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Maltese Cured of “Broken Back”

October 12, 2009

Shaina was a 2-year old Maltese. She sat, shaking, in the center of the examination table, back hunched.

“She’s been like that since last night. All of a sudden, she can’t walk, and she’s shaking like she’s in pain.”

“She didn’t eat dinner and has not peed or pooped since last night.”

I began a careful, thorough examination. Shaina’s vital signs, and heart function were normal. Her abdomen was not painful. Her joints all moved as they should when I moved them through their normal ranges of motion.

I gingerly felt along her vertebra. Everything seemed okay. Her neurological exam was okay.

What could it be?

I discovered years ago that ear infections can make a dog shake and act paralyzed. But Shaina’s ears were perfect.

Sometimes a dog acts paralyzed when the anal sacs are full or painful. I lifted Shaina’s fluffy little Maltese tail. Everything looked a-okay. But it gave me an idea.

“When did she get this haircut?”

Normally, Maltese have beautiful, silky long white fur. It can grow to the floor in a show dog. Shaina had a puppy cut- 1/4 inch all over, with longer fur on her face, ears, and her tail.

Her tail was swishy.

“Nurse, please get me some guaze and surgical tape.”

I wrapped her tail in white soft stretch guaze and applied a little piece of tape to keep it on her tail.

Shaina popped right up and started running around the exam room! I took the wrap off and she sat hunched and frozen, with a miserable look on her face!

Mystery solved! Shaina was groomed the day before. She had never had short body fur with long tail fur swishing against the back of her legs before. She did not like it one bit.

It took another tail bandage and a few more days for Shaina to adjust to her new hairdo. No surgery required!

P.S. October 22, 2009: Doc Truli just saw another Maltese today with the same problem.  Had her first short haircut 2 days ago, with a fringe left on the tail.  Sitting suddenly like in sudden sharp pain.  Tail again!!!

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