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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Heartbroken Wobbler (Recent Diagnosis)

Here is my situation and any responses would be so greatly appreciated.

Not only am I a fairly new Dobie Mom (less than 1 year and ½) but on top of that I am potentially dealing with a disease that is rare apparently in my area (Hampton Roads, VA) that my long time Vet has virtually no experience with it. I am new to this forum as my girl Scarlet is only 15 months old and is my first Dobie. We bought her from a North Carolina Breeder in May of 2016 and it was love at first Dobie kiss! She has completed almost a year of dog training, has had every vet appointment when required, any time anything was ever noticed wrong with her off to the vet I went. So imagine my shock and dismay when I noticed that she was holding one of her rear legs extended out in a weird stance fairly frequently not long after the July 4th holiday. In conjunction with this, she also started to let out little yelps occasionally which we thought was odd but she would recover quickly like nothing happened. So of course, off to the Vet I went on July 19th. Our Vet diagnosed the back leg as possibly a 'sprain' and the yelping as 'hormonal' because Scarlet is not spayed, she prescribed Previcox and rest and that was it we thought okay, no big deal.

However, the 'yelping' episodes increased and all the while we are thinking wow, sure hope this hormonal thing passes soon.

And then the nightmare began, not even a week after her first vet visit, she let out several loud yelps as she was playing with my daughter and her favorite duck toy and went and hid in the Dining Room. Again, I was thinking my gosh, is it going to be like this every time she gets near her cycle? Well little did I know the worst was yet to come. On Friday, July 28th I came home from work as normal and said come on Scarlet lets go outside to potty. As we were walking through the kitchen she literally loud out several long yelps and I turned around and she was splayed across the floor, panicking, and could not get up. Once I got her somewhat stable she urinated all over herself and I was thinking there is no way this is hormonal! Off to the Emergency Vet we went right after the incident whereas the ER Vet looked at me and said I am 100% sure this is Wobbler’s and the bad news is that her life expectancy is maybe 3 years at the most along with a very expensive surgery. The next day she was definitely exhibiting the signs with a very unsteady walk and seemed to be in pain. We have been keeping her as comfortable as possible and trying to limit her activity as much as possible.

I have been obviously reading a lot of posts, websites, Dr. da Costa's whole .pdf on Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (Wobbler Syndrome) and the more I read the more I hate the word 'Wobbler'. We followed up with Scarlet’s regular Vet yesterday who simply told us that he has only ever seen a couple of cases in his lifetime and that neither pet recovered. He told us that she really needed to be seen by a Neurologist for the full diagnosis but that Scarlet definitely had some neck pain. To make matters worse, the closest Neurologist to us is an hour away and I am sure will push for surgery which we simply cannot afford as they gave us an estimate of $10,000. Just to have the MRI is going to be $2,500 but I feel that we need to do that to rule out anything else that could mimic Wobbler's. Right now she is on a pill regimen of ½ tab of Previcox and 1 – 2 doses of Gabapentin every 12 hours (she was just prescribed the Gabapentin yesterday).

For anyone who has experienced this, I am hoping to get some clarification on the following (and again any advice would be gratefully received):

Has anyone had a dog this young with Wobbler’s?
Did you have an MRI done?
What course of treatment have you had the most success with?
Surgery, Medical Management, Holistic approach? (I have her scheduled for acupuncture dependent upon the MRI which will be scheduled today)
Did any of your Dobie’s fully recover? Were they able to live a pain free life? Were they able to play, run, and jump?
With any of these (and I am sorry in advance for your loss) how long did your Dobie live? Again, I was told life expectancy is maybe only 3 years.

I am so new to this that I hope I am not committing any forum faux pas, but my love for my Doberman exceeds any worries.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 11:46 AM
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I don't have any experience with Wobbler's but I'm going to recommend you get in touch with the Virginia Doberman Club - Cavalier Doberman Pinscher Club, Hampton Roads, Virginia (doberman rescue for local area). These are all very experienced Doberman people and I think they can recommend some veterinarians that would be experienced with Doberman health issues for you.


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, that is a great suggestion. I have heard of Cavalier but in all my distress really haven't even thought about contacting them for a Vet reference. That is why this forum is so helpful. I really appreciate it!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 02:14 PM
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I have no experience with this, but I am so sorry you and your girl are having to face this.
I hope you find help soon and please keep us updated. Best thoughts are sent your way.

"Lots of people talk to animals...Not very many listen, though...That's the problem. " ~ The Tao of Pooh
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 02:44 PM
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My dog was not that young when diagnosed with Wobblers. We also were told the MRI would cost $5,000, but the vet said because he was a doberman, that he was very confident that it was Wobblers. I went with the holistic approach and we started commuting to the only vet that did acupuncture (25 miles one way). I would have done the permanent acupuncture (gold implants), but my boy had liver issues at the same time. He first started showing signs when he was about 6 years old. He passed away at almost 8 years old, but it was his liver that took him, not the Wobblers. He was able to walk and play, but he just walked like a drunken sailor and we had to be careful when he would turn around because he would fall. Toward the end, we could not take him on walks anymore because he was scrapping his back paws on the pavement. I was in the process of looking for boots for him to wear when he became ill and after a week in the hospital, we had to say goodbye. I miss him so much. It is my understanding that it is unusual for such a young pup to get Wobblers, but the first thing to do is get it diagnosed properly. MeadowCat has some great information for you. I wish you and your baby the best of luck.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, and I am so sorry for the loss of your boy. One thing I have learned about Dobies, they sure do get your heart quick! I have an consultation with a Holistic Vet and acupuncture appointment scheduled for her next Wednesday. Did you also have him on a pain regimen along with the acupuncture? I just feel like the holistic approach is the way to go, I just am a little on the fence about the whole MRI thing because like you said it is super expensive and we have to transport her an hour away! Not like I just have $5,000 laying around but at the same time she is just so young and you don't hear about this disease usually hitting Dobermans until they are 6 and older and I wonder if it could be something mimicking Wobblers. Everything I have read says to keep them confined, however, right now, she just wants to be outside. She is able to walk on her own and like you said she looks like a drunken sailor for sure but she seems happiest out there and chasing butterflies is her favorite. In my mind, if going outside and drunkenly stalking butterflies is giving her joy then I am all for it right now because I just don't know when that hard decision may come.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 05:13 PM
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So sorry to hear about Scarlett, medical issues are really heartbreaking.

