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Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:30 am
by Julie Hydro
I think it would be very helpful if this was stickied. It's a very common problem in our breed and can be life threatening.

If your cocker

is reluctant to go up stairs,
feels like his tummy is hard when you pick him/her up,
suddenly won't jump on the furniture,
seems to be dragging both back legs or knuckling over,
is shaking ... InDogs.pdf

Later today when I'm home again, I'll post pictures of a quick test you can do at home to see if this might be your problem if your dog shows any of these symptoms.

Here are the pictures of the test. It's called proprioception, it basically lets you know if the nerves are sending signals to the brain correctly. Stand your dog on a not slick surface (Sokka is on the counter, but not a good idea for a dog who might be having back issues) and turn it's foot over so it's standing on it's knuckles, instead of the pads. A dog who is getting signals correctly will turn that foot over immediately. In fact I had hard time getting these pictures because Sokka was fighting me so much on turning his foot over, I had to hold it in place. The longer the turn over time the worse the problem probably is. If your dog doesn't turn the foot over at all, it's an absolute emergency.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:47 am
by beckyboo
Julie I am very interested in reading this! I have been speculating if Zoey"s Back problem is realy her back(ivdd) or her hips(she sits crooked and squats to potty very crooked)

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:52 am
by Donna in WI
I will be interested in seeing the quick test you have. Ginger went through two bouts of something similar to this, had xrays which showed nothing however the pain seemed to be located in her left hip.She also did not show any neurological signs, thankfully. Since she had Lymes disease when we got her the vet treated her for that and then at the second bout (which was about 6 months later) just treated her with pain killers assuming it was a flare up of Lymes. Ginger is not an active dog like Maya though so she could also have something like this and just not had another reaccuring episode, hard to say. Coicindentally, when this first happened to Maya back in August the vet suspected Lymes but Maya has always had the Lymes shot and the test came back negative.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:24 am
by Marge in Naples, FL
Julie, you are so right about this being important to all of us.

I have shared my story about sweet Maggie and how she died in Feb, 2011 and how we are now searching for a puppy to share our lives with. But now I like to share the horror story of what Maggie, my husband and I went thru during that time because we were clueless and trusted our vet . By sharing this I hope that you realize that IVDD can turn quite serious, so please monitor you pups carefully.

Maggie who was 4 years old at the time jumped up at our outside door on a Sat. night about 10 PM. She yelped and had a tough time walking into the house. We immediately put her in her crate to sleep thinking she pulled a muscle. She was always jumping at the door with no problems before this. She continued to whine and shake so I got on the internet to look for clues about what was wrong. I wanted to reassure myself that it wasn't serious. We didn't call our vet since it was the weekend and thought we could wait until the morning (we didn't want to "bother" him during the night) - BIG mistake. During the night, Maggie continued to whine and shake so I put her in our bed between us and that seemed to help her.

The next morning we called our vet at 7 AM. We never talked to our vet directly only to one of the techs who was in contact with our vet. We gave her all of Maggie's symptom - walking like a drunk, whining and shaking. She called in some steroids and pain meds. We crated her per instructions - not that poor Maggie was eager to romp about.

We had to wait until 11 AM before our pharmacy opened (Sun.) so I picked her up and sat with her on the coach to soothe her. She developed incontinence (bowel and bladder) so we called the vet again. We spoke with the tech and she said to bring her in to the office.

We thought the vet would see her but we were met by the tech. She examined Maggie and gave her a shot for pain. I told her Maggie was still in pain, was incontinent and walked like a drunk. The tech never once said Maggie needed to go to an emergency animal hospital to be seen. We were told we should leave her at their office where they would see her first thing in the morning. We wouldn't even consider that; why would we leave her in a crate with no one to monitor her. The vet said to bring her in to see the vet Monday morning. We took Maggie home and kept her in the crate or on the couch with us. I got back on the internet and found info about ruptured discs. Trying to diagnose her, I thought she was at stage 2 or 3 but not at the emergency stage. I didn't know that she had become parlyzed in her back legs since she wasn't walking and I trusted my vet.

The next morning we brought her in to see the vet as soon as the office opened. He was shocked to see her. She couldn't stand and when he did testing for back leg deep pain she couldn't feel anything. He told us she needed immediate surgery and sent us to a wonderful neurosurgeon in Charleston - a two hour trip to their hospital.

