View Full Version : Degenerative Disc Disease

11th November 2009, 03:44 PM
We're just back from getting a second opinion and have found out that Bailey has degenerative disc disease and will require surgery. We are very lucky that the neurosurgeon had an opening for tomorrow at 3:30pm for an evaluation. They recommended i bring his food, medication and any items from home he may need/want as they may keep him and do the surgery on Friday. The neurosurgeon is about 2 hours away and Bailey will be required to stay at least one night. He currently only has localized pain (the 3 discs immediately behind his ribcage) with no paralysis or other pain YET! The vet believes he will recovery quickly from surgery and be his old self in no time.


11th November 2009, 04:32 PM
Best of luck, hope it all goes well for Bailey :xfngr:

11th November 2009, 05:40 PM
Unless there is a lot that you haven't reported, it may be premature to rush into surgery. What type of surgery would be done? Decompression and/or disk fenestration? If you read up on prophylactic fenestration you'll find a good bit of controversy about it. Are you using a neurologist or a surgeon for the surgery? Have you checked his/her credentials (i.e., board certified)? Are you in the US? What diagnostic tests have been done thus far? Myelogram? Is it confirmed that there is disk herniation?

IVDD is very common, esp. in middle aged to older dogs. Surgery is usually done as a last resort after trying more conservative treatment. Generally if there is paralysis or motor deficits, surgery is done soon. For pain only, conservative treatment is tried first. My board certified surgeon has always recommended conservative treatment for my dogs with IVDD, and they have all responded quite positively with good resolution of symptoms. I've used exercise restriction (no stairs, jumping on furniture, playing with the other dogs, etc.) muscle relaxants like Robaxin, pain meds like Tramadol, prednisone (rarely and short term), acupuncture (I've seen very good results from a/c), etc. I also use supplements like glucosamine/chondroitin. Also, weight reduction would absolutely benefit Bailey whether or not he has surgery. I also have purchased carpeted stair steps that I have in front of the sofa and my bed for the dogs to use so that they don't jump on and off of the furniture. (They must be trained to use them but they love them once they figure them out.)

I would not agree to surgery unless I had a full discussion with the surgeon or neurologist who would be doing the procedure and clearly understood the diagnosis and prognosis, potential ill effects, and the reasons that surgery is being recommended. Your referring vet seems somewhat cavalier (pun is intended!) about the prospect of spinal surgery, which is a pretty serious undertaking. Here is very detailed information:




11th November 2009, 06:23 PM
You're right. There is a lot that i did not include because to do so would be a book instead of a discussion board posting.

Bailey has been treated for this using pain medication, muscle relaxers and restricted movement with absolutely no improvement. This morning we went for a second opinion with a vet who specializes in pain management and physical therapy. New xrays, exam and a long phone call with our primary vet ended up with the same conclusion.

I do not take surgery lightly but i do take Baileys well being to heart. If this surgery can alleviate some of his pain then it will be worth it. I see no sense in keeping him in pain everyday and using pain reliever to mask the pain instead of fix the problem. Masking the pain gives him a false sense of wellness and keeping him confined to a kennel for the remainder of his life is not something i feel is fair to him. I am not willing to let this get to the point that he loses the use of his limbs or becomes temporarily paralyzed and it turns into an emergency surgery situation.

We will be seeing a neurosurgeon (yes, board certified!) tomorrow for an evaluation where i can ask questions about the surgery and the procedure. I saw no need in asking the vet since she does not perform this surgery. She did however, tell me as much as she knew about the surgical procedure and about his condition. I have dealt with this surgery specialty clinic before when my senior cocker was still alive and they do great work.


11th November 2009, 06:28 PM
All the best for Bailey on Friday. Be thinking of you and Bailey.

11th November 2009, 06:33 PM
Sending good wishes to both you and Bailey for excellent results. He is a lovely dog.

The vet believes he will recovery quickly from surgery and be his old self in no time.

That will be awesome!

11th November 2009, 07:12 PM

Very good - you are going into this fully informed and you've tried all of the alternatives leading up to a major surgery! Your reasoning is sound, and you are getting expert advice. I'd be on the same path as you are on at this point. It's especially comforting when you have a past relationship with the clinic that would do the surgery.