I haven't had a Doberman with Wobblers, but I did have a Dane with Wobblers. He was about 1.5 when he was diagnosed, we did the MRI and surgery. He recovered very well, we hiked, backpacked, dog parked without issues. He wasn't on any medication after he recovered from surgery, although we did do acupuncture every 4 weeks. He passed away when he was 4, but not from Wobblers but from pneumonia complicated with undiagnosed atypical addison's disease.

I found this group very useful: https://www.facebook.com/groups/neurodogs/. Its a mix of mostly Dane and Doberman owners, people who do surgery and those that do medical management.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 10:23 PM
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It is always possible that it is something totally different, and without having the MRI done, there is no way to know for sure.
I would second contacting the local club and asking for suggestions. You most likely need to see a specialist as it is not something that an average vet sees often - you can't expect them to be an expert on every possible disease/issue out there.
$5000 sounds excessive - I know it has been a few years, but I was quoted $1800 for one about 9 years ago....

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, I have emailed my local Doberman club just hoping for a reference on a Vet who is really familiar with our breed. Haven't had a response yet but keeping my fingers crossed. My Vet also called this morning and after speaking with the Neurologist in Richmond they have some doubts that this could be Wobbler's due to her age and history but again not ruling it out. I definitely agree that we can't expect our Vets to be experts in all fields. They are also hypothesizing that this could be a spinal infection which would require a spinal tap. I did get a new estimate on the MRI which is $2275 so not as bad as what they first told me.

There are so many possible things it could be that are causing her neck pain after speaking with the Vet this morning. I can say that observing her, that her gait is really blocky and she is definitely unsteady of on her feet. The Gabapentin has helped as some of her personality has returned and she doesn't seem so nervous and/or high anxiety as she was. She does have a front paw that keeps 'knuckling' over on her that has me fairly worried but she is trying her best to stalk those butterflies in the yard.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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I also wanted anyone out there to know that if you have a dog currently with Wobbler's and decided on surgery for your situation that I contacted Virginia Tech yesterday and they will do the consultation, MRI, and Surgery for $4,000 to $6,000 (vs. the $10K plus I was quoted from the Richmond, VA Neurologists), that also includes the 5 to 6 days of post op required. They required you to put half of the money down up front and will let you pay the remaining amount over a 3 month period.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 06:20 PM
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I'm so sorry to hear about your dog Scarlett. I hope that you can find some quality, and affordable care! An accurate diagnosis is very important so that you can make the best decisions on how to spend your money for treatments.

Quote:
Has anyone had a dog this young with Wobbler’s?
No, my doberman was 5 1/2 when he was diagnosed.

Quote:
Did you have an MRI done?
No, we opted to do a myelogram at the University animal hospital, under recommendation from his neurologist. It showed that Aesop has minor stenosis, which very luckily for me has proven to be fairly stable/has not worsened much in the last two years.

Quote:
What course of treatment have you had the most success with?
Surgery, Medical Management, Holistic approach? (I have her scheduled for acupuncture dependent upon the MRI which will be scheduled today)
Did any of your Dobie’s fully recover? Were they able to live a pain free life? Were they able to play, run, and jump?
With any of these (and I am sorry in advance for your loss) how long did your Dobie live? Again, I was told life expectancy is maybe only 3 years.
Aesop is now 7 1/2, and has some other orthopedic issues. He is happy and comfortable if I stay diligent in his management. This means: daily pain and anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements, monitoring his activity (restricting when necessary!), biweekly physical therapy at the vet with cold laser, massage, underwater treadmill, and daily PT that I do at home.

As long as my handsome boy is joyful and eager to play, I will keep trying. Surgery is not an option for this dog, so I can't speak to it as I haven't researched it. As to holistic approaches - any that are evidence based I will try, and support. Massage is one that has been very helpful.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-03-2017, 07:56 PM
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My question is was the spondy diagnosis from symptoms or xray? What were the blood test results? Do you live in city or around livestock or rurally? Any leukopenia?
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for your detailed response. Scarlet has slowly showed some improvement over the last few days with the pain management so I am definitely much more hopeful than I was earlier in the week. A lot of her personality has come back too!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 10:51 PM
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Our 10 year old boy came down with wobblers late last fall. Took him to VCA Arboretum View animal hospital in Downers Grove ,Illinois in early December 2016. They did an MRI and determined it was in fact wobblers, 2 discs, 5&6 in his spinal chord were pressing into his chord. We had them do the surgery to be removed the same day. They kept him for a day and a half to make sure he was ready to come home. His recovery was very slow for a few weeks, and after about 2 months he was back to 90% of a 10 year old dog. Before the MRI the doctor told us if it was indeed wobblers that the surgery was a 90% sucess rate.The bill for the MRI and surgery was $ 7,300. They have an instant credit that you can apply for called CARE CREDIT. We applied and were accepted within 20 min. They also have this credit at dentist and doctors offices. Our first dob lived to an old age of 14 and 10 months. There was no way I was going to put this dog down at 10. Other than this surgery he has been healthy his whole life.
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