We drove to Charleston and met with the surgeon as soon as we arrived. He explained that Maggie needed surgery and possibly she would be paralyzed in her back legs even after surgery. Of course, we went ahead with the surgery and hoped for the best. If she was paralyzed, I knew that our feisty Maggie would still enjoy life. That was on a Monday. She seemed to get somewhat better so on Wed. we were able to take her home. Her little head lifted up as soon as she realized she was home - no tail wag tho.

We kept her crated, fed her cooked chicken which she loved, and expressed her bladder since she was still incontinent. We were willing to do anything for her. The next night, Thursday, she developed a temperature - 104 - so we called our Vet. He said to call our surgeon or go to an animal hospital in Savannah which was the closest to us (1/2 hour away). We called the Savannah hospital and they wouldn't see her. We called our surgeon and they said to bring her in right away.

Another car ride to Charleston. I sat in the back seat with Maggie rubbing her ears and talking to her. But she knew as soon as we turned down the street to the animal hospital. She whined and whined. They saw her immediately and kept her ovenight to run tests. We got a motel room because it was 1 AM by then and we wanted to be close to her.

The next morning we saw the surgeon. He told us that he discussed Maggie's condition with the other surgeons at the hospital. They all agreed that unfortunately Maggie had developed a rare complication called myelomalacia (sp?). Essentially her spinal cord was turning to mush, it would affect her diaphragm within days, and it was irreversible. We were in total shock. How could this have happened to our little Merriest One.

We sat with Maggie all day holding her and hoping that somehow the vet was mistaken. We needed to be with her and refused to leave her. They gave us a room to sit with her and checked on us and Maggie to make sure her pain was under control. By 5 PM that evening we met with the surgeon again. Of course, our options were to let Maggie continue to deteriorate and suffer since she def knew that she was paralyzed, incontinent and could sense our despair. We hemmed and hawed thinking we could take her to our motel room to be with her a little more. Then Maggie gave this sad, heartbareaking howl which seem to say "pls let me go". We did. We sat on the tile floor in that room with Maggie in our arms talking to her about how she would soon be running on the beach chasing those birds that used to taunt her and she would be eating all the cooked chicken she wanted. The surgeon put her to sleep and sent her over the Rainbow Bridge.

The reason I wrote all this is to let everyone that reads it know that IVDD and disc problems can turn serious. The article posted said that "the more rapid severe onset of pain, the greater need for emergency attention by a vet". Our surgeon told us that he had many cocker patients with IVDD and two others that developed myelomalacia.

I would advise all to be vigilant with their cocker buddies and because aggressive tx is needed for a cocker with severe pain & incontinence. Once the deep pain feeling is gone in their legs it means paralysis has set in and that means a poor prognosis.

Of course, we were stupid to trust our primary vet. But we had been with this vet for 3 years and he had a wonderful reputation. Why did I have to try and diagnose my sweet Maggie myself, why didn't the vet at least talk to us on the phone to hear our concern, why did we have to wait till Monday to see him, why didn't I put her in the car and drive to the Charleston or Savannah hospital at least on Sunday for emergency care?

Obviously, I played the "if only" game. Now I try to remember that we did the best we could at that time with the information we had. I wish I listened to my gut when it told me something was seriously wrong with her but I thought my vet who was highly trained would be the expert. Never again - I plan listen to my gut and move heaven and hell to make sure all my cockers are taken care of even if it is in the wee small hours of the morning or on the weekend.

So thank you for listening to me emote. Pls take away from this that you should always listen to your gut and monitor you pup who has IVDD carefully.


Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:34 pm
by Donna in WI
Oh my Marge, you have me in tears here. What a horrible thing to go through! Maybe because it is hard to diagnose that some vets aren't up to date with it?? I don't know but my gut has been telling me since Monday that something isn't right with Maya, this time is different than last August when something similar happened, even though the vet couldn't pin point the area like the last time, it seems worse. However at the vets office, as Maya loves the vets office, Maya doesn't seem near as bad as she does at home. At home she mopes around either standing or lying down. You can see lying down and standing up are very painful for her so once up she doesn't want to lay back down and once down she doesn't want to get up. She can walk fine and doesn't struggle with walking, just walks slowly but reading the info on IVDD it sure sounds like it. I suppose especially active dogs (like Maya) probably do worse with this disease. Thank you for sharing your story, must have been hard to write. I am taking the printout from Julies link to the vet with me today and request she be put on prednisone. My vet is very good about doing what we (the pet owners) want. When we had a problems with chyletilia mites (nothing showed on the scrapings) the vet thought we had bed bugs (we were getting bitten). I was convinced it was the mites thanks to Julie. The vet treated the dogs for mites even though she didn't think they had them and the bites stopped and never came back. So hopefully she will be receptive to this info also, if she isn't already up to date on it.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:05 pm
by Marge in Naples, FL
Donna - I don't mean to worry you about your Maya. But do monitor her closesly for any drastic changes in mobility, incontinence, pain. You are doing the right thing with taking the IVDD info to the vet.

