01/13/2016 we are heading to Wrocław for our „”forced” trip. For a MRI and neurological consultation.
The topic of this article is very important for me and unfortunately up to date. Last summer except for amazing holidays, Gacek’s severe condition was revealed. While he was going wild on the beach, he suddenly squeaked and ceased moving. At first I thought it was our Gunia being a bull in a china shop, who hit him while running and he was just hurt. But minutes and hours passed and it did not get any better. Gacek was stiff. He did not want to eat, play, even be around us. Our way back home from the beach took twice as much time as usual, with Gacek lagging 10 meters behind. When we got home, he laid down under the chair. He was avoiding petting and behaved as if he was somehow paralyzed. The worst part was his neck. He had trouble with swallowing. I called the best veterinarian on earth and with her advice we went to see the local doctor. We did blood tests, all tick born disease tests and checked his overall condition. The blood tests were fine, the tick test negative. The local doctor said that he may have a salivary glands inflammation. He got some inflammatory drugs and we went back home. Next three days were terrible, he was feeling ill. He had difficulties with jumping on the bed or couch (which usually is not a big deal for him).
After five days he was back to normal. Fit as a fiddle! Until one windy day. We went for a long walk on the beach, it was chilly and the wind was extremely strong. Out of the blue the history with Gacek repeated itself. A squeel and he was almost paralyzed. From the active, crazy Gacek we than had an invalid following us. Ambling was then typical in this condition. That was the moment when we figured out these were not his salivary glands. A phone call to Doctor Magda and we were on our way to a different vet. This time the doctor said straight away it was something with his cervical spine.
Now everything seemed to be logical when we started to analyze Gacek’s behavior. It turned out that he had been giving signals for some time, that something was wrong. Actually from the very first day we adopted him. He never liked collars, he hated when we put them on him. He was becoming stiff for a few seconds. Gacek is a long dog which causes a lot of pressure in his spine and makes him prone to all cervical issues. Moreover, symptoms like: problems with swallowing, temporary stiffness, apathy, lack of appetite, reluctance to look up, ambling all these together fall into place.
Just after we left the local vet I decided that my all dogs would not wear collars. The same day I ordered a new pair of harnesses (as if they needed a new one, but every reason is good for a dog gear addict). From July 2015 I have not used collars to walk my dogs. It was a huge positive change for Gacek. The temporary stiffness is almost gone (it happens when Gunia hits him) he is not avoiding wearing his harness as he did the collar. Although Gapa and Gunia have no issues with the spines or cervical parts, they also felt the difference. Gunia sometimes pulls on her leash and Gapa stops in the middle of the road just in time when a car is coming. Harnesses are irreplaceable for them. When I was using a collar, their neck muscles were stiff and tired after a walk. It does not happen with the harness. Currently, I use collars as a id tag holder.
I think that walking your dog with a leash attached to the collar should be an exception and rare situation. I often hear “I can not walk my dog on a harness because he pulls and I do not have enough strength to hold him”. A dog pulling on a collar is a torment for the spine. If you have a problem with a pulling dog, work on it, spend some time teaching your dog how to walk on a loose leash and try a harness. Your dog spine will be forever grateful!
I am in the middle of Canine Fitness Trainer course. One of the recent topics was the cervical spine and issues a dog may have with this part of the body. The symptoms described were exactly what Gacek had during summer. There was also a comment that neck pain is one of the most severe. Gacek is in the middle of rehabilitation and strengthening his neck and all body muscles. We use Back on Track for a support. I am really thankful to AQUAWET for a lecture about massage and work with dogs suffering from spinal problems. After orthopedic consultation ((X-rays were okay, just some minors degeneration) we have decided to do full diagnostics exams
Keep your fingers crossed for Gacek on 13th of January.
Observe your dogs, sometimes they give tiny signals that something is wrong. An aversion to a collar can turn out to be a begging for spinal problems. But after all, change your dogs’ collars to harnesses.