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Last night beagle 6 yr old beagle wouldn;t get up on couch

but seemed otherwise fine....
last night beagle 6 yr old beagle wouldn;t get up on couch but seemed otherwise fine. Tonight he is moving less and a bit of shaking occasionally. lots of lick lipping and lethargic now. Yelps occasionally when touched. He did go out for pee & poop an 2 hrs ago
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help the dog. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Roxas
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Roxas?
Customer: Nothing I ca think of- turned down water and cheese just now so not eating
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
1/7/2018
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17,513
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 fellow Roxas's difficulty jumping, and moving around, shaking, lip licking, and yelping when touched. He sounds uncomfortable, dogs in this much pain may not feel much like eating.

Dogs that are painful will hesitate 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. If he has arthritis then most of the time these pups favor a particular leg.

Unfortunately Beagles 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.

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.

Beagles are also prone to a disease called Steroid Responsive Meningitis (SRM). Dogs with this disease process show pain, shaking, hunched back stance, sometimes a fever, lack of appetite, stiff neck, muscle spasms (particularly in their front legs and neck), lethargy, and unwillingness to move. Symptoms may appear quickly. Diagnosis is most commonly based on symptoms and a spinal tap. This seems likely with him as he is now not eating, is shaking and seems very painful.

Ideally he would see his veterinarian. If this is indeed a disc problem or SRM your veterinarian can prescribe a steroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, 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.

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 or SRM is most likely to be the cause of his symptoms.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17,513
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Customer reply replied 16 days ago
He doesn't have leg spasms or a hunched back so I think the disc disease is the most likely. He was a rescue dog and is afraid of crates but we have him on his dog bed and he seems content there. Thanks for your help! We will take him to the vet in the morning.
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Dr. Kara
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Satisfied Customers: 17,513
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