Dog with mysterious pain -- what should I expect?
January 25, 2007 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Dog in sudden, mysterious pain. Going to see the vet as soon as possible, but want to be as prepared as I can be.

On our morning walk yesterday, I noticed that my 15-pound dog was walking a bit -- not much, just a bit -- slower than usual. Later that afternoon, while the dog slept in his bed, he suddenly yelped, as if something had seriously hurt him -- the kind of yelp he gives, e.g., if someone accidentally steps on his paw or tail. Unusually, I was able to touch him without getting a reaction from him (he's quite territorial, and usually reacts with fear or aggression whenever someone attempts to pet him while he's in his bed). Last night, the same thing happened, only the yelps were more intense, and it happened about 3 or 4 times during the course of the night. For a few hours, my partner slept with him on the sofa (I'm terribly allergic), and the dog didn't yelp during this time.

Otherwise, the dog seems perfectly normal -- hasn't lost an appetite, doesn't have any lumps, unusual discharge from any part his body, is urinating and defecating normally, isn't vomiting, etc.

Anyone else had a similar experience and/or some idea of what I might possibly expect to talk about with the vet and/or advice on talking with the vet? Also, if anyone can recommend a reasonable vet in San Francisco who might be willing to make arrangements for a payment plan in case an expensive procedure is required, I'd be greatly appreciative (I'm planning on calling the SPCA for this, but additional recommendations certainly wouldn't hurt).
posted by treepour to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Our dog when I was a kid had a bad back and yelped like that when he pinched a nerve, I think.
posted by MsMolly at 9:20 AM on January 25, 2007

Best answer: Symptoms are almost identical to when our dog had a bad back - a slightly slipped disk. (He made a full recovery after a few weeks of limited exercise, no stairs, and wearing a harness not a leash). The vet said he had probably "zigged when he should have zagged", and a few hours later would have stiffened up, swelling pressed on the nerve, etc. So there was no obvious cause-and-effect.
posted by Rumple at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2007

Also, the vet was able to diagnose this without x-rays, and there was a 40$ painkiller prescribed. No operation or anything like that. Fingers crossed for your doggie!
posted by Rumple at 10:24 AM on January 25, 2007

Whatever it turns out to be, be careful with Rimadyl if that's what the vets want to give you. It apparently works great for many dogs but made mine very, very sick. I hope you and your dog feel better!
posted by walla at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2007

seconding pinched nerve. sounds like something my mother's dog experienced.
posted by tdischino at 10:28 AM on January 25, 2007

My mother's pomeranian did almost exactly the same thing one day. Turned out he had a fever from some kind of infection, and possibly the associated aches and pains you get with flu. Good luck, definitely take the doggie to the vet. I'm nowhere near you so I unfortunately don't have any suggestions on where to go.
posted by smashingstars at 11:06 AM on January 25, 2007

My 25 lb dog had a mystery ailment causing him pain, and making him limp intermittently. Vet guessed it was a torn ACL. No x-rays, some pain killers, and limited activity and he was fine in a couple of weeks. "zigged when he should have zagged" indeed.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:52 AM on January 25, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all, for the responses & well-wishes so far. Having read them, I'm thinking a pinched nerve (or maybe a pulled/torn muscle) is the most likely explanation. He started down the stairs very cautiously this morning, so I carried him down (& back up). He also yelped for no apparent reason while walking, just after having run vigorously to a sniff an especially attractive tree. And after the walk, rather than rolling over on his back for a tummy rub (like he usually does), he kind of leaned over on his side and cautiously raised one of his hind legs. So I'm thinking it's definitely related to certain kinds of movement.
posted by treepour at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2007

I agree, my dog had similar problems when she had a bad back. One thing you might watch is if the dog seems to have difficulty going to the bathroom. It can be hard for them to get into "position" when they have back pain. Look for shaking, whining, pacing, or hesitation when they defecate.

With my dog we didn't need xrays, just rest and anti-inflammatories (I think the vet recommended baby asperin).
posted by evilcupcakes at 4:10 PM on January 25, 2007

treepour -- let us know how your doggie makes out.
posted by Rumple at 9:29 AM on January 26, 2007

Response by poster: treepour -- let us know how your doggie makes out.

Thank you -- I have informed my doggie that he has many mefites wishing him well. :) Appointment is for tomorrow morning -- I'll post a follow-up (assuming mefi still lets me).

He seems much better today, actually, and no yelps last night! Carrying him up & down the stairs and going for gentle walks might be doing some good.
posted by treepour at 11:01 AM on January 26, 2007

Response by poster: Update. The vet (San Francisco SPCA) confirmed that it's probably a pinched nerve kind of thing. Seems to be located in the neck. We were given some anti-inflammatory & muscle relaxant medication to give him for the next few days, and told to keep his walks to a bare minimum for the next few weeks. If the pain continues, they'll take some x-rays, but cautioned that the x-ray won't reveal anything unless it's a slipped disc -- highly unlikely, given that he's doing so much better than he was when I first posted.

Thanks again, all, for your suggestions and concern!
posted by treepour at 1:01 PM on January 27, 2007

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