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Category: Dog Veterinary
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Dog is in pain, crying, panting & shaking

Customer Question

HI, my 7 year old chihuaua female has been having these symptoms for over 3 weeks now. She has been to the vet 3 times and does not seem to be getting better.
She has been yelping when you try to touch her (not when touched, just when she knows you''re about to touch her) but also yelps while she just stands there shaking and panting.
Her vet did blood work, urine and xrays and did not find anything abnormal. Vet said it''s most likely back or disc pain and is treating her with rimadyl and muscle relaxer.
She was doing great on the meds, but now the symptoms are starting again even with the meds.
I will be taking her back to the vet today, but I would like to get some other opinions as to what else this could be. I''m thinking maybe she is constipated from the medication since she has not pooped. Her belly area is hard, but not bloated, and she did not want to eat yesterday. I''m worried sick, please help if you can!! God Bless~

Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  miacarter replied 9 years ago.

Hello there.

I'm so sorry to hear about your little girl. I know how scary it can be when your pet is ill and in pain.

I agree with your vet in that this could be a back problem. An MRI would really shed some light onto the situation, as this diagnostic test clearly shows the patient's soft tissues, in addition to the bones, so it could really help to shed some light as to what's going on with your little girl.

But another possibility to consider is some sort of neurological pain disorder. If this were the case, you wouldn't necessarily see anything abnormal on an x-ray or blood tests. If an MRI and today's vet visit doesn't lead to a conclusion, this is a possibility that I would seriously consider.

A veterinary neurologist is a specialist who I think may really be able to help your little dog. Here's why: neurologists specialize in the workings of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. If there is nothing wrong with the mechanics (i.e. bones, muscles, tendons, etc.) of your dog's body, this means that the problem is probably the result of a problem involving the brain, spinal cord or nerves.

The nerves perceive sensations, like pain, and they transmit these messages along the spinal cord and up to the brain. Some nerves go directly to the brain too. So if you have a problem with one or more nerves, you can get scrambled signals, incorrect interpretations of sensations, and other mishaps. It's possible that a nerve was damaged and the nerve is incorrectly interpreting the signals it receives as pain, so messages of pain are transmitted to the brain and your dog experiences sensations of pain.

I should also note that abnormalities with the spinal cord - from things like injury, spine abnormalities and certain cancers - can also result in these "scrambled" messages, and so your dog could be experiencing pain when there's nothing painful occurring.

The problem could also be at the receiving end of the messages - at the brain. The nerves could be working properly, but the brain is not interpreting the signals properly and this is causing your girl to experience pain or tingling or other odd sensations that cause discomfort.

Now, there's all sorts of things that can be done for your girl. There's medications and other treatments that may be able to help her if her problem is neurological in nature, so I would definitely recommend seeing the specialist. Many larger, 24-hour vet clinics and referral hospitals have neurologists and other specialists on-staff, so often, the neurologist can employ the expertise of another specialist to help in finding a diagnosis.

A neurologist or another veterinary specialist can perform all sorts of tests with the brain, nerves and muscles to determine exactly what's going on. These specialists are also more versed in some of the more uncommon disorders affecting pets, as they specialize in a particular body system, whereas your normal vet is likely more of a general practitioner, who is versed in a diagnosis of the more common afflictions affecting our pets.

I hope you find a diagnosis and effective treatment for your girl very, very soon. I'd also love to hear an update on how she does.
Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions!

miacarter and other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  miacarter replied 9 years ago.

Hi there again!

I also should mention that you're correct in that constipation could very well be causing some serious discomfort. Since she's not on her normal food, this could predispose her to irregularity.

One constipation treatment that can be used as more of a spot-treatment is mineral oil. You don't want to use this longterm, as there's some thought that it can interfere with absorption of vital minerals and vitamins. But you can use it for about a week at a time and this method is great if she hasn't gone to the bathroom in a while. She'll want about two teaspoons twice a day, although I would start her out on two teaspoons once a day first to see if that does the trick.

You could also try an glycerin suppository. This can also really be helpful in cases where she's having a difficult time passing a stool. Not to be graphic, but these suppositories basically lubricate the runway. They're usually found with the laxatives in the drug store.

Altering your dogs diet a bit can also help, especially if she has this problem regularly. Supplementing her dog food with raw meat and fresh fruits and vegetables can really be helpful - we all know what happens when we eat lots of fruits! (Think Lord of the Flies..) You don't want to add all sorts of new foods at once, so add just a bite or two of a new food and gradually add a bit more to avoid upset stomach. Carrots and celery, for example, make a great treat - my dogs like to chew them like bones! This can help if this is more of a longterm problem.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

Thank you so much for your very helpful insight.

I will keep you posted on what happens at the vet today....please keep your fingers crossed that it's nothing life threatening!!! I'm such a nervous wreck...she is my little baby and I don't know what i would do if i lost her.

Thanks again and God Bless you!!!

Expert:  miacarter replied 9 years ago.

I'd love to hear an update when you know more! Updates can really be helpful in terms of enabling us experts to learn and give better advice in the future. Plus, as an expert, you always wonder what happens to the animals who you try to help.

I'll definitely keep my fingers crossed for your little girl. I have a chihuahua myself - Gus, he's black and tan and he's just an absolute love. They become your family, so I know how downright terrifying it can be when they're ill.

Whatever you do, just follow your gut instinct. Don't hesitate to ask questions and if you feel that a diagnosis isn't the right one, or if she's treated for a condition/illness and you still think there's something else going on, don't hesitate to get a second opinion. You know your little girl better than anyone, and pet owners have a wonderful "mom" instinct that tells us when our babies are sick. The worst mistake a pet owner can make is to be complacent. And unfortunately, many pet owners feel that something is seriously wrong with their pet, but they take the vet's word for it that the animal is okay. Vets are people and they make mistakes too. Veterinary medicine, like human medicine, does not always have the answer and there are some flaws. I hate to hear cases where it turns out that something really WAS wrong, and the owner realizes that they knew this all along, but they didn't act on the instinct because they were told that the pet was okay. So just trust yourself.

I wish you and your little girl luck! Let me know how she does!

All the best,
Mia Carter
Pet Expert