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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 24410
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Jobie an 8 year old Golden Retriever that rather quickly

Customer Question

Customer: Jobie an 8 year old Golden Retriever that rather quickly lost use of his hind legs. We took him to Emergency Animal Hospital where they did an X-***** ***** of the Spine and disc and all seems good. No fever and vitals good.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: They put him on Steroids (Prednizone) which he has now been on for about 20 hours. He is very much alert seems to be feeling better and is trying real hard to get up on his back legs and still can't. He is going to the bathroom where he lays and we are cleaning up as fast as he makes a mess.
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Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Jobie. There are two main considerations at this time. The first is fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) which describes an interruption of the vascular supply to Jobie's spinal cord. This isn't something seen in X-rays but, instead, MRI. The second is degenerative disk disease (a "slipped disk") because quite a few disks also require MRI to identify. The prognosis for FCE can be quite good. Many dogs can regain function within hours or days. A disk is more unlikely to behave in that fashion often taking weeks or months to resolve is not addressed by surgical decompression of the spinal cord. Can you tell me, please, what conscious proprioception (knowing where one's legs are in space) and nociception (deep pain perception) testing revealed when Jobie was examined at the ER?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
He doesn't seem to be in any pain. You can touch him anywhere and it doesn't seem to bother him at all. He only lets out cries when he has to go to bathroom once relieved he doesn't cry at all. After 20 hours on the meds he is really trying to get up but just can't! They did what they did at the hospital and he let them without any trouble crying! The X-ray showed disc were good but he like you said MRI could show more. They thought to try steroids first should they have worked faster then it has?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 11 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information. That's actually a positive prognostic sign. FCE isn't painful after the initial insult and FCE doesn't respond to steroids. If Jobie suffered spinal compression from a disk, steroids might take quite a few days to show improvement. In general, if I don't see a positive change within the first week, I consider surgical decompression of the spine if an MRI shows that compression is, indeed, present. If my patient worsens, instead, surgical decompression should be considered immediately. Please continue our conversation if you wish.