Dog Paralysis?

I’m not really sure where to go to find answers. Our vet doesn’t seem to have any… On January 30th someone drove by and shot our dog. He is a Doberman so he’s very big. The bullet was small caliber like a .22. It entered his front left shoulder and fragmented. There are several small fragments in one place, then on the other side of his spine there is another small fragment. All of this was seen on X-rays. The vet said the one lone fragment had to have gone through his spine, over his spine or under his spine to be in a different area than the others. I understand that a spinal injury could cause paralysis. What I don’t understand is that he feels deep pain and will pull his leg away. For example, if I pinch his toe (hard) he will pull his leg away, if I scratch his belly he shakes his leg. If he’s paralyzed would be so those things? He does refuse to try to use them when I get him up. He refuses to try to put weight on them, they are like limp noodles. He seems very depressed now, he’s losing weight and he is starting to get bed sores. I work with him daily but he just refuses to try. I’m not sure if he’s actually paralyzed or if something else is going on since he does have the little bit of movement I described. I know this is a horse page (and I’m a horse person which is how I knew about it), not a dog page, but I’m not finding any answers in research. If anyone has any ideas please help! This dog is the best friend of my two boys who are 5 and 8. If we can’t find a way to make his quality of life better, we will have to put him to sleep. I don’t want to do that at all but I can’t on good conscience let him suffer because of we want him here. Please help!

Sounds like you need a much better vet - no one here is going to be able to give you advice. Where do you live - what resources do you have for obtaining a 2nd opinion? At this point I would be getting a 2nd opinion asap - or euthanize.


Maybe a second opinion and soon would be a way to make the decision what to do next?


Jan 30th …It’s :eek: Feb. 20 :eek:… get your dear dog to another vet and/or ask for referral to Specialist !

  • time is critical here … please !

Jingles !

? Is this a real poster ?


Those are reflexes that you are eliciting. So, yes, you could see those movements and have a dog which is unable to walk. Finding out more likely would need an exam by a neurologist and potentially an MRI


Just my opinion, based on dealing with numerous partially paralyzed dogs and cats over the years.
Right now your dog’s body is still in ‘trying to heal’ mode. Sometimes injuries take months to fully heal so what you see today may not be what you see 3-4 months from now.
If you have a specific detailed diagnosis on what was injured, there is a lot of information online if you know how to search.
Is your dog at a point where rehab would help? Sometimes, if they still have feeling in the feet and the legs aren’t working today, they can be rehabbed back into using their body again.
PM me if you’d like. I’m not a vet but have taught several critters to walk after injuries/trauma.

I’ve had several dogs who became paralyzed in their hind legs in my time. If you pinch the toe and the leg responds, even with a minor twitch, there is hope to regain walking function. There are many aids available for paralyzed dogs, from mobility wheels to harnesses for the rear legs that you can hold up and still walk the dog. They are NOT cheap, but they are available. You can also make some at home, and you can walk the dog by supporting it under the belly with a towel. If the muscles that control bladder and bowel function are affected, you can also help with that.

If I were you, and you have a state vet school, I’d take the dog there for an evaluation, no matter how much it cost. If you know what his best outcome is, you can work toward that with their help. I found (although the dog in question was a beagle) that water therapy was incredibly helpful while he was recovering.

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I’m going to agree with Vineyridge- if you are near a referral hospital with a neurologist and advanced imaging (CT/MRI) whether that is a private clinic or veterinary teaching hospital you need to go there if you want better answers. With the amount of time that has passed, it is possible that any damage is permanent.

What you are seeing when the leg pulls away to a toe pinch is a reflex - it goes from the leg to the spinal cord and back down the leg. It doesn’t have to travel any of the pathways to the brain, so it doesn’t tell you if those pathways are damaged.

Examination by a neurologist and advanced imaging (since you can’t see the spinal cord on xrays) is your next step…

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Hello everyone, we have been in constant contact with our vet. We have him set up for acupuncture appointments and are working on getting water therapy set up. Our vet wanted to give him some time to see if he could heal on his own with meds and being worked with at home. We have a stander and a wheel chair. At this point, I just wanted to know if anyone had any advice or ideas that could be helpful. I assure you he is getting very good care. Thank you all for your responses.

Also, Zu Zu, I am a real poster… my dog is very well cared for and loved very much. I was reaching out to see if anyone had any advice or if anyone has dealt with a similar situation. My post wasn’t intended to keep from having to use a vet. I have a very good vet, just wanted to see what other ideas were out there.

Sorry but if your dog is getting pressure sores from lying down, your vet needs help. I’m a big fan of acupuncture, but it isn’t a cure for everything. Not every good vet is a specialist. You need to get an MRI and a consult with a neurologist.


How long has he been down? As stated above, what you are seeing is reflex activity and does not mean there is hope for recovery. Often when we have a spinal injury, we look for “deep pain” as a sign of hope. You are seeing a withdrawal reflex, not deep pain. If you pinch the toe and he responds by moving his head or similar to indicate he feels the pain, that is what we can “deep pain” and that means some signals are getting past the injury.

Does he have bowel control? Is it just the hind legs or all 4?

Bedsores are hard to treat, you need to stay ahead of the game. Pad well and move often (I’m sure you know this, even with the best care they can happen).

