In case anyone's dog has spinal issues that are causing pain, I want to reassure you that surgery is not necessarily an evil. Oliver has suffered from back pain almost all of his life. We had been able to control it with enforced rest, including no jumping and no walks, an prednisone. He always recovered within one to two weeks time. Starting the beginning of December, he started whimpering all the time and he didn't even want to jump. We tried two weeks of metacam and he was still whimpering every day. His orthopedic vet suggested an MRI to know exactly what we were dealing with. The neurologist said he had bulging discs at C3-4 that were putting a lot of pressure on his spinal nerves. I decided to do surgery but kept him on a regimen of Tramadol and prednisone until we could schedule the surgery and he still was shimpering in pain every day. Right after Christmas, he had ventral slot decompression on C3-4 which had herniated since his MRI just a few weeks before. The neurologist who did the surgery also did Riley's SM decompression surgery last year. For cervical discs, they do the incision in the front of the neck (for people too).So he has a long incision (about 4-5 inches long) down his neck and chest. The staples were in for two weeks and came out on Monday. He is a new dog. No more whimpering or pain. He is jumping again - actually three days after he came home from the hospital (they kept him for two nights) he wanted to jump and the only time he cried in pain was when he twisted his neck around. I am so glad I did the surgery for him. He is pain free right now.
An added bonus of having the MRI was that the neurologist saw no syrinxes at all! Since he is almost 9 years old he also had to have a consult with a cardiologist before his MRI and surgery and he has no murmur either. And he is my big boy from a backyard breeder - go figure. I am sending his MRI results to Clare Rusbridge and a mouth swab for DNA to Penny Knowler in Canada. THey are doing a study on oldies who do not have any signs of SM. I never would have know he doesn't have any syrinxes without the MRI, but I never would have just put him under for a scan without a pressing medical reason. I hope his results will help further Cavalier health research.