Speak to me on disc/back problems in dogs

My foxhound cross is having back troubles. We first noticed it a few weeks ago, with a little hind leg shaking and less vigorous tail wagging, but it got dramatically worse late last week and we took her to the vet yesterday. He didn’t do scans, but based on palpation and proprioception tests, believes that she has a bulging or deteriorating disc. He gave her a shot of dex and put her on 3 weeks of prednisone, and we have a re-check tomorrow. He felt it presented as fairly mild and indicated that the majority of mild/moderate cases resolve well with steroid/NSAID and management changes (no stairs, etc.).

The thing is, she has not evidenced any improvement since yesterday’s shot and today’s two doses. My husband thinks she looks better, but I think she looks worse. She can barely creep a few steps without sitting and resting. She walks very crouched in the back with hind legs low. To get her outside to potty I literally have to stand in front of her and toss her cookies that she creeps forward a bit at a time to take. I didn’t think to ask the vet how much/what improvement to expect but I don’t feel like this is it.

Her appetite and attitude are good (she’s even wagging her tail more comfortably!), and she will sit sternal and will lay on both sides (not favoring one, although her proprioception test was worse on the right).

But I’m wondering/anticipating that when we go back in, we may be looking at something like surgery, unless I’ve completely overestimated how gradual the progress may be with the steroid regimen. I was sort of under the impression that she should be able to get up and walk a bit more normally/comfortably after a couple of days of the steroids but maybe I misinterpreted.

What has been y’all’s experience with disc problems in dogs? What would further diagnostics or potential surgery look like? She is 12 but in great health otherwise. We have a great vet school 45 minutes away, so definitely have expertise available, and my husband is teaching online this summer and will be home all day to take care of her needs.

My mind is definitely going to dark places, as I lost one old horse last March, my heart dog last year right about this time last year, and my retired eventer back in February.

Full workup would be referral to neurologist for MRI, spinal tap. I don’t think anyone will do surgery without an MRI to confirm location and diagnosis. I don’t know your area but generally estimate 3-4000 for MRI and then another 3-4000 for surgery. So it’s an investment.

I generally expect improvement within a few days. I will typically add in gabapentin and methocarbomal in as well for these guys.

Strict crate rest for at least 6 weeks and I mean strict as in out to potty on leash then back in crate. I highly recommend the Facebook group Dodger’s List. It has a wealth of information on treatments and care of IVDD dogs.

It does take time. I’ve brought back dogs from complete paralysis with steroids, crate rest and time. I’ve known others that have had success with cold laser and acupuncture.

My dog had a relatively minor ivdd episode earlier this year. It took about 2 days before i could tell that the steroids were making any impact at all and 5 days before her personality started to show again. I did strict crate rest for 2 weeks with gabapentin, then a very conservative 4 weeks of mixed room and crate rest. The first 24 hours were miserable.

A coworker had a dog who had an ivdd episode around the same time and also said it took about 5 days before he turned a significant corner.

My greyhound has severe back issues, discs look very deteriorated. He was reluctant to move, his back legs shaked a lot and he looked very tired. He also stopped roaching on the sofa. He has better days and worse days but he’s now on Gabapentin, Omega 3 and a low dose of Metacam (and gastroprotectors) and he enjoys again his morning walk (40 to 60 Min. on flat) and random small hikes. He’s 11. Next step will be monoclonal antibodies, vet says most dogs improve a lot and they have almost zero collateral effects. It is a monthly shot (about 180 euros per month).

I’ll be very interested in how the monoclonal antibodies work for your greyhound. I had to let my 14 year old whippet with a bad disc go at the beginning of the year, after trying much to help him out for months.

I have beagles and had a scare when one had a back injury - he wouldn’t move at all. Examination without x-rays and the vet thought the dog had degenerative disc disease. We had him on various meds for a week and no improvement. Took him for x-rays expecting bad news and it turned out he just had a bad bruise! It was a few weeks before he recovered. Current beagle has back problems and Bowen therapy and no running help significantly. I recommend getting an x-ray.

Of course I’ll update you! It is a new therapy but vet says 50% of dogs she treated with antibodies improved significantly, other 50% were less successful. But he can’t be on NSAID forever, so we scheduled antibodies for next fall🤞

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