My Poor Dog

Updated on September 03, 2013
J.L. asks from Chino Hills, CA
19 answers

Sorry this might get long...So about 2 weeks ago I noticed my dog was very stiff. he wasn't really moving and was sitting really rigid for a long period of time. It was like he couldn't relax or was afraid to move. we took him to the vet and after testing and xrays they said he has t-l syndrome which is very common in hound dogs (he is a beagle). As a result he has 8 slipped discs. they gave him a couple shots and some meds and told us to come back in a week. in this time they only said to limit his activity a little bit. also no stairs or climbing. but he should make a full recovery. It was possible in a few years he might have a reoccurance. he was doing great for about 5 days not completely recovered, but major improvement. then it was like the injections or something wore off and he was digressing. we took him back to the vet and they upped his meds and told us we needed to crate him. we have to carry him out to go potty, etc. he needs to basically lay down 24/7 except to eat and potty. So we are. we start to see improvement again. then 3 days later my husband notices he has a cut on his back. not from the cage and not where he could bite or scratch. his meds make him drink a lot and he had peed in the crate a couple times so my husband went to give him a bath. the skin on his back started coming off. He rushed him to the vet and the vet said he was having a reaction to the meds. he cleaned out the wounds and applied a topical antibiotic and switched meds. for 4 days he was doing well. this morning it looked like he was going backwards again. tonight, he COULD NOT USE HIS BACK LEGS AT ALL. they were dragging behind him. my husband had to hold him up to pee. Now that very first day it looked like he was in so much pain and it was so incredibly sad. we thought we would have to put him down. Now it is like he is in pain but he looks at me like he just wants me to fix it. he is crying in his cage right now and when I go over to him he seems so happy to see me and just wants to be loved. he is so healthy otherwise. Also he is only 5 years old.

We have been advised against chiropractic for his condition (yes it exists and partly sounds crazy but if it was an option we would consider it). It is just so difficult being on this rollercoaster. we were told it would take a few weeks but the progress is so up and down it just doesn't seem, right. My husband thinks we should just put him down. He is more of a dog person than I am and our dog is his little buddy (they are the only males in the house). I really think it hurts him to see his little buddy dragging his back legs and not moving right. so far the vet bills are about $450. which of course I would rather not have to spend the money but it is not an obscene amount. But I cant really figure out how much I would be willing to pay. What would you do in this situation? he seems to be in pain but not suffering in pain. he really seems to miss being with the family. i mean he is right there with us almost all day but in a cage is not the same. although we dont just ignore him. If anyone has any experience with this or a similar situation I would love to hear what you did and how you came to your decision. thanks!

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So What Happened?

I am so thankful to everyone who responded. We sought a second opinion and the doc believes that because his condition has not shown stable improvement and that it is 8 slipped dics (not 2 or 3 or even 4) there most likely is not course of treatment likely to yield positive results. The vet we go to has several doctors and we had seen 3 of them. The first had suggested chiropractor as an option but to wait and see if there would be a change. We actually had consulted with 2 chiros and one said with 8 slipped discs he would not treat him it was too much. One said he would provide a free evaluation BUT the most he has successfully treated was 3. More than that was grim. We were to meet with him the day of the skin issue so it didnt end up happening. Now all day yesterday and all day today he has had the paralysis. the vet we met with today confirmed the paralysis. The poor guy can't wag his tail or potty without being held up. He doesnt seem to be in pain, because he is paralized and cant feel it. We were given the option to persue treatment if we chose but it would probably only buy time and he would not be healed. We considered the things he loves to do: sleep in our 5 year olds bed, visit the dog park, run up and down the stairs, climb up in the window ledge while daddy tends to the yard. All of these things we do not believe that he would ever do again. In the crate he basically has to be ignored which is not fair to anyone especially him. And with such a grim outlook we have made the decision to euthanize. It has been terrible considering this option and I have shed MANY tears. However, since deciding, I have felt peace with the decision but it does not make it easy. I had to go through a process where I was feeling extremely guilty and selfish if I made THAT decision and I really had to process that this condition was no way for a dog to live. My children are aware that he is sick/injured and we have discussed the possibility that he may not survive this. Unless we wake up to a miracle tomorrow my husband will take him in. We will tell the girls (8 and 5) that daddy had to take the dog back to the vet and he did not live. Some day they will understand that it was a choice but not now. Tonight we let him out of his crate to hang with the family. My 5 year old expressed her concerns that she thinks he is going to die but "grandma rue" (my mom's mom and major dog lover) will take care of him. The girls wanted to take some pictures with him so we did. It was difficult to do but at least we had the opportunity to say goodbye. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. Hug all your little babies (both human and non) and little more for me. :)

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answers from Hartford on

I think you need a second opinion from a Veterinary Specialist. If you have an actual veterinary hospital locally, I would go there.

