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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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7 yr old American dog ,great perinees mix , granddaughter

Customer Question

7 yr old American bull dog ,great perinees mix , granddaughter 2 1/2 yrs old fell on his hind legs/hips dog yelped and was still able to walk. started getting worse so took him to local vet. now after being knocked out for x-rays can't walk at all. vet said no hip dysplasia and no bone or spine problems . any ideas?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 7 months ago.
Hi there, I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian who works exclusively with dogs and cats. I'm so sorry to hear that Charlie is having such a difficult time. I'm sure that this is very stressful for you and your family. I will do my best to help. By far and away the most common reason for a young otherwise healthy dog to suddenly become paralyzed would be intervertebral disc disease. This is when one (or multiple) of the discs between the vertebrae become inflamed, swollen, rupture, or slip out of place. This places a varying amount of pressure on the spinal cord, causing it to malfunction. In milder cases, pain is the only symptom. One step more severe causes scuffing of the toes and delayed reflexes. One beyond that is muscle weakness in the legs (back legs only if the disc problem is behind the front legs but in front of the back legs), and the worst possible scenario is full paralysis and loss of pain sensation. In the more severe cases, the sooner they receive veterinary care, the more likely they will be to return to walking with normal function. If the vet suspects IVDD, and they are able to do advanced imaging, an MRI or CT scan are the methods of choice to diagnose these lesions, because the discs and spinal cord do not show up on X-rays. X-rays can be helpful for general information - especially looking for signs of bone fractures or destruction. Treatment for a disc that's compressing the spinal cord would be surgical removal of the disc material from the canal to decompress the cord.Another potential cause would be FCE, which is a disease in which one of the blood vessels that supplies a portion of the spinal cord becomes blocked, causing a portion of the spinal cord to die and lose function. This again is a diagnosis via advanced imaging like a CT/MRI scan - it can be very difficult to tell from IVDD on a physical examination. Treatment for FCE is mostly supportive and nursing care while we wait to see if and how much function they will recover - it can take weeks to months to know how well they will recover.Another potential that is less common would be a spinal infection or tumor - while these are far less common, they can cause the same symptoms. They can be diagnosed by advanced imaging, and blood work can also sometimes give us a clue about an infection being present. A spinal tap could also give info on the type of infection if one is present. Even more rare would be immune mediated (autoimmune) inflammatory spinal disease.If you can, the absolute best thing to do for Charlie would be to get him evaluated at a hospital that can perform advanced imaging (MRI or CT scan). Your options at this point are to give whatever treatment your vet recommended some time to work or to move on for more diagnostics. Since IVDD is the most common disease and timely treatment is most important when considering whether he can recover, I'd suggest not taking the wait and see approach if you can avoid it. If you can't get him to referral hospital for more advanced diagnostics, keep him strictly confined to a bed or crate - do not let him drag his legs around or move about at all, as this can further exacerbate his injury. It's a good idea to line his bed with water absorbent pads in case he urinates or defecates while he's laying in bed. You vet has likely prescribed an anti-inflammatory and possibly pain medication and/or antibiotics if they are suspicious of something infectious - if not, these are good points of discussion for trial therapy.I hope that this information was helpful to you - please let me know what other questions I can handle.~Dr. Sara
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 7 months ago.
Hi Dave,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Charlie. How is everything going?

Doc Sara