My Min Pin Has Intervertebral Disc Disease
The best place to begin seems to be at the beginning. Let me introduce you to my Min Pin. His name is Buzz and he is a two year old brown Min Pin and the love of our lives. He came from Minnesota in January 2010 to take over our hearts. He's been to school (puppy kindergarten, manners class, and agility training) and is a most personable Min Pin. Our vet is amazed at how well behaved he is AND that he never bites! He's adorable and precocious as are all Min Pins. I think that's where his trouble began.
Buzz is a jumper and runner. He jumps off of anything include three and four foot high half walls and pool decks. When he gets running he runs so fast he almost looks like he's lying down on his side! Well, a month or so ago we noticed Buzz was holding up his back leg. At first I thought he might've stepped on something but I couldn't find anything in his paw. He seemed to stop but then a few days later started again. He began holding it up higher and higher and not putting any pressure on it. Time to call the vet.
The vet examined his leg and couldn't find anything wrong either. He explained he thought it might be Buzzie's knee because Min Pins are known to have trouble with their patella (knee). He said he tried to pop it but it wouldn't pop so he ruled out the knee. He mentioned Buzz's back but said he is too young to have back problems. So, he gave me an anti-inflammatory for Buzz to take for ten days and then return for a follow up visit. Most people shudder at the thought of giving their dogs medication but not us, Buzz will eat anything! The medication was liquid so I put it on a plate for him to lick up. Every day at 11:00 a.m. I gave him his medication. He seemed to be improving but was still holding that leg up.
We returned to the vet and he wasn't happy with the results. When he examined Buzz this time he felt around Buzz's back and Buzz pulled away. Now we had a more serious problem and x-rays were necessary. I had to leave Buzz for a few hours because x-raying a dog requires anesthesia. The vet called me about two hours later with the bad news, Buzz had a herniated disk also known as intervertebral disk disease. Initial treatment is confinement for three weeks while continuing the medication he is on. At the end of three weeks we will discuss what happens next.
Have you ever tried to confine a two year old child? Buzz is worse. All he wants to do is jump. The requirements are no running, no jumping and no playing for three weeks! Short walks are allowed but use a harness not a collar. This is almost a death sentence to a very active little guy.
When I got Buzz home and settled in his crate I immediately turned on my computer and went to minpinpuppies.net. "Invertebral disk disease affects both humans and dogs. In dogs it’s most often from jumping off of something. There might be paralysis of the hindquarters if the spinal cord is damaged. The nerves and spinal cord sometimes can take very little twisting or manipulation to create damage. For some dogs supervised swimming can be of benefit, under veterinary agreement, as it allows the limbs movement without bearing weight. Although more common in the long backed breeds such as dachshunds it can affect Min Pins as well." Although I had done what I thought was extensive research before we got Buzz I honestly never saw this one! As with just about everything else on the Internet no answer is definitive.
I go to another site that says "Congenital abnormalities of the spine. Young dogs can develop hind leg neurological abnormalities due to congenital deformities of the spine. Such deformities are typically visible on radiographs (X-rays). The severity of the signs depends on the abnormality and its location." This makes me wonder as Buzz' vet said his condition was genetic.
The more I read the more depressed I get. Different sites mention only surgery will prevent recurrence. Others say chiropractic or swimming therapy may help. I am heartbroken and needless to say upset and confused. I call my vet for reassurance. I have been going to this vet since he moved to this area at least ten years ago (we had another dog who died before we got Buzz). His answer to me was he did not want to give me any misinformation at this time and would rather wait until the three weeks are up to see what we are dealing with. Consoling isn't it? Not only that, should Buzz need surgery he wouldn't do it. I would have to take Buzz to a neurology vet surgeon!
We are one week into our three week regime and I am already at my wits end. Poor Buzz wants to play and I'm petrified. Did I mention several sites said that paralysis very often follows disc herniation especially in a young dog!
The dog's spine, just like a human's is made up of discs and cushions between the discs. These 'cushions' are actually a jell like substance that keep the two discs from rubbing together. When a 'disc' herniates it means that the cushion/gel, has ruptured and is seeping out of the space it is supposed to occupy. This can happen anywhere along the spine. Age can also affect the 'cushion' as in old dogs with arthritis. Usually if this disease is not caused by trauma it isn't seen in dogs until they are three years old or older. Apparently with the first instance of this disease in a young dog confinement and anti-inflammatory drugs are given.
So from what I can gather Intervertebral Disc Disease may be congenital or caused by trauma or caused by just jumping. It may or may not cause paralysis, it may or may not heal without surgery and it may or may not return.
At this point I am a nervous wreck, trying to crate my Buzz and keep him from jumping as much as possible and waiting for the next two weeks to pass to see exactly what's going to happen. (Pet insurance anyone? I should have done that in the beginning.)
If you'd like to know what happens to Buzz at the end of the three weeks please add in Comments below and I will come back and update when we get our results.
After three weeks the vet says his back has healed. The disc is healed but now what? Everything I've read leads me to believe it will come back and my vet said it could come back in seven years or it could come back tomorrow! Right now he's on one more week of "bed rest" then it's back to a normal life. I'll be living in fear of this happening again. If anyone has any suggestions or anything I can do to minimize the risks of return please, please leave a comment.