My 10 yr old Mal. mix went on a run around the block w/me on Wed. evening (going at his pace ), was fine rest of the

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Customer: My 10 yr old Mal. mix went on a run around the block w/me on Wed. evening (going at his pace ), was fine rest of the night. I usually only walk him daily.. woke up next morning stiff but was still able to eat and move around slowly. The day after, Thursday he could hardly move an inch...and whined and hollored (sp) w/ any movement. Wouldn't eat ,,,just got worse as the day progressed. At 7pm I took him to Emergency Vet clinic. He stayed the night.. on iv all night w/ pain meds... had xray of neck and it came out normal. He seems to have major weakness in rear left leg and front right leg..and somewhere in neck. During the night at the hosp. he was walking around and doing fine... was given acupuncture and responded well to that.. brought him home this morning.. in a lot of pain all day and can't walk..did walk a bit outside hosp. right before he was loaded into my vehicle. He is roughly 10-20 pounds over weight weighing in at approx. 108 or so pounds..
Very healthy dog otherwise
Answered by MD for Pets in 35 mins 13 years ago
MD for Pets
Pet Specialist

106 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Dog Medicine, Dog Diseases, Small Animal Veterinary

Hi thereCustomer

I am so sorry to hear about your poor dog.

Based on his history, and the fact that his signs are worse on the right side, and are affecting the front and hind legs, my biggest concerns would be for a problem in his neck (right side of his neck since the right hind and forelimbs are affected):
- intervertebral disc disease (where a disc is compressing the spinal cord and causing pain and inablility to use the limbs properly)
- fibrocartilagenous emboli (FCE, a piece of cartilage gets lodged into a blood vessel and causes a similar syndrome to a stroke to the spinal cord)
- discospondolytis (infection of the end plates of the vertebrae)
- tumor of the spinal cord or vertebrae

You may ask two questions now based on my list: can these things come on suddenly? how can there be a problem if the x-rays of the neck were normal?

All of these problems can absolutely come on suddenly, especially disc disease and FCE are common after activity. And all of these problems can be present in the face of normal neck x-rays. X-rays of the neck are very difficult to take (patients must be under general anesthesia to get diagnostic films) and they can be hard to interpret. In additio, they are not the best test to diagnose any of these problems except discospondolytis. For the others, we often need CT or MRI.

The treatment for FCE is generally rest, physical therapy, and pain medication. The treatment for disc disease is surgery to remove the disc material compressing the spinal cord. And the treatment for tumors in this area varies with the location, tumor type, etc.

I would definitely recommend taking your dog back to your veterinarian for re-evaluation. After a complete physical examination, I would recommend a complete neurologic evaluation (which your veterinarian can do). The important questions for your veterinarian to answer are:


- does your dog have any consious proprioception in the hind limbs (meaning when you turn the foot on its top, can he turn it back on his own)?

- does he still have the ability to move his hindlimbs if his weight is supported?

- does he have the ability to feel pain when his toes are pinched?

- what are his hindlimb reflexes like (normal, decreased or increased)?


Based on these results and answers, it is possible that it may be appropriate to continue on with strict cage rest and medical management with pain medication, like you have been doing. It is also possible that he could need more testing to know what is going on, like a myelogram (injection of dye around the spinal cord to diagnose compression), a CAT scan, or MRI, and your dog may need surgery if the cord compression is severe. Unfortunately, these are often not tests that can be done at a regular veterinary clinic, and may require referral to a large referral hospital or university veterinary hospital.


If your dog is doing well at home tonight in terms of his mobility and comfort, you may be able to wait until morning to have him re-evaluated as long as he is comfortable and has the ability to move all of his limbs. Should he start to drag any of his limbs, lose the ability to move any limb, have trouble breathing, not pass urine for more than 8 hours, or become uncomforable, he should be re-evaluated right away.

Here are some links with more information on disc disease and FCE.

I hope this information is helpful, and please let me know if there is more I can do to help.

I can't afford any of was already a grand for last night and they didn't diagnose him. Would it be inhumane to put him down for something w/ this? I own four dogs..they are our family, the center of our life. Clipper is already 10... so..?

It is his hind left leg.. not right.. and front right leg..and yes it's his right side of neck area that was so tender..

2nd question..
what kind of physical therapy would he get-- is it something I could do w/ him?
Thanks for clarifying the limbs for me, I missed that in the original question. Sorry about that. The fact that a front and a hind leg are affected, as well as the neck pain, still makes me worried about his neck.

I can imagine how frustrating all of this is, especially when you already spent a lot of money, and don't have an answer, and still all the problems to deal with. A neck problem with a big dog is very serious, and can be very difficult to manage at home, as you are probably realizing now. It is absolutely reasonable to consider humane euthanasia for any of the above problems involving the neck, since I can tell you any of these problems will not be fixed easily, even with surgery. And the fact that he is an older dog does mean his recovery may take a little longer and be a little harder on him. In addition, any surgery on the neck is major surgey, with big risks, including the risk that they may not be able to breathe and need to be placed on a ventilator after surgery. So, for all of these reasons, finances aside, euthanasia is very fair and humane to consider. Factoring the money into the equation, especially with your other dogs, is very important to consider.

As far as the physical therapy, the things we would do would be to use a sling under his abdomen in front of his hind legs and behind his front legs to help him get around without straining his neck. Other things we would do would be to make sure that is able to urinate on his own (since dogs with neck problems often have trouble passing urine because of impact on the nerves that affect the bladder). Additionally, physical therapy on his limbs would include massaging the muscles, moving all of the joints, and moving the whole leg in a natural range of motion. All of these things can be done at home.

Here is more information on caring for paralyzed dogs and information on arthritic dogs (it explains some passive range of motion and massage techniques).

I sympathize with you, your family, and your poor dog during this tough time. Pleae let me know if I can help in any other way.

Did I bring this on by letting him run? Is it essentially my fault?
Absolutely not! First of all, we don't even know for sure what the problem is. And secondly, if he was having no problems, and was happy to go for his run, there is no possible way you could have known anything was wrong. It could have happened a week ago from a walk, after your run, a week from now after playing, or randomly on its own. Even if we knew exactly what the problem was (meaning we had a definitive diagnosis), there is still no way you could have done anything differently or prevented this.

And for what its worth, any 10 year old large breed dog that walks every day and goes running is a testiment to the wonderful he receives from his family.

I know this is very difficult, but please be rest assured that you could have not prevented this, nothing you did brought this on, and as long as your primary goal is your dog's happiness and comfort, I feel very confident you will do what is best for him and your family.

My thoughts are with you and Clipper.

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