PetMeds® Treatment Options for Canine Degenerative Disc Disease

 
Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog
One of the most painful and frustrating diseases to treat in dogs is degenerative disc disease.  This common condition can be seen in any breed, but is particularly common in long-backed breeds which tend to gain weight, such as Dachshunds, Beagles, and Bassett Hounds to name just a few. Dachshunds are among several dog breeds that are prone to degenerative disc disease.

In healthy dogs, the disc material between the spinal vertebrae acts like shock absorbers in allowing smooth movement of the body. A variety of reasons ranging from obesity, over vaccination, overuse of certain topical pesticides, and genetics, have all played a role in the degeneration and mineralization of this disc material, leading to protrusion of the disc material on the overlying spinal cord. This causes varying degrees of spinal cord compression, pain, inflammation, and gait abnormalities.

In the worse case scenario, complete paralysis of the limbs can occur, often requiring immediate emergency surgery.  In other more common cases, disc diseases will flare-up periodically with an unpredictable severity and course. Many dogs are in such pain that we are left prescribing either nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Rimadyl, Previcox, Deramaxx, or even stronger cortisone type drugs.  Muscle relaxants like Methocarbamol, as well as mild narcotic derivatives such as Tramadol are also often prescribed.

It should be known, however, that none of these drugs are long term solutions for dogs because in some instances the pain returns with often worsening symptoms. That’s why there is no condition that is crying out more for complimentary or holistic veterinary medical options than dogs with chronic back or disc problems.  Modalities like chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy and physical therapy can all potentially help those cases where drugs alone have failed.

In situations where your only conventional medical option is a $10,000 dollar surgery, I would always try other holistic modalities first, unless surgery is absolutely necessary or your pet is in a paralysis crisis. Nutritional supplements, including Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants like Proanthozone, as well as Yucca Intensive can also ease discomfort in some patients and be safely used long term.   To locate a veterinarian skilled in these modalities see www.AHVMA.org or www.theAVH.org

Read Related Posts on PetMeds® Blog:

  1. PetMeds® Ruptured Disk Disease in Dogs
  2. Acupuncture for Pets
  3. PetMeds®: Pain Relief for Cats
  4. PetMeds® An Approach to Holistic Veterinary Medicine
  5. PetMeds® What is Holistic Veterinary Medicine?

6 Comments

  1. Posted July 20, 2010 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Poor pups they end up gettting the same conditions us humans get. As with humans we should try to find natural alternatives since NSAIDS only make matters worse as stated in this post. A healther option would be omega-3 with an antioxidant combination such as moxxor which are antiinflammatory and do not have the horrible side effects NSAIDS have ie leaky gut, hearing loss, ulcers and worsening deterioration of the joints.
    http://www.mymoxxor.com/nutrition4thesoul
    Susana RN

    [Reply]

  2. Pet Owner
    Posted August 14, 2011 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Moxxor is a MLM scheme. It’s unfortunate that people looking for ways to help their pet have to sift through this type of garbage from bottom feeders like yourself look to make a buck.. From my research, anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) can be very helpful in relieving stress on the spine and as a short term treatment, prevent further stress/damage to the spine. Omega-3 is a supplement and not a replacement. I hope people reading this will take guidance from their trained VET and not scum on the internet trying to send you to their MLM link. Here is my link:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=moxxor+scam

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Omega 3s can certainly be helpful especially when used early. However the record of most conventional drugs including NSAIDs and even cortisone is very poor in treating severe disc disease, which is why I always make a case for alternative medical options such as chiropractic as well as acupuncture http://www.AHVMA.org

    [Reply]

  3. Tracey warren
    Posted November 16, 2013 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    Wow. Terrible advice. And 10k for a herniated disk? Also, not true.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    I personally find holistic approaches to back and disc problems in animals truly more rewarding and helpful long term in patients with chronic back issues. From nutritional supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathy, I find these are more gentle and improve spinal health over time compared to suppressive drugs, and/or back surgery.

    [Reply]

  4. Lisa
    Posted January 26, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I have a 6 year old havanese, he does have degenerative disc disease, he has already had surgery once for a ruptured disc in his neck. He recently had a bad disc in his lumbar region. The vet put him in steroids and Tramadol. He seems alright at this moment. I was just wondering if there are any supplements that can prevent him from having more issues.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Try ligaplex II from standard process which you can get from amazon.com Also consider antioxidants proanthozone and yucca intensive from 1800petmeds.

