I have a question about our 13 yo dog who likely has a bulging disc. He is …

I have a question about our 13 yo dog who likely has a bulging disc. He is a mutt (probably part Border Collie, part Shepherd). Soon after a small slip on our stairs, he had lameness in his one back leg; this went away after one day, he limped for a few days after, and he quickly recovered from those things.  Though he was walking fine fairly quickly, he showed stiffness, showed hesitation going up stairs unless we gave him a treat (we have only stairs to the outside), and his tail was down and only wagged from the tip of it. We had him quickly on an anti-inflammatory (Novox) and a pain med (started on Gabapentin but had to discontinue). He was fine on a walk; we went on short walks and he always craved for much more than we allowed. We prevented jumping, aerobic exercise, stopped him from using stairs by having a ramp to the outside, etc. We continued the Novox. His symptoms continued, then got better, and then seemed to regress when he started showing signs of pain (panting even when lying down and even when it was cool outside and some anxiety); the pain thing was probably because of taking him off Gabapentin. We took him to the Neurology Dept at a local, large vet hospital and a physical exam indicated that he “likely” has a bulging disc. When they inspected his back, he showed signs of pain and anxiety and his back legs bent and his rear went down. We don’t think we want to do surgery due to his age. He has not had an MRI as the regular vet and my husband and I thought that the treatment would be the same if we did not do surgery — treatment being restricting movement, continuing anti-inflammatory and pain meds, and looking into possible physical rehab. A switch to the pain med Amantidine helps a lot and the panting and anxiety are gone. He now continues to crave longer walks and, at the rare times we forget to block off the couch, he will try to jump up on it. We have been continuing to restricting movement but we just don’t know what to do about activity restrictions and have not had a lot of advice from neurology. He has always craved movement and exercise and when we take him around the block his stiffness seems to go away a bit and he seems energized and maybe even more comfortable. He has always craved a lot of exercise and movement. His spirits are lowered a lot if we keep in him in a small space — it almost seems like he wants to move around. He is eating and drinking, can do #2 (though he struggles some if doing it a long time). If allowed to do some movement, he is mostly happy and getting around with walking. Questions are: Should we restrict his movement altogether despite all this? Should he we do no walks at all? Is it bad if he is free to walk around the first floor or should he stay only in a very small area? I feel we are so confused as to what to do and how to know how to prevent regression. We’d love the input of any veterinarians or other owners with the same experience!

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Krista Magnifico
2 years ago

I’m sorry to hear about your pup. I think that I have to defer these questions to your vet. My inkling is to say strict cage rest except for short walks outside on flat grassy ground. My concern is that he will keep exacerbating the injury if you don’t. I have lots of information on my blog and YouTube channel under IVDD please go there for advice and case based examples. Best of luck