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Last June Delilah had surgery for her luxating patellas. She was great for about 2-3 months and then she started hopping/limping on her hind legs again. I was worried it was her knees again but the surgeon checked her over and found her knees were great and the limping was caused by back pain.

Since then she's had a few flare ups. The first one was the worst- my boyfriend had come home from work and she tried to greet him but would just start screaming whenever she tried to jump on him. Same thing happened when I came home a few hours later. She would wake up in the middle of the night and start crying. The next morning I brought her to the vet. Still back pain. We were given some meds and told to rest her for 2 weeks.

She still kept limping and had a couple more flare ups but they weren't as bad and by then we had medication we were given for her flare ups.

She saw a third vet- her main vet about the problem and he referred me to an expensive specialist who might be able to diagnose what was causing the pain.


Well today I spent $200 to be told the SAME EXACT THING the other three vets had told me. This is our FOURTH opinion and he couldn't tell me what was causing the pain. He said she didn't appear in enough pain to recommend a CT scan but if it gets worse to bring her back and we would discuss that. I got sent home with more pain meds and told to keep her quiet (no running, jumping, playing for my very high energy terrier) for another two weeks. The CT scan would be $1500 anyways. I need to finish paying off care credit for her knee surgery before we can do that.

I'm so disappointed. Like by now I've accepted that I'll never ever be able to do agility with this dog but I was hoping we could figure out what was going on with her back now that it's getting warm out and we could do some hiking this summer. Looks like I'm not even going to be able to walk or hike with her without hurting her.

I have no idea what to do next.
 

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Unfortunately back pain is often debilitation for both we humans, and our canine buddies. I wish there was a magic answer for you, but I don't believe there is. As difficult as it is, about all you can do is follow your Vets advice at this point. The best possible outcome would be for it to heal on its own, or at least get the pain down to a manageable level. I agree with what is apparently your Vets philosophy that conservative approaches are best, any intervention should be reserved as a 'last resort'.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
She's only three, it's not like she's an old dog that's going to die soon anyways and I can just manage the pain for the last few years. She has her whole life ahead of her and I just want her to be healthy and pain free. I've put so much money into trying to fix her but it's just one thing after another with her.

Maybe I should look into holistic medicine. Maybe something like acupuncture is the answer.
 

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Samantha had a back injury before she was two years old. With our Vets conservative treatment, she recovered, though Xrays still show some calcification and has functioned well since. She is now nine years. There is hope.
 

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Is there anyway, anyway at all, that her harness could be pressing into her spine?

Zody went through something remarkably similar to what Delilah is going through, and he was around her age at the time too. What I discovered was every time he pulled on his harness the edge of the girth strap pressed into his spine. Imagine running around and periodically a hard piece of cloth pushes into your spine, day after day, month after month, and always in the same spot. That was what was happening to him. It took strict rest, an anti inflammatory, pain medicine, and finding a different type of harness (I was using a shoulder collar) to solve the problem. Up until last week he had been doing good, but last week he decided to hit the end of his long line on a dead run and hurt his back a little, but not nearly as bad.

I'd try changing Delilah's harness and see if it helps. Look at it this way, can't hurt, might help, and a lot cheaper then a ct scan.
 

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Sometimes injuries to the spine, back or neck area, just seem to happen. We had to be away from home for about six hours a couple of days ago. When we came home, Samantha was having trouble walking. This was late in the day, so yesterday morning, off to the Vets we went. She seemed, while waiting in the waiting room, to make a miraculous recovery, vet really found little. Late yesterday, she would not do steps, and could not pick anything up off the floor. To get one of her favorite treats, she would lay down next to it. Seemed clear her neck was hurting her. Left a message for Vet late yesterday, he called this morning, wanted her in for X-rays, as he was now suspicious of neurological involvement. He had already contacted a surgeon for today, if necessary. The X-rays showed only some calcification at C2/C3, no glaring abnormalities. Still waiting for the radiologists interpretation, but she is on prednisone for swelling. She seems to be doing a little better, now.
 

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From the history of this case, I can draw out a diagnosis that the dog is suffering from arthritis, the back pain is as a result of damage to the components forming the joint between each vertebrae, a condition known as Spinal osteoarthritis. The best solution is to obtain arthritis supplement, and modify dog food. If this is done properly, there would be improvement in the next week. Meanwhile, I would have love to prescribe some pain relief for your baby but I can't do it here, so I advice you ask your veterinarian to prescribe some pain relief such as dichlofenac K. or piroxicam for your dog. Don't just buy on the counter please to avoid drug abuse. See articles on arthritis, you can look them up if you have time on healthydogjoints .com.
 

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This is day two of the prednisone course for Samantha, and toward the end of today, she is definitely feeling better. She is moving with far less caution, and even has run through the house several times. So great to see her feeling better.
 

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I also think it may be worth your while to check out acupuncture. I had an old coworker who's dachshund would loose feeling in her back legs but she would take the dog to the acupuncturist and the dog would come back running all over the house. It's worth a try.
 

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Keeping her quiet is impossible. I've been carrying her up and down the stairs of our apartment and she hasn't been on any walks for a week. But in the apartment she doesn't walk. She runs and jumps and prances and bounces. She jumps on and off furniture for the hell of it. I've been trying to keep her leashed or carry her around with me inside but she's still doing a lot of jumping on and off of the furniture before I can catch her or block her. This is so frustrating and futile.

Definitely going to make an appointment for acupuncture next week if this "rest and give more pain meds for two weeks" doesn't work for the third time. I feel like all of this pain management stuff is just a bandaid and not addressing the actual problem.
I'm so sad because deep down I know her back's going to get worse and worse as she gets older and she's just going to be in pain for her entire life.

