IVDD Diagnosis in a Dog: Bulging Disc and The Importance Of A Second Opinion—Jingle’s Story

When the cushioning disc between the spinal vertebrae bulges or herniates and press on the spinal cord, it is referred to as intervertebral disc disease.

It is an extremely painful condition and it can lead to lameness, weakness, and paralysis; not to mention a severe reduction in quality of life.

Thank you, Luanne, for sharing Jingles’ story.

IVDD Diagnosis in a Dog: Bulging Disc and The Importance Of A Second Opinion—Jingle's Story

Jingles’ story

Jingles was a senior Beagle. He was so silly and full of life that you’d never guess he was 19 years old! 

Every day I shook my head in disbelief at his antics and energy. I wouldn’t change him for the world! I loved him for his foolishness and he always made me laugh.

However, suddenly he had a few episodes of bad pain. 

When it happened he would barely lift his head. His right side got very weak and he had a really hard time walking. He didn’t wag his tail and he didn’t eat because he was in so much pain. 

At the veterinarian

I took him to my regular vet but she didn’t really know what the problem was. She recited the typical suspects for neck pain and sent us on our way with a very low dosage of Tramadol.

That episode lasted 4-5 days and then Jingles seemed ok. Not perfect because if I touched near his head when he wasn’t expecting it he’d yelp. But other than that he was back to his ole Beagley self!

The pain returns

That lasted for about 10 days and then he had another bad episode.

During this recent bad episode, I took him back to my regular vet. She said to put him back on the Tramadol that she has prescribed. But other than that she didn’t have anything else to offer.

Jingles’ pain kept up, The Tramadol was not helping & he was not eating & could barely move.

My poor ole boy, I was so upset, I really thought we were nearing the end.

Emergency visit

I took him to an emergency vet that weekend and again she had very little to offer. 

My heart was breaking. I thought was going to have to euthanize my boy because he had absolutely no quality of life. He was in so much pain, and the two vets I saw did not have anything to help Jingles.

A second opinion

Determined to do something to try to help Jingles, I took him to another vet. He specializes in rehabilitation and physical therapy for animals, the same vet, Dr. Gumley at Cedarview Animal Hospital.

OMG, I wish I had of taken Jingles there from day one! 

Dr. Gumley did not twist Jingles’ head all around trying to make him scream as the other vets did (and likely causing more damage),. He could tell where Jingles was hurting simply by gently feeling his neck and spine, checking his reflexes, etc.

The vet could feel the heat radiating from Jingles’ neck and he could feel the muscles twitching (which you could also visibly see). He was able to pinpoint the specific vertebrae that were causing Jingles so much pain.

Now, only a week under Dr. Gumley’s care, I had my boy back.

Jingles improves

He was able to hold his head up properly again. He returned to rolling in the grass again and trying to steal the cats’ food. Jingles was able to get up on my bed and the couch. He was eating well, became energetic and wanted to go for walks. His tail wag also returned. Jingles were my silly Beagle once again!

Without an MRI we couldn’t know for sure what’s really going on with Jingles. But based on his findings, Dr. Gumley was fairly certain it was a bulging disc in Jingles’ neck which is extremely painful and debilitating. 

Jingles’ treatment

Dr. Gumley increased Jingles’ Tramadol dosage fourfold. He also added in another pain reliever that works with the Tramadol to increase its effectiveness.

Jingles had a chronic renal failure and a grade 5 heart murmur so we were limited with what we could give him. However, the pain meds he was on were kidney and heart safe.

I was icing Jingles neck and we’ve also been doing the cold laser therapy every other day.

I think that really helped to reduce the inflammation.

The importance of second opinions

With the pain sufficiently under control, we could start some gentle physical therapy exercises for Jingles’ neck.

Dr. Gumley gave me hope. He gave me my silly Beagle back. And, most importantly he’s given Jingles his quality of life back!

Always, ALWAYS, get a 2nd opinion and if you still are not satisfied, get a 3rd opinion and a 4th! 

We have to be the voice of the animals we care for and we know them best. Don’t be afraid to speak up for them! I often hear people say “but my vet is so nice” as a reason not to go elsewhere.

Your vet may be the nicest person in the world. But that doesn’t mean they have the experience to deal with the problem at hand. I really liked my regular vet and she’s very nice as well. But from then on if any of my animals has any mobility issues I am going directly to Dr. Gumley.

Related articles:
Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Prevention, Treatment, and Physical Therapy

Further reading:
Slipped Disc, Bad Back, and Muscle Spasms in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsIntervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)Real-life Stories

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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