Monday, July 18, 2011

Spondylosis stinks

Mr. Bailey has been on Deramaxx (NSAID) for over a year now and I've felt like it didn't seem to help him as much as I thought it should.  His hip x-rays at only a year old showed that he had shallow hip sockets so I always knew that would be something we had to contend with as he aged.  Given the way he played - no holds barred, wild and free - when he was young (and even not so young), I also knew that one day he'd likely pay for it.  It's who he is and what he has always loved so I don't regret letting him go wild for even a minute.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned it here before, but I wasn't particularly happy with the vet we had been going to.  We decided to start going to that clinic largely b/c they accepted Care Credit and it gave me piece-of-mind knowing that when I was out of town for a dog show, etc that whoever he was staying with could take him there and he would be taken care of with no worry about payment. 
I missed my holistic vet.  I missed her terribly.  Then, out of frustration with a visit for Mendel's second puppy vaccines I decided to call the old holistic vet.  My world got a whole lot brighter when I found out they had recently begun accepting Care Credit!

Why I love the Holistic Vet:
She asks me what I want for my pets instead of telling me what to do.  I can't even express how big a deal this is to me.  When Mendel and I went in for a distemper vaccine she asked me what I was thinking I wanted to do for other vaccines, if any.  When I told her I was definitely not going to do more than the distemper combo at that time b/c I don't think it's in his best interest to have multiple vaccines at once, she breathed a sigh of relief and said she was happy to hear that.  When I asked her what she recommended as far as his first Rabies vaccine she said she likes to see people wait until 6 month of age to make sure we're not throwing too much at them too young, at which point I breathed a sigh of relief and had to resist the urge to hug her.  She answered every question I had about the other vaccines completely honestly and without the usual "spin" vets tend to give.  (I don't have a problem with a vet recommending things, but I want the whole truth, not just the data that supports their recommendation.)  I truly trust her to give me her opinion based on what *I* want for my pets rather than what the "standard protocol" dictates.  I am so very grateful to have her back in my dogs' lives! 

Today Bailey and I went to the holistic vet for a check up and to talk about some different treatment options.  I wasn't planning on having x-rays done because long ago I decided that I would not consider surgical options for him.  As the one human who knows him better than anyone else, I feel I am most qualified to determine that it's just not what he would want.  Fortunately, I trust the holistic vet completely and she suggested that we might have a better idea of what the best drug options are for him if we knew what was going on with his bones.  I will freely admit that had another "by the book" vet suggested the same thing, I might not have opted for the x-rays, but because I trust her to recommend them for the right reasons I decided to go ahead and get them.  I am so glad I did.

As I said, I knew Bailey had some issues with his hips themselves, but I hadn't seen them in black and white since I worked at a vet clinic nearly 10 years ago.  I was pleasantly surprised to see this:



If these were Mendel's hips I would be concerned, but for Bailey I'm ecstatic to see that the hips are in the sockets where they should be and there aren't a lot in the way of boney changes.  For a 13 year old train wreck, these look pretty great.  You can see that his femoral heads are quite flat and his hip sockets are a bit on the shallow side, but over all they're a relief. 

So what's the problem?  Why does he hurt?

Bailey - lateral

Here we're looking at his spine.  Starting from his head, things are looking pretty good... until we get close to his hips.  Notice they get a bit closer together, and then there's this:

the problem

Spondylosis.  Not good.

What is happening is that he has developed bony projections on his lumbar vertebra and they are forming a bridge.  For Bailey this is particularly problematic because the location of the problem is also the location of major nerve bundles that service his rear.  I have noticed that he seems less "aware" of when he needs to defecate lately, and this is an issue that may continue to be a problem, but there are solutions for that problem and it's certainly not going to slow us down.

Here is a really great (and sad) x-ray I found on Flickr of another dog.  It shows a number of the spurs and bridge formations I am talking about so you can see the different stages of their development.  At only 7 years old, x-rays like that are just heartbreaking, but it's wonderful to see that her owners are doing everything they can to keep her happy and healthy

So what's in store for Bailey?
Once the Deramaxx is gone, I don't think we're going to continue it.  His liver and kidney functions look great, but I see no reason to tax his organs when it's not really bringing him all that much benefit.  Right now, Tramadol is what really seems to be helping him.  My next step is looking into acupuncture.  I have heard a great number of stories from people who swear by it, so it might be a good option for him as long as it doesn't stress him out.
For right now, the main goal is to keep him happy and pain free so he can be as naughty as he wants to be.  :)


  1. Oh Poor Bailey!

    I have human for of Spondylolisthesis which is definitely no fun.

    I can't imagine one of our precious fur babies going through the same pain and discomfort.

    I'm glad Bailey has a furmommy as concerned as you are for keeping him healthy and pain free. What a blessing!!

  2. It was interesting to see those x-rays. The holistic vet sounds great!
    I had a black lab that had spondylosis I think, although didn't know what it was called at the time. It showed up when we were x-raying for a totally unrelated issue. I never really noticed it causing her pain, the only obvious thing was that she couldn't bend her spine tightly to the side, which got even worse as the condition progressed. For example, if she went in a smallish crate, she wouldn't be able to turn around. She couldn't bend enough to reach her back end to clean herself either.
    Hope Bailey continues to have some more 'goodish' years:)

  3. I just found out today (via x-rays) that my dog has this condition. He's only six years old. His bridging is in the exact same spot and is about the same size as the growth shown in your x-ray. If you come across any treatments that work, please update your post as I'm sure I'll be tying anything that has promise.

    Thx Kevin

  4. I personally have never heard of anything that is an actual "treatment", as in "make it go away". Good pain management is really all I'm aware of. We used tramadol and Deremaxx. Gabipentin (sp?) is another option, but by the time we go to the point of maybe trying it I knew Bailey was just done with the drugs. He was much older than your dog. I'm so sorry you poor boy is dealing with this.
    If you got him from a breeder, please be sure to contact him/her and let them know. It is believed there is some genetic component to this and that is information a breeder needs to know in order to best manage their breeding program.

  5. Forgot to mention. Some breeds can be sensitive to sulfa drugs. Most of my Samoyed friends don't like to use Deramaxx, they use Metacam instead (and that is probably what I would use in the future).


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