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On New Year’s Day, Pat Greco became increasingly concerned when her healthy German Shepherd, Kobe, wasn’t acting right and suddenly couldn’t stand or walk properly. Walking gingerly around in circles, he couldn’t keep his balance, and his paws started to knuckle underneath him. At that point Pat knew she had to act quickly. Although it was snowing that holiday night, her husband, Ron, rushed their beloved dog to the Newtown Veterinary Specialists‘ (NVS) 24-hour emergency service.

 The emergency doctors and specialists worked together to examine eight-year-old Kobe and determine what was wrong. After conducting some tests, they suspected he had a neurological problem, probably disc disease. To confirm this diagnosis, imaging experts performed a CT scan on-site with a very sophisticated scanner, the same type used in human medicine. The CT scan provided a more detailed, complete picture than an x-ray would, enabling the doctors to see which discs were affected and the extent of the damage. The scan showed that Kobe had severe compression of the spinal cord in the lower neck, caused by a herniated disc, which is quite painful.

People also get herniated discs. The condition can be caused by something as simple as turning the neck the wrong way. Sometimes disc disease is caused by a deteriorating disc or a trauma, such as a car accident, but often the cause is unknown. Disc disease is more common in dogs than cats and most frequently affects the long, low canine breeds such as dachshunds, corgis, and basset hounds.

 While some less severe cases can be managed with medications, the NVS specialists determined that surgery would be the best course of treatment for Kobe. He immediately underwent neurological surgery to relieve the compression in his spinal cord. The procedure was performed by Dr. Chad Andrews, a board-certified veterinary surgeon, who has the specialized surgical training and expertise needed to perform disc surgery.

“The surgery went very well,” reported Dr. Andrews. “With these types of cases, 85-97% of patients will recover fully, but it usually takes months. But just four weeks post surgery, Kobe is doing extremely well and he will very likely go on to a full recovery.”

 After Kobe recuperated from surgery, Dr. Andrews prescribed rehabilitation to help restore his balance, strength and function. Gail T. Henderson, MS, PT, owner of Paws and Paddle Canine Conditioning, is working closely with Kobe and his owners to aid his recovery. Gail uses her rehabilitation skills to encourage movement using massage, cold laser, stretching, balance board and balls, gait training and an underwater treadmill, which allows the patient to walk with reduced stress on his body. Kobe is making remarkable progress as you can see in our video!

 A German-bred German Shepherd, Kobe was a show dog until the age of two. His owner, Pat, also owns Kobe’s mother and is proud to have delivered the pup herself eight years ago. “Kobe is getting stronger every day; we are way ahead because of the excellent care he received from the doctors and technicians at NVS and from Gail as well,” Pat explained. “I couldn’t be happier with the constant attention he was given. Drs. Chad Andrews, Ben Nappa and Danielle Berube–and everyone on staff–were very good to him and I am thankful.”

 The prognosis for disc disease depends on the severity, how long the pet has had the condition,  which treatment option is chosen, and how the patient responds to treatment. Depending on which area of the spine is affected, disk herniation can cause paralysis of the back legs, inability to urinate or defecate properly, neck pain, limping on one front leg or paralysis of all four limbs.  

 If your pet is having difficulty standing or walking, or seems to be uncomfortable or in pain, we encourage you to  contact us: NVS is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help with any type of pet emergency. For more information visit http://www.newtownvets.com; http://www.pawsandpaddle.com; and http://www.veterinarypartner.com.

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