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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16304
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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my shih tzu is walking funny. he is arching his back, going

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my shih tzu is walking funny. he is arching his back, going sideways some and crying

Hello, I am so sorry to hear about Louie. I do need a little more information from you, no further charge but it will help me define better what is going on with your fellow.

Is he eating and drinking normally?
Is he eliminating normally? Any straining to pass stool or urine?
Is he hesistant to jump or go up or down stairs?

Did this seem to happen suddenly?

Any scooting on his bottom?
Thanks I appreciate your patience with my questions and I'll get back to you with recommendations once I've read your responses. It may take a few minutes so please be patient, Dr Kara

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I just got home so... as far as I know he's eating and drinking okay. haven't noticed a problem.


I haven't seen him go potty.

he is hesitant to jump.

no scooting.

Thanks very much for the response.

I am sorry to hear that you came home to find him this way, not a great way to start the weekend.

Because his appetite has been normal and he isn't scooting but is hesistant to jump I highly suspect that we are dealing with back pain.

Unfortunately Shih tzus as a breed are prone to a problem with their intervertebral discs which are the spongy cushions between the bones of the back. 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 a veterinarian for an examination and some prescription medications, usually an anti-inflammatory, like Metacam, Rimadyl or Deramaxx but I highly recommend something for pain too, such as Tramadol. And if he is having painful muscle spasms then a muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol.

I understand that may not be possible tonight.

Starting now he should be closely confined. 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. You will need to confine him for several weeks, even as he starts to feel better or he may reinjure himself. When you take him out to eliminate make sure he is able to pass urine and stool without any problems.

You can also use a heating pad set on low to medium on his back for 5 to 10 minutes a few times tonight. This will help decrease the painful muscle spasms that go along with back pain.

Then I highly recommend that you have him examined tomorrow.

I also recommend using a harness rather than a collar in dogs with a history of back pain as they distribute forces more evenly and are less likely to lead to neck pain as well.

Keeping him on the thin side is recommended to decrease stress on his back.

If you are interested in reading more here is a link to an excellent article about intervertebral disc disease, its causes and therapy:

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 if the most common cause of back pain in dogs.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.



I forgot to answer two of your questions.


about two weeks ago he yelped out from just being touched on the right side of his head and then again last night. then the change in walking today and crying. it seems to come and go. in my lap, he twisted and pressed the side of his head against me. he seems to trying to be still as well.


does this help any?

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX

It tells me that it is likely he has been dealing with neck and back pain for a while. It wasn't really bad so it wasn't affecting him every day, all the time. That's very normal with disc disease in that if you have one bad disc you are likely to get more as time goes on. The pain can be very inconsistent at least initially; it can seem to come on very suddenly. You have to move just the right (or wrong) way for the pressure/pain to be felt so it makes sense that he would cry out with just the wrong pressure on his head/neck/back.

If he will sit quietly on your lap tonight that is fine too. But I really recommend strict rest tonight and an examination tomorrow.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

ok. I will take him. thank you

You are very welcome. Please let me know how things go for your fellow. You can reply back to me by coming back to this question by going to your "my questions" section of your account, clicking on this question and typing in the reply box. Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX
Dr. Kara and 2 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So, my vet agreed with you that it was a disk problem in his neck. He gave him two shots and a pill to give at home. all to help with the pain and swelling. Louie has been resting a lot. not really wanting to be active. he has stopping yelping and crying as of Monday night. I'm attaching a picture so you can see who he is. his buddy is our 12 yr old pom Trinity.

Thanks for the update on Louie and the great news that he's feeling more comfortable.

I'm glad to hear he's taking his instructions to rest seriously and it looks like his nurse Trinity is doing a great job supervising.

Best of luck with your pups, thanks again for taking the time to update me, Dr Kara.