eliminate. Dogs that have joint problems with their rear legs or a painful back find it difficult and painful to get into and maintain the positions needed to eliminate. Those positions put more pressure on the rear legs and back, making what is already uncomfortable even more so. She may not have limped or complained before now because that is how life has been for her for a while, and depending upon her problem, perhaps since puppyhood.
I would be concerned about a degenerative condition of the hip joints called Legg Perthes which can involve one or both hips, a luxating patella (knee caps that slip out of place) or intervertebral disc disease (the spongy disc between the vertebral bones slipping out of place and putting pressure on the spinal cord).
Ideally she would see her veterinarian because the prescription medication your veterinarian has for pain will be much safer and work better than any over the counter medications that we take. In fact acetaminophen and ibuprofen aren't used in dogs because their effective doses are very close to a toxic dose in dogs. I understand that it is the weekend so seeing her veterinarian may be difficult.
The only over the counter anti-inflammatory that can be used in dogs is buffered, enteric coated aspirin (like ascriptin). Aspirin does cause stomach and intestinal irritation and ulceration as well as clotting problems so should not be given for more than 2 to 3 days consecutively and should always be given with a meal. If you choose to use it watch for lack of appetite, vomiting, blood in the stools or dark tarry stools and stop immediately if you see those. Do not use aspirin if your dog has liver or kidney disease or a history of a sensitive stomach or clotting problems.
The dose for aspirin is 5mg per pound orally every 12 hours (about one half of a 325mg tablet for a 25 to 30 pound dog or 1/4 of a 325mg tablet for a 10 to 15 pound to every 12 hours). Always give with a meal. Do not use for more than 2 or 3 days.
Be aware if you choose to use aspirin and it doesn't help your veterinarian will be limited on what they can give as there must be a 5 to 7 day washout period between different nonsteroidals or nonsteroidals and steroids.
You can try alternating warm and cold packs on her hips, knee, and lower back areassince we aren't sure where the pain is coming from for 10 minutes at a time several times a day.
Make sure to rest her, no running, stairs or jumping. Carry her to go outside.
Long term for joint pain I do recommend using a combination of aglucosamine/chondroitin product (examples are Dasuquin or Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like 3V Caps or Derm Caps). These work synergistically andimprove cartilage health and joint fluid quality and quantity as well as reducing inflammation. They can take several weeks to see full improvement but some dogs do very well with them alone. They are available over the counter.
Another option is a product called Duralactin. This is an anti-inflammatory product derived from milk proteins and it also has omega 3 fatty acids incorporated into it which can be very helpful. See this link for further information: http://www.duralactin.com/products_canine.htm
If that's not enough she should see her veterinarian for prescription drugs that are more potent. Veterinary drugs we can add include a nonsteroidal like Metacam, Deramaxx, Previcox or Rimadyl. If those aren't enough we can add another drug in the opiod family called Tramadol and/or another drug called Gabapentin. These drugs are much safer and more effective than aspirin.Aspirin used for any length of time will create gastrointestinal ulcers andclotting problems.
Best of luck with your girl, please let me know if you have any further questions.
Thank you for the information! I had honestly never even considered a long term joint or orthopedic issue could have been linked to her stubbornness going to the bathroom. She was difficult to train as a puppy and I attributed it the fact that the breeder started her with 'wee wee' pads and she preferred these - I always thought she was just stubborn. She has never shown any pain when walking or running...although she does have a rather odd 'sideways' gait and often sits in an odd position my children call her 'lazy sit' - with her legs wrapped under her. This together is all making me think perhaps she was born with a condition as you suggest. I would not be able to get her to a vet unless I chose our local animal hospital. While extremely well known and well regarded it is also very expensive. Do you think I should do this immediately - bc otherwise I cannot easily get to the vet until next weekend due to my job? I do not want her to be in pain. Do you think I should try to give her aspirin now- is something like Bayer ok? Thank you!
Thanks for the reply, I'm glad to try and help.
If she is still eating and drinking fine and isn't running a fever (more then 103 F rectally) you can try aspirin for the next few days and see how she does, then try to have her seen next weekend. Look for enteric coated aspirin if you choose to try it as it is less irritating, Ascriptin is a brand name of enteric coated aspirin.
But if she isn't eating for you, or seems to worsen, dragging her rear leg rather then picking it up then she really must be seen on an emergency basis today or tomorrow.
Best of luck with your girl, please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.
Thank you - I just gave her some wet food - a treat! and she is eating for the first time today. I will see how she does - thank you so much for your advice - I absolutely would never have considered an underlying issue like that. I imagine she will need xrays yes? But if she does have condition you mention - Legg Perthes - is something that requires surgery or could it be treated medicinally?
Any other things I can do before I see her vet?
She will need a very thorough examination and very likely radiographs of the affected area. She will likely need to be sedated for these as she must be very still, in a very uncomfortable position to get the best views.
Legg Perthes often requires surgery if they start to show signs of lameness, but sometimes we can control the pain with medication. I also recommend trying to keep these pups on the lean side to decrease joint stress.
You can start omega 3 fatty acids and a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement. Though it may take weeks to see full improvement with these the sooner she is started the sooner you will see effects and she will feel better. No matter what her trouble these are both likely to help.
Here is a link to a very good article about Legg Perthes disease if you'd like to read more: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2529
Please let me know how things go for her, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX