Are there warning signs of InterVertebral Disc Disease?
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(link to the beginning of Article)The first is the dog in acute distress, often crying out, usually “pain posturing,”(head held down, back arched up, tail tucked under). The other is the pet who suddenly can’t use his rear legs and is often unable to get up or collapses if assisted to the standing position. Over the years treating thousands of these late stage cases, questioning pet owners during consultation, I have cataloged the most common warning signs that portend this mostly needless suffering. If you notice that your pet has begun exhibiting one or more of the following warning signs it’s time to take action.
No Longer Shaking vigorously or Stretching( or initially, excessive amounts of stretching). Excluding the times that your pet vigorously shakes his body at bath time to thoroughly drench you and when he shakes his head with ear issues, a dog will routinely shake his body vigorously starting with his head and ending with the tail, down the full length of his body multiple times per day. They do this as part of their doggy fur hygiene, eliminating old fur that has come loose. Notice if in fact your dog shakes vigorously and fully from head to tail. Dogs with developing neck problems may not shake at all or begin to shake their head and suddenly stop. Dogs with developing back problems will generally shake their head and neck, but as the shake progresses tail ward it will stop at the shoulders or mid back and so forth. Dogs will also stretch, especially when they just arise from lying down. You will see them perform “upward dog”(head up, butt down, rear legs extended backwards) and “downward dog”(butt up, head down, front legs extended forward). Dogs developing spinal problems generally won’t perform one or both of these stretches.
Distinct hot areas along the spine.
Skin along back twitching/crawling.
Toe nails dragging when walking.
Avoids energetic pets or children.
No longer willing to play fetch.
Crying out when bumped or moved.
Hates being picked up or carried.
Avoids being “pet” or brushed.
Backbone rounding or arching up.
Unusual laziness or stubbornness.
Slowing down or balks on walks.
No longer greets you at the door.
Difficulty standing from a sit.
Won’t sit or stand for very long.
Difficulty on smooth or slick floors.
Falling when rear end gives out.
Rear legs together, “bunny hopping.”
Tail down or no longer wagging tail.
Sitting awkwardly, rear legs askew.
Legs shaking or quivering.
Unwilling or unable to jump up.
It is interesting to note that when questioned regarding these signs, most pet owners respond, “I just thought it was due to age.” While it is true that symptoms of spinal problems in humans and animals are more likely to surface as one ages. It is not true that age causes these problems. It is simply time and the sum of accumulated micro and macro injuries (wear and tear) that induce the spinal problems that I endeavor to locate and resolve in the animal patient.