If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
While playing fetch on the evening of June 29th, my 7-year-old labrador retriever ran to catch a ball and suddenly fell down screaming. Just that fast, she no longer had any control over her back end, scaring my husband and I to death. We rushed Kimber to the emergency vet, who was able to rule out fractures via x-ray, but didn't really have other diagnostic tools. On July 1, we were able to get her admitted to the Virginia Tech Vet School, where the neurologist did a thorough exam and scheduled an MRI for the next day. Unfortunately, our area was hit hard by the storms that weekend, and when they went in for the MRI they found the ceiling was leaking and the MRI couldn't be performed. Not wanting to wait, the neurologist did a CT scan and myelogram and was able to rule out any diagnoses requiring surgery and saw no signs of a degenerative disease or tumor. The neurologist says it's almost certainly either an FCE or high velocity, low volume disc extrusion. Since both require crate rest and supportive care, she saw no reason to have the MRI and we were able to bring Kimber home last Tuesday night.
Kimber has control over urination and defecation. She has reduced motor control in her back right leg, and was diagnosed with no motor control in her left back leg. She has deep pain sensation, though. We take her out to potty using a sling, and otherwise keep her confined. We've kept her very active and at a healthy weight (she competed locally in agility), so that's in our favor.
Although we didn't question it at the time, we now really wish the MRI had been done and been able to give us a definitive diagnosis. The neurologist was giving a slight edge to disc extrusion and recommended 2 week so of crate rest with minimal movement (just some basic PROM to do). She gave us a prescription for Tramadol and said that should be all the meds we should give, and that should only be given as needed. Last Friday we took Kimber to see a local vet who specializes in rehabilitation, and she recommended being a bit more aggressive with the PROM and gave us prescriptions for NSAID and a muscle relaxant. I think she gives a slight edge to it being an FCE. We asked the neurologist (through her student) if we should give the NSAID and she said it was "not appropriate" but didn't tell her student why. And when our rehab vet called the neurologist (at my request), we found the neurologist is out for 2 weeks and is not taking messages.
Since we picked her up on Tuesday, we've seen improvement; her back right leg is moving more, she's wagging her tail, and she's showing awareness of her back left leg. Husband doesn't want to give her the NSAID without the neurologist's blessing, but agreed to give her the Tramadol regularly rather than when we see pain. After all, she's a lab, she's not prone to showing pain. On Saturday, we gave her the Tramadol in the morning and that night. Saturday, she was really moving a lot. Then yesterday, her back end seemed weaker. Husband says today she still seems a bit weak. My theory is that she overdid it on Saturday and it might take some time to get her back to Saturday-levels. You know, two steps forward, one step back. Husband wonders if the Tramadol is negatively affecting her, or if she's starting to rely too much on the sling.
I appreciate any thoughts you have on our situation!
Thank you for the reply, Jean!
Kimber is actually doing great. At the two week mark, the rehab vet moved her off the sling. Kimber has been hobbling around, using her back left leg a little more each day. We started the NSAID on Friday, figuring that was the day the neurologist had told us to start seeing a vet for care (we had skipped ahead and taken Kimber to the rehab vet one week post-injury), so that was the day the neurologist expected us to listen to the vet.
She still tires easily and spends most of the day sleeping, but since she's on crate rest for another 2 weeks, that's a blessing. The rehab vet said we can start short swimming sessions in a couple of weeks, which will make Kimber very happy.
Fingers and paws crossed that her recovery remains rapid and uneventful!
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