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answers from St. Louis on

This is a dreadful situation for your Beagle. My oldest daughter is in Veterinary Medical school right now and is already a certified Veterinary Surgical Nurse. I asked her about this and she said that this is a pretty grave and very long-term condition for a Beagle of this age. It is a spinal cord problem and the fact that the dog is now paralyzed to a degree is an indication that the slipped discs are pressing on the spinal cord or have created such inflammation in the area that your dog has lost it's ability to use the back legs. She said this seems like a two-fold surgical case and an expensive one at that! You need a Veterinary Specialist here. Preferably one that specializes in orthopedic injuries and that also has certification for stem-cell transplants. My daughter works for a Vet who does this and they have reversed paralysis and arthritic injuries by using stem-cell therpay or stem-cell transplant surgery. The recently cured a 8 year old Dachschund of lower extremity paralysis from disc injuries with a complete spinal surgery and stem-cell transplant. She went from a doggie cart to walking on her own legs again. Granted...$8000 of surgery. WOW.
These are very difficult cases. If you don't know the root cause of the disc injuries or if there is salvageable spinal fucntion to work with, your Beagle will deteriorate rapidly in this condition. I am sorry to say that but it is the reality of the issue. In this case, you need a specialist and a good one at that. Be prepared to spend thousands to fix this unless they can find a different drug and physical therapy protocol to turn this around in a timely matter. It is decision time for your pet. Can you live with him in pain and deteriorating or can you find a specialist and afford what might be the largest vet bill you will ever pay? The only other option....and this comes with a heavy to consider putting him down. Vets and Vet-Med students never want to prolong an animals suffering. When we can't give them what they need or there is nothing else we can do, it is our job as humans and compassionate owners to never let our pet friends suffer. Dogs are proud, steadfast, and energetic beings. Take that away from them, and their lives become less than they should be. We wish you much luck and we will say lots of prayers for your beloved Beagle.

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answers from New York on

It's a quality of life issue. He's use to a certain quality in his life which is now gone. He's sad because he's in pain and doesn't understand why. You are his caretaker who is in charge of making decisions for him. It's not a matter of money because spending more money doesn't mean he'll have the same quality of life. Your husband is right. It's a terrible thing to have to do but if you truly love this dog you will call the vet and make arrangements to put him down.

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answers from Madison on

Why is he in a cage all by himself and not out and among family? He needs love and attention; dogs are pack animals. I'd cry and whimper and be miserable if I were kept in a cage too.

I don't believe much in pharma drugs because I believe they always give us (humans and animals) worse problems than they're "supposed" to fix. They are a Band-Aid; they don't get down to the root of the problem.

Look up The guy who owns the site is a vet. He makes human-grade (that means, you or I could take the supplements) supplements for dogs and cats. (I am telling you this to help you; I do not get any money for telling you about this site)

When my dog experienced a trick knee, I bought his Flex N Free product; she hasn't had one incident since. When she couldn't get better after having the flu/a cold and wound up in the animal hospital with an IV all day because of severe dehydration, her body pulled out nutrients from her bones that showed up as "pre cancer" on blood work. She never had cancer, but I bought a "cancer protocol" from that replaced all the nutrients she was deficient in. She was up and walking about in a manner of about three days; you would never have known she'd been so sick.

Please look up and talk with Dr. Stephen Becker. He can point you in the right direction of what you should give your dog or do for him.

I'm so sorry to hear that he's in poor health. That's not fun for anyone--him or you.

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answers from Gainesville on

I agree with everyone who said to get a second opinion. If there is a vet school near you, they may have a wider range of diagnostic and treatment options than most vets.
It's also worth it to ask the vet straight out what his chances are, and what his life will be like. Read up on the syndrome. I don't know your vet, so you may need to be blunt when asking if he needs to be put down. Most vets love animals and hate to see families lose loved ones, and many of them beat around the bush about euthanasia. Be clear with them about your concern over his quality of life. And remember that it's chance too, treatments that are mostly successful may or may not work in your case.
That being said, your dog is young, and I personally would fork over more cash in exchange for a longer and reasonable life. It's up to you.
I'll give you two examples. We had a Samoyed when I was a teenager. Fantastic disposition, lovely, wonderful dog. She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at age 2. We managed her pain and somewhat reduced her activity for about 6 years, and she still had a good suburban dog life. She couldn't do intense activity without paying for it in pain and stiffness the next day, but she had so much fun we let her do this sometimes. She could handle daily walks with no problem. As she got older it got worse, and then she couldn't stand without pain and was sometimes incontinent. There was a day she couldn't get up without awful crying, and we knew it was time to put her down. But her reduced but happy life was the right decision, I think.
Then, when I was in my 30s, I had a beloved mutt for 10 years, who quit eating. We went through $2,000 of diagnostics, and to be honest we couldn't afford it really, and were about to go through exploratory surgery, when a sudden mass appeared overnight and a few biopsies revealed massive metastatic cancer. They said that chemo was an option, but to their credit they said it would extend his life by maybe six weeks. I wasn't going to put him through that, so we put him to sleep the next day. That all happened over two weeks.
I guess that was just to show you how I weigh the treatment options: what are you getting for it? Only you know if it's worth it for you and your dog.