Please know that I wasn't being critical but wanted to make sure that not only were you fully informed, but that casual board readers understood more about IVDD and the various options (thus, the links). And some things I mentioned would be helpful after surgery too - the steps, etc. Acupuncture seems to be more and more accepted by conventional clinicians - and many are now using physical therapy such as the underwater treadmills, etc. I've been very fortunate in that these options have worked well and quickly for my dogs (thus far, anyway).

As well as a social/support network, I believe that message boards such as this are a good way to educate many "unseen" readers, which is why I often post longer, more technical messages (that can often turn into a "book").

I hope that all goes smoothly and that Bailey gets good results.


12th November 2009, 08:31 AM
Hope the surgery for Bailey on Friday is a success :)

12th November 2009, 10:46 AM
Trudy, will be thinking of you and Bailey on Friday - we hope the surgery goes well and he makes a good recovery.

Pat, we all appreciate your posts, we learn so much from them cl*p

12th November 2009, 10:53 AM
:xfngr:Lots of cuddles and Licks from Molly and Dougall. We will be thinking of you.

12th November 2009, 11:35 AM
Hope all goes well on friday. Will be thinking of you and Bailey :hug:

12th November 2009, 12:13 PM
Trudy, will be thinking of you and Bailey on Friday - we hope the surgery goes well and he makes a good recovery.

Pat, we all appreciate your posts, we learn so much from them cl*p

Just want to add my voice to this too, as I also have an elderly Cav with this problem. So far we have managed it with medication, exercise restriction etc only, but I was particularly interested to read Pat's advice about acupuncture. My own vet has just started to offer this, so I think I'll go and talk to him about it now.

Do keep your MOST helpful posts coming, Pat, and, Trudy, we'll all be thinking about you and Bailey on Friday. Do let us know how you get on.

Every good wish, Marie-Anne

12th November 2009, 11:10 PM
We met with the surgeon today. Bailey is staying overnight and will have an MRI of his neck and back in the morning. The surgeon was not impressed with the quality of the xrays and ordered an MRI so that he can see exactly what is going on. I have to go back tomorrow afternoon to review the MRI images with him and discuss the next step. Bailey will be coming home for the weekend and if surgery is needed it will be scheduled for the upcoming week or week after. The surgeon and i are on the same page and if surgery can be avoided it will be.

Pat, i appreciate your post and the links. Any information i can get about this condition helps me to better understand what is going on and what his needs are.

My house is empty without him. Anyone have a dog i can borrow?

Love my Cavaliers
13th November 2009, 01:38 AM
I know how you feel with an empty house. I think that's why I have so many! The chances of them all being gone at the same time are really slim. Good luck tomorrow. My Oliver (8 and a half years old) also has degenerative disc disease. So far we've been able to manage it with meds and limited activity, but I know the day will come when...

When Oliver is hurting, he goes into the crate (I keep one around and open all the time) and won't come out. I have to carry him out for pottying. Prednisone usually works - at least so far. So there are a lot of us on this forum that are reading your posts with an eye on our own dogs futures. Let us know how the MRI and vet visit goes.

13th November 2009, 11:03 PM
We are finally back home. The MRI cofirmed a chronic disc herniation between T12 and T13 that requires decompression surgery. He has others that have "slight bulging" but the vet thinks these are inflamed due to this one area between 12 and 13. The MRI was able to show the herniation pushing on his little spinal cord :(

I picked him up today and he will be at home for the weekend. I will drop him off on Sunday evening, he will have surgery (hemilaminectomy) on Monday and will be discharged on Wednesday or Thursday (depending on his progress). He will be on bed rest for 2 weeks and then should be back to his normal self. The surgeon does not forsee any problems for him as he is only having one area operated on which will mean less down time and a more speedy recovery (versus needing decompression on several areas).

Please say a little prayer for my little boy.