    [Reply]

  5. Melissa
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    My mother’s boston terrier -Oreo- is about 13 yrs old. He is 22.5lbs. He all the sudden last week began holding his front legs totally stiff and the was having trouble sitting. Then I took him to the vet when he wasn’t getting better. In fact id noticed his back legs seeming to cross almost when he walked. Upon turning his back paws upside down and Oreo having a very hard time trying to return them back the correct way, the vet decided it seemed like spinal injury. Also at the touch of his mid/lower back, Oreo yelped. We decided to x-ray his back. She came back to say 2 issues. First, he definitely has spondylosis -which may explain SOME pain. Second, he has definitely injured his back in the same area. She said definite swelling but not broken. We thought it was possible he slipped in the ice storm we had last week. So sent me with rx for prednisone 10mg bid x 7 days then taper. And tramadol 50mg half tab q12 for pain. Well I took him home and realized when I got him out of the car and I already knew his injury was why he wasnt leaning his head down and his stiff front legs. Well about 2 hours later I came to where he was laying to give him his meds and he couldnt stand up. I thought he was struggling from being in pain but quickly realized he could move his back legs. Period. Instantly nothing. Couldnt sit because he fell over. ..impossible to stand. Front legs stiff as wood. So after reading tons of articles online it seemed possible this could happen and gradually improve with rest and prednisone. Wondering if this seems normal at all. Took him to vet wed and today is now sun. A coworker of mine had similar issue with her dog that she says resolved after about a month. Oreo is eating drinking with assistance. Prednisone seems to have him urinating ALOT so because he isnt able to get up, we have doggy diapered him. It seems he def has spasms from possible pinched nerve or just from pain alone. And he urinates everytime. Could this be from prednisone or from injury? Also my mother is devastated and terrified we are losing him while I , from a pharmacy tech let-the-drugs-work point of view think time will tell whether he regains use if back legs again. Any ideas? Also, could prednisone dose be too high? Would a follow up vet visit be too soon? Is the hope time will tell too far fetched? And, is a whole tramadol safe for him at night…so he can rest? Thanks for your time. I appreciate it tremendously!

    [Reply]

    Melissa Reply:

    Sorry what I meant was when I took him his meds the same day as vet visit, all the sudden he COULDNT move his back legs. Seemed totally paralyzed. Didnt react when I touched paws and no resistance when tried to move legs. Nothing.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Your vet needs to assess dog for deep pain, as if that is not present, than surgery is sometimes only option

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Does not sound like prednisone dose too high. Injury and/or pred can cause excessive urination. Can take up to several weeks for symptoms to improve with rest and steroids, etc. Also I would ask vet to have him on antibiotic as likely has secondary bacterial infection of bladder, which is common in disc dogs on prednisone. A whole tramadol is fine at night, as this is very safe drug. Also ask your vet about other pain meds like gabapentin and/or amantadine, which may help. I also LOVE holistic medicine in case like this, especially chiropractic and/or acupuncture which can make difference in outcome of these cases. Find vet in your area who offers these holistic complimentary options

    [Reply]

    Melissa Reply:

    Thank you very much! We already ♡ dog massage. We will give it a try! Anything to help Oreo relax and be a little closer to feeling better each day. I appreciate the advice and thank you for your time!

    [Reply]

  6. Donna
    Posted April 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    A dog came to my house and had extremely matted fur and was holding one foot up, so I took him to a groomer she got all the fur off and said he need medical attention for that leg. I left him over night with her on Saturday and picked him up Sunday and he just seemed different and had a distant stare, the groomer said it was because she gave him a pain med for his leg, so I take him to my vet on Monday and I noticed him knuckling up trying to walk and I told the vet he said it was neurological and started him on a steroids, two days later he is worse so we do blood work it comes back ok just anemia and dehydrated and we already knew his leg was going to have to be amputated because the fur grew tight around the foot and killed it, but the was no infection. So we thought he had a stroke. We started treating him for that but he doesn’t respond to any meds we give and his whole body is stiff. His calcium is good and it’s not tetanus. He has been at my vets for alittle over a week now and is still not eating but we are doing IV’s, we gave him Valium on Saturday and it did loosen his muscles some and he ate a couple bites, but really there hasn’t been much change in him. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Sounds like a good case for holistic medicine, as if steroids not doing trick, then we usually out of option traditionally. Consider working with vet homeopath To find one in your area, go to http://www.drpitcairn.com as well as you could also try acupuncture and/or chiropractic http://www.AHVMA.org

    [Reply]

    Donna Reply:

    Thanks! Now we know it’s tetanus! At first my vet didn’t think it was cause his white blood cell count wasn’t up, so there was no infection, but now everything is leading to tetanus, and I have been learning that it’s not common in dogs more so in horses. We started him on the penicillin IV’s yesterday and already today his muscles are not as stiff and his legs and joints can be moved easier. So I’m hoping this will work! We also have him on Valium and steroids. Have you ever treated dogs for tetanus? If so any thought or advice you could share would be great!

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Sounds like you are using the right traditional medications. You could also consider the homeopathic remedy Ledum in 30c potency, which is great for tetanus. Give 1 pellet twice daily for 3 to 4 days.

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