Bulging Disc and The Importance Of A Second Opinion

by Luanne

Jingles is a Beagle and he is so silly and full of life that you’d never guess he is 19 years old! 

Every day I shake my head in disbelief at his antics and energy and I wouldn’t change him for the world! I love him for his foolishness and he always makes me laugh.

However, this month he had a few episodes of bad pain. 

When it happens he can barely lift his head, his right side gets very weak and he has a really hard time walking.

He doesn’t wag his tail and he doesn’t eat because he’s in so much pain. 

His first episode was earlier this month and I took him to my regular vet but she didn’t really know what the problem was, gave the typical suspects for neck pain and sent us on our way with a very low dosage of Tramadol.

That episode lasted 4-5 days and then he seemed ok. Not perfect because if I touched near his head when he wasn’t expecting it he’d yelp but other than that he was back to his ole Beagley self!

That lasted for about 10 days and then he had another bad episode.

During this recent bad episode, I took him back to my regular vet and she said to put him back on the Tramadol that he was prescribed during his first episode but other than that she didn’t have anything else to offer. His pain kept up, the Tramadol was not helping & he was not eating & could barely move. My poor ole boy, I was so upset, I really thought we were nearing the end (for those who don’t know, Jingles is 19 yrs old but he’s a very active senior!).

I took him to an emergency vet that weekend and again she had very little to offer. 

My heart was breaking thinking that I may have to euthanize my boy because he had absolutely no quality of life, he was in so much pain, and the two vets I saw did not have anything to offer me to help Jingles.

Determined to do something to try to help Jingles, I took him to another vet who specializes in rehabilitation and physical therapy for animals, the same vet I wrote about previously in regards to Tiki’s rehab, Dr. Gumley at Cedarview Animal Hospital.

OMG, I wish I had of taken Jingles there from day one! 

He did not twist Jingles head all around trying to make him scream as the other vets did (and likely causing more damage), he could tell where Jingles was hurting simply by gently feeling his neck and spine, checking his reflexes, etc. The vet could feel the heat radiating from Jingles’ neck and he could feel the muscles twitching (which you could also visibly see) and he was able to pinpoint the specific vertebrae that were causing Jingles so much pain.

Now, only a week after seeing Dr. Gumley, I have my Beagle back! 

He’s able to hold his head up properly, he’s rolling in the grass again, he’s trying to steal the cats’ food, he’s able to get up on my bed and the couch, he’s eating well, he’s energetic and wants to go for walks and he’s wagging his tail! Jingles is my silly Beagle once again!

Without an MRI we will not know for sure what’s really going on with Jingles but based on his findings, Dr. Gumley is fairly certain it’s a bulging disc in Jingles’ neck which is extremely painful and debilitating. 

He increased Jingles’ Tramadol dosage fourfold, and also added in another pain reliever that works with the Tramadol to increase its effectiveness.

Jingles has a chronic renal failure (which is under control) and a grade 5 heart murmur so we’re limited with what we can give him but the pain meds he’s on are kidney and heart safe.

I’ve been icing Jingles neck and we’ve also been doing the cold laser therapy every other day for the past week.

I think that’s really helping to reduce the inflammation but we won’t know for sure what’s actually helping until we start to decrease the pain meds.

Jingles goes back to see Dr. Gumley on Wednesday and if he determines that we now have the pain sufficiently under control than we can start some gentle physical therapy exercises for his neck. I know we aren’t out of the woods yet and it could easily recur, but I’m so thankful for Dr. Gumley!

He’s given me hope, he’s given me my silly Beagle back and most importantly he’s given Jingles his quality of life back!

Always, ALWAYS, get a 2nd opinion and if you still are not satisfied, get a 3rd opinion and a 4th! 

We have to be the voice of the animals we care for and we know them best. Don’t be afraid to speak up for them! I often hear people say “but my vet is so nice” as a reason not to go elsewhere. Your vet may be the nicest person in the world but that doesn’t mean they have the experience to deal with the problem at hand. I really like my regular vet and she’s very nice as well but from now on if any of my animals has any mobility issues I am going directly to Dr. Gumley.

Related articles:
A Word On Second Opinions
Trust Your Gut! The Story Of Blind Maximus
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Making Tough Medical Decisions For Your Dog
It's Your Dog's Health
Does Your Vet Listen To You?
Help! My Dog Is Purple!
Veterinary Drive-Thru: Coming Soon To A Veterinary Hospital Near You!


  1. First of all, Jingles is a real cutie-pie. I'm very happy to see how well he is doing. I'm so glad you searched for a 2nd. opion and found Dr Gumley. I think getting more information and opions is our right as owners. I've read articles writen by some vets who don't like it when the owner even wants to ask questions. To a vet like that I say "bye-bye!" I'm very happy for you and Jingles and best wishes to you.

  2. Yes, it IS our right to seek second opinion. And you're right, some vets don't even tolerate questions. And yes, it's time to say "bye-bye" when that happens.

    Any vet who truly cares about their patients will answer questions and will seek second opinion, often by themselves, in tough cases.

  3. Fantastic post! My Lab Daley dealt with a bulging disc in his neck when he was 10. There was no obvious cause, just one day he wasn't eating so well and was walking a little hunched over. Being a Lab, I thought he had eaten something that did a number on his stomach! A few days later, I felt like an idiot and a terrible caregiver as he stayed overnight at the vet's office and received much-needed pain medication. But at that time, I'd never even heard of a bulging disc. Thankfully, my primary vet diagnosed the problem. I can imagine the frustration of having gone to two vets without any diagnosis or relief for my dog's pain. Bravo to Luanne for your dedication to Jingles and his health and quality of life!

    In the second video clip, he is the poster dog for the idea that age is just a number! All the best to you and Jingles!
    -Chandra at Daley's Dog Years

  4. Hi Chandra, thank you for your comment. So sorry about Daley, glad it got fixed though.

    Things are not always obvious at the first sight if one doesn't have experience with them. That's the main reason behind my blog. So people can benefit from experience of others.

  5. Neck pain is super common in Beagles. Poor little guys. Glad things are going well. Just so you know...there are lots of pain killers aside from tramadol. You can check out my blog for much more information. In particular, a drug called gabapentin I have great success with for spinal pain.


  6. This is definitely the first time that I've heard that even our canine friends could suffer from such pains. I only knew that Naperville Bulging Discs doctors could treat persons but I'm not so sure if vets could be able to treat such pains.

  7. Congrats on your success.. Jingles is lucky to have you . I did notice on the picture a leash.. Just want to let you know that a harness should be used instead.... Very important for dogs with disk issues.

  8. Thank you so much for this - we are going through something similar and your video really helped set my mind at ease.

    My Rufus is doing the same thing and apparently his bulging disc is in his sacral area.
    He also had a fever and is on antibiotics.

    We’re waiting for results from the spinal tap and joint aspirations.

    He’s in so much pain and refuses to take pills, so my life has been horrid since getting him home from icu. They were giving him diazepam and buprenorphine through his IV while he was in icu and he was doing well. Now that it’s worn off, he hasn’t.

    We get our test results by the end of the week and I’m considering a second opinion - his current quality of life is horrid and the Vets don’t seem to be giving him enough pain relief (only Onsoir and Gabapentin) but I’ve told them I’m giving him some Pardale that I had leftover from his neutering. We’re back for an appointment tomorrow and I plan on demanding better treatment!

    This has been going on 6 days now and I’m tired, frustrated, sick of not having answers and stressed from seeing my baby in agony.

    1. I'm so sorry about your baby; such things are always heartbreaking and exhausting.

      Given the fever, it's good that you're doing a spinal tap because there is the possibility it's infectious rather than mechanical.

      There are pain meds patches out there, I'd ask about that. Sounds like that would be a good thing to use. Either way, if pain relief isn't enough, do talk to them about that. And ask about the patch.


      Sounds like a second opinion is a good idea too. Do you have a specialty or a teaching hospital anywhere close?


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