Love my Cavaliers
14th November 2009, 12:59 AM
Good luck to little Bailey. May he be strong in spirit and body. Monday will be a hard day for you until you get the phone call after surgery. When Riley had SM surgery, I spent the time waiting for the surgeon's call on CavalierTalk. I got inspiration and hope from everyone on here. We all wish the best for Bailey. Have a snuggly weekend.

18th November 2009, 01:23 AM
Bailey had surgery yesterday and the surgeon says that he was able to tell that his disc has been this way for a long time. The disc was not only pushing on his spinal cord but also on the spinal nerve. The surgery went very well and they were expecting him to be able to move around a little today. Today when the surgeon called me he was esctatic. He said that when he went into check on Bailey that he was already moving around on his own and was acting as though he hadnt even had surgery. He said the incision looks great and that Bailey can come home tomorrow. He is expected to be back to his old self (well, better than his old self) in about 2 weeks!!:)

Thank you for all of your prayers for him. I cannot wait to see my boy running and playing again and free from pain.

18th November 2009, 01:39 AM
thats great news trudy :jmp2: harray for bailey and for his surgeon !cl*p

Love my Cavaliers
18th November 2009, 02:56 AM
Now you can sleep well tonight! Great news.

Cathy T
18th November 2009, 03:02 AM
Wow Trudy....that is great news!! I'm so glad the surgery was such a success. Bailey must be feeling so much better now!!

LoneStar Hoopy
18th November 2009, 03:26 AM
Wow, that is fantastic news. Its such a worry when our little guys are sick. I sometimes think I get more upset than I did when my son was little, lol Or maybe it was just so long ago?

18th November 2009, 10:25 AM
Brilliant news, well done, lots of love to Bailey :p

18th November 2009, 12:31 PM
Oh that is SUCH good news, Trudy:mexwav:

We'll be thinking of Bailey and hoping he now goes from strength to strength.
Do post some pictures of him if you can.

All good wishes from me and mine :)

19th November 2009, 02:42 AM
Bailey was able to come home tonight. He is still a little sore but is otherwise doing great. The surgeon was very impressed with his progress. Here are a few shots. He is on antibiotic for 2 weeks and on dexamethasone (i think thats spelled properly) for 2 days, then every other day for a week.

He was very thirsty and dopey when we got home

His pretty haircut

19th November 2009, 02:44 AM
oops here is a better shot of his square hairdo

Love my Cavaliers
19th November 2009, 03:33 AM
Wow, he looks great!! Up and about already. You must be SOOOO happy.

19th November 2009, 09:27 AM
Great to see Bailey back home and recovering really well. Sending a gentle hug for him.

19th November 2009, 10:42 AM
Beailey looks really well concsidering what he has been through. I am really sorry to jump into your thread but I need urgent related advice. One of my dogs had fenestration ( spelling ) last week, and he has not improved. To the point where I have had to take hime back to the specialist this morning, they are doing a CRT scan with dye to have a second look. His MRI was clear other than this minor disc degeneration. The specialist this morning said he was concerned with his limb disorientation, he stagers quite a lot, and when going for Number 2'2 he quite often collapes to the side. They are looking to see if further disc problems are evident, but he has already mentioned the possiblity of further surgery, and I am still in shock to remember the procedure but it is to remove the discs. I am so worried I will rush my decision and make a mistake, but I don't want him to be in discomfort / pain. He is a brave little lad, and still has period of his old loving self. Any advice greatly appreciated as I am expecting a call in the next 4 hours.

19th November 2009, 10:45 AM
Sorry I spelt Bailey wrong, real insult, just in a bit of a panic.

19th November 2009, 10:56 AM
Poor Bailey. Incision looks good. He probably feels better than he has in a long time.Leo has a bad disc, not anything like what Bailey had. We will probably try acupuncture first if the need arises. Glad Bailey is on the mend and doing so well. :w**h**:

19th November 2009, 11:48 AM
Thanks everyone. He is doing great this morning.cl*p I had to put babygates in front of the couch and the chairs. He walks over there and i can see his little brain thinking about how he can get up there. He will be spending all of his unsupervised time in his play yard and will be sleeping in there at night for this week. I am so glad to have him home and so glad that he is doing so well.