The Perfect Vehicle - Life with motorcycles


August 19, 2011

Katie's Prognosis

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Katie With Frisbee

Katie With Frisbee : 4 Aug 2011

I need an OT category. :-)

About 10 days ago, Katie exhibited signs of lameness, pain and possible dysentery, but we fairly quickly worked out that the problem wasn’t intestinal. It was her back.

I just got the results of the radiologist report. She has a narrowing of the spine at the lumbosacral junction. It’s not “definitive” but there appears to be some spondylosis as well.

She is responding to anti-inflammatories (vetprofen) and pain meds (tramadol). We started that routine on Monday. We’ve slowly decreased the pain meds, and today she ran up the stairs even though this morning she was not able to jump up into bed. (Yes, I know I need to discourage exertion – she took me by surprise.)

We knew she had started feeling better yesterday (Wednesday) because she was chasing her tail. Mike and I didn’t realize how long it had been since she’d done that… until she did and and we started laughing. Also, I pointed out that over the summer she had stopped running downstairs to greet him when he came home from work; now we wonder if that wasn’t an early sign of discomfort.

Learning about this disease:

Lumbrosacral stenosis goes by many names, including cauda equina syndrome (emphasis added).

Cauda equina syndrome (degenerative lumbosacral stenosis) is caused by compression of the nerve roots (cauda equina) coursing through the lumbosacral spinal canal in the lower back. Nerve root entrapment and pressure can result from an arthritic process, infection, a degenerative disc rupture, or tumors. Most dogs affected by lumbosacral degeneration are middle aged or older large, athletic breeds…

The prognosis depends on the severity and chronicity of clinical signs before surgery. Dogs with pain, reluctance to jump, or tenderness upon getting up as their only symptoms will usually improve rapidly and dramatically. Some patients may have an occasional, transient, painful episode. Dogs with chronic neurologic dysfunction will take much longer to improve, and they may never return to completely normal function. However, at the very least they will return to a pain free lifestyle.

For what it’s worth, Katie’s tail is set “low” relative to the breed standard.

Here’s a bit more, from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine:

Bony bridging underneath the vertebrae, called spondylosis, is a common aging change not indicative of lumbosacral disease. Since compression of the nerve roots cannot be visualized on x-rays, advanced imaging with a CT or MRI must be performed to truly diagnose this condition…

Either a steroid or a non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed in order to decrease the swelling of the nerve roots. Additionally, a muscle relaxant or pain reliever may be used. The most important aspect of conservative treatment includes exercise restriction. Although the anti-inflammatory medication will help to relieve pain, exercise restriction is necessary to alleviate the clinical signs.

Affected breeds:

Short-legged and long-backed breeds, commonly known as chondrodystrophoid breeds, are at higher risk for IVD (intervertebral disk disease) … Examples of disproportionate chondrodystrophoid breeds include Dachshund, Basset Hound, Bulldog, Pug, Beagle, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Welsh Corgi, Scottish Terrier, Cairn Terrier and Munchkin cats. [But Cairn’s are not listed in this PDF of hereditary diseases.]

Other resources:



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