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ChristineLVT, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 3307
Experience:  Licensed veterinary technician (B.S. Mercy College), 10 yrs in animal medicine and training
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Can inflammation in a dogs spinal area cause them to lose

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Can inflammation in a dogs spinal area cause them to lose balance and knuckle over at the back legs? If so can steroids help this?How many hours should it take before you would see any improvement as to whether or not the steroids are helping or not?

Absolutely. Any inflammation, infection or even injury around the spinal cord or vertebrae will cause a problem with motility like you mention. The back legs generally become affected when the problem is in the lower part of the back (basically anywhere from around the 'middle' of the back and down).

Steroids are the prime medication for inflammation, but if the inflammation is because of a slipped or ruptured disc (between vertebrae) or disc disease (common in dogs like dachsunds, bassets, etc but can occur in any dog), then they are not curative.

Generally, steroids are tried for a 2 week trial. You should see slight improvements on a daily basis once starting. Within a couple of days there should at least be less pain symptoms, and perhaps more motivation to move the legs. However, strict rest is required as well, and a full evaluation taken 2 weeks after to see if steroids are continued or further diagnostics and/or surgery to fix the initial problem. If within a week you don't see some fair improvement noticeable to you, I would think the inflammation or injury is a bit too severe to expect complete improvement in the 2 weeks. Hope this makes sense. Let me know if I can help further, and hope your dog is better as soon as possible.


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
My dog is a 4 yr old part shepherd cross with maybe husky or collie. He all of a sudden on monday this past week started to show signs of a weak right leg, as the few days went on he was gone from weakness on the right leg to not being able to hold himself up or walk with either of his back legs. He cannot squat to have a bowel movement or lift his leg to urinate.From monday to wednesday it was mainly his right leg then from thursday to today being saturday evening it is both his legs and he cannot walk or stand on either of them, they knuckel under him and he falls over like he is paralyzed. He is currently at the vets over night on steroids but they really dont know what is wrong with him. Bone xrays show no brakes or fractures in the spine of hips. If this were to be severe spinal injury (paralisist)would this take days like it has to go from weakness in one leg to total immobility in both legs? I know that the paralisist would cause loss of bladder control which he has shown symptons of , but I am not sure if it is a loss of control or just his nerves and the fact that he can't lift his leg to go anyways.
We are basically looking for some signs of hope here that we dont have to put him down, as money is also an issue, we dont have thousands of dollars to do MRI etc.
Any advice?

Time will be your friend in this and let you know what's working and what isn't. Without an MRI and radiologist giving their best opinion on what a CT or MRI reads, I'd hope your vet would also been loading your dog up with antibiotics in case this is meningitis, which requires hardcore aggressive antibiotic treatment but is cureable. As for inflammations, the steroids are the way to go. Don't give up hope right now, though I know it's difficult he's going through so much, especially for such a young dog.

It doesn't present much like a tick borne disease and not a severe spinal cord injury, as that would cause sudden complete paralysis. Less severe inflammation around, disc problems, and the like (basically treatable injuries) absolutely do present the way you have described your dog's progression to paralysis. including with the bladder- it could be somewhat neurologic (meningitis or just the affect on the spinal crd, which carries info to the brain) and/or the fact he's got too much going on and not able to get up now- he could have given up worrying about proper urination habits.

Money may become an issue if the hospitalization for intense treatment continues for some time (unfortunately no way of knowing, as all dogs respond differently, but in hospital is quicker than at home with oral meds), and if an injury is found requiring surgery that too can be a big cost.

You can apply for care credit if that helps, applied for at most vet hospitals. It's a credit card for health care accepted at most vets, and when costs are high (usually over $300 to thousands) interest can be nothing to very low for the first 6mo to a year. A huge life saver for some.

Hope this helps,


ChristineLVT and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thank you for your help , I am going to see what tomorrow brings with the vets and look into the care credit as well.

I wish you and your dog nothing but the best of luck!!


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
p.s you mentioned menningitis , but should this be treated without actually knowing if this could be the problem? We think he may of injured himself while jumping over a 3.5' wire fence, as he barely made it over, and a day or 2 later he slipped on the stairs in the house. These are the only activities we know of where he may of caused injury.

Those injuries could cause big problems if they land the wrong way or twist the wrong way. Meningitis is a difficult diagnosis to reach and rare, often not thought of right away, but antibiotics should be given regardless just in case ANY infection is present, and the fact the dog's immune system is weaker. Definitely discuss possibilities and you won't ever have to feel you came to a rash decision on anything. You deserve and pay for a complete knowledge of how your dog is and what the vet has found, in terms you can understand. And make sure you spend the time asking questions. Since many people are so concerned over their pets once in the appt, they often forget to ask; I would start making a list of questions you have and points to discuss (meningitis vs injury, etc).


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Well he is on IV and steroids but no antibiotics. I will ask about that when we go in tomorrow and see.
Do you know if this care credit is based on a persons credit report same as a regular credit card is based on or are they more lenient?

It is for medical care assuming people are in a crisis, so a little more lenient than your standard credit card, but yes, some people can be turned down. It only takes a few minutes to find out after applying though, and there's the chance once seeing you apply for care credit, the office may offer some sort of payment plan (though they all say no way at first).


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
ok thanks for all your help
your welcome, good night