Cocoa, the hunter
by Marianne Hickey

He's had some ongoing issues for over two years....Cocoa was showing signs of a back problem in December 2009, so we crated him and took him for a few acupuncture treatments, but we weren't as strict about crate rest as we needed to be.

November 2010 Cocoa had painful signs but no indications of paralysis.  After five weeks of conservative treatment and more dexamethasone, we could not wean him off the medications without pain re-surfacing. After recommendations from five different vets, they all said he needed surgery.  My husband and I had NO intention of surgery...we always believed conservative was the way to go, and many times it is.  But this time, we were wrong.  We couldn't have Cocoa continue with the pain he was experiencing.  On December 13 he had an MRI, and was scheduled the next day for surgery.  He was sent home two days later pain free.  We were very thankful to our surgeon.  A friend recommended Dodgerslist to me, and we did the six weeks of strict 24/7 crate rest as they recommended.  Every dachshund owner should visit the site and become educated about disc disease.  
 
Acupuncture is a great treatment for neck or back pain.  I had read on Dodgerslist how dogs can heal faster from injury or surgery with laser light therapy, which I was unfamiliar with.  I called a few emergency hospitals to find a vet that used laser light therapy.  We had our first consultation two months after surgery, and the acupuncturist helped Cocoa regain strength and muscle in his rear legs with laser treatment and physical therapy
Fur is all grown in and back to the joys of sunning on the deck!

Cocoa yelped one day, this time it was his neck. Thinking back now, these little episodes after back surgery all may have been neck related.  He loves “hunting for prey” just before it’s time to eat.  He’ll grab a toy and pull with all his might to get the fur out of it.  I think that is what might have been a cause for his neck problems.  The acupuncturist thought it was muscular, not disc related.  I now believe she was incorrect, and it was a disc all along.  Needless to say, we no longer have those  

Cocoa doing 100% STRICT crate rest for a full 8 weeks with his cozy snuggle bag
toys around. I’m hoping the lack of pulling on the toys will keep his neck in better shape.  So we took him back to the neurosurgeon who performed his back surgery.  She wanted to do an MRI and surgery, but we just spent $5,800 in December 2011, and we didn’t want to put him through another surgery.  Sharon Duncan, a Dodgerslist moderator, convinced me to do another (at least) 8 weeks of strict crate rest.  Our regular vet gave him dexamethasone, tramadol and this time methocarbamol because he was having neck spasms. Cocoa started vomiting, and it was necessary to add sucralfate, as Pepcid AC alone wasn't enough to protect his GI tract. We tried weaning him off the dex. after 2 weeks, but the spasms returned, so we did another 2 weeks of dex. and methocarbamol. To keep excitable Cocoa calm in his crate, the only thing that seemed to settle him down was Composure Liquid.  It took a month on steroids, but he obviously needed that long to get all the pain taken care of.  I look at Cocoa these days and realize how lucky we are to have him with us.