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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 15750
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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I have a 3 year old beagle healthy running jumping and suddenly

Customer Question

I have a 3 year old beagle healthy running jumping and suddenly went to grab him was in pain and notice he was dragging his hind legs
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear about Sparky' sudden inability to use his rear legs. He sounds very painful.
Unfortunately Beagles as a breed are prone to a problem with their intervertebral discs, which are the spongy cushions between the individual vertebrae in their back and neck. These spongy discs can move or rupture and place pressure upon the spinal cord which can lead to pain, and in severe cases sudden paralysis as well.
Radiographs can sometimes be diagnostic but often early on in the disease process, because the discs are soft tissue not bone, everything will look normal. An MRI is the best way of diagnosing disc disease.
If the dog is painful but has no evidence of paralysis we can try strict rest, anti-inflammatories and pain medications for several weeks to allow healing.
In cases like Sparky if there is paralysis then surgery by a board certified veterinary neurologist, as soon as possible, is indicated.
I am glad to see that he has is with his veterinarian now and is having radiographs taken. If this is indeed a disc problem your veterinarian can prescribe a steroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory to relieve pressure on his spinal cord and nerve roots, as well as something for pain too, such as Tramadol. And if he is having painful muscle spasms then a muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol as well while getting him ready for surgery.
If surgery is not an option for you financially then we can try anti-inflammatories and pain medication and cage rest. Some dogs do regain some function in time.
At home that means he should be closely confined starting now. If you have a crate for him I highly recommend using it. The less he moves around the more comfortable he will be and the faster he will heal.
Even as he starts to improve he should go out on a leash to relieve himself. Do not use a collar for him, a harness which more evenly distributes forces if he pulls on his leash is better. You will need to confine him for several weeks, even as he starts to feel better or he may reinjure himself.
Keeping him on the thin side is recommended to decrease stress on his back, but is no guarantee that he won't have another episode. Once a dog has one bad disc the likelihood of another is very high.
If you are interested in reading more here is a link to an excellent article about intervertebral disc disease, its causes and therapy: http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Dog-Health-Center/Bone-Joint-Muscle-Disorders/Intervertebral-Disk-Disease/Symptoms.aspx
There are other less common causes of back pain such as infections, tumors of the vertebrae or the spinal cord itself or fibrocartilagenous emboli but far and away disc disease is the most common cause of back pain and sudden paralysis in dogs.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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