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Old 05-05-2008, 11:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Wobblers in my Dobe

My beautiful 5 year old female Doberman has become completely uncoordinated in the past 8 weeks, folding over on her front and rear legs and collapsing after any exercise. She has also developed a distinct sway back. My vet misdiagnosed it as arthritis and put her on Metacam. She got progressively worse last week and a second vet did xrays and just diagnosed her with Wobbler's or CVI (5, 6,7th vertebra). I worry she has been diagnosed too late and is too far gone...she is partially paralyzed at this point and needs assistance to walk…still eating well and eliminating fine. I will not go the surgical route (my vet's solution) as she is a rescue and has already been through so much. She has now been on is prednisone and thyroid medication for 5 days with little improvement. After researching alternate treatments, I am also trying chiropractic treatment and a neck brace, but she is so miserable...am I being fair to the dog? Does anyone have any advice on what I should do next?
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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juljules, Sorry your dog and you have to deal with CVI. I would give the medications more time to do their job. The pred. should help with the inflammation around her vertabrae. Once the inflammation goes down it will relieve the pressure on the nerves. Take it one day at a time right now. If things do not improve soon, sorry but you may have to make some serious decisions.
Also, I have heard of dogs with wobblers being fitted with a neck brace which helps keep the vertabrae in proper alignment. Maybe ask your Vet about this.
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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DLS. what could be the reason that it could have occured. what are the general precautions that should be taken when exercising a dobe or while make a dobe jog?
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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saesms, CVI, Wobblers Syndrome, or Cervical Spondylopathy. It is an abnormality of the cervical {neck} vertebra or associated structures, causes neurological dysfunction. The cause of wobblers is not know, though several contributing factors have been suggested, a large head, a long neck and rapid growth, possibly over-nutrition in the form of excess protein, calcium and phosphorus may induce skeletal changes that precipitate the sydrome. there are also possible hereditary implications.
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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thanks a lot DLS,lucky to have ppl like you. what are the precautions that should be taken while exercising or running a dobe
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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just do not FORCE your dog to exersice! free run is the best form of exersice. And not in a busy area of cars and people of course. But in your yard or in another safe place. I would NEVER run a dog behind a car, but jogging, hiking or if you slowly build up your dogs muscles and endurance biking with your dog would be OK too.
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks DLS and SAESMS for your reply, I need some real honesty and appreciate your information and concern..the vets only confuse matters!! Re: possible causes. She was terribly malnourished and neglected as a pup and suffered from rickets and generalized demodex mange when she was turned into the surrey spca at 6 mnths of age. I have had her now 4 years and given her the best of care, love and attention, but it would seem her normal bone growth may have been compromised from day one... predisposing her to Wobblers.
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi Julie! Glad you made it here. I just want to add Julie saved this gorgeous girl and is a wonderful Dobermom. I wish I had the answers but I know all of you here will help!!!
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have had her now 4 years and given her the best of care, love and attention

your dobe should be lucky to have someone caring as you are......

