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Spinal Problems, Need Advice....

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  • Spinal Problems, Need Advice....

    My 140 pound great dane just turned 6 in September...
    No Health issues, always playful, my shadow, road dog likes to get in the car and go explore.

    Two weeks ago tonight noticed he was headed down the stairs gingerly, didnt think much of it. On Sunday the next day he couldnt even get up... called the free number from his doggie insurance for a consultation and they stated he was probably good to wait for monday morning for the vet. He was really out of it and just laid down. I put his 2 handled big dog harness, carried him down the stairs to potty and he just sat there in the mud and rain looking at me very say. this was just a few days before Christmas

    He looked on deatha door. So we stayed with him in the living room all night brought him water ( he would drink k but wouldnt eat ) and figured monday morning might be his last.

    Monday morning, carried him down the stairs, into the vet, he was still unable to walk....

    Vet said that he was pretty sure it's a spinal issue and that it may or may not heal. I really dont want to do anything invasive to my dog at this point. hes 6 and gray, had a fantastic quality of life so far...

    Anyway, took him to a close friends house to recover since we have 11 stairs up and down our house... and he was able to stay on the ground floor. He has been walking better, he went up and down stairs at my friends house, albeit gingerly and slowly.

    brought him home about 5 today. he is miserable. been crying all night unless I sit with him. fed him 2 doggie gabapentins, and at about 2am fed him 2 more desperate for him to get some peace. Its 2:37 now and he finally seems out of pain enough to sleep.

    he has been doing really good but feel like the stairs test, lifting him in and out of the van was to much for him.

    I think my question is... Is his prognosis doable? This is the first night I've spent with him for nearly 2 weeks, my buddy didnt say anything about him crying at night, can these Danes recover from a spinal injury/slippage? He was always so vital and strong, cant talk to the vet till monday. Should I wait it out for longer or just have him put down? Really dont want to do a surgery on him, knew a dane that had surgery and the end of his life was a drawn out brutal nightmare.

    looking for advice from people that have been there athe been through this. want to make the right decision, should I put him down? spend the money for a full workup? or wait it out awhile longer?

    please ask me anything, offer any advice.
    ty in advance.

  • #2
    i'm so sorry you have to go through this. your insurance should have approved an emergency vet consult. did the vet do any xrays or other testing? did he give any steroids to lessen any inflammation?

    i don't have personal experience with this but a longtime member here has. i will contact her via facebook and have her come in here and see what she can tell you.


    • #3
      My insurance is through Nationwide,, the consult was through them. Hopefully nobody gets back to me here and says it's awful insurance have yet to use it for him though hes been covered since I obtained him.

      The vet told me that we could do an MRI, or xrays but that at this point I might as well wait and see if he improved, rather than throw a bunch of money at tests. I have gabapentin, methocarbonal and duracoxib that was prescribed to him.

      Oh man... At 330am got him downstairs under his own power to pee out back, made it up and down the stairs very slowly, passed out. I slept on the couch across from him, he was awake an hour later crying again.

      I am at a loss here... And honestly, dont think I can pay what an emergency weekend vet would cost for another week. Just got the family through Christmas and my insurance is going to be a reimbursement. the money I spent on the vet visit wasnt up to the 200 deductible.

      At this point would also be grateful for advice on the insurance, as well as hos pain management through monday when I can get him back in....

      I'm seriously thinking putting him down might be best at this point... That hurts to think of but he is so miserable...


      • #4
        oh, and thank you for the reply btw! really am grateful for the help. Just havent really slept and torn on what needs to be done goong forward.


        • #5
          i contacted the other member and she will check in when she gets home. in a nutshell, you need a neurologist consult. i'm surprised the vet did not give him a steroid. steroids (like predisone) will help to reduce swelling which will happen with injuries like this but it must be given asap.

          these sorts of injuries and the treatments can be quite pricey but hopefully, your insurance will cover most or all of what you may have to spend on diagnosis/treatment. as for xrays or an MRI, you will have to get to the cause of the injury before a treatment plan can be instituted.

          also, if at all possible, he must move as little as possible for now and stairs are an absolute NO. too much movement and/or moving in certain ways can cause more damage to what he is already dealing with and can also exacerbate his pain.

          i'm so sorry!


