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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16749
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I have a 4 year old chiweenie and I think he's having some

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I have a 4 year old chiweenie and I think he's having some back or neck issues. He is normally very active and is able to climb up stairs and jump up and down the couch. Yesterday when I got home from work, he was unable to jump down from couch and climb stairs to go potty. He is walking very slow and stiff legged. I took him to the ER and they didn't do X-ray but based on their physical exam, they think he may have tweaked his back. They gave him pain meds which I've been giving. Today he seems even more stiff and not really wanting to move. He is able to still walk very slowly but he is not dragging his back legs. And he can sit Down slowly and stand up. How long before I need to take him back to vet to get re-examined? Should I have gotten an X-ray done for him?
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Customer: Hi! Did you get my question?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Okie
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Okie?
Customer: I think that's it...he seems to be eating and drinking. He's gone to pee but not poop today.

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Ok, thank you
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
How long before I get response?

I'm so sorry to hear about Okie, he sounds very, very painful.

I am glad to hear that he is still eating drinking and not running a fever. Given his breeds and those symptoms back pain makes sense.

Back pain is most often related to one, or several, prolapsed intervertebral discs, and these are soft tissue structures so they aren't readily apparent on radiographs. Intervertebral disc disease can often only be definitively diagnosed on an MRI.

Please give me several moments to type up my thoughts and recommendations.

Both Chihuahuas and Dachshunds are prone to joint problems because their conformation, short legs that are often twisted rather than straight tends to put more stress on their joints.

They are also prone to intervertebral disc disease. This is when the spongy discs between the vertebrae in the spine either prolapse or leak and put pressure on his spinal cord. If the affected disc is in the neck this pressure can affect the nerve roots to his front or all four legs and his neck. If the affected discs are in the back then the rear legs and muscles of the back are affected. This is quite painful and can lead to painful muscle spasms or if there is enough pressure then even paralysis can result. They walk stiffly and refuse to jump/climb stairs because it hurts and they don't feel as strong as they usually are.

At this point whatever his injury may be I recommend keeping him very quiet, no running, jumping or bending over (elevate his food and water bowls to head height) is best.

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. Do not use a collar for him, a harness which more evenly distributes forces if he pulls on his leash is better.

These don't heal quickly, they can take weeks or months to heal. You may need to confine him for several weeks, even as he starts to feel better or he may reinjure himself. Keeping him on the thin side is recommended to decrease stress on his neck and joints, but is no guarantee that he won't have another episode. Once a dog has one bad disc or joint pain the likelihood of another episode is very high.

If you are interested in reading more here is a link to an excellent article about intervertebral disc disease, its causes and therapy: http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Dog-Health-Center/Bone-Joint-Muscle-Disorders/Intervertebral-Disk-Disease/Symptoms.aspx

Long term for any joint pain I recommend using a combination of a glucosamine/chondroitin product (examples are Dasuquin or Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like 3V Caps or Derm Caps). I recommend an omega 3 fatty acid dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give him 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example a 15 pound dog could take 300mg of EPA per day.

Omega 3's and glucosamine/chondroitins work synergistically and improve cartilage health and joint fluid quality and quantity as well as reducing inflammation. They can take several weeks to see full improvement. They are available over the counter.

Another option is a product called Duralactin. This is an anti-inflammatory product derived from milk proteins and it also has omega 3 fatty acids incorporated into it which can be very helpful. See this link for further information: http://www.duralactin.com/products_canine.htm

I suspect that his veterinarian prescribed a nonsteroidal (like Metacam, Deramaxx, Previcox or Rimadyl.) If those aren't enough to get him comfortable we can add another drug in the opiod family called Tramadol and/or another drug called Gabapentin.

You can also try alternating warm and cold packs on his painful back muscles for 10 minutes at a time several times a day. Heat reduces painful muscle spasms and cold reduces inflammation.

I suspect he isn't passing stools because it hurts to crouch or he is having trouble holding a crouch position. That should improve over the next 24 hours or so.

If we cannot control pain with medications and rest sometimes surgery is the only option.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thank you sooo very much!

You are very welcome, my best to your little guy.

Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
He's feeling much better and getting around with more ease. Thank you so much for ur expertise advice. I'm so glad I contacted you, your alleviated my fears and provided me with some really great info! Thank you again for your service!!

Thank you for the update, I am very pleased to hear that he is feeling much better. I know it's hard to see them so uncomfortable, and I am glad I was able to explain things and alleviate your stress a little while he was going through the initial healing phase.

Please let me know if I can be of any further help.

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