Apart from the constant trickle of dogs that need their knees rehabilitated, I have had a run of bad backs and paralyzed dogs recently. When people damage their disc, they get back pain, referred leg pain and so on. Unfortunately when dogs damage their disc, their symptoms can range from back spasms and pain to full on paralysis, loss of bowel and bladder control and no feeling in the back end at all. People stand upright and have more shockers and space in their spinal column. Dogs have a horizontal spine and less leeway when disc damage occurs. This can be worse if the dog has short legs and long bodies, think Dachshunds and Corgis. Small dogs also have less space. My most common back patient is the Maltese and its crosses. Occasionally I see bigger dogs and recently a Labrador and a Heeler were both presented with paralysis of the hind end.
My reason for writing today is in admiration for a very special Dachshund. He was recently brought to me with paralysis and very little sensation of the hind legs, loss of bowel and bladder control. He was also nearly 16! Today, he is able to walk (think hunched, old man tottering on his pin), the bald stripe down his back has regrown hair, he has regained control of his bladder and bowels and is happy to potter in the garden. Best of all, he was there was Christmas when the grandchildren arrived. Have a look at him eight weeks after he was first treated (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtnvRyozqa0)
Over the years I have had many distraught owners with their paralyzed dogs come to me hoping for a solution. Surgery had been offered but was often not financially possible. The dogs like my 16 year old may have been a higher risk surgical candidate. Complementary medicine such as acupuncture is worth a try. It is minimally invasive and more affordable. Over a five year period from 2008 to 2012, of the 35 dogs I treated with this problem, there was a success rate of 73% with a good response and 18% with a partial response. These are dogs that have come from all levels of incapacitation. Some have come from their vets, others have come from word of mouth; chance meetings and conversations while on the golf course, in the park, at the chiropractors and so on. The best results seem to occur if the injury is less than two weeks old but even those that are six months old or more have been treated and improved. It is certainly another valid option when often the only other option is the expensive surgery. This reminds me of my toothache years ago. The antibiotics didn’t work and the next option was the $1000 root canal. But that’s another story….