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Discussion Starter #1
My Dolly went on vacation with us over the Christmas week and played hard as she always does in the sand.

The day before we left she started to get very sore at the end of the day to the point she refused to move or eat (very very rare) and cried when you tried to touch her back side.

We had a 12 hour drive home the next day and she slept and sat still the entire time minus a few stops for a potty break.

It had be very worried so I took her to our vet the next day and they did some range motions with her hips and said that there was stiffness in her muscles and she "over did it". Gave me Meloxicam for inflammation and Tramadol for pain and said no walks or fun for a week.

Well, F-Fwd to yesterday (19 Jan): I threw her ball with her but was very gentle and she did little running. Last night same issue, crying when touched on her backside and very sore in the morning.

Took her to another vet recommended by our local GSD chapter. They took X-Rays and said Dolly has bone spurs in her lumbar spine above her hips which they diagnosed as "spinal spondylosis".

What the vet gave for treatment:

Cortisone shot for the pain.
Novox 100mg for pain (1 time pr day /w food).
Phycox soft chews for joint support.

Basically said no more exertion. No more ball play. No more stairs. No more running. Controlled walks daily and lots of swimming.

He pretty much said she is on her way to be crippled if we do not follow the above instructions and that it is very serious!

My question after such a long post.

Does anybody have experience with this in non-senior GSD?
What causes this?
Can surgery help?

This is a huge shock to us as we are very active and she has huge drives and keeping her away from all that play just feels like a death sentence.

Thanks!
 

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I am so sorry, she is still so very young. I don't know anything about this condition. I hope those who do will jump in and give some solid advice that will help.
 

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gowen- First, so sorry to hear about Dolly's diagnosis. While I have not had a young GSD with spondylosis, our pitbull does has vertebral spondylosis. Our vet thinks it was caused by an injury when she was young (likely due to her being abused before we rescued her). We have been treating with Rimadyl twice a day, Tramadol as needed for pain, chiropractic adjustments every two weeks and acupuncture as needed (we are so lucky our vet does these things!). The adjustments seem to be what helps our girl the most. Our vet said there is a laser treatment that he normally does, but because she also has mast cell tumors, we can't do that (I guess it could help the cancer spread). Might be something to ask your vet about, though, as it is our vet's most recommended treatment for spondylosis. Also, she takes fish oil and glucosamine w/MSM. We have been treating her for this since she was about 4, when she still had tons of energy and wanted to go, go, go. We were also told to limit her activity, and not to push her to do things if she doesn't seem up to it. We have not done hydrotherapy (Roxy is terrified of water), but have heard of others having success with it.

We had to switch to lots of "brain activites" to keep her balanced... it obviously works better now that she's 8. We got puzzle toys, used frozen Kongs, hid treats and had her find them.

Again, she is not a GSD, and therefore doesn't have the high drive Dolly probably has, so I don't know if any of this will help keep her happy. It's so difficult to see them in pain! I truly hope you'll be able to come up with a treatment plan that helps Dolly!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I am so sorry, she is still so very young. I don't know anything about this condition. I hope those who do will jump in and give some solid advice that will help.
Thank you Saphire. You and I both know nothing about this though I'm learning rapidly and it's not looking good.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
gowen- First, so sorry to hear about Dolly's diagnosis. While I have not had a young GSD with spondylosis, our pitbull does has vertebral spondylosis. Our vet thinks it was caused by an injury when she was young (likely due to her being abused before we rescued her). We have been treating with Rimadyl twice a day, Tramadol as needed for pain, chiropractic adjustments every two weeks and acupuncture as needed (we are so lucky our vet does these things!). The adjustments seem to be what helps our girl the most. Our vet said there is a laser treatment that he normally does, but because she also has mast cell tumors, we can't do that (I guess it could help the cancer spread). Might be something to ask your vet about, though, as it is our vet's most recommended treatment for spondylosis. Also, she takes fish oil and glucosamine w/MSM. We have been treating her for this since she was about 4, when she still had tons of energy and wanted to go, go, go. We were also told to limit her activity, and not to push her to do things if she doesn't seem up to it. We have not done hydrotherapy (Roxy is terrified of water), but have heard of others having success with it.

