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My 14 year old Cocker Spaniel is having trouble getting up

Hello, my 14 year old...
Hello, my 14 year old Cocker Spaniel is having trouble getting up (both hind legs)... Obviously OA of the hips, but just wanted to know any solutions.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. 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: Tobey.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Tobey?
Customer: Nothing else.
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
11/13/2017
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17,112
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 Tobey's trouble getting up and walking. He sounds very uncomfortable and weak.

Dogs that are painful will shake and will hesitate rising, 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.

Unfortunately Cockers 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, sometimes weakness, 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 severe weakness or paralysis then surgery by a board certified veterinary neurologist, as soon as possible, is indicated.

Ideally he would be examined by his veterinarian as soon as possible. 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.

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 the 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

There are other less common causes of back pain and weakness 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 and rear leg weakness in dogs.

Whether this is disc disease or arthritis it may also help to give him a glucosamine/chondroitin product (examples are Dasuquin or Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like 3V Caps or Derm Caps). These work synergistically and improve cartilage health and joint fluid quality and quantity as well as reducing inflammation. They can take several weeks to see full improvement but some dogs do very well with them added. They are available over the counter.

Another option is a product called Duralactin. This is an anti-inflammatory product derived from milk proteins and it also has omega 3 fatty acids incorporated into it which can be very helpful. See this link for further information: http://www.duralactin.com/products_canine.htm

Other alternative therapies such as cold laser, acupuncture or chiropractic may be of help as well.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17,112
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Customer reply replied 8 days ago
Thank you Doctor.

You are very welcome, my best to your pup.

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Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara
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Customer reply replied 2 days ago
We had some Rimadyl in the house and used that q12h, which seemed to help his mobility. He is scheduled to see the vet tomorrow an exam and management decisions. Thanks! *****

You are very welcome, I am pleased to hear that the Rimadyl helped and he will see his veterinarian for a hands on exam and further guidance. I appreciate the update, Happy Thanksgiving, Dr. Kara.

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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara
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Satisfied Customers: 17,112
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