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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 15364
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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My 3 year old was fine last night, woke up this morning

Customer Question

My 3 year old ***** ***** was fine last night, woke up this morning hunched over and shaking. He keeps going into the porch where it's cold and stands in the corner. We are in a remote location with no access to a vet
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 am sorry to hear that Buster is behaving strangely this morning, hunched over and shaking and preferring to isolate himself on the cold porch.

He is showing signs of pain, but they are pretty nonspecific.

Does his ear look back to normal now? Any signs of pain when touching his ear or that side of his head (shying away from touch, very red ear, yelps?)?

Is he eating and drinking normally this morning?

And vomiting, or diarrhea ?

And changes in food or treats or has he been fed a lot of table scraps or gotten into anything?

Is he reluctant to jump, go up and down stairs or run as usual?

Was he overly active yesterday?

Any long term health issues?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
His ear appears to be better. He hasn't had any change in his eating. He hasn't eaten anything yet this morning but this started when he woke us up at 6am. In July he got into a porcupine and was really sick for about two weeks but had recovered from that. Checked him over this morning and did not find anything
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Ok, thanks.

He is not making it easy.

I would try feeding him something and see if he will readily eat.

Take him on a walk and see if he is able to urinate normally and if he will pass stool.

If he eats and eliminates normally then this is likely not related to gastrointestinal/abdominal discomfort.

In his breed this is probably related to back or neck pain. But I want to make sure that he doesn't have an upset stomach too, because my recommendations will be different for either of them.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, will do this
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Let me know how this goes and I will make recommendations based on that.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Will not eat or go outside
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Ok, let's start with treating him for stomach upset then.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Give me a few minutes to write up my recommendations.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

At home you can give either:

  1. Pepcid ac (famotidine) at ¼ of a 10mg tablet per 5 to 10 pounds of body weight every 12 hours

OR

  1. Prilosec (omeprazole) at ¼ of a 10mg tablet per 5 to 10 pounds of body weight every 24 hours

These are acid reducers and should help him feel better if his symptoms are related to nausea.

In a couple hours offer him some low salt beef or chicken broth to drink.

If that goes well I recommend feeding a bland diet of consisting of 1/3 boiled, shredded white chicken or boiled, very lean ground beef, all fats drained off the meat after cooking, mixed with 2/3 boiled white rice. You can mix in low salt chicken broth or warm water to make the food more tempting.

If he seems to feel better with that use the acid reducers and bland diet for several days and if he returns to normal gradually reintroduce his normal diet.

Watch his eliminations closely over the next several days.

If he still seems uncomfortable then this may be back/neck pain.

Unfortunately ***** *****s 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 paralysis.

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.

If there is evidence or weakness or paralysis then surgery by a board certified veterinary neurologist, as soon as possible, is indicated.

Ideally he would see his veterinarian scheduled. 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.

I understand that may be difficult where you are so I can give some other recommendations, but if he isn't coming along he needs hands on veterinary care.

He should be closely confined starting now. No stairs, running or jumping. 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. 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.

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 to 10mg per pound of body weight orally every 12 hours (about one half of a 325mg aspirin for a 17-35 pound dog 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 his neck and back for 10 minutes at a time several times a day.

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 in dogs.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

If I wasn't clear I would wait to start aspirin until this evening, until you have given the acid reducers and bland diet time to help. If he seems better with the acid reducer/bland diet then no need for aspirin. But if he seems more uncomfortable then proceed to treat him for back/neck pain.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hi Lucy Miller,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Buster. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara

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