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Old 08-17-2010, 08:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Calcification in discs in neck

Hi,
We just got the results of Bud's xrays.. showing calcification in two discs in his neck.
Has anyone out there ever had to deal with this? (He's a big boy - King or Gladiator..? not standard.. will be 6 in Nov.)
We are trying to come to terms that his life will never again be what it was.. no running, playing... any advice out there?
Thanks,
Jeni
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Is he having problems or did you just have some xrays done and found this out? The reason I ask is we do a lot of neuro surgery on dogs at work (although not many Dobes) and almost all of the time, the discs that are calcified are not the problem. If it's an incidental finding, I wouldn't be very concerned. If he's having issues, I'd take him to a board certified neurologist for some advice. The reason we don't do much work on Dobes is that their neuro issues are usually pretty complicated and the neuro specialists do a much better job at handling them that a surgeon can (in our experience). Hopefully, they can help you find some balance between keeping him well and still having a good quality of life.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you for replying so quickly, hyperdog.

In April/May we took him on a big hike. Ever since then he's been sporadically yelping. At first we thought it was the pads of his paws because they were pretty ragged and cracked. Then there were times since then after walks that he would hang his head. We thought this was caused by him pulling while on the leash even though we mostly have him off leash. When examined by the doc a couple of weeks ago, the mobility tests were fine and not one peep came out of him. Then this last Thurs we let him out to go pee in the morning and my husband found him struggling to get up. He was drooling excessively and his hind quarters were a little wobbly.
They say that an x-ray can only show so much and that an MRI and him going to a specialist would tell us more. Honestly, we unfortunately cannot afford that.
I really wish I could have an idea of how rapidly this may worsen or if keeping him from running and playing will 'nip this in the bud' or slightly ever-so. He's on anti-inflammatories and pain killers. Is there anything else that I could give him that could help this? (Besides surgery and a miracle......)

Thanks for listening,
Jeni
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow, that sucks. Unfortunately, without a myelogram or an MRI, there's no way to know for sure whether it's a compressed disc, a tumor, or a dynamic problem like Wobblers. I will tell you that I haven't really had any experience with Wobblers (knock on wood). My surgeon sends them directly to the neurologist since they have much better results with them than he ever has. When we have clients who can't afford surgery (which is unfortunately happening more often these days) we put them on steriods, pain meds, and muscle relaxers. I know you said he's on anti-inflammatories, but does that mean steriods or an NSAID? We've found that neuro issues don't really respond to NSAIDS so we always have them on steriods. My surgeon prefers Dexamethasone to Prednisone because you can use a much lower dose and typical side effects that you see from steriod use are much lower. Sometimes you have to play around with the dosage to get it right.

The only good thing about the issue being in his neck is that if it is a compressed disc is that there is much more room in the spinal canal there than further back. This means that you don't usually have to worry about paralysis like you do if it's in their back. Plus you have a better chance of achieving results through meds alone since you don't have as much pressure as you do with the smaller canal.

I'd make sure that I kept him crate confined for at least 2 weeks while I gave the meds time to work. I know that can be a pain, but it will help. I'd also switch him over to a harness and not a collar.

I don't know if it's possible for you to try to apply for Care Credit, but most vets (even us specialists) take this form of payment. Also, you could try Dobe rescue groups in your area or Special Needs Dobermans - Helping Owned AND Rescue Dobes! to see if you could get some financial help. I know how frustrating it is to not be able to afford to treat your baby--I was in the same boat years ago before I worked for a vet.

I know others on this board have had good results with chiropractic care. We don't have any in my area so I've never dealt with one, but it might be something to look into. Also, I have did good results with acupuncture on my last Dobe (although for a different issue) so you might want to check that out as well.

