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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16498
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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My 12 year old chocolate lab appears to of pulled a neck/shoulder

Customer Question

My 12 year old chocolate lab appears to of pulled a neck/shoulder muscle. His ball rolled down a slope and he wiped out trying to get it. My vet doesn't have time to see him. I don't know if I can do anything or if I should take him to an emergency vet?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry that you have been waiting for a response, but your requested expert isn't online which delayed your question coming up on the list for all to answer. I would like to help if you are still interested in an opinion. Certainly muscle strains or bruises are possible, but I wouldn't expect him to be as painful as he is and I would have expected him to be much better with aspirin.Dogs with such severe neck pain often are suffering from 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.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 his veterinarian. 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. I understand that his veterinarian is fully booked so I can give you some suggestions, but if he remains painful he may need to go to an emergency clinic. 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.You can alternate hot and cold packs on his neck muscles. The cold reduces inflammation and swelling and the hot helps relieve painful muscle spasms.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 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. I know he is taking aspirin now. Aspirin does cause stomach and intestinal irritation and ulceration as well as clotting problems so it should not be given for more than 3 to 4 days consecutively and should always be given with a meal. If you choose to continue 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. The dose for aspirin is 5mg to 10mg per pound of body weight orally every 12 hours (about one 325mg aspirin for a 35 to 70 pound dog every 12 hours). Always give with a meal. Do not use for more than 3 or 4 days in a row.Be aware because you gave aspirin your veterinarian will be limited on what they can give as far as other nonsteroidals or steroids as there must be a 5 to 7 day washout period between different nonsteroidals or nonsteroidals and steroids. Make sure to tell whatever veterinarian sees him that he has had aspirin. They can still prescribe Tramadol and methocarbamol however as they can be given with aspirin in his system.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hi Ivie,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Ranger. How is everything going?

Dr. Kara