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She's behaving out of character. She usually loves going for…

Customer Question
She's behaving out of...

She's behaving out of character. She usually loves going for walks but is just not into it today. First time for this ever.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. What is the matter with the dog?

She's trembling and hiding under the bed.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the dog's name and age?

Name is***** far as I know she is 10 years. I've had her for 9 of those. Don't know where she came from.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Gigi?

She's never been sick. I take her for shots every year. She takes heartworm meds.

Submitted: 6 months ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 7 minutes by:
12/30/2017
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 6 months ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,855
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.

I am sorry to hear that your pup Gigi is behaving strangely, trembling and hiding. These are fairly non specific signs of discomfort and/or fear.

Can you take her temperature rectally to check for a fever? Normal temp is 102F, fever is 103.5F or greater.

Please check her mucous membranes (gums). They should be bubblegum pink in color and feel smooth, not sticky.

Is she eating, drinking and eliminating normally?

Any limping or incoordination?

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 6 months ago

She sounds painful.

If she is eating, drinking and eliminating fairly normally, does not have a fever, and her gum color is good then this is likely due to musculoskeletal pain.

Dogs that are painful will hesitate jumping or climbing stairs, hide and display the sort of behavior she is, either because it hurts to do any activity or because they feel weaker than usual. If she has arthritis then most of the time these pups favor a particular leg.

Unfortunately many dogs 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.

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. I understand that could be difficult to arrange on a holiday weekend.

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 she is having painful muscle spasms then a muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol as well.

If you cannot have her examined right away 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 her leash is better. You will need to confine her for several weeks, 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 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

Ideally she would wait to see a 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 her examined right away and she 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 the area that seems uncomfortable if you can find one in particular, or you can try putting them on her 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.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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