Boxer dogs with this back problem do have some hope in recovering. A good vet will make every effort to keep the dog as comfortable as possible.
With mild cases, a combination of medication and rest may allow the dog's body to heal itself. With time the displaced disc material may be reabsorbed.
The dog will receive medication, including:
• Anti-inflammatory medication such as carprofen, meloxicam or deracoxib
• Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone (cortisone) or dexamethasone. These have been shown to help prevent and reverse some of the damage to the spinal cord affected by contusion and compression
• Muscle relaxants
• Antibiotics may be given if there are bladder problems
Some of these medications can cause upset stomach for dogs and for that reason an antacid may also be prescribed.
Rest is Very Important
During this time, the goal will be for a dog to have the above medications while resting in order to allow the back to heal. The medicine may cause a dog to feel a lot better before there is any healing reabsorption of the disk tissue. Therefore, for this reason, owners must enforce rest even if a dog is resistant to it.
For at least 3 weeks, a dog should not be allowed to:
• Be overly active in any way
Owners may need to crate their Boxer or confine the dog to a gated off area to prevent too much movement.
Many owners find that the use of canine diapers come in handy if the dog cannot control his bladder and/or bowel. While this is more commonly seen with small breed dogs, dog diapers for larger breeds are manufactured as well. If there is no improvement with rest and mediation, surgery may be advised.
Harness VS Collar
For Boxer dogs with any sort of back problem and particularly those with any form of IVD, it is imperative to use a harness and NOT a collar when the dog is on leash. A collar can be used for ID purposes. However, a harness should be used not only during this time of rest and healing, but for the rest of the dog's life.
With severe cases, strong doses of medication may be tried for a short time. However, if there is not a rapid improvement, surgery will be quickly recommended. For Boxers with moderate to severe IVD (IVDD), the pain and discomfort can be intolerable and surgery is often the only recourse.
Mild Yet Reoccurring Cases
When a dog has ongoing bouts of mild IVD, he is at risk for acute paralysis. For this reason, if a Boxer has had 4 cases of mild IVD, he should be considered a candidate for surgery to repair the problem and prevent paralysis.
As mentioned above, dogs with either severe IVD or dogs that have had 4 cases of mild IVD are considered candidates for back surgery. A board-certified canine neurosurgeon should perform this operation.
There are 2 types of surgical procedures that can be done:
1) Fenestration. This is a limited type that removes the degenerate center of the disc
2) Ventral decompression. This involves the complete removal of the displaced disc material
Prognosis is quite good and there can be astonishing recovery even for Boxer dogs that had been paralyzed by this disease. After a full recovery, the majority of dogs are able to walk, run, play, exercise and importantly, live normal lives without being in pain.
Unfortunately, there will be some dogs that will have permanent paralysis even with proper medication and the best of surgical care. For these dogs, if the pain is under control, the dog may be able to live a quality life with the use of a K-9 cart, which is the equivalent of a human wheelchair.
In cases where a Boxer dog has a high sensitivity to medications commonly given for this back disease and for one reason or another is not a candidate for surgery, acupuncture is an alternative treatment. There are varying rates of success; though it is most successful on dogs that have only pain as a symptom or have a mild case of IVDD.
This is sanctioned by the American Veterinary Medical Association. If this is being considered, it should be performed by a board-certified veterinarian.
Chiropractic manipulation -
This is NOT
sanctioned by the American Veterinary Medical Association and may do much more harm than good. While this approach may work well for humans, it can do quite a bit of damage to the canine body due to the different anatomy of the spine.