@Rain, we hadn't used the harness (or gone on any walks) at all over the winter but I had remembered you mentioning that in another post so now that it's warmer out I've just been using her collar instead of a harness.

I have a feeling the cause of this is simply her structure. Her back's always been bent, it curves when it should be straight. You can see the vertebrae at the top of the curve poking out. This caused her hind legs to bow badly which is why her knee caps kept slipping out. When she had her knee surgery they tightened some ligaments in her legs and actually seemed to straighten her legs out a bit and now I'm wondering if that's what's causing her back pain now.

Or maybe she's always had back pain and the hopping on three legs that she's always done was also due to back pain before the surgery, rather than her knees, which I had assumed.
 

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Keeping her quiet is impossible. I've been carrying her up and down the stairs of our apartment and she hasn't been on any walks for a week. But in the apartment she doesn't walk. She runs and jumps and prances and bounces. She jumps on and off furniture for the hell of it. I've been trying to keep her leashed or carry her around with me inside but she's still doing a lot of jumping on and off of the furniture before I can catch her or block her. This is so frustrating and futile.

Definitely going to make an appointment for acupuncture next week if this "rest and give more pain meds for two weeks" doesn't work for the third time. I feel like all of this pain management stuff is just a bandaid and not addressing the actual problem.
I'm so sad because deep down I know her back's going to get worse and worse as she gets older and she's just going to be in pain for her entire life.
Usually crate rest is recommended because when the dog begins to feel better (which the meds should help to happen faster than the back is actually "better") they will no longer restrict themselves, or some will persist in activity even when painful. If she can't be crated, can you use an expen? Activity restriction is really the lynchpin of resolving/managing back issues for most dogs, and I would guess is probably why you aren't seeing improvement. It sucks for you and the dog, but is temporary and gives you the best opportunity for them to be able to return to normal activity levels without pain.

I've had 2 dachshunds, and both have have mild/moderate disc issues, which in most cases (3 of 4) resolved completely with strict rest (4-8 weeks) and meds (steroid, muscle relaxer, pain med, adequan). The episode that didn't completely resolve was my 15 year old Annie, who continued to show some proprioception deficits (front legs would sometimes interfere with each other), but seemed pain free. Outside of that, they were able to slowly resume normal activities after their rest period, and they aren't/weren't couch potatoes! A coworker of mine had a dog who had disc surgery because she had difficulty restricting him and couldn't get his pain managed with medication alone. Super expensive ($9000) and required even more strict rest for the 8 weeks following surgery, but the dog is doing well now.

You might try supplementing with either a tested joint supplement or ask your vet if they think Adequan might help. I used it with both of my dogs, as a last ditch effort when Annie didn't appear to be improving the first episode, then with subsequent episodes for both dogs because it seemed to help (she improved steadily after starting it, but I don't know if because of that or just because she was going to get better at that time). It isn't very expensive for a small dog, and has minimal side effects- worth a try :) .

You might also check the Dodger's List website/email group ( Dodgerslist: canine back problems, all things IVDD ), it's probably the most concentrated source of information on IVDD available, and was even recommended by the neurologist who performed my coworker's dog's surgery. Someone there may have experienced what you are and have more suggestions.

Good luck, and I hope she feels better soon!
 

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@busannie Thank you for your response! That is so much better information than what the vets have been giving me. And no wonder she wasn't healing after 2 weeks of rest and pain meds if you and Dodger's list both say it can take up to 8 weeks for the disc to heal! All four vets just said "a couple weeks" of rest and would only give me two weeks worth of medication.

That is very helpful and gives me hope.

I will need to ask the vet for medication to keep her calm though. It is impossible and she's just going to scream in her crate. Can't use an ex pen- I have a 3 ft one and a 4 ft one (for my late rabbit) and she has scaled both of them. She's very determined and crafty and crazy. She's just going to have to suck it up and stay in her crate for the next few weeks I guess.

Still going to look into acupuncture as well.

Also saw a relatively inexpensive dog stroller I might get for her so I can still take her out on walks in the nice weather but she'll be in a little stroller crate so she won't actually be walking.
 

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You're welcome! It's definitely hard to see them miserable and not themselves. The first time Annie had disc issues (both of my dogs have been the neck), it took about 3 weeks to see any significant improvement, but she was painful enough during that time to restrict herself more or less, though I still crated her. Once she started to improve, it was harder to keep her quiet, as she started wanting out and to move around more if given any extra space. I think I switched her to an expen around 5 or 6 weeks after the start of the episode as she was becoming quite resistant to being crated around that point and I was concerned she would reinjure herself nosing forcefully at the door. I have a wire top for my expens, and used the lower one (2' I think) to discourage her from jumping or climbing, and that worked ok. Bus improved rapidly the couple times he's had problems, but as he's an active dog when left to his own devices and crates well, I still crated him for weeks. He might have been ok with a shorter period of confinement, but I figured I'd rather be safe than risk making things worse or causing unrecoverable damage by letting him do too much, too soon. I think he was only on meds for a couple weeks each time, but Annie was on them for considerably longer. I was lucky in that one of the vets I regularly use also has/had dachshunds, so had some personal interest in management of IVDD, and maybe was more well versed than average?

I would definitely ask your vet about the prospect of a longer period of rest and medication, and go from there.

I have heard of people using pet strollers to confine their dogs even in the house because they can just wheel them along wherever they go and some dogs are calmer with their owner close at hand. I would imagine it would be a good way to give her some mental stimulation while still restricting her physically. Not sure what meds she's currently on, but some pain meds also can cause mild sedation, which might not be a bad thing in cases like this. Definitely something to ask the vet about, and let them know that she won't settle even just for brief periods of restriction.
 
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