Never doubt yourself. You are Maya's strongest advocate! Listen to your gut - you are not crying Wolf! You know your Maya best. Don't worry about hurting the vet's feelings or seeming like an internet know it all. There is lots of good info on the internet and it shouldn't be discounted. You are not questioning your vet's training but your vet may not be familiar with every dog disease out there.
We always think that our vet knows best but sadly this is not true. During my years of working in a human hospital, I used to tell pt's family to be the pt's advocate. This advise def. applies to us and our cockers. Maya may put her best paw forward at the vet office but describe in detail what she is like at home and don't accept any "there, there" attitude. If your vet doesn't know what is wrong ask about where you should go next and which tests need to be done.

My sweet Maggie was an unusual "case". It was "rare" I was told for her develop the myelomalacia. Not so rare to have IVDD which I had never heard of. If we were familiar with it, we would have altered her lifestyle some and trained her not to jump up or off furniture for sure. Knowledge is a good thing, use it. Don't be shy about caring so deeply for the one loved one that cannot speak for herself, you must continue to listen to your gut and speak up & ask questions.

My thoughts are with you and your precious Maya - tell her to heal quickly :).


Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:52 am
by Sandy H
Thank you Julie for bringing this to our attention, I had no idea about this disease.

Marge, words just cannot express how bad I feel, I am so sorry. But I thank you for sharing your story, as hard as it was, so others will not have to go thru what you went thru. Knowledge is power, and the best thing about this forum is that we all get together about our knowledge and teach each other so that we can take the best possible care of our babies. It is very hard to deal with a disease that you never even heard about prior to your dog getting it. Please take comfort knowing that you probably have saved future dogs from complications from IVDD by sharing.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:59 am
by Deborah
Marge, I am so sorry you have to go through this with your little one. I wish I knew of this when it happened because I could have at least offered you our home to stay and support for your little sweetie. It sounds like it was very scary. The positive is now she isn't in pain and she is watching down on you this moment.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:04 am
by marg
I am so sorry for what you went through with Maggie. You have great
advice for Donna about being an advocate, unfortunately from such a
devastating personal experience.

I am keeping Maya in my prayers! I can only begin to imagine your worry!

Please post more about the quick test.

I noticed on Weds evening that my Emma did not want to jump up on the sofa. She would stop at the spot where she normally jumped, look at it and then circle around the coffee table. She is getting up on the sofa occasionally and had no issues getting on the bed last two nights. It looks as if she is very slightly favoring her left hind leg when she goes to jump up. I have gently touched and massaged her hind legs and feet multiple times and she shows no signs of being sore or in pain. Still very food motivated, does all her business just fine and wants to play ball as usual, though maybe a little slower to chase every ball. I lost my Liberty to AIHA in 2006, so I keep checking her eyes and gums and everything is fine there and also no panting, so that is good. Also, I'm not seeing any of the other IVDD symptoms you mentioned. I'm keeping a very close eye on her and would want to try the quick test before I'd run her to the vet. I'm thinking and hoping it is just a little bit of a strain.


Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:18 pm
by may holly
Disc disease is very debilitating on dogs and unfortunately dogs are dogs and they are going to jump. I went through this with Holly 3 1/2 years ago. She apparently had accumulative trauma to her back from all the jumping until a last jump made it worst and she had an episode as described in the infformation about IVVD. She still has the neurological signs of weakness, ataxia but she is able to walk. I dont let her jump although at times she does it. My recommendation is to get dog steps. It was a long road to recovery. The minute I saw her like that which was a Saturday night I took her to the vet Sunday afternoon, not better on Monday took her back and demanded more testing. By my own I called an orthopedic surgeon I heard about and call him, he was nice enough to get on the phone and discuss the case. I pick her up from my vet and took her to the specialist. Luckily the CT scan showed minor disc damage but she still had the neurological signs. He continue seeing her weekly for a while. To this day he still her vet for ortho, emergencies and surgeries. Is about 45 minutes away but I dont care the distance. They have 24 hour care. Besides the point of IVVD is my advice to take the time to research your area vets, emergency clinics, their reputation, and what specialist are available?