SWH: from what your vet said, I think you made the right decision. We told our kids that our dead dogs are "chasing chickens in the sky." I'm sorry for your loss, but I think you did the right thing. For what it's worth, I think your kids would understand the truth, but you know your kids and I don't.

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answers from Washington DC on

ohhhh, i'm so, so sorry!
how awful. such a young dog. we've had beagles or beagle mutts our whole lives. my heart just breaks for you.
i would put this poor little fellow down. if possible, get him enough pain killer so he can have a day of snuggling with his family first, and can go surrounded by love and in as little pain as possible. i know this isn't always an option.
i'm SO sorry.
:( khairete

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm sorry's hard when our 4-legged babies are in pain or sick.

I would take him to another vet and get a second opinion.

If it were me? I would get a second opinion. Then find out what course of action and the costs involved. I have a hard time with I don't like seeing my 4-legged babies in pain. It will be a hard decision. I know that my Grady would NOT handle being in a cage lying down and if the Vet said this is the way it's going to be - I would put him down as my 4-legged baby loves to run and jump and play....

Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers...

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answers from Columbus on

ETA J., I am so sorry for you and your family. My heart truly goes out to you today and your whole family.

Everyone is saying 'second opinion', and I agree. However, when you get to this second opinion, please ask quite bluntly whether or not the better option is to put him down.
My vet does everything in his power to keep animals alive and healthy and having a good quality of life, he sometimes neglects to offer euthanasia as an option. Not because he's greedy for the fees, I think because he sees just how much of a bond there is with people and their pets. He tries to think of every viable option.
Ask if it is a more sensible conclusion.
Please take care. I know how rough this is for you.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I 2nd the suggestions to get a 2nd opinion.

Our GSD has something crazy and debilitating happen to her, and we were on a downward spiral, looking seriously at having her euthanized. It was very difficult to even contemplate. But then, she seemed to start to improve. Then took another nosedive. We sought out a 2nd opinion and are so glad we did.

There were more things that could be done for her than our regular vet had suggested. Maybe it was lack of communication, or just bad communication. Or maybe it was an older vet vs. a younger/newer vet who was more up to date on what options we had and what to look at.
(Original vet said we could spend $2,000 on an MRI or basically put her down)... 2nd opinion ran lots of bloodwork, gave her IVs to get her stabilized and then we were able to go from there--putting her on lifetime meds, that are reasonable in costs overall.

I have no idea what is wrong with your dog. Or if there is a treatment or whether it is cost prohibitive if there is. But I would seek a 2nd opinion to make sure you have all information available to you that you can reasonably get.

Oh, and our overall bill for weekend hospitalization, IV meds, care, blood work, etc was less than $700 total. A far cry from the "$2,000 or more" we were quoted for an MRI (which we didn't do), which would have shown either a tumor/cancer or not, and then no treatment options really. So no where to go from there.

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answers from Chicago on

Why is dog chiropractic not advised? It sounds like they treated your dog the same way they'd treat a human for the same condition--and it DOESN'T WORK FOR EITHER ONE!!

Your dog needs a chiro, if there is one in your area.

My friend has a dog that was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. By the time she got to the vet the dog could no longer walk. She was laying around the house all day, sleeping and in pain. She was pretty sure they would have to put the dog down. The vet advised pain meds, and then eventual euthanasia.

My friend turned to homeopathic medicine. She used topical traumeel, internal colocynthis 30C and Internal Bryonia 30C three times a day. It has been a week and the dog is now running, has an appetite and is much more herself. She is not healed completely, but she is so much better!

Had my friend listened to the vet, her dog would be euthanized.

Go see a dog chiropractor and/or a homeopathic dog doctor. Do some internet research.

Unfortunately you can't always trust doctors and vets nowadays. Do your own legwork, if you want to save your pet.

I'm not sure what homeopathic remedy for your dog, but I suggest researching traumeel and arnica as a start. You can purchase both at a health food store.

Good luck!

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answers from New York on

I had a dog that had back problems and the pain meds (some kind of muscle relaxers) they put him on made him relax too much. He started dragging and not using his back legs. Vet said it wasnt from that but as soon as I took him off he started walking again. Not sure if that helps. I am so sorry for what you are going through. I just had to put our 14 & 15 year old dogs to sleep recently. I would get another opinion ( vet schools or emergency hospitals often have great specialists). Just remember your dog may seem happy when you are there with him/petting him but think about how he is feeling the rest of the time. Sorry again.

