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My 8yr old dog seems to be exhibiting arthritic joint pain,

My 8yr old dog...

My 8yr old dog seems to be exhibiting arthritic joint pain, she is far along into chemo treatments for an MCT that we had surgically removed and thus far has been very healthy throughout the treatments. she is eating normal, but seems labored while walking and i cant seem to figure out if it is any specific leg but seems to favor the front legs and will walk then sit. walk, then sit. while walking, she seems to kind of have her head down so i am concerned.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?

I have and couldnt find anything

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the dog?

She does have a partial ACL tear in her rear left leg and that was the leg we had MCT surgery excision on as well.

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Answered in 26 minutes by:
11/15/2017
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,361
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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I'm sorry to hear about your pup. She sounds very uncomfortable. I'm not convinced this is related to her mast cell tumor and/or its treatment.

Dogs that are painful, especially with neck pain, will hesitate to move quickly and may hold their head stiffly and display the sort of behavior she is, either because it hurts to do the activity, they are afraid if they move the "wrong" way they will hurt, or because they feel weaker than usual.

This sounds like a problem with her intervertebral discs, which 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. In her case I suspect her trouble is in her neck. Nerve roots in the neck extend out to the front legs so that would explain her front legs seeming to be more of an issue, and the way she is holding her neck.

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 she would see her veterinarian. If this is indeed a disc problem your veterinarian can prescribe a steroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory to relieve pressure on her 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. If she is currently taking a steroid for her MCT disease they may increase the dose.

She should be closely confined starting now. No stairs, running or jumping. If you have a crate for her I highly recommend using it. The less she moves around the more comfortable she will be and the faster she will heal. She should go out on a leash to relieve herself. Do not use a collar for her, a harness which more evenly distributes forces if she pulls on his leash is better. You will need to confine her for several weeks if this is disc disease, even as she starts to feel better or she may reinjure herself. Keeping her on the thin side is recommended to decrease stress on her neck and back, but is no guarantee that she 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 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 neck pain in dogs.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I understand and really appreciate your thoughts on this matter. i will look to setup an appt with her vet today and go from there. thanks!

You are very welcome, please let me know how things go for her.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
She is a Lab, does that sound common with her breed and i do know she is higher in weight as we have tried to keep her maintaining weight through chemo at around 86-88lbs

Honestly we can see disc disease in any breed. My Greyhound has cervical disc disease so I know the "stiff neck" posture very well. It is more common in some breeds, like Dachshunds, Beagles and Bichons, but I see it in all breeds & mixes.

It's tough to keep a lab thin let alone one that has been on steroids, just do your best.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
she has been on prednisone and did not react well to it so it was scaled back in mg we gave her but she finished it all in the end. I just hate this stuff popping up like this. thank you again.

You are very welcome. If she's been off pred for a while they can try nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories instead. They can work just as well, and have less side effects. My fellow did well on Meloxicam.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,361
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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