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I stand by my post … it was not intended to be rude nor sarcastic …

IMHO the dog needs to be seen by a specialist or at least a second vet …

  • :mad: no need to send me a nasty pm…

check out my Coth posts …I am not a snarky poster … I ‘Jingle & AO’ …

I certainly hope your dog receives the best medical intervention as is possible and recovers fully.


You received a nasty pm for your first post?

OP I didn’t see anything wrong with Zu Zu’s post, she was encouraging a 2nd opinion of a specialist and I would as well.

Twenty one days of no improvement should encourage any vet to recommend a specialist to pin point the damage.

So sorry your dog was shot and wish the best outcome.

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I will second what Foggybok said. I will also second a Neuro specialist. You might also try the Facebook group, Dodger’s List. It is primarily for dogs with inter vertebral disc disease but they may have some pointers on just dealing with paralysis.

My pit mix was completely paralyzed with Coonhound Paralysis this time last year. To combat pressure sores he was on a 4" egg crate foam bed and I turned him every 2 hours. Those “chucks” bed pads for incontinent adults were wonderful since he had no bowel or bladder control for the first weeks. He was also on antibiotics to help with bed sores and bladder infections, deramax for pain and a low dose of ace for anxiety.

I will also add that dogs adjust very well to the carts. If you have one I’d put him in it and go for very short excursions around the yard. It will improve his attitude and give him exercise to prevent muscle atrophy.

I didn’t send a nasty pm to Zu Zu… It said essentially what I responded back her on this post. I felt as if they were acting like I wasn’t caring for the dog properly. I know I don’t know everything and that’s why I came for advice. Maybe I interpreted her response wrong. If so, I’m sorry Zu Zu. I am new to this forum and wasn’t sure how to respond, it went through as a message instead of a forum response the first time I tried to respond.

The acupuncture was at a vet school. We went for two sessions, he saw 14 different vets over a period of two days. It was really informative and helpful! I believe that the acupuncture has helped some. I don’t know that it is the full answer to our issues, but I do know that afterward his spirit seemed to be lifted, his appetite is back, his sores started healing, he seems to have some feeling back in his hind end. At the acupuncture appointment they did a really neat thing. It was called Circling the Dragon I believe. They put the needles all around his sores. They started draining a clear fluid right away, and had already started to improve by the next day. Now they are almost healed! He has started to gain weight again since he’s regained his appetite.

To answer some of the questions asked: he only has Paralysis in his hind legs. I have added more padding to his bedding. I turn him several times a day, he is on Tramadol for pain and Keflex to keep his sores from becoming infected. He has control over his bowel movements and urination. He does try to hold his urine, I think because he knows he isn’t supposed to go inside. I’ve had to be shown how to empty his bladder either by pressure or with a catheter. We have a cart for him and he loves it. The weather here has been pretty awful so we haven’t been outside a lot, but go for strolls in the house and he stays in it for a bit of time, even inside.

Again, if I took your post wrong Zu Zu, I’m sorry. I’m very upset with the whole situation and I think it probably makes me more sensitive than I should be about it. I have been trying so hard to take care of him and have been getting him the best care possible and looking into other options. I felt slightly attacked with your wording and then you asking if I was even a real poster… Max is a very large dog and his care is really hard. I really do appreciate all of the advice from everyone. I’ve been a pet owner my entire life and know a lot about all different kinds of animals, but I have never had to deal with a situation like this. Thank you again to everyone who has offered advice and help with Max. We all appreciate it so much. :heart:

Maria 100, I tried to PM you. I saw today that I had a message from you, but when I tried to open it, it disappeared and now I can’t find it

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I guess I don’t understand. If you have the dog at the vet school, why not do an MRI and/or consult with a neurologist? Acupuncture is a great tool but it sounds like the acupuncture is only being used to help heal the sores?

Is it because the vets already do not think there is hope of regaining function of the hind legs?

If the dog is suffering permanent paralysis, it will be important to treat him carefully. I would recommend getting a proper canine wheelchair or you are likely to cause other problems by trying to rig one up for him.

Im sorry your vet didn’t immediately refer you to a neurologist. Sometimes fragments from a fracture/bullet can cause spinal cord compression, disc herniation, cord swelling or hemorrhage. Surgery to release pressure is sometimes indicated and if so, time is of the essence!

Unfortunately, if pressure is not released within a very short time period, then often the cord can never recover. I hope for your dogs sake he can make some improvement with physiotherapy - its not a total lost hope especially if he has deep pain sensation.

An immediate referral for a neuro consult and MRI/CT should have been offered to you for your dogs best chance - Im sorry that is sounds like it was not. Its not you who are failing your dog, as you rely on your vet to give you the list of options. Dont give up hope yet, as I have seen bad cord injuries recover in time, but I would absolutely question your vet on why they didnt offer your dog a referral. Sad.

I think it’s unfair to assume that the vet did not recommend an MRI/CT as the best option, but was willing to consider alternative or “watch and wait” treatments instead.

From the sound of the original post, it sounded like this owner wanted to do everything possible for a recovery - which a wait and see option is not the best route with unknown spinal injuries. It absolutely IS a route that many opt to take especially because imaging is not cheap, but without knowing what you are dealing with its hard to determine the best treatment…but maybe I misunderstood the post. If it was offered and declined by the owner, thats different but just my impression from the orignal post was that the owner wanted to do everything possible to get her dog the best chance to fully recover but there was no mention of an offered MRI.