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answers from Dallas on

Got to a different vet, ASAP. Injections are a bandaid. They do NOT HEAL the problem. I would consult with another vet, in all honesty. I don't think this situation was handled correctly. They made no effort to rehabilitate your dog. They should have come up with a plan of attack, not just injecting and coming back for another. My mother in law has messed up knees, that need to be repaired. She gets cortisone injections. She feels GREAT for a while and as soon as the injections wear off, it's terrible. That's the nature of not treating the problem, but treating one symptom.

Dogs cost a lot of money sometimes.That is a reality.

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answers from Boston on

Go get another opinion, right away. The poor dog is in pain. I don't know why chiropractic isn't a viable option - sometimes vets don't believe in it, just like some MDs don't believe in it for humans. I would try anything right now besides letting him suffer.

Yes, at some point, we may need to make the horrible decision that our dogs cannot be saved, but that needs to be a decision in which we are secure. The grief is hard enough, and worse if we second-guess ourselves.

For everyone's sake, have someone else look at the dog and then make a decision.

Sending you all comforting thoughts.

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answers from Washington DC on

They can't fix the slip disks? What exactly are the shots for? Is it just pain management? I would take him to another vet and see what they can do fix his problem.

If there isn't anything they can do to fix it and can only give pain meds, you should consider putting him down. If all he can do is lay around that is painful. He can't even move, can't go to the bathroom without help, then it would be best to put him down. Having his skin fall off! That is awful and I'm sure extremely painful. He can't live like this for an extended period of time. It's a very hard decision to make, but sometimes it's the best one to make.

Seek a new vet immediately!!!!

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answers from Houston on

Back surgery is a very common fix for what you are describing with extremely positive results. Not sure on cost. The beagle as well as the dachshund are prone to back problems.
He is young enough IMO to make the surgery worth it, but only your wallet can truly answer that. If you can't/don't want to proceed with the surgery or whatever course you take look for a rescue that could maybe take him off of your hands.
Sorry you're having to deal with it.

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answers from Phoenix on

I would seek a second opinion immediately. Like today. See if you have unexplored options. Get the whole picture- is there a surgical option? What would be the price and what are the odds of success? They can't tell you exactly, of course, but a good vet will be honest with you and let you know if they think surgery is a viable option for your specific scenario.
If you do not want to get another opinion, then try to make a list of things that make your dog's life worth living. Does he love walks, chasing a ball, sitting on your lap, etc? Then look at how many of these he can still do. As these things go away, you know it is time to let him go or take action that will get those things back. Letting him suffer right now is just cruel. Do something new or let him go. This is from someone who spent $9000 on a 6 month old puppy with a massive anaerobic infection followed by Valley Fever-induced seizures. I went through three vets, but he lived to be 9, which is good for a male Mastiff. So I absolutely believe in taking advantage of veterinary medicine, we just have to know when to call it quits as hard as that is.
ETA- J., I am so sorry that you have to go through this. It is just about the worst feeling ever. I truly think you are making the decision that is best for your dog. Sending big virtual hugs to you and your family.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I'm so sorry your pet is going through this.
I would let him out of the crate & just keep his activity low key (keep him
by you, help him out to pee etc.).
Then call another vet & get a 2nd opinion.
There may be something else that can help (ex. surgery etc).
Hang in there. He's young.
The money is worth it. Pets are loyal, loving family members & worth
the "help". Hang in there. Do your best to help him.
See if you can get a Care credit card.
If you don't have any money, see if some family will be willing to "donate"
a little to help you.
Do some research online.

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answers from Dallas on

I think you need a second opnion and quick - if you can go to a specialist I would recommend that. Back disease and injury can be serious and they can lose all movement and motion in the back legs if it is not treated appropriated. It is true you can crate them and restrict their activity and place them on medications in order to control the progression of the disease but when they go completely down in the hind end the only option may be a surgical correction of the discs because they are pushing on the spinal cord and causing nerve damage. If not done sooner rather than later the damage can be permanent.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Dr. Hess

10822 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92843


***Just in case you need another opinion and don't mind the drive. I personally found this DR. on yelp the morning after my best friend's dog was hit by a car and we were running from an urgent care clinic that quoted $8500 and gave us grim odds...We had to find someone quick and with a heart. He saved her dog's life and stayed true to his original estimate of $1100. The dog stayed for a week and they received daily updates every morning. They loved the care and compassion as well as the affordable cost to care for their fur child. I just had to reach out to you to share this wonderful Dr./vet to give you maybe another option if you need one.

Best of luck to you with your pet.

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