We had to switch to lots of "brain activites" to keep her balanced... it obviously works better now that she's 8. We got puzzle toys, used frozen Kongs, hid treats and had her find them.

Again, she is not a GSD, and therefore doesn't have the high drive Dolly probably has, so I don't know if any of this will help keep her happy. It's so difficult to see them in pain! I truly hope you'll be able to come up with a treatment plan that helps Dolly!
Thanks for your input. The vet seemed more keen on keeping the activity to a minimal than treatment. I asked about surgery and he said its an option as a last resort. No mention of laser treatment.:confused:

We are in the process of making changes around the house now. We cut the legs off her couch so it's a simple step up now vs a hop up and also are having the front yard fenced in. We fenced the back yard when dolly adopted us but she has to travel down many stairs to get there due to a basement. The front yard is level to the first floor.

It's going to be so hard to stop her running so wild. She is just a full throttle dog.

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
West German show lines?

spondylosis or sacral lumbar spondylosis which is a big known problem in Germany -- http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/favorite-links-books-videos/440833-video-german-tv-subject-breed.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O39-KcW60fs

not the same thing as ankylosing spondylitis which is usually presenting with age .
I've seen the video and did my best to get a good line with no historical issues. Dolly is a working line. Her mom is Czech and father is German.

Jaga von Falkenhein @ PedigreeDb

We took extra care with her as a puppy with no stairs allowed until she was 1 and no strenuous activity. I just don't see how this happened.

She has done so well for 3 years and then this comes up all of a sudden. It's from zero pain all her life (minus the occasional sand spur or cut paw pad) to one day she can hardly walk. I'm just at a loss for words. She is much better now but you can see it all over her when she has to step up.:(

I've never OFA X-rayed but went ahead and did the hips and elbows since our puppy contract guarantees them. Hips are good but that's not OFA official just vet making a 40 years in practice guess as he put it.
 

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We adopted my sweet boy, Moses the Werewolf, when he was about 5. He had many issues, having been found as a scrawny stray on the streets of L.A. One of the most significant problems was spondylosis. We were able to keep him comfortable with a pretty high dose of Tramadol (400-600 mg per day)for about a year, but he was an energetic, feisty GSD and refused to settle down. Then, he aggravated it while playing. From there on, it was downhill until we simply couldn't stand to see him in pain any longer. I wish I could give you a better story, but that was how it worked out for us. I hope you find a good vet and therapy to keep his back in the best shape you can for as long as you can.
 

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I had a young male go paralyzed over night. Come to find out that the people pouring concrete thought it was fun to make him jump up and down and up and down til he was hitting his head on the 6' roof of the kennel. Next day couldn't walk, was dragging the back end.

I rushed him to the ER. They told me all kinds of horrible stuff and gave me meds which I started him on, and the x-rays. He was able to walk, very badly out of there. I followed up with my vet, and he said it was not that bad, but the dog has spondylosis. He was WGSL. We gave him the meds for about 2 weeks I think. It was several years ago. Then nothing. He was fine for 14 months. Then he was totally paralyzed one day. I gave him pred right away and rushed him to the vet. We tried meds for a couple of days, but they determined his disk ruptured and he wasn't good candidate for surgery.

I hope they have better suggestions for keeping your girl healthy with the issue now.
 

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I would check into some of these places to see what would be the best/most reasonable for you to work with - and also hopefully find a place that will give you information on things you can do on your own with her:
Canine Rehabilitation Facilities in NC

The ones that kind of stood out to me were:

Mobility/Rehabilitation :: Veterinary Health Complex :: North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine - I always prefer a vet teaching hospital

About Us | Veterinary Rehabilitation & Pain Management Hospital

I hope they have a different outlook on activity and prognosis.
 