hope she will come through it
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Old 05-05-2008, 02:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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JulJules, I have a Doberman with wobblers. If you need anymore info-pm me! I went against my vet and declined the surgery route. I took him to Marion Indiana to Dr. Durkes. He does gold bead implants. I would have never believed it would work and it did. He does "wobble" when his neck is down but otherwise he is doing great. You can check out his neckbrace in my gallery. He had his surgery two years ago. Here are some things I learned; Keep the dog thin-make sure your dobe is not overweight-extra weight is stressful on the joints. Get rid of all your neck collars or leads and buy a harness. Do not let anyone touch your dobies neck-I told my vet not to take blood from his neck and use his leg instead. Get rid of all your floor food bowls and buy an elevated one. If you have wood floors or tile buy some rugs so your dobie has an easier time walking. All of your dobies toys should not be "shakeable" Meaning, if he has a toy that he puts in his mouth and starts shaking-that toy needs to go since it can promote further damage. Also, the days of playing tug of war are over! If you have small fences that your dobie jumps over or anything that includes jumping, it has to stop. I exercise my Dobie everyday and twice a day on the weekends. He runs off leash. We walk on grass and I do not run him on cement. High end kibble or raw food along with joint supplements. I've also increased his salmon oil since recent studies has shown it's ablility to decrease inflamation. I hope I helped alittle-Good luck and God bless!
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Old 05-05-2008, 02:42 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Juljules, I am so sorry to hear about your girl. I don't have any answers or help, just prayers sent to you and her.
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Sorry about the diagnosis. My daughters` dog Zeus was diagnosed with wobblers this year. They went the surgical route. It has been 8 weeks and he is pain free. The recovery is hard with an almost full body cast, but they did it. He is in excellent health at the age of 9 almost 10.
Collar walks will be no more. Walks will be with a harness. He has not been released for that yet. One more x-ray, which is scheduled this Thursday.
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:58 PM   #13 (permalink)
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JulJules, I have a Doberman with wobblers. If you need anymore info-pm me! I went against my vet and declined the surgery route. I took him to Marion Indiana to Dr. Durkes. He does gold bead implants. I would have never believed it would work and it did. He does "wobble" when his neck is down but otherwise he is doing great. You can check out his neckbrace in my gallery. He had his surgery two years ago. Here are some things I learned; Keep the dog thin-make sure your dobe is not overweight-extra weight is stressful on the joints. Get rid of all your neck collars or leads and buy a harness. Do not let anyone touch your dobies neck-I told my vet not to take blood from his neck and use his leg instead. Get rid of all your floor food bowls and buy an elevated one. If you have wood floors or tile buy some rugs so your dobie has an easier time walking. All of your dobies toys should not be "shakeable" Meaning, if he has a toy that he puts in his mouth and starts shaking-that toy needs to go since it can promote further damage. Also, the days of playing tug of war are over! If you have small fences that your dobie jumps over or anything that includes jumping, it has to stop. I exercise my Dobie everyday and twice a day on the weekends. He runs off leash. We walk on grass and I do not run him on cement. High end kibble or raw food along with joint supplements. I've also increased his salmon oil since recent studies has shown it's ablility to decrease inflamation. I hope I helped alittle-Good luck and God bless!
I too have been through late in life Wobblers on my girl that lived to be 14. Her X-rays clearly showed displacement and fusion, so a Myelogram was unnecessary. I never considered surgery as an option given her age at diagnosis (10-ish), but did investigate Gold Bead implants.

All of the points raised above I support -- weight management, harness use, blood draw from leg instead of neck, elevated feeding, no shaking or tug-o-war with toys, non-slip floors, monitored exercise. I also agree with limiting jumping, but I was fortunate. Shelby chose to stop that as well as climbing stairs on her own.

I treated her with Prednisone -- high doses when she had off days, otherwise she was on 5 mgs every third day. Ultimately she got the 5 mgs every other day, but that was in the last 6 months of her life.

I would also recommend reducing protein intake -- get it to a daily intake of approximately 22-24% protein in your girl's diet and discontinue any mineral supplements. Too much protein, calcium and phosphorous can potentially cause skeletal changes that could result in further damage and enhanced progression of the condition.

I would also elevate water. We often remember to elevate food, but even water should be elevated to avoid neck stress. Elevate to a height where she won't have to bend the neck downward.

I had some really awesome years with her post diagnosis. During that time we had 3 occasions where she was essentially paralyzed. Increasing the dosage of Prednisone got her through 2 of them. Key to remember is this is not an immediate death sentence for your DoberKid. It just means we have a little more due diligence to do for them!

