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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.
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