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I would check into some of these places to see what would be the best/most reasonable for you to work with - and also hopefully find a place that will give you information on things you can do on your own with her:
Canine Rehabilitation Facilities in NC

The ones that kind of stood out to me were:

Mobility/Rehabilitation :: Veterinary Health Complex :: North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine - I always prefer a vet teaching hospital

About Us | Veterinary Rehabilitation & Pain Management Hospital

I hope they have a different outlook on activity and prognosis.
I couldn't agree more about finding a vet that specializes in pain management/rehab. Our first vet completely misdiagnosed Roxy as having early onset arthritis, and offered no treatment plan other than random 10 day boosters of Rimadyl. Our current vet specializes in pain management and is certified in alternative treatments and chiropractic care. He has been so helpful to us and to Roxy. With what he's doing, she's at least able to go for short walks (most days, that is). I'm not suggesting your vet doesn't know what they're doing... but seeing a specialist may offer you more options for Dolly. Sounds like you are already doing so much to help her have normalcy in your home. She is obviously very loved! Please keep us all posted when you find out more information!
 

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I have an 8 year old that has been extremely active her whole life.
I've had her since she was a puppy and she trail rides with me - in her younger years putting in many many miles. Just this past fall she did regular 8-12 mile trails with me. However, this past year she started to slow down and I just assumed it was arthritis and started her on previcox but only before long exercise. Then several months ago I had x rays done and spondylosis was discovered.

Here's the thing though - according the x rays she has had it for years and I had no idea. And it's severe. So severe my vet was surprised b/c she doesn't act like it is severe. My vet said that her fitness has saved her. His recommendation is to keep her pain in check and keep her as fit as she is willing b/c as soon as she loses muscle mass she will go down hill fast.

I have had my girl on glucosamine for years. And after much research done on this website and others I have adopted the following plan of attack

1) Adequan injections - even if this does not help the spondylosis - she is compensating on for rear weakness on her front end and has developed arthritis there and it cannot hurt

2) Supplements - there are lots out there and I rotate between Springtime Longevity and Actiflex Canine.

3) Bone Stock - made correctly (joint and knuckle bones simmered for 24-48 hours) about 1 cup daily and eggshell membranes peeled from my farm eggs daily

4) Previcox and Tramadol but only as needed - my vet has advised that these anti inflammatories and pain meds may become even more necessary as she ages so to use them only on 'bad days' for now

5) REGULAR EXERCISE!!!! I take Heidi out for at least a mile and hopefully more like 3 most days. We are rural and she is off leash and I let her pick her own pace - if she runs, fine - she knows her pain limit.
I do not let her jump off of high surfaces or out of my vehicle though.

6) I am not in a position to feed raw or I would so I feed the highest quality kibble I can find - right now it's Farmina.

My dog has pain and is slowing down for sure. I know that this disease is not good and I know it's only a matter of time before this disease progresses beyond the activity level she is at right now. But I'm going to do my best to keep her quality of life as high as possible and exercise is key to that.

There is TONS of good advice on supplements and diet on here to aid pain and inflammation. Your dog is young and it's probably not good for her to be on pain meds for years and years so I'd research alternative options.

Good Luck. It totally sucks. I bawled in the vets office when we got this diagnosis.
 

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JoanieGSD, you are spot on with needing to make sure dogs with spondylosis don't lose muscle mass and stay as active as possible. By "limit her activities" I meant that we could no longer do things that involved lots of stairs or lots of jumping, as both of those things made Roxy's pain much, much worse. We also couldn't do anything which could involve her twisting her back, or moving in a different direction suddenly (no flirt pole, frisbee tossing, etc.). We do make sure to still take her on walks, though now that she's getting older, she can handle less and less.