Hope that helps! Feel free to ask me anything that comes to mind!
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:16 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thank you dobermomtoo and everyone for your support... boy I needed to hear this last post right about now. Just got back from the 3rd vet consult who also does animal chiro. She told me her neck/spine is basically shot (displacement, fusion, spurs) and that it is amazing this dog can even stand. Zena is my warrior princess that's for sure! She told me surgery is NOT an option, nor is even chiro at this stage. I appreciated her honesty, as hard as it was to hear. All I can do is make her comfortable with the advice you have all given..keep her on the prednisone, neck brace, elevated food/water, rugs etc. and give her tonnes of love and pampering. The vet did say miracles can occur, particularly after what this wonder dog has been through in her short life...Still, this is the hardest thing to get through.
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm so sorry and I will pray for your girl and for you. Hang tough and be strong. Thanks for being such a good dobermom.
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:06 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Thank you dobermomtoo and everyone for your support... boy I needed to hear this last post right about now. Just got back from the 3rd vet consult who also does animal chiro. She told me her neck/spine is basically shot (displacement, fusion, spurs) and that it is amazing this dog can even stand. Zena is my warrior princess that's for sure! She told me surgery is NOT an option, nor is even chiro at this stage. I appreciated her honesty, as hard as it was to hear. All I can do is make her comfortable with the advice you have all given..keep her on the prednisone, neck brace, elevated food/water, rugs etc. and give her tonnes of love and pampering. The vet did say miracles can occur, particularly after what this wonder dog has been through in her short life...Still, this is the hardest thing to get through.
I am so sorry the news you received today wasn't more encouraging. While we'd love to have lots of options available to us, knowing is better from the perspective that we know what we can do (even if limited) to make our WobblerKids more comfortable.

What is her Prednisone dose? Is she tolerating it well?

Does the latest Vet think any massage (tissue) might help? And/or icing? I would ice Shelby's neck when she'd go down and while I can't say it made "the" difference, my Vet said it certainly didn't hurt.

My heart aches for you. Love your warrior princess! Enjoy her to the fullest.
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:52 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Well isn't this thread educating and extremely touching! This is why I'm part of DT and why I enjoy everyone so much.

I'm a rescue snob, and thank every person I come across that rescues a doberkid. THANK YOU!!!
Hugs to both of you, and please-please keep us posted okay?
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Old 05-05-2008, 11:09 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I am so sorry for what you are going through with Zena. How lucky she is that you rescued her and have shown her such love and care. Sounds like you are both warriors! Hang in there...keep us posted.
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Old 05-05-2008, 11:31 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:32 AM   #20 (permalink)
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[quote=DobeMomToo;170845]I am so sorry the news you received today wasn't more encouraging. While we'd love to have lots of options available to us, knowing is better from the perspective that we know what we can do (even if limited) to make our WobblerKids more comfortable.

What is her Prednisone dose? Is she tolerating it well?

Does the latest Vet think any massage (tissue) might help? And/or icing? I would ice Shelby's neck when she'd go down and while I can't say it made "the" difference, my Vet said it certainly didn't hurt.

Zena is on 25 mg of prednisone, twice a day. She is tolerating it well, but this last vet actually advised to take her off it as she is drinking/urinating so frequently from it, and she is afraid Zena might hurt herself if she tries to get out to pee unsupervised. This is a huge concern now, keeping her safe from breaking a limb. I am with her all the time and being hyper-vigilant that this does not happen. I iced her neck for an hour last night as per your advice dobemomtoo...not sure if it helped but she tolerated it well. I am exhausted, lack of sleep, picking her up so much and supporting her to walk, is taking its toll on me both physically and emotionally.

She is so miserable being inactive like this, her whole life was about going to the beach every day, and playing fetch with her ball...about this...

After everything I have read about CVI/Wobblers and the importance of preserving the neck in Dobermans, I would have NEVER PLAYED BALL FETCH with her...all that running and diving to pick up the ball was extremely taxing on her neck, but it was her absolute joy. We started it to help her gain muscle mass after we rescued her, but in hindsight, it was not the right thing to do. Natural play and exercise as described above is the best advice...never forced and always use a harness.

Today will be a difficult day...I see in her eyes she is suffering.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:04 AM   #21 (permalink)
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juljules, I am so sorry your girl is suffering. Tough as it is to face, you may be left without any options. The hardest responsible act we dog owners have is decideing when our much loved pets have suffered enough. A BIG hug for you and your beautiful dober girl.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:31 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by juljules View Post
Zena is on 25 mg of prednisone, twice a day. She is tolerating it well, but this last vet actually advised to take her off it as she is drinking/urinating so frequently from it, and she is afraid Zena might hurt herself if she tries to get out to pee unsupervised. This is a huge concern now, keeping her safe from breaking a limb. I am with her all the time and being hyper-vigilant that this does not happen. I iced her neck for an hour last night as per your advice dobemomtoo...not sure if it helped but she tolerated it well. I am exhausted, lack of sleep, picking her up so much and supporting her to walk, is taking its toll on me both physically and emotionally.

