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Dog with a bum neck
September 29, 2009 5:13 AM   Subscribe

My dog has a slipped disc in her neck - what should I expect?

Last Friday, my 8 year old female Doberman was diagnosed with a slipped disc in her neck. She had been in pain and not herself for the few days prior. The vet gave me an anti-inflammatory and told me to put her on complete rest (confinement) for 7 days. I have been keeping her kenneled except for trips outside 3-4 times a day with no running allowed. This weekend, the medicine really seemed to be helping her - she only cried out in pain once, and was walking and acting like her old self. I was very encouraged.

Fast forward to this morning, and she's backslid to last week - crying out in pain, not wanting to walk, shaking, etc. The vet said that in cases like hers, it is not uncommon for the dog to be most uncomfortable right when they wake or get up. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on her, and if she's painful this afternoon, I will call the vet again.

I guess my question is, has anyone had experience with this sort of injury? Is she going to be painful for the rest of her life, or can it eventually get better? I am ready to make some necessary changes for the long term to deal with this (bought a harness to walk her on instead of a neck collar, etc.), but I am worried that she will never really get better. I really had my hopes up after this weekend that the medicine would do the trick, but now I find myself thinking in worst-case scenarios. What should I expect?
posted by tryniti to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
 
My recently deceased wiener dog slipped a disk in his back when he was 6, he had surgery and made a pretty decent recovery. When he got older he lost a good bit of function below the site of the injury, but he did live for 9 years after slipping a disk, so it isnt hopeless.
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:31 AM on September 29, 2009


Find a pain management vet who offers rehab. An anti-inflammatory and rest is not enough for an injury of this nature, the dog needs PRT and proper pain management.
posted by biscotti at 7:27 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've had lots of experience with this kind of injury! I've now had two dogs with disc issues. The best advice I can give you is to take the crate rest very seriously. Even if she's moving/acting normal, keep her rested. The last disc slip my dog had resulted in four WEEKS of rest. After he came off complete confinement, he still took about eight weeks to totally recover.

We took him to a specialist at the Virginia Tech Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and the doctor there said the mistake most people make when treating a disc injury is not giving it enough time to heal.

During his recovery, he had good days and bad days, but he eventually healed completely. He's been doing great for the past year. He's not on any painkillers and moves happily and freely.
posted by MorningPerson at 8:34 AM on September 29, 2009


My experience is slightly different, but my cat had a slipped disc. It was at the base of her spine, near her tail, so she was not using her tail at all. I do not know how much pain it caused her during walking normally (as cats hide their pain), but she would cry out when picked up.

Our vet also prescribed an anti-inflammatory, which helped immensely. After a week on the anti-inflammatory medication, she seemed mostly better, and was definitely 100% better after another 2-3 weeks. She never "backslid," as you are describing, but our vet did warn us that could happen. I'm not a vet, but from what I understand, with plenty (plenty! could be weeks) of rest, your dog should fully recover.
posted by srrh at 10:08 AM on September 29, 2009


My parents' dog had a slipped disc. They kept her confined for a whole month. After that they occasionally took her to a pet chiropractor which helped a lot. Lots of people here will probably say the chiropractor is bunk (but she seemed to do better after each appointment (it was only once a month or so)), so I'll just recommend the increased rest. She didn't back slide in quite the way you're describing, but she did have good days and bad days. She's lived 7 years since then quite happily (although she no longer climbs the stairs or jumps on the couch -- she is a small dog).
posted by bluefly at 12:45 PM on September 29, 2009


Our dachshund mix had a similar problem. After a couple of months of painkillers, tranquilizers and steroids, he made a full recovery. We also switched to a harness instead of a collar for him.
posted by jefftang at 1:44 PM on September 29, 2009


Something you should consider doing is getting her to a specialist. This looks promising and is in your area. They can do a CT scan or MRI of your dog's spine and get a better idea of what is actually happening and whether or not surgery is an option. They also have a rehabilitation center. Usually veterinary specialty hospitals require a referral from your current Veterinarian. Try talking to your treating vet and see what she/he suggests. More info here. In the meantime, keep her quiet and carry her outside to do her business. Good luck.
posted by citizngkar at 1:43 PM on September 30, 2009


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