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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18144
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 9 year old healthy cocker spaniel suddenly yesterday

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Hi, my 9 year old healthy cocker spaniel suddenly yesterday afternoon started looking and acting sorry for himself, hunched up but not limping and no obvious signs of injury. All day today has been the same, eating and drinking ok, but not his normal bouncy happy self. Twice today he has yelped in pain, the most recent time when he had a fit of sneezes. I think he's pulled a muscle or hurt his back, what is your advice, he looks so miserable and won't leave my side?
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear about Bean as he sounds very uncomfortable. I am glad to hear that he seems to be eating and drinking ok.Dogs that are painful will hesitate to move around much and display the sort of behavior he is, either because it hurts to do the activity or because they feel weaker than usual. Unfortunately Cockers as a breed are prone to a problem with their intervertebral discs, which are the spongy cushions between the individual vertebrae in their back and neck. These spongy discs can move or rupture and place pressure upon the spinal cord which can lead to pain, weakness, and in severe cases paralysis. Any sort of jarring motion (like sneezes) can cause a sudden stab of pain.Radiographs can sometimes be diagnostic but often early on in the disease process, because the discs are soft tissue not bone, everything will look normal. An MRI is the best way of diagnosing disc disease.If the dog is painful but has no evidence of paralysis we can try strict rest, anti-inflammatories and pain medications for several weeks to allow healing.If there is evidence or weakness or paralysis then surgery by a board certified veterinary neurologist, as soon as possible, is indicated.Ideally he would see his veterinarian for an examination. We can often get a good idea that disc disease is the problem upon exam.If this is indeed a disc problem your veterinarian can prescribe a steroid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (Metacam, or Rimadyl) to relieve pressure on his spinal cord and nerve roots, as well as something for pain too, such as Tramadol. And if he is having painful muscle spasms then a muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol as well.He should be closely confined starting now. No stairs, running or jumping. If you have a crate for him I highly recommend using it. The less he moves around the more comfortable he will be and the faster he will heal. This also includes keeping him away from his younger housemate who has no understanding of his pain, and could cause him further damage.You can apply alternating warm and cold compresses for 10 minutes at a time to his back and neck. Warm will reduce painful muscle spasms and cold reduces inflammation.He should go out on a leash to relieve himself. Do not use a collar for him, a harness which more evenly distributes forces if he pulls on his leash is better. You will need to confine him for several weeks, even as he starts to feel better or he may reinjure himself.You can also raise his food and water to head height so he doesn't have to bend over and stress his back/neck.Keeping him on the thin side is recommended to decrease stress on his back and neck, but is no guarantee that he won't have another episode. Once a dog has one bad disc the likelihood of another is very high.If you are interested in reading more here is a link to an excellent article about intervertebral disc disease, its causes and therapy: are other less common causes of back pain such as infections, tumors of the vertebrae or the spinal cord itself or fibrocartilagenous emboli but far and away disc disease is the most common cause of back pain in dogs.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
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