A Pain in the Back

Rusty the Rooster

Rusty the Rooster

Today’s post is a health update.  Followers of our Facebook page know that Rusty went to the vet on Monday.  Not an emergency – our vet is open for regular office hours on Memorial Day.

However, this visit was a follow-up to a visit of a few weeks ago.  We had noticed that Rusty would sometimes not feel like eating.  Some dogs, notably Natasha, regularly skip a meal and that is not much cause for concern.  Rusty, however, is a fairly consistent eater, so skipping meals is a bigger deal for him.

More importantly, we also had noticed a couple of moments where he had yipped when jumping up on to a couch or bed.  For a boy who has always been bouncy, that was most unusual.  Routine tests a couple of weeks ago showed he was in some back pain, so we started basic treatments of rest and moderate exercise (so no aggressive hikes or running).  While we saw some improvement such as a return to his appetite, we knew that he was still exhibiting some signs of pain.  On Monday, we elected to take some x-rays to see if we could determine the cause or if we would need to elevate to to an MRI for a more definitive diagnosis.

No need for an MRI – the results are very clear.

Rusty has ventral spondylosis (bone spurs of the vertebrae) on six different vertebrae.  He also has arthritis in his right front leg.  But that is not the real problem.  He also has a “significant deviation upward on his lumbosacral junction.”  Translation?  The spinal cord splits into nerves that reach into the back legs and tail.  That junction has a twist in the bone structure that puts pressure on the nerve.  In slang, he has a pinched nerve.

The reality is that he is not a surgery candidate, but, with treatment, we can manage the pain and numbness that comes from the nerve pressure.  The hu-dad, a veteran of back surgery himself, is quite familiar with the management needed.

The most horrifying part for Rusty is that the vet wants him to lose 4-5 pounds from his 46 pound body.  His weight is about perfect for a healthy dog, but taking off about 10% of his body weight will reduce a lot of pressure on the spine which will help slow down any damage.  He is also daring the hu-dad to lose 10% of his body weight in a show of camaraderie.

Add glucosamine and chondroitin to his diet plus some additional Omega 3 (which, fortunately, comes naturally from his love of fish), and we will address his pain as naturally as possible.  When needed, we will add pain management medicines.

All in all, though, we are focusing on the good news.  Normal blood panels.  Normal liver and kidneys.  Normal thyroid.  Overall, happy, healthy and active.  For a guy who is at least 9 (he has been at Chez Herd since 2004 and was at least a year old when he arrived), he is good condition.


Thankful to be home and resting on his throne.


  1. Dog Lover on August 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Lucky for Rusty he has such caring and concerned parents to get him looked at quickly. He certainly is a beautiful dog. I wish him the best of luck in managing his problem.

    We had a boxer years ago that had no cartilage in her knees (had her x-rays when she was around 2) and the glucosamine regiment worked wonders in allowing her to still move around with minimal pain. Best of luck!

  2. Khumbu on June 4, 2012 at 6:04 am

    wooo we are sorry to hear about your problems Rusty, we hope your medicines work quickly and you can get back to your best.

  3. brooke & darwin on June 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Poor Rusty! The trainer we just met with for Darwin noticed her joint pain and suggested Glyco-Flex (we bought it on Amazon). He said it works better for dogs than regular glucosamine. We just started giving it to her, but we hope it works.
    Have you thought about acupuncture? It really helps Darwin and I like it better than giving her pain killers.

  4. Amy@GoPetFriendly on June 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    We’re sending Rusty our love. I know we’re not supposed to have favorites … so let’s just say that he’s always been special to us. Now that you know the cause, we hope you’re feeling better soon, buddy.

  5. Pup Fan on June 1, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I’m glad Rusty will be okay… now that you know what’s going on I hope’s he’s feeling better very soon!

