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Dr.Fiona, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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My dog suddenly cant walk. Monday she was fine.

Customer Question

My dog suddenly can''t walk. Monday she was fine. Tuesday night, she had a limp. Took her to reg vet. Was prescribed Lobaxin and Metacam. Two hours later, she would only take one or two steps and lay down. Took her to emergency vet. Waited seven hours for Lobaxin to wear off. At this point, she wouldn''t even stand. Took her to a neurologist who thinks it''s a cervical disk herniation. I can''t afford an MRI to rule that out. When placed on her feet, her head goes down, her front legs go out. Her back legs are rigid as she collapses front to back. Then her back end goes down, and she stays laying down with her head between her paws. Right now she is on Tramadol for pain, and Prednisone will start tomorrow night.

Please advise as to whether you agree with the neurologist, or please direct me as to what tests I should have done.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

Hi there,

I am so sorry to hear that you little dog is unwell and would like to help you and her. I need to get a bit more information in order to better help you.

Is she able to urinate? What about defecate?

Is she eating and drinking?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
She has not urinated in more than 24 hours, nor defecated, to my knowledge. She was at the hospital all day yesterday, and they tried to express urine and were unsuccessful. The nurse said that her bladder was not engorged. However, that was 12 hours ago. Upon her release from the hospital, she hadn't had any water for almost 24 hours.

She did eat last night a little and drank quite a bit, but I haven't been able to get her to pee yet.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

I would like you to try to help her to urinate. Can you take her outside and support her on the lawn? If you put her in the right position, with her back legs apart, she may be able to void on her own. Wait about 5 minutes to see if she can. If she cannot then you may need to help her to get started. You have to put your hand under her belly, far back towards her back legs. Then, push up into her belly - deeply. Feel for something that feels like a water balloon. By now, I would expect her bladder to be about the size of an orange. If and when you find it, hold it between your fingers and thumb and firmly squeeze it with a constant pressure for about 2 minutes. This may help her to get started urinating.

Let me know how it goes!


Dr.Fiona and other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I'm not able to feel her bladder. She is a pug, and a rather fat one. I pressed deeply into her belly toward the back legs near her genitals. I could not feel the bladder. First, I supported her with a towel and spread her back legs.

Her leg were trembling the entire time and not bent.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

No urine came out then? She didn't go on her own at all either?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
no, she hasn't. Since she is immobile, I would have known if she had done it here, and I'm relying on the nurse at the hospital's account as to her stay there yesterday.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

Ok, thanks for that further information. I am working on your answer. What time is it where you are?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
It's 8:00 a.m., and I have to leave. I'm going to drop her off at my local vet to allow them to look at her. I would welcome your input. I have found that a lot of vets think inside their own box and are reluctant to think outside of it, so I am looking for things to suggest to my vet as possible things to try.

Thanks so much for your help. When I return this afternoon, I will be able to view your answer and accept it.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.


I'm so glad you are going to drop her off at your vet!

I am concerned that your dog may indeed be experiencing paralysis due to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD, herniated disc). This happens when the material in the discs between the boney vertebrae in the back ruptures out and presses on the spinal cord. There is a lot of internal swelling when this occurs, leading to pain and decreased nerve function. This can happen in conjunction with arthritis of the vertebrae, because that causes decreased flexibility between the vertebrae.

Treatment for IVDD often involves anti-inflammatories, pain killers and/or steroids. The goal is to decrease the swelling which in turn decreases the pain and improves nerve function. Sometimes, however, they are not enough. In these situations, surgery can be done to go in and remove the disc material that is pressing on the spine. This is called "decompression" surgery.

In order to determine what is appropriate treatment for your dog, a veterinarian needs to perform a very thorough neurological examination. The vet looks for neurological deficits such as a delay in turning the back foot over if it is turned so the top of the foot is on the ground instead of the pads, while the dog is in a standing position. The vet also looks for "purposeful movement" which is a stepping motion of the hind legs when the vet supports the dog's weight so the legs can swing freely. There are a number of other neurological tests the vet does to test reflexes. Also, the vet manipulates each vertebrae in a way to find where there may be pain.

Often, if a painful area is located, the vet will recommend x-rays to look for a compression between the vertebrae. This confirms the diagnosis.

The prognosis for each patient depends on the symptoms, the results of the neurological examination, how long the problem has been present, and how the dog responds to treatment.

I am concerned about your dog because it sounds like she is unable to urinate on her own. I am so glad you are taking her today to your veterinarian for examination and treatment. It would be helpful to take her on an empty stomach just in case they need to give a sedative/pain killer to take x-rays.

Here are some links with more information:

Depending on what your vet suggests, I am hoping that your girl will start to improve once you can start the prednisone. Also, many people with neck pain report that a warm compress is soothing, and your dog may appreciate that too. You can do this by making a wet towel compress. Place a small wet towel, folded into a zip-lok bag (unzipped!) and heat for about 2 minutes in the microwave. Remove and press all the air out. Make sure it is not too hot! You may want to put another towel around it, and then gently place over your Pug's neck.

I realize that all of these vet visits and tests are going to add up and wanted to give you some links to financial aid in case you need them.

Nationally here are some groups that might help you afford the vet bills:

American Animal Hospital Association
" Through the AAHA Helping Pets Fund, veterinary care is possible for sick or injured pets even if they have been abandoned or if their owner is experiencing financial hardship."

Angels 4 Animals
"Our services range from financial aid to complete treatment
to those pets and pet owners in need."

Care Credit
A credit card company for health care, including veterinary care.
"With a comprehensive range of plan options, for
treatment or procedure fees from $1 to over $25,000, we offer a plan
and a low monthly payment to fit comfortably into almost every

God's Creatures Ministry
"This fund helps pay for veterinarian bills for those who need help."

"Our efforts focus on serving the elderly, the disabled, and the
working poor."

"We are dedicated to insure that no
companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker
is financially challenged."

The Pet Fund
"The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit association that
provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need
urgent veterinary care."

United Animal Nations
"The m ission of LifeLine is to help homeless or recently rescued
animals suffering from life-threatening conditions that require
specific and immediate emergency veterinary care. We strive to serve
Good Samaritans and rescue groups who take in sick or injured
animals. In certain cases, LifeLine can also assist senior citizens
and low-income families pay for immediate emergency veterinary care."

They also keep a list of local and national help resources here

If this has been helpful, please accept my answer and leave feedback. I will still be here to provide more information if you need it!

Best wishes and good luck to you and your Pug! Fiona

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Your answer is backs up what the neurologist said and also what my regular vet is saying. I appreciate the links to the financial assistance. I can afford to do the MRI, et cetera, but just not at this moment (I have now spent more than $5,000 on Bailey in the last four months). I may be able to get some help there.

Thank you for your help.   I have already recommended this site to my neighbor.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.
Joey, My very best wishes to you and Bailey! I will keep my fingers crossed that she is going to improve with the prednisone! Good luck! Fiona
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.
Joey, My very best wishes to you and Bailey! I will keep my fingers crossed that she is going to improve with the prednisone! Good luck! Fiona