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My dog is 12 years old and for the past couple days he

doesn’t want to leave his...
My dog is 12 years old and for the past couple days he doesn’t want to leave his bed or walk unless it’s to go outside. When he tries to move he cries out in pain. I have taken him to the vet and he acted completely normal there like nothing was wrong.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. The noise must be worrying. I'll connect you to the Veterinarian. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Lucky
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Lucky?
Customer: No he’s healthy otherwise
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
11/5/2017
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17,303
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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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.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Okay

I'm sorry to hear about your fellow Lucky's pain, that seems to happen whenever he moves at home.

I can understand how puzzled you are that he has incredibly uncomfortable episodes at home, yet acts perfectly fine at the clinic.

I have experienced that exact scenario with my Greyhound and his cervical disc disease and what seems to be horrible neck pain intermittently at home, yet little to no signs of pain at the clinic.

I think the answer is a combination of an adrenaline rush (adrenaline is a wonderful pain reliever) and being very distracted with all the sights and sounds at the clinic. Of course as a protective measure too in a situation where he isn't sure of what will happen, or if he is in danger, it is in his best interest to hide any weakness or pain. This is a purely instinctual measure. At home where he feels safe and comfortable that you will help him with his pain he feels free to let you know when things hurt.

The thing about disc disease pain too is that it isn't steady pain, the intensity comes and goes depending upon how he moves and holds his neck and head, or positions his back. There may be times where he feels better, then tries to overdo, and the pain comes roaring back.

Dogs that are painful will hesitate moving around, jumping or climbing stairs and display the sort of behavior he is, either because it hurts to do the activity or because they feel weaker than usual.

Intervertebral discs are the spongy cushions between the individual vertebrae in their back and neck. 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.

I am glad to see that he had an appointment with his veterinarian.

I would take a video of his behavior at home to show your veterinarian. Once they see his behavior they may be more open to prescribing pain medications.

Your veterinarian can prescribe a steroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory to relieve pressure on his spinal cord and nerve roots, as well as something for pain too, such as Tramadol. And if he is having painful muscle spasms then a muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol as well.

He should be closely confined starting now. 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. Do not use a collar for him, a harness which more evenly distributes forces if he pulls on his leash is better. You will 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 back, but is no guarantee that he won't have another episode. Once a dog has one bad disc the likelihood of another 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

There are other less common causes of back/neck pain such as infections, tumors of the vertebrae or the spinal cord itself or fibrocartilagenous emboli but far and away disc disease is the most common cause of back/neck pain in dogs.

Expect things to come and go as he heals. To be fair until my own dog went through this it was sometimes hard to understand how owners could claim their pets hurt so much when they seemed relatively ok at the clinic. I think you have to experience the difference yourself before you understand how things can be so different.

Best of luck with your boy, and rest assured he is not the only pup to behave this way.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you that really explained things for me. His vet gave him meloxicam for the next several days which he is supposed to take once a day I just feel like he’s in a lot of pain

Meloxicam is a pretty good anti-inflammatory (in fact that is what I use for my pup too). It can take 48 hours or so for it to work though if they are very painful.

If he isn't better at all in a day or so though you can call and ask that another pain medication be added, we often will add Tramadol and/or Gabapentin too.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
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Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

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