I took Katie in to a veterinary specialist today to see if they could figure out what is wrong with her back legs not working. I had guessed that it might be degenerative myelopathy earlier based on symptoms, but knew that it could be something like a slipped disk too. The neurologist asked me about what was going on then checked out her eyes and facial nerves. Then tried all four legs and then palpated her spine, finding a very sensitive spot about halfway down her back. Then we walked her outside and he watched her walk around. When we came back in he gave me his thoughts.
He feels like she has something wrong in one of her disks or maybe a tumor pushing on her spine. He said it isn’t just her back legs, but her front legs look like they are acting a little funny as well (though not nearly as bad). He then outlined a series of tests that could be done to pinpoint the exact problem. One of these is a myelogram where they put dye into the spinal cord and take an x-ray which then might show what kind of damage there is. Plus bloodwork, anesthesia, etc., the tests were going to be about $3,200. One of the possible problems he mentioned was Wobbler Disease, which is some kind of spinal cord problem which is usually associated with disk damage or something like that. I looked it up in my copy of Wikipedia while I was waiting for them to take x-rays of Katie and it said the treatment is usually either surgery which may not be effective, or steroids, which is what he was recommending anyway. On the bill, the steroids were $9. So we’ll see how that goes. He said the x-rays showed some arthritis in her spine, which is typical for old dogs and may put pressure on the spine. They didn’t see any tumors, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. And they couldn’t see disk damage because the disks don’t show up without an MRI or CT scan.
Meanwhile I hope to get Katie’s sneakers in the mail which will give her better footing indoors (I put some comforters and blankets down in the house with no-slip things that go under rugs and she has quickly learned to stay on those) and keep her from getting her feet scraped up when she drags them on walks. For disk damage I need to cut back on her walks, rather than keeping up with the walks as therapy for myelopathy. I may order a doggie wheelchair if her back end doesn’t get any better. Everything I see on the internet is for dogs who got wheelchairs and then died later because the dogs are usually pretty old by the time they get a wheelchair anyway. The good thing about these nerve-related problems is she isn’t in much pain and is otherwise pretty alert and normal.