          • #6
            Charlene asked me to come post here about your woofer. My dane, who is an easy 200 pounds, injured his spine at 4 1/2 years old. He is currently 8 1/2 years old. It's been a rough road, of many ups and downs, and lots of money. Our insurance has paid 80% of the bills, but I'd probably place his spine injury easily in the $10K range over the last 4 years. It is what it is, and we don't regret a minute or dime of it. Every dogs injury is different and these are things I can pass on to you:

            You need a neurologist. Even if you are just sitting for a consult. A neurologist has more knowledge in this area, and may have some ideas for you to try. My dogs injury is a pinched nerve just above his tail. Our vet gave it a good college try for about a week or so, and then shipped us off to a neurologist. A good vet knows when you need a specialist.

            You need something that is working on inflammation. Gabapentin helps with nerve pain. Methocarbamol is a muscle relaxer. I would suggest you need to be on Tramadol, and really treating for pain. Your dog needs to be NON mobile except for peeing, pooping, eating and drinking. Otherwise, 100% bed rest. NO STAIRS. Your dogs life should be flat, and he should be treated enough to keep him fairly pain free. You need something like Prednisone for the inflammation. It's really the only thing that is going to help something like a spine injury heal on its own IF it can heal on it's own. It alleviates any soft tissue inflammation that could be pressing on nerves and causing pain (like my dogs). As a side note, gabapentin, methocarbamol and prednisone are all human meds, not doggie meds. Get the vet to call it into the cheapest pharmacy local to you. You don't need to be paying the vet prices, which will be more then any local pharmacy.

            Not all injuries are fixable. It could take MONTHS for it to heal, and you just have to be patient and provide the proper meds and 100% bed rest. The only way we've kept our dog mobile for the past 4 years since his injury, is to keep him immobile. We never did an MRI, but our neurologist could re-create his problem / pain and we know exactly where the issue is. We didn't do an MRI because he wouldn't fit in the vets MRI machine and our only choice was a closed MRI at the hospital. We could have done that, but our neurologist was freaked out about having no way to monitor him while in a closed MRI. She felt the risks weren't worth the reward. It wasn't going to change anything we were doing anyway. Since our dane is xlarge - 40" at the withers and an easy 200 pounds - we didn't feel we could surgically repair his back (even if we could) and be able to rehab him. He is extremely large.

            Pain is something to consider. Chronic pain and acute pain are vastly different. If your dog is in chronic pain, and you've tried everything to alleviate it AND there has been plenty of time to heal, then you need to talk quality of life. Acute pain, like your dog is in right now, is not the same thing. Acute pain can potentially be mitigated, fixed, or healed all together. This requires the right meds, significant bed rest, and plenty of time to heal. I never think quality of life for acute pain. Acute pain is like you fell down and broke your arm. Of course it's going to hurt, and will take time for it to heal.

            It's been 4 years for us, and our dog is STILL on gabapentin, methacarbamol, and prednisone. His muscle wasting from his spine injury is awful. He has no mobility at all. BUT he has a lot of joy left, he isn't in awful chronic pain, and he is still very interested in his life. We are sure his mobility and spine injury will eventually take him. For now, he only stands on his feet for bathroom and feedings. Otherwise, we work extra hard to entertain him in his bed. We are so grateful for every day we've had with him. Over the past year, he has had 3 instances of acute pain periods again. We've had long discussions with our vet about what to do, and nobody feels we are at the end of his life. We've been able to heal his acute pain and put him back into a good place. The day we can't, is the day we will let him go.

            I tell you all this because a spine injury isn't like a stubbed toe. It takes time... sometimes a lot of time. Sometimes, the injury will never heal or even become manageable (like our dog) and is forced to either be fixed surgically or euthanized. I can only speak for myself when I say, I never gave up the fight for our boy. I look back and am confident that all we've been through for the past 4 years was worth it. He is loved - adored, really - and is the biggest spoiled dog ever. While he can't go for a walk anymore, we feel his life has a lot of quality to it. We decided long ago that we owed him to do anything and everything to keep him going with a happy life. We've stuck to that and don't regret any of it. It wasn't easy, and it was filled with a lot of tears. You just have to get a GOOD diagnosis of the problem, then you can make an informed decision on what to do. Being reactive over something you don't have a good idea about, is not the answer - at least, in my opinion. You owe it to your dog to find out all you can. Knowledge is power, and being fully informed will help you make the best decision for him - whatever that decision is.

            Best of luck to you.


            • #7
              thanks, troy-leigh!! i knew you'd have answers. give phinners a big ole smooch for me. <3


              • #8
                that is great information. ty. I'm not sure what to do... he spent the last two weeks downstairs at my friends. but that is not viable anymore....

