The Neurologist

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.

4 thoughts on “The Neurologist

  1. Ted, you are such a good daddy to your puppies. I hope you won’t prolong her agony too long. I just know when I get in that shape (could be any day), I just want to go on to be with Dad.

    Love,

    Mom

  2. It sounds like you are trying everythng you can to make her life as comfortable as possible which is all a good dog owner can do.

    Sorry poor old Katie is having trouble. Give her a big lick on the nose from me.

  3. The steroids didn’t help out for the first couple of days. In fact they made her drink tons of water and start wetting her bed. But I was supposed to start out high and reduce the dosage over a few days. Wednesday morning she was doing the worst. I was helping her down the front steps and would take her down the sidewalk a couple of houses. But she would just stand there. Usually she wanted to keep going. Now she didn’t want to continue or go back. And she fell a couple of times, once sliding down a small hill down to the sidewalk (even with sneakers on).

    But Wednesday when I got home she was doing a lot better and even met me at the door. She was walking on the wood floors without the sneakers. And her walking was a lot better. Thursday I never even put her shoes on, but on our short walk she was still dragging her feet a little, so I think I should still use them some. This gives me a lot more hope. I think either the steroids didn’t have time to work or they were conflicting with the Rimadyl and making her feel bad, even though I gave her 3 days to get the Rimadyl out of her system. It could also be that the level of steroids just made her feel bad.

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