Sunday afternoon, December 8, 2002, we let Frankie outside to go “potty”. As soon as we let him in, I knew something was wrong. He walked a few steps hunched up and holding his left front leg up. He walked a few more steps and stopped. He was holding his head down low. I knew immediately it was disc problems. I picked Frankie up and put him in his bed. He did not try to get back out. Frankie is very energetic and inquisitive for a 9 yr old. By early evening Frankie seemed to be in more pain. Monday morning Frankie was shaking and crying out in pain when he tried to move his head. He would not walk. He just stood there hunched up, belly tight, with his head hung low and shook! I called our veterinarian on Monday morning and they saw him that morning. The vet said Frankie showed signs of disc problems and gave him 5mg of prednisone twice daily for 3 weeks and a muscle relaxer, Robaxin, 500 mg once a day for 5 days. Frankie had sensation in his left front leg. We confined Frankie to crate rest and carried him outside to go potty.
By Friday he was not doing better and would not eat unless you hand fed him. I called Michigan State University Vet Clinic & they did not have a neurologist on staff. They referred us to Dr. Wolf in Canton, Michigan. Dr Wolf asked several questions to determine if this was an emergency and decided Frankie could be seen on Monday, December 16th. Dr. Wolf’s staff called twice on Friday to see how he was doing and instructed us to keep on eye on him. We were to call over the weekend if his condition got worse.
Dr. Wolf examined Frankie on Monday morning and said he showed all clinical signs of cervical disc disease. He said he wanted to do a myelogram and surgery that afternoon. Early evening we received a phone call from Dr. Wolf. He said the myelogram came back normal and Frankie was not improving. Dr. Wolf explained with cervical neck ruptures, many times they do not show up on a myelogram if they have ruptured so far to the side. He suggested we do a CAT scan the next day. The following evening Dr. Wolf called and was perplexed because the CAT scan came back normal. Upon physical exam again, Frankie was still showing signs of cervical disc problems. He said the most accurate test would be to have a MRI. The MRI will pick up any disc that has ruptured to the side. His clinic does not have MRI equipment. The closet MRI equipment was London, Ontario (3 hours away). Because Frankie was showing a little bit of improvement, the doctor sent him home on crate rest and extended the prednisone for another 3 weeks.
I decided I was going to educate myself about disc disease!! I committed Frankie to 8 weeks of crate rest, only taking him out for potty trips. I hand fed him because he could not bend his head down or I put his food bowl up higher. I started Frankie on supplements of Glucosamine/Chrondroitin with MSM, Ester C, Vitamin E, flaxseed oil and Manganese. Because it was painful to move his head to chew kibble food we switched his diet to raw hamburger, a little rice or canned dog food. The following week we started Frankie on acupuncture treatments. He had 2 treatments twice a week for 2 weeks. The 3rd week he had 1 acupuncture treatment. Slowly, Frankie started to improve and use his front leg. After he was starting to feel better and not in pain I started Frankie on water therapy. I filled our bathtub up with warm water to his neck. He walked back and forth in the tub following my hand holding treats!
Frankie has completed his crate rest and is back to normal. However, we made the decision that our doxies no longer will be allowed on the furniture. Frankie thinks he is part flying squirrel and cannot be trusted to use a ramp!! During the day when we are at work our doxies stay in our kitchen where they are not tempted to jump on the furniture and bark their heads off at anything passing by our house!! A baby gate blocks the stairwell. They are carried up and down the stairs. We are having a ramp built so they are not using the steps down from our deck. I am so glad I committed him to crate rest! It gave him the time he needed to heal.
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