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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1264
Experience:  over 13 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian
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I took my 4-year-old mongrel to the vets (here in Spain) a

Resolved Question:

I took my 4-year-old mongrel to the vets (here in Spain) a few weeks ago as he suddenly stopped wanting to go for walks. We would get outside the home and he would either sit down or pull backwards against the lead.
They manipulated his back and underneath and he squealed. They said he had a suspected herniated disk and put him on Gabapentina for two weeks or so. They then said that they would need to perform a mielograph but would need to take a blood test first, which they did, and that showed that he had kidney problems. They told me to decrease the amount of protein he was eating and take a urine sample in two days later, which I did.
They then said that his kidneys were healthy again and that I should take him home and see how he goes. He also saw a neurologist and passed all the neurological tests.
It's two weeks later and he is still not enthusiastic about walking.
He hasn't had a mielograph or xrays. He doesn't seem to have any trouble climbing stairs or jumping up and down from the bed or sofa so I'm not sure he's in any pain.
Any idea would the problem could be?
He is still on a 50% protein/50% carb diet, but I'm not convinced this is a healthy diet for a dog, as before I was feeding him mainly protein.
Any help would be appreciated.
Other info: he had a Suprelorin implant 6 months ago for aggression issues and is now food obsessed and overweight because he doesn't want to walk.
Prior to this we used to go for long walks every day and 10 km hikes at least once a fortnight and he seemed very happy.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 3 years ago.
Dr. Bruce :

Hello, this is Dr. Bruce and I would like to help you with Sweep.

Dr. Bruce :

I'm sorry to hear that he is having this issue.

Dr. Bruce :

Typically, a myelogram is not performed unless surgery is necessary. If he is still walking ok, and just seems a bit painful or reluctant to move, then surgery is not recommended.

Dr. Bruce :

At this point, it would make more sense to put Sweep on a course of prednisone (anti-inflammatory) for a week or two, and see how he does. Make sure to keep him very quiet. In fact, I would recommend keeping him in a crate for a week or so. Take him out of the crate only to go to the bathroom, and only on a leash. Otherwise, in the crate at all other times.

Dr. Bruce :

For most back problems, strict rest and anti-inflammatories will return the pet to normal function. If the problem persists, or worsens, then it may be necessary to consider myelography and possible surgery.

Dr. Bruce :

I would certainly recommend a diet with less protein. Normal levels of protein for dogs would typically be around 20-30%. It is also necessary for there to be fat in the diet. A protein/carb diet alone is not complete or balanced for a dog.

Dr. Bruce :

This website is for the veterinary specialists in nutrition and has many good resources for proper nutrition in dogs. http://www.acvn.org/

Dr. Bruce :

By the way, your vet should be able to provide you with the prednisone.

Dr. Bruce :

I hope this helps and that Sweep is feeling better very soon. If you would like to continue this chat, please reply to this post and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Customer:

Sorry, I forgot to mention he was on anti-inflammatories for two weeks too.

Customer:

And i kept exercise to a minimum.

Dr. Bruce :

What kind of anti-inflammatory was he on, and what dose?

Dr. Bruce :

Was he kept in a crate for the two weeks?

Customer:

I don't have a crate. But he's not a very energetic dog at home. He just sleeps. He was on Metacam.

Dr. Bruce :

Metacam is considered to be an NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Generally, NSAID

Dr. Bruce :

NSAID

Dr. Bruce :

NSAID's do not penetrate well into the spinal cord, so I don't usually recommend them for potential disk disease. Prednisone, which is a steroid, is usually considered to be a more effective treatment.

Dr. Bruce :

I would consider doing the x-rays, just to look at the spine and the internal organs.

Customer:

I'm not entirely sure it is his back as the vets here (Spain) decided not to perform a mielograph after his urine sample was normal. I'm very confused about their diagnosis.

Dr. Bruce :

X-rays are much less risky than the myelogram.

Customer:

But x-rays won't show up disk damage will they?

Dr. Bruce :

Was the neurologist that you went to a board certified specialist?

Customer:

Yes. I took him to the best veterinary hospital in Barceloan, apparently.

Dr. Bruce :

X-rays may not show disk issues, but are much safer than the myelogram. Most neurologists in the US do not even do the myelogram anymore due to safety issues. Most of the time, they will do the MRI prior to doing any disc surgery.

Dr. Bruce :

Did the neurologist think that the problem was a disk?

Customer:

At first yes. So they put him on metacam and gabapentina to see if he improved. When he didn't improve, they said they would perform a myelogram under general anaesthetic and if they found a problem they would operate on him. But they said they had to take a blood test first and then it turned out the creatina and urea (or something like that) were too high in his blood which meant his kidneys weren't functioning optimally.

Customer:

Interesting about the myelogram. I think Spain is not as advanced as the UK and US when it comes to pet health.

Dr. Bruce :

The BUN and Creatinine can be elevated for other reasons besides the kidneys. For instance, a dog that is eating high protein diet can have elevated levels. That may explain why the levels went back to normal 2 days later.

Customer:

He was on a very high protein diet.

Customer:

The vet here told me not to feed him meat but to feed him cottage cheese and bread - which seems a bit ridiculous.

Dr. Bruce :

Right. So I wouldn't be so sure that the results were due to kidney issues.

Customer:

So I should get him x-rayed ?

Customer:

What are the risks with the myelogram?

Dr. Bruce :

I would definitely x-ray him. You may find that he has arthritis somewhere (spine, legs) that is making him reluctant to walk. There may be other issues that show up on the x-ray. It is a safe procedure, but may give you lots of information.

Customer:

Isn't he too young for arthristis?

Dr. Bruce :

Myelograms have side effects including: seizures, headaches, infection, encephalitis, meningitis.

Customer:

They sound fun.

Customer:

Glad he didn't have one of those.

Customer:

Ok. Well thank you for the advice.

Dr. Bruce :

I see dogs less than a year old that have signs of arthritis. The fact that he is overweight can worsen any potential arthritis problems.

Customer:

Difficult getting him to lose weight when he won't walk.

Dr. Bruce :

Why did he get the Suprelorin implant?

Customer:

He has aggression issues with in tact male dogs.

Customer:

Which sadly has led to him being very food-centric, whereas before he wasn't that driven by food and was nice and slim.

Dr. Bruce :

To be honest, I have never seen that implant used in the US. Why didn't you neuter him instead?

Customer:

Because I wanted to find out whether his aggression was testosterone-driven or fear-based. But he has definitely improved with the implant, so I'm planning to get him castrated soon.

Customer:

It's legal in the UK too.

Dr. Bruce :

I think that I would definitely get him neutered once the implant is finished. However, you are correct in that you would definitely want to try and get some weight off of him. I would consider reducing the level of protein in his diet, and increase the fiber. You can add green beans to his food to fill him up, but still reduce calories.

Dr. Bruce :

In the mean time, I would have him x-rayed to look for any arthritis, or any internal issues. The x-ray may be able to pick up disk disease as well.

Customer:

I've been doing that. I will do. Thank you very much for your advice.

Dr. Bruce :

Ok. You're very welcome. I hope that he is feeling better very soon. Please feel free to get back to me in the future with any follow up questions. Even if you "ACCEPT" my answer, and rate my service, you can always continue this chat without needing to start a new question. I am always interested in following up cases.

Customer:

Thank you.

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