  6. HUSKYS RULE on May 31, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    You scared us there for a moment Rusty we are so glad that you will be ok! We will join you in the 10% weight loss challenge so you won’t be alone! Maybe hu-dad will get you some stinky sardines!!
    Licks & Nibbles,
    Kody & Nia

  7. hisqueen1 on May 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Oh Rusty, You hang in there..
    Guess you’ll have to let the other kids win at wrestling once in a while to save your strength for the bigger battles.
    Take your supplements and other pills faithfully, like a good boy, so you can enjoy your wall walking without pain.
    I have to keep my girl under 50 lbs to help with her hip dysplasia…I’ll join you both in the weight lose goals…I’ll walk it off just for you and Aria.
    Enjoy your extra doses of fish!!

  8. Mary K on May 31, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Good luck Rusty. Would acupuncture for dogs help?

  9. volunteer4paws on May 31, 2012 at 1:35 am

    All in all, not such a bad diagnosis. Our buckley had a pinched nerve in his back when he was a pup. We did tramadol only two days maybe, mostly we limited what he did and gave him a fish oil that contained glucosamine and msm in it. he’s fine now.

    best of luck rusty! especially with losing weight… that’s no fun.

  10. Stella on May 31, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Rusty, did the Vet say to cut out the prancing too?

    I’m glad you have a smart hu-dad who knows how to take care of you guys, and I am betting you will be better very soon. Even Zim has this Spondy-stuff!

    I am all for a Rusty Weight Loss Challenge as both me and my Mom could shed some weight.

    Take care, Big Guy!


  11. KB on May 31, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Oh Rusty. I know all about pains in the back. Our K has bone spurs and arthritis, plus R had elbow surgery as a pup so our vet has us give an injectable form of glucosamine once a month (we give the injections ourselves). Before K became sick, I would truly notice the improvement in her limberness after each injection. It might be something to ask your vet about.

    We are thinking of you Rusty!

  12. Lorenza on May 30, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I hope everything is going to be ok!
    Hmmmm…. that thing of the diet….
    Take care
    Kisses and hugs

  13. Garth Riley on May 30, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I hope you feel better really soon! So sorry about the DIET thing. You know, my mom could stand to lose some weight too. Maybe Blogville could have a Rusty Rooster Weight Loss challenge to show our support?


  14. NCMountainwoman on May 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I am totally surprised that Rusty is not an adolescent! Sounds like you have a solid plan for his best interest. Paws and fingers crossed that all goes well.

  15. Huffle Mawson on May 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    My bestest friend Zimmie has spondylosis too. I’m sure Rusty will be just fine. He may starve to death though. I will send some treats just in case.

  16. Suka on May 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    hey Rusty,

    I am furry sorry to hear of your health issues. My paws are crossed for you that everything works out and the pain management helps you.


  17. Savannah NanaMo on May 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Rusty, Rusty…you be careful…no more wall walking for you dude…you could fall off and then you’d really be hurtin’…stay on the flat ground, OK?

  18. Lisa Myers on May 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    AW! Poor little Rusty! I sure hope he gets rid of that pain soon!

  19. Elmo & Mouse on May 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm


    Your hu-dad’s posting made us skip a beat as well..We are so thrilled to hear that blood work came back all normal. We’re sorry to hear about the bone spurs and pinched nerve.

    I, Elmo, the red husky, will join your journey to loose weight as well. I’ve had tummy problems since last year and became a finicky eater, so my hu-mom tries to find things to entice me to eat, thus, I gained some weight.

    I don’t know if massage along your spine would help with your muscles to feel better or not, but it seems to do so for me.

    Take care of yourself Rooster.

  20. Carolyn on May 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

    My heart also skipped a beat! I am glad there is a solid plan in place, and that the hu-dad is willing to join Rusty in solidarity.

    You take care Rusty – we want you to be back to climbing walls comfortably, as soon as possible. Poor baby!!!!

    Would the green bean diet work for peoples, do you think?

