FAQS - Important things to know

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Wobbly walk indicating spinal cord damage

Limited movement a crate provides protects the spinal cord from further damage & allows the disc to heal during the 8 weeks of crate rest.

Wheelchair dogs do it all!

Always crate your dog immediately when you first suspect a back problem (shivering/trembling, yelping, reluctant to move, arched back, head held high or low, wobbly walk) and get him to a vet asap. Transport carefully using a crate padded out with rolled up towels on either side of the dog to prevent movement or jarring the spine when braking or turning corners. Crating will help keep the dog from further injuring the spinal cord that could potentially lead to paralysis and loss of bladder control. The restricted area (ex-pen, crate, etc.) should be approximately enough room to stand up, turn around and when lying down fully stretch out the legs. The dog must stay in the crate 24/7 to protect the spinal cord. Carry to and from potty place. Stand in one spot. Dog may only take minimal steps the harness and 6' leash allow. Complete details on how to implement crate rest.signs of disc episode
  1. Your dog MUST be under care of a vet. Don't wait, minutes & hours matter... and if you lack confidence in your vet or seem to be getting nowhere, don't hesitate to ask for a second opinion or better yet a referral to a specialist (neuro or ortho) as these specialists see many cases of back problems daily.
  2. You must inform your vet about everything you are giving your dog: meds, food AND supplements. This is to avoid any possible side effects caused by interaction of any of those substances. Your vet MUST be made aware of what you are doing, even if it seems insignificant to you.
  3. Know there IS good hope, whether surgery is an option or not. It is also important to know that in the unlikely case that your dog becomes paralyzed permanently, a happy, comfortable and excellent quality of life is made possible with a wheelchair.
  4. Directory of board-certified neuros Find Veterinary surgeons (ACVS) and neuro surgeons (ACVIM) here: http://find.vetspecialists.com
  5. Vet recommendations and surgical costs from Dodgerslist members  http://www.dodgerslist.com/literature/surgerycosts.htm
  6. No or low interest credit for veterinary costs can be obtained from Care Credit. You find out online if you qualify.
  7. Time is of the essence especially if your dog's legs are paralyzed plus have lost deep pain sensation. The last best chance for a good surgical outcome is within a window of 12-24 hours from losing the last of neuro functions, deep pain sensation (DPS). Even after that window of time, there can still be a good outcome. Each hour that passes decreases that chance. Precious hours can be lost with a vet that gets DPS wrong. As damage to the spinal cord increases, there is a predictable stepwise deterioration of functions:
    1. Pain caused by the tearing disc & inflammation in the spinal cord
    2. Wobbly walking, legs cross
    3. Nails scuffing floor
    4. Paws knuckle
    5. Legs do not work (paralysis, dog is down)
    6. Bladder control is lost
    7. Tail wagging with joy is lost
    8. Loss of deep pain sensation, the last neuro function only correctly identified by a specialist.   A general vet is not qualified to tell if a dog is a candidate for surgery but is qualified to refer you to a specialist. Only a board certified ortho or neuro surgeon can advise you on surgery.
  8. Neither surgery nor conservative treatment (medications and crate rest) are "guaranteed" to work. Understand surgery vs. conservative treatment. If surgery is not an option, do not give up hope because many dogs have recovered with medications and 100% STRICT crate rest 24/7 for 8 weeks. Join Dodgerslist support group to learn how to care for your dog during a disc problem. http://dodgerslist.boards.net/              


Drug knowledge

  1. Know the typical drugs used with disc disease.
  2. Look up all meds your dog is taking. Be informed on their use and adverse reactions. Mar Vista Animal Center .
  3. Your vet should discuss known side effects and run proper tests before administering NSAIDs. NSAIDs can become toxic to the liver and kidney very quickly in some dogs. Read the current label for any NSAID prescribed.

  • Aspirin
  • ETOGESIC (etodolac)
  • RIMADYL (carprofen)
  • METACAM (meloxicam)
  • DERAMAXX (deracoxib)
  • PREVICOX (firocoxib)
  • ZUBRIN (tepoxalin)
  • NOVOX (carprofen)

Steroids (dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone) or NSAIDs can be very harmful to the stomach lining and intestine. NSAIDs should never be prescribed with a steroid. These two classes of anti-inflammatories should be accompanied by a stomach protector such as Pepcid AC.

Safe vets use a washout time of 4-7 days if needing to switch from one brand of NSAID or steroid to the other.

This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the Dachshund community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice and all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.
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