Friday, November 1, 2013

Degenerative Disc Disease

Coulee just can't seem to get a break. We are pretty sure it wasn't her teeth that was causing the problems a few weeks ago - it was her spine. While she had her dental, we decided to X-ray her neck and spine as she'd been having some minor neck issues over the past year.  I'm glad we did.  The vet has discovered degenerative disc disease in multiple locations in her lumbar and thoracic areas.  

The disease can progress in three ways - gradually, suddenly or not at all.  Right now she is "just" experiencing pain. The next level would be loss of motor control and loss of proprioception (when you turn their foot over and they don't flip it back because they aren't even aware that it is flipped), then paralysis, and then finally the inability to feel deep tissue pain.

Sigh.  Poor Coulee.  Apparently when something can go wrong, it does.  She doesn't even have a single thing that puts her in a high risk category - her sex, breed, weight, and physical fitness are all on her side. This is most commonly seen in dogs like dachshunds and corgis who have long bodies, and short legs.

The good news is, she will be able to run and fetch toys off the ground again once she recovers from an episode (8 week recovery time) as it is important she stay in good shape.  So that makes me happy and nervous, all at the same time.  I've explained that when she plays fetch she does it whole heartedly and I think when we have our appointment to discuss things, I'll be ready with pictures so that the vet will truly understand, but at the moment, she is convinced it will be OK.

The only immediate change to her lifestyle will be no more jumping.  We'll have to change the way we play fetch to make sure she never wants to leap up to catch the toys (which is fine and easy to avoid) but also no jumping on and off the bed or in and out of the vehicle.  I've ordered a ramp (that will hopefully fit in my car!) and in the meantime I'm borrowing one.  Today's challenge will be teaching her how to use it.

I don't really have any more information than that. When we go back in for her teeth recheck in a little over a week we'll take a look at the x-rays and talk more with the vet.  Because she has multiple spots in her back that don't look very good, I'm assuming that this has been happening gradually so my biggest concern is that it will continue to gradually get worse and there will be no way to avoid it no matter how careful we are. But I guess we'll tackle that when/if it happens.  In the meantime, we'll be taking it one day at a time.


Taryn said...

Poor Coulee! She really has been plagued with so many health issues. My first corgi had IVDD and while it eventually did lead to back end paralysis, it wasn't until he was 16! He played his beloved frisbee until about 14 when he stopped on his own. As it worsened (in the late stages) he was on a very low dose of Prednisone, but that helped him a lot, although it did make him even more food crazed than a normal corgi. He had a few acute episodes as well, but the emergency vet got us through those. I am so sorry you and Coulee will have to deal with this, but it can be managed.

WigglyZack said...

Poor Coulee. Poor you. It's good to know tho and then be able to do whatever is necessary to make her comfortable. You really have been through it medically with her that's for sure.

K-Koira said...

Poor Coulee. Its like she has a curse on her or something.

Andrea said...

She just can't catch a break...poor girl.