  21. jane on May 30, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I hope you feel better soon rusty. My bruce is a german sheperd and he has that growing problem in his legs that a lot of them get and he has been doing really good now. Almost growing out of it. I spinkle tumeric in his food everyday. It is suppose to help with pain among other things. My roxy has arthritis in her left back knee. The vets took xrays and found out when she was having a problem and limping. Come to find out that was the real problem, her akilies heal was hurt and because the didn’t catch it it ruptured completely. She is fine. It is all healed and she has a funny walk now. She has to loose weight too. She has been doing pretty good considering we can’t take her for walks because the vet doesn’t want her to mess up her other leg. We do make her get exercise by making her go out more. Gets her moving a little more. Good luck and take good care of yourself.

  22. Sara on May 30, 2012 at 9:55 am

    We have a girl with hip dysplasia and she has done well with a hotistic vet and accupunture treatments- she is 8.5 and very little discomfort so far.
    Keep the faith Rusty- diet not so bad.

  23. Laura on May 30, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Our 12-year-old yellow lab Isaac has had arthritis in his hips for several years; glucosamine/chondroitin and aspirin, as well as keeping his weight down, have really worked wonders. He’s still as bouncy as a puppy, which we just love to see! We were very happy to find out that aspirin works great for dogs, so he gets one enteric-coated pill in his food bowl twice a day. Since he’s a true garbage hound, it doesn’t bother his tummy, either. 🙂

  24. Shanuk on May 30, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Hmmm….there’s that dreadful green bean diet that Holly-Bolly-Boo has endured. That might be the quickest way out but we’re thinking you might want to torture hu-Dad a bit longer. Maybe drag it out with sad eyes and whines. There’s a strategy to this. In the meantime don’t do anything at all….make them all wait on you! Feel better soon!


  25. The Ao4 on May 30, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Rusty! I have spondylosis, too! And it IS a pain in the back! Ha roo roo roo! We’ve been able to treat mine very effectively and I hardly ever remember that I have it! I take Cosequin DS and get stinky fish oil (Eicosaderm) squirted on my meals! It’s stinky and REALLY great!
    Good luck, buddy! Feel better!
    Play bows,

  26. houndstooth on May 30, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Our hearts did a little flip flow when we read the beginning of the post! We’re glad Rusty will be okay and that you have a plan for managing things. Mom says she’ll lose ten percent in a show of solidarity, too!

  27. Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning on May 30, 2012 at 6:37 am

    So sorry to hear about Rusty. Hopefully the plan will work and he will be more comfortable. Hugs to him from us.

    Woos – Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  28. Khyra on May 30, 2012 at 6:33 am

    May The Powers of The Khrossed Paws be with woo!

    Khyra and Khousin Merdie

  29. Christina on May 30, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Rusty, pal, you have my sympathies, as well as those of the Rat Patrol and Kipnuk. Sorry to hear about your back problems, buddy, but we are glad to hear that your overall health is excellent. Hopefully your hu-dad can help you get into a bit leaner shape so there’s less pressure on that nerve and you start feeling a lot better.

    Kipnuk sends woo roos to you. The Rat Patrol hopes you feel better soon, and so do I.

  30. Wild Dingo on May 30, 2012 at 2:38 am

    AHHHG! Roo-Roo! the horrors of weight loss. Juno is in sympathy. But I can tell you from experience, that weight loss and keeping her lean is the #1 thing that has reduced pain in her condition. At least Sardines and Canned Salmon will added to your diet perhaps? see, weight loss can have it’s advantages.

    Can the spurs be treated/reduced? what about the pinched nerve with accupuncture or chirpractic? Juno still sees her osteopath 2-3x year just to work out any kinks. personally, I love osteopaths…they work a lot like chiropractors but with the muscles, not the bone.

    Best of health to you Roo-roo! Juno gives her crossed paws for no more pain for woo!

  31. Ice 'n Ayla on May 30, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Oh YEAH, Rusty, you keep on fighting. Just do as the hu-Dad says, and hopefully you’ll be back in shape in no time. No wall-walking, or equipment testing for a while, just take care of yourself. (From Ice ‘n Ayla).

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