                You have definitely gone through some things that most people never have to experience, I honestly cant even imagine what you've gone thru.... Imagine it's been quite the roller coaster.

                read your post three times. bless your heart, you love your boy so much. I'm not sure what to do about the stairs.... we do have a spare room that he is in now, in a bed with the frame removed so we can get him on and off easily, he was doing better at my buddy's place but when we got him home yesterday we lost all of our progress... and he had a pretty rough night last night.

                this morning he wont eat or drink again, tried putting his meds down his throat and only managed half before I broke down in tears..

                mind is a blank right now. Had my fiance's mother here the last three weeks, took her to the airport at 7am, up all night with my boy, just woke up an hour ago. Going to try to get some water in him, he is exhausted, and thank goodness sleeping soundly.

                Thank you for your help with this difficult thing. going to try to get it together and figure out what to do this week.
                Will post back in this thread later when head is clear. Thank you all again so much.


                • #9
                  there are so many ups and down with these big guys when they are sick or hurt. i'd urge you to go read angel's update on her boy, phineas, that she posted here today. it will give you some ideas and some great information.

                  please do come back and update us when you have a plan! so many times, a member will post about something like this, we old-timer DOL'ERs get so invested in their stories and their dogs, and then we never hear another thing. i know anybody reading about you and your boy will want to see how he's doing!

                  best wishes for success in getting him well!!


                  • #10
                    thank you! So at this point he has been eating canned food and drinking. but by evening he is panting and crying and barking. goong to asked the vet tomorrow for pain pills, in addition to the other prescriptions he has been given, then call my insurance and make sure they will cover chiropractic to take a look at him.

                    stairs are goong to be a fact of life for him tho. I just dont have another option and as miserable as he is, when he wants to potty he gets up and tells me then heads down and back up.

                    hes seriously miserable tho. oof.

                    and yes I will follow up with his progress. tried to post pics but apparently even my lowest camera setting is to big for the site and not sure how to make the pictures smaller.

                    going to find Angel' and her posts now


                    • #11
                      DOL has been having issues with pictures for quite a while. i use IMGUR for this. it's much like photobucket (but there's no charge) and it's very user friendly. any chance you have a vet around who can do acupuncture instead of chiro?

                      as for the stairs, can you make a ramp? i did this with just a heavy duty piece of plywood years ago when one of my danes had acl surgery. super easy even if you aren't great with building things!


                      • #12
                        Sooo... My Buggers has been deteriorating rapidly. Everything except standing causes him pain. even through 450mg tramadol the vet gave me to get him through the next 30 hours this morning hes been crying and barking and whining. I talked to my vet and his recommendation is to euthanize bug at this point. the last two weeks have been pretty awful and every night is worse. been up with him till 5am or so the last 4 days until we are both to exhausted to do anymore, and pass out.

                        I do not want to do any type of surgery on my Bug that is invasive. Even if I could save him, dont want him to come out of an operation a substantially changed dog. He is 6 years and 5 months old, on the younger side for a Dane but reading up on actual stats looks like the median age for a GD is 6.5 years.

                        Even now, we have his full matress in the middle of the living room, he is completely miserable and it's hard to sleep with his whimpering. He is hardly able to walk, making him get up and using a towel around his middle to walk him out to potty every 5 hours between tramadol


                        • #13
                          even now, not sure how my girl, my dog and I are going to make it through the night.

                          His dr. appointment to bring him peace is Wednesday at 1pm.
                          I literally cannot wait for him to be at peace.

                          Now the good news. I put off his euthanasia so that tonight we could throw a party. we spent the morning cleaning, picked up 90 bucks worth of ribeye steaks, everything for fresh caesar salad, and a ton of other goodies. set up 9 chairs in the living room, and invited everyone that has spent time with him over for dinner and a farewell party. We had people streaming in all evening, multiple people sitting near and talking to bug there were children running around and bug actually ate a bunch of ribeye. So though exhausted and appalled that Bugs misery continues another day. Everyone that has loved him in his life came to see him. plus a bunch of other folks that just wanted to say goodbye.

                          This is so hard. but i know it's the right thing to do. I'll never own another dane, the difficulty getting them around because they are so big, the short expected life spans. it's to much.
                          Dont regret him one bit, hes been my best friend, my protector and so smart and loving. I'll always love my bug.

                          With that said, thank you folks that offered advice, I wish you well, and if my dog and i can make it through the next 12 hours I will be at his side crying, and finally getting him the peace he deserves.


                          • #14
                            i don't know what to say except i'm so sorry.


                            • #15
                              I am so sorry to hear your news
                              Dale AKC CGC Evaluator
                              Associate Member GDCNE
                              Member GSPCA
                              Member NAVHDA
                              Member Central Maine Kennel Club
                              High Hopes Great Danes & German Shorthairs