I'll be sending good thoughts your way.
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sierra has two discs that are calcified. She is almost nine. We found out because while our friends were dog sitting her, they were doing the normal throwing the ball. One of the times when she was coming back, her back end just collapsed. After about a min or so she was back on her feet with their help. We took her in to be checked out and the vet ran his hands down her spine, when he hit a certain spot she would just sit down. He suggested x-rays and was able to see the discs that were the problem. His advice was no unnecessary running or jumping. She is also now on Rimidyl, but that is for arthritis and bone spurs. We tried to keep her from doing the things that she loves, but she just wanted to do her thing, so we still play ball with her and everything else...just for not as long. She also tends to stop playing now when she needs to.
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Bone, joint and neck is more prevalent in the larger over sized dogs. I would have him checked by a chiropractic vet for a second opinion. With the yelping it sounds like a pinched nerve. It would be worth it to get it checked - if left untreated it will only lead to more problems.
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Old 08-19-2010, 10:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you all for your replies and positive vibes..
The vet gave us Metacam which I believe is an NSAID. We don't have him crate confined.. we couldn't do that to him as we have a very large yard and not taking him for walks is bad enough. He isn't allowed to run, play or go down stairs, so hopefully just abstaining from these activities will help. Oh, and yes, we have a harness.
We will see how he is after the two weeks that he's on this medication.. if it persists I will ask about steroids- thank you Hyperdog for all of the information including the link.
Thank you CNS for giving me hope : ) and thank you Dobs4ever for the suggestion - I will see if there is a chiropractic vet in my area.

I'm sure glad I found and joined this group! You all have been so helpful!
Jeni
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Please be sure that it's a chiropractic VETERINARIAN. You need to be VERY careful with adjusting a neck that already has issues......
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Jeni,

I've had similar problems with several of the older, larger Dobermans that I've rescued over the years. They are excessively prone towards neck, spine, and neurological issues, and I've found that one way (a little too late too little for you, I know) to help minimize that is to never, ever, ever, use their collars for anything but dog tags.

I usually started all of them on harnesses and halti-leaders, but in the case of an already injured animal, I only used harnesses. Ruffwear used to make a harness line that you could literally lift your dog with, for rock climbers and mountaineers, I highly recommend finding one of those style of harnesses. Rather than the simple webbing harness types sold at Petco, these were almost a safety jacket style, which provides exceptional distribution of weight, and really minimizes the pressure on the dog's head, neck, and spine.

Personally, and people can feel free to argue me here, in my own experience I've never had luck crating an adult animal that had never been crated before. They usually fought like crazy, lost trust, and ended up hurting themselves anyways. House arrest to a single room even, may be the better solution. Try to give your boy some mental activity things to do, to help compensate for his enforced laid up time. Pet Supplies | Dog & Cat Supplies, Pet Meds | DrsFosterSmith.com Pet Products has pretty good deals on dog toys that my dogs always loved, like all the kong goodie line, for chewers. If your dog is a serious power-jaw chewer, only order the Kong Extreme (black) line of products, the red ones are fine for moderate chewers but they just won't last against determined Dober Dragon Defense Jaws. I also would stay away from rawhide treats around a frustrated Doberman, especially given that he may not feel comfortable puking them back up in the house if he swallowed too large a piece. I've had good luck with booda bones, but it depends on the dog.

Like others have said already... if there's any way you can scrape up the money to get him in to a specialist asap, I'd do it. One of my greatest regrets was in noticing something a little off with one of my dogs, and just blowing it off as me having an overactive imagination. She was an older dog, and I thought maybe she was just feeling a little arthritic. When I finally realized that there really was something wrong, it was too late, and a routine visit to the vet became a euthanized dog and a heart broken woman on the lonely drive home. I can tell you, I will never forgive myself for not taking her in sooner, when maybe we could have caught the cancer in time, and although she was an old, old Dober girl, the guilt is still very real. I understand that economics sucks, but losing your dog to something that could have been caught and saved, or watching your dog suffer in silence because you don't know what's wrong, is something that sucks even more, imho. Bud's situation sounds entirely different, but after losing my old girl like that, I tend to err towards caution and worry.

Best of luck and bountiful blessings to Bud and you guys. Keep us posted on how he does. Hopefully some rest time and some caution in future activities will be all it takes to have Bud back to speed!
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi All,

It's been a while since my last post.. here's the latest..
Buddy was put on prednisone and that seemed to work during that time. In the meantime we sought out a holistic vet that does chiropractic, accupuncuture, Chinese medicine etc. We saw her last week and she gave us the news that it isn't his calcified discs that are giving him pain, it's a protruding disc and early signs of Wobblers.
Devasted, we do however have hope because we have heard many good things about this vet and she said that she has treated dogs with this and has had great results with the chiro, accu/ and herbs. We're starting him on this right away.
Please pray for my boy that this will help, as seeing him in pain is breaking my heart.

Thanks everyone,
Jeni

P.S Baghdadbean - got him the Ruffwear harness - it works great! We can even lift him in and out of the truck by the handle and he's 116lbs!
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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prayers sent, hope everything works out for you
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for the update. Good luck to you and Buddy!
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