Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gauis' Back: A Saga

So this all started about the fourth week of September. Just a normal day. I was working the 6pm-3am shift which meant I was home during the day. I was getting some work done on the computer, or messing around the internet, not sure which. And I suddenly realized Gauis wasn't at my feet which is where he usually is during this time. I called him, nothing.

I found him curled up next to the cat in the guest room and he didn't get up to greet me or wag his tail. I picked him up and put him on the floor, his posture was hunched and he seemed uncomfortable. I tossed a tennis ball that was on the floor next to me and he made no effort to chase it. That's when I knew something was wrong. When he walked it seemed stiff and stilted, his tail was tucked. I felt down his back but couldn't get any reaction, no twinge or sign of pain. I was worried still so I immediatly put him on crate rest for the rest of the day. I figured if he had just pulled a muscle he'd be over it tommrrow, if he hadn't he'd come with me to work the next night (I work at an emergency vet).

When he's posture was still concerning to me by the next morning I just decided to take him in early. Of course by the time we were at the visits office he was agitated and screamy, and seemed less uncomfortable. Stress having overwhelmed any pain. Our vet was one of the interns (Right out of vet school, very nice). She felt up and down his spine and just like me couldn't get any sign of pain. I still though is gait was off, but she couldn't see any deficiencies (I know how my dog walks and what he was doing wasn't normal). She decided to take X-Rays anyhow, him being a dachshund and all. 

So there was a wait before I was called to the front to see them. When I got there the first thing that jumped at me was how much stool was in his colon (sorry about the poop talk). But the doctor did see some things in his back that she found troubling. The first is a calcified disk that's very clear if you know what your looking for. These are genetic and VERY common in almost all dachshunds of his age. She also said she saw disk shorting in two separate locations. This is much harder too see, can be caused simply by his positioning but can also be potentially more serious. It can meann that his disks are stressed and could rupture.

So she told me one week of crate rest and no agility ever again. I was pretty bummed and over the next week so was Gauis, crate rest and he do not get along. Especially when Sammy got to dart all around the apartment unhampered and Gauis got to watch sadly from behind bars. We started calling him our 'goldfish' during this time, due to being a pet we essentially just fed and watched from afar.

After his second day of crate rest his walking went back to normal (This happened to come immediately after he finally pooped by the way). Remember at no time during this entire period could I get him to show any signs of pain in his back. Which for a dog with a 'back issue' is just plain bizarre. 

I made an appointment to take him to go see his chiropractor Dr. Regina Schwabe   who is amazing. She does orthopedic rehabilitation and see a lot of dachshunds as well as agility dogs. If you live in Virgina she's totally worth the drive once or twice a year. I sent her the X-rays (though that was drama in and of itself with computers and formatting). 

In the mean time there are benefits to working where you take your animal, one is the ability to read there chart. You see we have a board certified radiologist that reviews all of the radiographs taken at the hospital. And there in Gauis file I could read his report too. Now he said, that though he saw the calcification, he saw no areas of disk shorting. So now I was confused. Constipation can present much in the same way back pain does, with hunched uncomfortable posture. Two vets with too different stories.Did I really have to retire Gauis from agility after all?

I was going to let Regina decide.  Well after doing her exam, she said his back felt great, better than the last time she saw him. No signs of pain. In terms of the radiographs she saw the calcification but said almost all dachshunds his age have that to a certain extent. She could maybe see some disk shortening in one area but it was very hard to tell. All in all his back lots pretty good for a dachshund of his age. Both the issues on his x-rays she said were probably entirely genetic and not caused by his agility. If anything agility helps strengthen his back and his core muscles and keeps him fit. It helps protect his back not hurt it.  And she saw no reason why he couldn't return to agility if he was showing no signs of pain.

I then asked if she though me taking him down to preferred at 4 inches was better than 8. She told me she alwasy thought jumping him at 8 was rather silly. So we'll be returning to AKC agility in preferred at 4 inches. Next trial is in January. He's loving running at 4 in class. 

So the moral of the story is always get a second opinion.


docsdox said...

interesting. i'm not a vet (i'm people doc!) but i DO see a little loss of disc height at the lower back - close to his hips. but if he wasn't showing any signs of pain, i probably wouldn't have worried about it. i guess your vet was playing it safe by calling his back on the symptoms. good that he improved after a good poopie though! hopefully that's all it was!

Elizabeth said...

Yeah I'm thinking it was just some constipation. It would have been a total bummer to retire him for that. We see a lot of back dogs and usually they are in a lot of pain and not shy about telling you where it comes from. It was all very odd. Well if he ever does show any back pain we'll reassess. For now, just let him do what he does and have fun. Better to have the X-Rays and know where we stand then not.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Sometimes you need 10 opinions! :-) So glad G is doing much better and doesn't appear to have the issues he was first thought to have. Spine stuff is scary!