She is so miserable being inactive like this, her whole life was about going to the beach every day, and playing fetch with her ball...about this...

After everything I have read about CVI/Wobblers and the importance of preserving the neck in Dobermans, I would have NEVER PLAYED BALL FETCH with her...all that running and diving to pick up the ball was extremely taxing on her neck, but it was her absolute joy. We started it to help her gain muscle mass after we rescued her, but in hindsight, it was not the right thing to do. Natural play and exercise as described above is the best advice...never forced and always use a harness.

Today will be a difficult day...I see in her eyes she is suffering.
I know your heartache -- Shelby's last 48 hours were pure hell as she was always a very proud and independent girl and at that point, there was little she could do without assistance.

While I don't want to disagree with this last vet as it appears she gave you the real specifics of Zena's situation, I would recommend NOT pulling her off Prednisone yet. Give it time to really get into her system and then back off her dosage gently. How long has she been on the 25 mg?

Prednisone will cause your girl to drink more, but you can minimize that by freezing water in a Kong and letting her lick at that during the day. It will also keep her amused as she rests.

The vet has a right to be concerned about fracture. As the bones fuse, they are more prone to breakage simply because the anatomical make-up of the dog has become altered. Shelby had both fusion in the rear near her tail and wear/slipping of vertebra in her neck area. The tail end started at 10-ish. Slippage started around 12 and that's when things got really challenging.

If you think the icing helped, then I'd keep it up for a few days. Try 10 - 15 minutes on, 30 minutes off.

I'd also suggest you look into a sling to help her and to save your back/arms. A good example of one can be seen here. I had one for my TPLO Dobe and it saved us a lot of heartache and backache!

If I can lend you any advice that would perhaps help you personally, I would tell you to be kind to yourself. You can second guess everything you've done for her and drive yourself nuts. If her whole life was about going to the beach every day and playing fetch with her ball, then you made her happy. You've allowed her to experience "absolute joy." I am sure if she could, she would tell you, "No Regrets, Mom!"

I wish I could give you some amazing fix for your girl. It really is in the hands of a higher power now. Give yourself credit where credit is due -- you've loved her deeply and given her a life experience some never get. For that she is forever grateful and for that she has given you her heart.

Okay, got myself sobbing now...*sheesh*
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:52 AM   #23 (permalink)
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juljules, I am so sorry your girl is suffering. Tough as it is to face, you may be left without any options. The hardest responsible act we dog owners have is decideing when our much loved pets have suffered enough. A BIG hug for you and your beautiful dober girl.
Well stated. It's hard to tell what's the right thing to do and for my Shelby, we helped define our next steps through the use of Ketamine. The dose given would have impaired her senses and allowed her to walk if it was a case of being able to, yet not wanting to as a means of avoiding discomfort. 12 hours post shot, there was no change -- which defined what our future held for us.

Hard, yes. But at least I knew then that I was not making a rush to judgement.
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:04 AM   #24 (permalink)
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You people are wonderful...I can't believe how supportive everyone is. Only a dobe lover knows how we feel and can help ease the pain. Thanks for the advice on taking care of myself. I will not take her off the prednisone, decreasing her dose today to 25mg a day as directed...see how the day goes...one hour at a time.

When the time comes, I want her to pass at home. Any thoughts?
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:33 AM   #25 (permalink)
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You people are wonderful...I can't believe how supportive everyone is. Only a dobe lover knows how we feel and can help ease the pain. Thanks for the advice on taking care of myself. I will not take her off the prednisone, decreasing her dose today to 25mg a day as directed...see how the day goes...one hour at a time.

When the time comes, I want her to pass at home. Any thoughts?
You are most welcome, JulJules.

As for passing at home -- if you have a Vet who makes house calls, then I wouldn't disagree with wanting her to pass in her comfortable surroundings.
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