VetFilter: Dog's posture not right. Is it her back or her belly?
June 20, 2007 1:55 PM   Subscribe

I know you ANAV, and even if you are, you ANMV. Which is exactly the point, because I'm not sure if my vet has this diagnosis right.

Two weeks ago, my 10-year-old bichon frise started holding herself oddly. I first noticied that she was very awkward going down stairs. At her regularly-scheduled yearly vet visit the following day, a Friday, the vet did some simple range of motion testing on her rear legs and things seemed fine. Since Tess has also had some issues with limping on a front leg in the past three months, he diagnosed arthritis and sent us home with some rimadyl and an arthritis supplement.

No improvement, and on Sunday she screamed when I picked her up and refused food in the morning. It had become more obvious that rather than favoring a back leg, she was arching her back (as if going poop), with her head also lowered. Monday morning, same veterinary clinic but different doctor, who did some xrays and decided the problem was thinning disks in two areas on her back, one near her shoulders and one near her hips. She gave us a different pain med and prednisone.

That was nearly 10 days ago. We've almost finished the prednisone, and she's still having trouble. When we first get up in the morning, she moves freely and normally even when we go outside (downstairs and up). After she eats (which she does quite happily), she usually lies down to watch the other dog eat. After both dogs have finished, Tess stands up, arches her back and moves strangely. I'm not sure how long this lasts, because I have to leave for work before it's over. But by the time I get home, she seems fine again.

Things that might be important:
* Her potty habits have been completely normal.
* Aside from that one meal, she has eaten as normal.
* As a part of her yearly exam, the vet did a battery of tests on her blood and everything came back normal.
* She takes the prednisone with her morning meal; she isn't taking any pain meds at this point.
* About 18 months ago, she had a serious stomach blockage. Rather poor initial treatment resulted in serious complications, but (obviously) she did pull through.

I'm trying to decide if we should refill the prednisone prescription or seek out a second/third opinion. Has anyone had a dog with similar symptoms and/or diagnosis? Is there anything else I should have the vet check out?
posted by Jaie to Pets & Animals (4 answers total)
Worked as a vet tech (heading towards vet school), and it sounds a lot like a herniated/slipped disk or other back problem. But it could be a lot of things. I would definitely seek out a second and or third opinion.
posted by bolognius maximus at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2007

My wife the Vet Tech agrees that it sounds like a back problem, but is suspicious of the "thinning disks" idea, as that generally wouldn't create an acute onset problem like the one you mention. It's impossible to diagnose over the Internet, but she suggests the following:
1. With any back problems, your dog should not be going up or downstairs, and if she is likely to roughhouse with your other dog, putting her in a crate or confining her to her own room may be a good idea.
2. Go ahead and get another opinion, specifically from an orthopedic specialist, who will have more experience and a greater range of diagnostic tests (a myelogram, in particular seems like a good idea) than a general practice vet, who tend to throw steroids at problems like this.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2007

I second the idea of another opinion, from a neurologist or an orthopedic specialist. It would be helpful to them if you could bring a video of her walking with the abnormal posture, since it doesn't sound like she walks this way all the time. Your veterinarian should be able to refer you to a specialist in your area. Good luck!
posted by MagicDolphin at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2007

Response by poster: A video is a great idea. Thanks!
posted by Jaie at 8:22 AM on June 21, 2007

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