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Roger L. Welton, DVM
Roger L. Welton, DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Licensed Veterinarian, Practice Owner, and Book Author
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My small beagle is 10 years old and had cervical disc surgery

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My small beagle is 10 years old and had cervical disc surgery between the c3/c4 in February. She appears pain-free now (what an ordeal!) She had weakness in right front leg and has no signs now and had very extreme pain. Two questions: 1) she shakes her head much more frequently than before almost like she is trying to dry off (no ear problem- I saw a vet). WOuld you guess this is simply a sensation that "something" is different? 2) SHe had two other discs that the doctor did not want to fenestrate to my dismay at time. She immediately went form CAT scan to surgery - not much of a conversation. I know I will never have this dog go through that surgery again. The other discs are also in neck (C4/5) and maybe L1. One has a slight bulge and the other I don't remember. Tell me general percentages of her blowing another one of these. I am mixed about not having done fenestrations as she IS doing well now. The surgeon was Board certified but not a neurologist. Has done many. Thank you



Cervical disk surgery is a trickier proposition than decompressive surgery in the thoracic and lumbar spines. First off, because the neck supports the head, the neck generally has more planes of motion and has less muscle support than other regions of the spine, surgery is more painful and the recovery is longer and more fraught with complications. Also, the respiratory center reside in the cervical spinal cord, damage to which can lead to respiratory arrest, the mother of all complications. All this considered, I understand your surgeon's conservative approach.


Knowing for certain from the CT scan that there are other partially herniated cervical disks, there is risk for recurrence of pain and neurological dysfunction. However, even a board certified neurologist would have difficulty giving you a precise percentage of the possibility of recurrence of clinical signs of disease. Looking at other case precedence, I would estimate about a 30% chance given that there are two adjacent disks involved.


That stated, there are allot of factors that go into what realistically may occur with each individual patient.


1.) How successfully will the patient scarred down ans stabilize the region post-operatively? This would be a function of each individual patient's healing capability.


2.) Are there mitigating factors that can affect the musculoskeletal system, such as endocrine disease (diabetes, hypothyroidism)?


3.) Is the patient obese?


4.) Does the patient have an active lifestyle, prone to short, unpredictable bursts of activity that may lead to re-injury, or is the patient fairly calm?


For the most part, aside from obesity and/or dealing with underlying endocrine disease if present, for the post part, most of these factors are beyond your control.


However, there are many other things that you can do that CAN effectively reduce the possibility of recurrence. I would find a general veterinarian in your area that offers rehabilitation therapy that involves a combination of alternative and nutraceutical modalities. These modalities have been largely proven at the veterinary university and teaching hospital level and are a very integral component to how we practice medicine in my practice.


In fact, since integrating the techniques that I will be outlining below, I have seen a precipitous drop in intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) cases - even ones with neurological dysfunction - that I have had to refer for surgery.


Specifically, I treat IVDD cases with a combination of the following:


1.) Low level 4B therapy laser.

2.) Acupuncture.

3.) Injections with anti-inflammatory/connective tissue stabilizing poly glycated glycosaminioglycan (Adequan).

4.) Musculoskeletal health nutritionally balanced diet that is high in glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and MSM. My favorite diet is prescription Hills J/D.


The rehab protocol consists of 6 treatment over 3 weeks in what is called the induction phase. Each treatment consists of a laser session and acupuncture at the direct site of injury, then a subcutaneous injection of Adequan (goes under the skin like a vaccine). I generally do 3 treatments week one, 2 treatments week 2, one treatment week 3; then maintain the patient on a booster treatment once monthly...knowing those disks are chronic, I would continue the monthly phase indefinitely.


To learn more about how therapy laser, acupuncture, and neutraceutical therapy work, refer to the services page of my hospital's website:


If it already has not been done, I would also run general wellness panel to rule out disease - namely endocrine disease - that may adverse effect the musculoskeletal system. Hypothyroidism is especially common in Beagles.



Roger L. Welton, DVM and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Pat,

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

Roger L. Welton, DVM
Customer: replied 3 years ago.



Thanks for checking. The dog and I are on vacation; when I get back I am going to follow through with your suggestions. My research tells me you are "right on."


She is doing well. The only strange thing is how she shakes her head more often side-to-side like she is drying off. Maybe 12-20 times a day for brief interludes (2 seconds at a shot). My guess is something just feels different.

Glad she is doing very well. The shaking most certainly could be from the fact that something feels "different", perhaps tingly at time...we hear reports from humans the can experience tingly sensations post operatively from similar procedures.

Best of luck to you. We are here to advise you any time you need it. :-)

Best regards,

Dr. Roger
Roger L. Welton, DVM and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you

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