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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wondering if any of you have ever dealt with back problems with your beags, and any medications they may have taken/take for pain or discomfort?

On Sunday, when he was jumping out of the car (something he has done dozens and dozens of times), Hunter yelped like he had been shot -- it was so painful it made my heart stop. An hour later, he was in so much pain he was shaking and wouldn't let us near his back legs. We took him to the emergency vet, who told us it was either a strain/temporary muscle problem in his back, or possibly the on-set of a chronic condition "not uncommon" (her words) in older beagles (Hunter is about 6 or 7). After doing some bloodwork to check Hunter's liver/kidney condition, she prescribed Tramadol, Methocarbamol, and Duramaxx (with OTC Pepcid to calm his stomach).

Does anyone have any experience with any of these medications? Five days later Hunter seems to be rebounding. We've had him on strict crate rest (which he hates. He has run of the house normally, because he's earned it) and time outside only to do his business. But he is getting restless -- his appetite is as ravenous as ever, his tail is in full destruction mode, and his energy level is great. I'm just concerned it may be the meds that are fooling him into thinking he's better. Hunter has a check-up next week, but I thought I'd see if any of you all have had any experience with back problems in your dogs or experience with the meds I listed above. We've only had Hunter about a year (I posted some pictures on his anniversary day in the large photo section), and this is our first go-round with medication.

I appreciate any help and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to you, your families, and of course, your beagles and other pack members!
 

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I am sure you are going to be inundated with replies about back problems ... if you haven't read about our lead beagle, Murphy, yet, click on "other links" in our banner and click on "Murphys World". There is a whole range of possible injuries from Murphy's extremely serious problems to sprains/strains. I have had a couple of scares over the years with Maggie but, thankfully, she has recovered with no lingering problems. She has been on Tramadol at one point and I give her Deramaxx on an as needed basis for arthritic pain. The Deramaxx is a little tough on the liver but very effective in relieving pain. She is also taking Pepcid now to help her handle her current meds a little better. FYI, I personally take Tramadol for fibromyalgia pain. I have been on it for years with no side effects so feel quite comfortable giving it to Maggie when prescribed.
If you do a search for "back problems", you'll come up with more posts than you'll have time to look at! Gentle hugs to Hunter -- I hope he continues to recover.
 

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Hopefully, its only a strain. But Beagles are prone to herniated disks. You should have Hunter looked at by a nuerologist. Only they can tell for sure. This will involve some imaging (myleogram, MRI, etc.) so be prepared for it.

My questions:
- Does Hunter show any signs of paralysis or trouble walking?
- Does he "knuckle" his hind toes?

If it is a herniated disk...
- Best case: A few weeks of meds and very strict crate rest (Your vet should have already prescribed this.)
- Worst case: Surgery, crate rest and rehab.

Sorry to sound dire, but both Summer & Murphy have gone through this. Both had double herniated disks. Murphy 8 years ago and Summer 6 months ago. Murphy had a VERY long recovery (over a year) and still is partially paralyzed. He does walk and run, but he has no feeling in his body from his mid-back on. He "spinal-walks". Summer had the same surgery, and RAN out of the crate when she woke up after surgery. She has completely recovered in a staggering short time.

So what I'm saying is, get Hunter examined by a neurologist ASAP. If they recommend surgery, do it. If surgery is done while the can still feel and have mobility, the chances of a full recovery are excellent (Summer's situation). After paralysis has set in, the time frame is 48 hours. After that, recover is slim (Murphy's situation).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
First, thank you both for the advice. My wife and me are first-time dog owners, and we've only had Hunter a little over a year. We researched beagles a good deal before adopting, so we knew this was a possibility, and we're ready to do whatever is necessary to help him live a happy and as pain-free a life as possible.

Anyway, our vet wants Hunter to go through his entire cycle of pain killers (I listed them above) and ten days of crate reset before bringing him back in for another exam (this Thursday morning, 10 days after his initial pain) and they went ahead and already scheduled him for an X-ray for Friday.

For 48 or 72 hours after his initial pain, his walking looked absolutely awful (uncertainty in his stride, crossing his legs over, and yes, some knuckling/nail dragging in his hind legs). However, we do have him on crate rest and the 3 or 4 days he has shown better coordination and strength in his stride. This could very well be the meds masking pain he should otherwise feel. His energy level, personality, and appetite are back to normal, and even though he was a good sport for the first two or three days, he's growing increasingly "irritated" by the crate rest.

Hopefully we'll know more after Friday. If they recommend seeing a neurologist or surgery and altering his lifestyle (no more dog park or day care), then so be it. We'll find a work-around to make him comfortable -- he's only 7 and hopefully will be with us for years to come.

Thank you again to both of you for the advice. If you think of anything else, please don't hesitate to offer.
 

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I have to deal with a partially paralyzed dog everyday, I have done so for the last eight years, and will continue to do so until Murphy crosses the bridge. I would not wish this on anyone.

If it was just pain, I would say wait. But Hunter is already showing signs of spinal damage. I suggest you get to a neurologist NOW, not 10 days from now. The sooner you get this properly examined and fixed, the better his chances for a full recovery. Time is critical. I can not stress this enough. Please, for Hunter's sake, get a specialists opinion immediately. Don't wait.
 

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Please listen carefully to what Joe has said; here's another vote for taking Hunter to see a neurologist. They are trained specifically to deal with this. Otherwise it would be like a person seeing a family doctor instead of a cardiologist for chest pains that suggest a heart problem. See what I mean?

To find a veterinary neurologist near you, go to <a href="http://www.acvim.org/Specialist/Search.aspx" target="_blank">
ACVIM site</a> and plug in your state and
Neurology as the specialty. I see 2 in Fairfax,VA.

My dog Tinker suffered a ruptured disk in Feb. 2005, when he was 5 years old. He had surgery followed by 6 weeks of crate rest, followed by physical therapy for over a year. Following crate rest, he used a cart for about 6 months, until he regained the ability to walk on his own. He now walks using a combination of regular and spinal walking. So, he falls somewhere in between Murphy and Summer's situation.

Please heed the warning: you cannot take a spinal problem too seriously. Err on the side of caution. Not all general vets have lots of experience with neurological issues. My own vet had never seen a dog in a cart before. While an Xray may give a hint of a disk herniation (by looking at spacing between the vertabrae), it shows no detail and is NOT a reliable indicator. As Joe said, to know conclusively requires a myelogram (an Xray using dye) or an MRI.

You are insightful in realizing that the pain killers that are making him more comfortable may be masking what is really going on. The fact that Hunter was knuckling is an indication of neurological involvement. What happens with a disk herniation is the disk expands and puts pressure on the spinal cord- which interferes with movement. Has Hunter had any problem with bladder or bowel control?

If it is confirmed that this is a disk issue, he either needs surgery followed by crate rest or treatment with steroids during a period of serious crate rest for 4-6 weeks. Same protocol as he should be on with crate rest right now- no jumping, no running, no stairs, nothing but taking him out to do his business and back into the crate. Even if he is itching to get out, you need to do this. Bring the crate into the living room where the family is, so he's still a part of the action. Tinker is a Beagle/JRT, and the terrier part of him makes him hyper at times. If I could keep him quiet, you can keep a Beagle quiet, trust me!

Please keep us posted.
 
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