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:43 am
by Donna in WI
Thanks Julie for posting that quick test info. That is one of the first things my vet does when I have taken both Ginger and Maya in for backpain. When this happened last Monday I did it to Maya too and she immediately turned her foot back over. As of now Maya is doing better, much better than last Monday but still isn't back to herself. Would a pulled muscle last this long as that is what the vet was leaning towards since the xrays and all the manipulating tests came out fine. Maya still isn't trying to put her front feet up on things and would prefer to sleep in her kennel (which is good) but it makes me believe she still has pain and it has been a week now. She is in much better spirits lately though so I know she is feeling much better than she did but that is due to the Tramadol and Rimadyl I am sure. Guess it is just a waiting game until she is off the meds to see what happens. Thursday morning is the last dose of meds.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 7:35 am
by JuanitaD

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this valuable post on IVDD for all of us to use. :hp

I've run the gamut of back issues over the years with my six Cocker Spaniels and never realized the importance of this little test, although I've seen it done at my vet.

All of you who are experiencing this disease or have lost one to it are in my prayers. :nw

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:46 am
by Marianne E
Add me to the long list of those thanking you for the information on IVDD.

Our senior guy, Louie, is currently experiencing some back pain.
This was brought on suddenly during a disagreement with Cooper on Dec. 23rd.
We took him to the Emergency Vet that evening, where they did check him out, and prescribed pain meds and bed/crate rest for minimum of one week.

He was doing better until yesterday morning, when Cooper knocked him over onto his back and started another tiff.
Louie was licking Cooper's head and Cooper wasn't too fond of Louie's attempts at grooming.
Again Louie is back to crate rest, no running, jumping, etc.
Louie is not a really active guy anyway, so he accepts the limitations, as long as he gets extra loving.
He is able to walk around, and go out to potty on his own, and does much of his resting after being lifted up into (and down from) my hubby's lap.

As Louie is a senior dog, we are diligent about watching him for any signs that something might not be right.
And we will be following up further with our vet.

Again, Thanks for the info, Julie!

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:28 am
by Susan K
My 6 year old Zoe just had her second back surgery for IVDD in less than a year. She's still in hospital and we hope to pick her up tomorrow. Unfortunately, I've recognized the signs over the years when, at the outset, a course of metacam and crate rest did the trick. However, last year Zoe had an episode which progressed rapidly. She yelped in the late morning and was paralyzed by evening. Off she went to the emergency vet which also serves as a specialized hospital. Surgery and an 8 week recovery and she was good as new.

The other night, Zoe was reluctant to jump up on my bed to sleep and the next morning uncharacteristically pooped in my bathroom. She was wobbly but still managed to carry her weight. Called my vet at 7:30 am and we agreed to get her over to the hospital asap. The neurosurgeon stayed until after the MRI and performed surgery at 6:30 pm. There was some more intense damage to the spinal cord and bruising was evident. Today's report was good, Zoe is already standing and walking, but they will keep her to monitor her bladder function. I don't mind expressing her but, like last time, I want to make sure there's no discomfort when doing so. The critical care doc agreed with me.

We will have to change Zoe's lifestyle a little to try to preclude these incidents from coming rapidly. She's a spitfire, loves to run the stairs and horse around with Cleo, my 9 year old chocolate.

Julie's demonstration is invaluable, and I would certainly suggest a trip to a vet or specialist immediately if you see those signs.

Edit: I had to run so hit the send button, but wanted to let you know, Marge, that I was so sorry to read of your situation and am truly sorry for your loss. I hope your difficult post will help others in the future.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:59 am
by JuanitaD
Thank you, Susan, for sharing your recent experience. :hp I hope you never have to deal with this awful situation with Zoe again and am happy that she's back home with you and doing well. :Clap

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:35 am
by Steve Smith
This is the first time that I have read this and am so sorry to hear this. I do trust my vet and it seems that he has always been upfront with me.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:01 pm
by Debbie Brown
Onyx had back and all.

