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Dr. B
Dr. B, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 190
Experience:  B.S. and D.V.M. at Texas A&M University, 10+ yrs experience practicing very high quality medicine & surgery
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My 10 y/o female beagle woke up today and started losing

Customer Question

My 10 y/o female beagle woke up today and started losing control of her back 2 legs.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. I'm Dr. Bryant. I have over 11 years practicing small animal (dogs & cats only) veterinary medicine...AND I've owned beagles for the past 19 years (currently have a 14.5 yo and 6 yo). I'd be happy to help you.

I'm sorry to hear about Birdie today. You mentioned she started losing control of her back legs today, but you also say you've had x-rays done. When were the xrays and what were they for? What did your vet advise for her at that time?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I took the X-rays at my office and found a mass that was 11x8 cm in the chest. Birdie has moderate bone spurring in the low back. Her disc spacing is descent. I am not sure what kind of mass it is
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am not a vet. I am a chiropractor
Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

OK, so good news: That's not a mass, that's her stomach full of food. It's behind her diaphragm.

I do see some spondylosis in her lumbar spine, some areas worse than others, but we have found this can be an incidental finding in older dogs. I've seen some horrible looking spondylosis in non-clinical cases, and I've seen really painful backs with nothing to look at on spinal rads.

So tell me more about her back legs not working.

1) Is she otherwise her normal self? Normal personality? Eating/drinking?

2) Is she able to go to the bathroom?

3) Can she move her back legs voluntarily? Can she support her weight? Walk?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Everything is normal except for her back legs buckling when she walks. She is eating and going to the bathroom fine. She is really timid to jump up on anything or even walk up a stair.
Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

If she will let you, put her into a standing position. Then one at a time, flip a rear foot upside down to see if she immediately replaces it right side up. Do this on all 4 legs and let me know what she does.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
On the back right side she fell and on the left she was able to use reovery slowly but still had trouble
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry. Able to recover slowly on the left
Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

OK, so support her body weight by looping your arm underneath her belly. I don't want to challenge her to bear weight on her legs; I want to know if her brain knows where her feet are (via the spinal cord). So while supporting her weight, flip a foot over to see if she can flip it back. Here's a link to show you how to do it:

By the way, what that dog does in the above video is ABNORMAL. He should have immediately flipped his foot back into the upright position.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She did not move either foot back
Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

OK, that tells me she has a lesion in her spinal cord. Are her front feet normal? Do the same test on those.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
front feet are normal
Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

This means the lesion is in her spine between her front legs and back legs (thoracolumbar spine). "Lesion" can mean infection (diskospondylitis), trauma, inflammation (immune mediated inflammation in the meninges), tumor, FCE (fibrocartilaginous embolism), or disk disease. Of all of these, intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is HANDS DOWN the most likely cause. Immediate treatment is STRICT CONFINEMENT to keep the bulging disk from protruding further as well as anti-inflammatory pain medication to reduce swelling around the disk that is impinging on the cord.

Now, all that being said, if she is continuing to progress in her neurologic signs and becoming more paralyzed/unable to use her back legs, this constitutes an emergency. The best hope for recovery from a ruptured disk is surgery within the first 24-48 hours. Based on what you've told me, you need to take her to your veterinarian TOMORROW for exam and determine if she is already a surgical case.

Here's a good article for you:

You're vet will re-take radiographs, too, to rule-out other possibilities (like diskospondylitis or trauma). Until you take her in tomorrow, put her in a crate only letting her out to go to the bathroom (and support her with a towel under her belly when you walk her outside). Absolutely NO STAIRS, GETTING ON/OFF FURNITURE, ETC. Crate only.

Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

BTW, do not give any over the counter anti-inflammatory medication now. Rest is most important. If you happen to have some already (prescription Rimadyl, Metacam, Previcox), then you should give it. But DO NOT give Tylenol or ibuprofen. It will hinder your vet's ability to prescribe meds tomorrow, as well as put her at risk for possible adverse effects that often happen with OTC pain meds.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sounds good. Thank you
Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

You're very welcome. Let me know how everything turns out.

Expert:  Dr. B replied 1 year ago.

Checking in to she how Birdie is doing. Any changes to her condition?