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Kara! My 4 1/2 mo old pug just randomly started little yelps

hi Dr. Kara!...
hi Dr. Kara! My 4 1/2 mo old pug just randomly started little yelps of pain -- just random, no one touching him, just sitting on his own. His tail is down so I know something is off. I suspect he is constipated and I gave him some pumpkin to try to move things along. Could the yelping be discomfort from constipation or should I be concerned that it is something more serious like a blockage of some kind? He did do one small little poop when I took him outside but nothing compared to normal. He is eating and drinking normal. Mostly activity is normal, but now is sleep time and he is very tired but cannot get comfortable to lay down and is just very restless and pacing and keeps repositioning. Not sure if there is anything else I can do to help make him more comfortable or how long it takes for the pumpkin to help.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help the dog. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the dog?
Customer: He is otherwise healthy and active.
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Answered in 1 minute by:
11/23/2017
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 25 days ago
Thank you. I do have an emergency vet office available within 20 miles if necessary

I'm sorry to hear about your fellow's seeming random yelps, sitting off on his own, holding his tail down, and difficulty getting settled and comfortable to rest.

Since he just seems to be vaguely not himself that often points to musculoskeletal pain. Dogs that are painful will have difficulty resting, often isolate themselves and display the sort of behavior he is because it hurts to do the activity or because they feel painful. If he has arthritis then most of the time these pups favor a particular leg.

I understand he is passing small stools but if they of normal consistency then it may be that back pain is making it difficult to get into and stay in position to pass stools. You can use the pumpkin just in case but because he is eating and drinking ok I think his trouble may be back pain.

Unfortunately Pugs as a breed are prone to a problem with their 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. Disc pain can be intermittent, and if they move just the wrong way nerves get pinched and the pain can be excruciating and sudden, thus his trouble getting comfortable to sleep.

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 tonight if he cannot get settled. If this is indeed a disc problem 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

Ideally he would wait to see his veterinarian to take any medication because the prescription medication your veterinarian has for pain will be much safer and work better than any over the counter medications that we take. In fact acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) aren't used in dogs because their effective doses are very close to a toxic dose in dogs.

If you cannot have him examined right away and he is still eating and drinking ok, but is really miserable today the only over the counter anti-inflammatory that can be used in dogs is buffered, enteric coated aspirin (like ascriptin). Aspirin does cause stomach and intestinal irritation and ulceration as well as clotting problems so should not be given for more than 2 to 3 days consecutively and should always be given with a meal. If you choose to use it watch for lack of appetite, vomiting, blood in the stools or dark tarry stools and stop immediately if you see those. Do not use aspirin if your dog has liver or kidney disease or a history of a sensitive stomach or clotting problems, or is not eating.

The dose for aspirin is 5mg to 10mg per pound of body weight orally every 12 hours (about one half of a 325mg aspirin for an 18-35 pound dog every 12 hours). Always give with a meal. Do not use for more than 2 or 3 days.

Be aware if you choose to use aspirin and it doesn't help your veterinarian will be limited on what they can give as there must be a 5 to 7 day washout period between different nonsteroidals or nonsteroidals and steroids.

You can try alternating warm and cold packs on his lower back and neck areas for 10 minutes at a time several times a day.

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 pain in dogs.

The other possibility for his discomfort and difficulty passing stools is anal gland disease.

If he is licking his bottom or scooting then anal glands may be the issue. Anal glands are scent glands located at the 5 & 7 o'clock position around the anus. If for whatever reason the glands don't empty properly or the discharge becomes too thick the gland overfills, may become infected and is painful.
If the glands are unable to empty eventually with nowhere else to go the gland can abscess out through the skin. This is a common problem for dogs and seems to be more common in overweight dogs that are fed lots of table scraps or eat a diet low in fiber. These glands are normally expressed when passing stool but if he eats a diet low in fiber his stools may be too small or infrequent to empty them.

If you think this may be related to his anal glands and he will let you touch the area he would benefit from a cool compress to the perianal area, patting dry and then applying a light coat of cortisone cream (like cortaid) to the area a couple times today and until you can have his anal glands checked.

Unfortunately the more he licks and scoots the more painful the area will be and the more tissue trauma he will cause. If the area appears red and he is licking then an e-collar (lampshade) is a great idea until he can see a veterinarian.

I know that he is uncomfortable but if he is still eating and drinking normally today then this isn't an emergency, just see his veterinarian soon to check his anal glands. Do not feed him breakfast the day you take him in as they may need to sedate him to treat him.

If he seems absolutely miserable today though then an emergency visit today is your best way of figuring out his trouble and getting him immediate relief.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Customer reply replied 25 days ago
Thank you for the info -- I am not sure a lot applies since he is only 4 mos old and weighs only 6 lbs, I am pretty sure much of it focuses on older pugs, but I guess it could be for pups too. I have a pre scheduled apt with my vet for Friday for routine vaccinations, will try to get through until then and will try the warm compresses and hope he can settle down for tonight. I appreciate your help.

Thanks very much, you are correct that disc disease in a pup that young would be very, very unlikely.

Anal glands could definitely be an issue, even in that age pup.

I think trying a cool compress on his bottom, and then patting dry and applying a little Cortaid (or any generic hydrocortisone cream) would be worth trying.

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Customer reply replied 25 days ago
I was mostly worried about if I should be concerned about a blockage, anything external I can certainly deal with and keep in control until our appt. on Friday.

I would not be too worried about a blockage if he is still eating and drinking fine and shows no signs of vomiting.

Dogs with an obstruction would vomit and quickly lose their appetite.

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Customer reply replied 25 days ago
Thanks, ***** ***** great holiday!

You are very welcome, you too!

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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