Puppy vertebrate problem. How can I take care of the dog spine?

We rescued a 5 month old puppy. Less than 24 hours after picking her up from transport, she sneezed and began crying frantically. That stopped, but we could tell she was in pain. The next day our Vet x-rayed and found thinning between two vertebrae. She has a pinched nerve. She's on pain meds for 1 week. What are her chances to avoid surgery. We can't afford MRI's and surgery, but we love her deeply and would hate to have to send her back.

  • Vetinfo

    By: Erika Raines El Segundo, CA

    Replied on 04/19/2011

    From how you describe her acting and the appearance you describe on the X-ray, your puppy may need back surgery. There are, however, medical methods of managing the problem which may be effective, especially since she is so young. However, this medical treatment will take much longer than a week. If at any time she loses function in any of her limbs or loses the ability to feel pain in any of her toes, she may need surgery on an emergency basis. If she loses pain sensation or mobility, you should have her re-evaluated immediately. In order to help her body try to heal this injury without surgery, your puppy needs to be on strict kennel confinement and will likely need to stay confined in such a manner for a month or more. This helps to reduce the movement in the injured area of the spine and reduce injury to the nerves there. She may be allowed out of her kennel for toileting purposes, but should be carried to the area and carried back to her kennel. She may be allowed out for family time, but during these times she should not be allowed to jump up or down from anything and should be kept very still. She will probably need more than one week's worth of pain medication as she will need to be kept comfortable while you are attempting to help her heal. As she is still a young puppy, you may also need to ask your veterinarian for a sedative such as acepromazine to help her remain calm and quiet in her kennel so that she does not injure herself more. Another thing you can try to actively encourage healing is alternative treatment. Acupuncture therapy may be very helpful in promoting her recovery. Your veterinarian should be able to refer you to a local veterinary acupuncturist if these services are not available at your clinic.

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