However, after the surgery/diagnosis.......he never regained 100% of feeling in his toes. He didn't get any worse, but he didn't get any better. That test became useless/meaningless. Every time we would see a vet (specialist), they would be flipping his feet back and looking for a response or delayed response. I had to tell them what was normal for they didn't get too excited and want to run more meaningless test.

My point the pet owner needs to be aware of every little change and also what becomes normal for your dog too. All of this was after his initial diagnosis/surgery.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:45 am
by Julie Hydro
The test is meant to test neurologic response, not feeling in the toes. It tests whether the spinal cord is sending the correct signal to the brain and in your dogs case it wasn't. Not meaningless at all. It may have been his normal but it wasn't normal. A dog without a prior surgery would not have this issue, nor would a dog with a completely successful surgery.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:23 am
by Terri
When I came home from work one day and found my BlackJack walking in big circles, this was one of the first tests that the vet did -- he turned BJ's paws "upside-down", and BJ never attempted to turn them upright. That told our vet that communication between BJ's paws and his brain was askew.....turned out, he had a brain tumor preventing the signals from his feet getting to his brain. It's a good, easy, fast, and CHEAP test that even WE can do!! Now, I'll ocassionally do this test with my other cockers, just to keep an eye out for any changes in their response.

For those of you who have cockers with back issues -- I highly recommend acupuncture. Before my Scrutly passed away, he had 3 compressed disks, a herniated disk, severe arthritis and spondylosis. Thanks to his acupuncturist, he lived his last 2 yrs. without having to take tramadol or rimadyl -- he just got an acupuncture "re-charge" every 3-5 months. No, it doesn't cure the problem, but definitely made him comfortable, and was also MUCH less expensive than any trip we've ever made to other vets! I almost had to carry him in for his first session, he was feeling so miserable -- when we left the clinic, he held his head high, and had the prance in his step that I was used to. By the time we got home, he was running big laps in the front yard (and totally freaking me out!). It was amazing, and gave us another 2 yrs to share with him.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:20 am
by Susan K
I'm glad to read of the acupuncture recommendation. Zoe was taken to ER yesterday for another incident of slow proprioception, and we're on a two week course of meds and crate rest. The ER doc suggested the possibility of acupuncture following this treatment.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:46 am
by Kim Kiernan
Thanks for posting this info on the extremely important CP test Julie. If it hadn't been for this test April 2012, Poppy would have been permanently paralyzed. They sent us home from the ER for crate rest, but after seeing she had no CP reflex, i knew she needed emergency surgery. The dr said her spine was very badly bruised and bleeding, and even an hour later would have been tragic.

I haven't been on the forum too much since Poppy's 2nd disc rupture and surgery on her mid back, but I'm glad to see the education on the forum continues.

Poppy is just a couple weeks short of 1 year post surgery. She walks well and even runs, but she still needs to have her bladder expressed. She also still will poop in her sleep. It took 6 months of crate and buggy rest with hydrotherapy and acupuncture, but she's playing ball again and having a great time! :Clap

I just wish the nerves would finish healing to help the potty issues. Have any of you had IVDD dogs or other back problems where they can walk and run but still be partially incontinent? She still shows some weakness on her hind legs when walking, but if she's rested, she can run like the wind.

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:04 pm
by Sylvia V
Muffin is currently going through this again for the second time, legs crossing and falling down, Since she was diagnosed with this 7 years ago, had a bad bout a little over a year to where I bought a wheel chair. I keep on hand prednisone and tramadol, I started right away and crated we are starting to come out of it again
This is how she looked last Jan and again this time

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:07 pm
by JuanitaD
I am so sorry to hear that your sweet Muffin is experiencing this again. :sad

I am sending special thoughts to you and her for all to be okay with her. :hp

Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:47 pm
by dawn & kevin

I am so sorry to read that Miss Muffin is experiencing this again. :cry But, I know that you are prepared and know exactly what to do for her. Hopefully, she will be much better soon with your loving care and medications.

HUGS to you and Miss Muffin! :love


Re: Back issues in cockers or IVDD

PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:03 pm
by Kim Kiernan
Thinking of you and Muffin, Sylvia. I know how difficult this disease is for both the animal and the pet parent.