Just a question about Dolly... does she seem to be in pain with normal activity? Like walking?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you all for your input. It is really appreciated. This is really traumatic for us because Dolly is such a wonderful dog and has done nothing but enrich our lives with her loyalty and love. It's just not fair to her and I plan on doing whatever is needed to ensure she is comfortable and I'm willing to do whatever it takes.

I do not live far from NC State's rehab center and will definitely schedule an appointment there. I'd personally like another opinion to be honest so may bring the X-rays to have them look over.

GypsyGhost: Her pain is only after hard playing, jumping, climbing or stairs. She has no pain when walking or running. When she is in pain it is crippling and totally unbearable to watch. :(

I'd really appreciate opinions on what I need to be doing as far as exercise and diet if I should change to something better.

Her diet is:

Food -Wellness core ocean (one cup am, one cup pm).
Treats -Happy Hips salmon jerky (usually two a day sometimes three).
New Supplement -Phycox One Soft Chew (3 per day initially then to 1 per day)

Phycox is new to us given by the vet as a good Glucosamine supplement. It appears to be good stuff.

Her exercise is a ~2 mile x2 a day with weekend hikes and longer walks. Once the weather gets warmer we have a place on the water where she loves to swim (she usually hangs out in the water most of the day) we try to get out there two or three times a year. Also take her to swim at a lake nearby.

She weighs 78 lbs and is intact. Thanks again
 

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gowen- I know it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch your girl be in pain. It breaks my heart when Roxy hurts! I truly believe Dolly knows you are going to do everything in your power to make this better for her.

Our vet started Roxy on Wellactin, which is a fish oil/omega-3 supplement that is supposed to help lubricate her spine, as well as Dasuquin, which is glucosamine/MSM. We were told to make sure we fed grain-free food (which we already did), because grains can cause inflammation. You are already feeding grain-free, so I don't know if you need to make any changes, but I'm sure when you see a specialist, you can discuss it with them.

As for exercises, our vet has us do three sets of five "sit" to "down", back up to "sit" each day, in addition to whatever length walks Roxy is up to that day. It is supposed to help strengthen the muscles around her lower spine.

Good luck with everything! Please let us know how things go at the rehab center!
 

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Lots of good suggestions here. I would go with acupuncture and laser therapy as well as lots of supplements and regular low-impact exercise. Lots of walking and mind games!

Rafi has had joint problems since I adopted him 7 years ago.

He is on a raw diet and gets a ton of supplement and is doing great!

egg shell membranes
Tumeric
Springtime Inc Longevity
Springtime Inc Omega 3 6 9
In Clover Connectin
Ester C (2200 mg/day)

He also gets those Ark Naturals Sea Mobility treats and, when he has exercised a lot, Only Natural Pet's Get Up and Go. If he is in obvious pain I also give him Arnica.
 

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joan....what are egg shell membrane.
They were suggested to me by a member on here. They are literally the membranes lining eggs. they have antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties. I peel them out of my farm eggs fresh every day but you can buy them dried in capsules online...at vitamin stores. vitacost was suggested
 

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Lots of good suggestions here. I would go with acupuncture and laser therapy as well as lots of supplements and regular low-impact exercise. Lots of walking and mind games!

Rafi has had joint problems since I adopted him 7 years ago.

He is on a raw diet and gets a ton of supplement and is doing great!

egg shell membranes
Tumeric
Springtime Inc Longevity
Springtime Inc Omega 3 6 9
In Clover Connectin
Ester C (2200 mg/day)

He also gets those Ark Naturals Sea Mobility treats and, when he has exercised a lot, Only Natural Pet's Get Up and Go. If he is in obvious pain I also give him Arnica.
BowWowMeow

How much tumeric do you give? I've been thinking about that but know nothing about it so am wary of side effects, etc. Do you think it makes much difference?
 

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I don't have any advice but I wanted to say that I'm sorry to hear about Dolly. I hope you are able to find a way to manage her and keep her comfortable.
 
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