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Old 01-13-2014, 10:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Sam has weak back legs-help please.

Hello,

Sam, our GSD, is 10 years old and up until a few months ago was very active especially with swimming. His back legs were muscular and he had no trouble getting up from a lying or sitting position. Now, we have to help him up steps as he does not have the strength in his legs to push off. His back legs often cross over each other when he walks and he staggers a bit. He is in good spirits and tries so very hard to please us and we are not sure what to do. He appears not to be in any pain even when I brush or rub him.

I write here in the forum as we do not have any Vet in the country I live in and we are at wits end how to help him. He tries to help himself but the strength just isn't there.

Any help would be sincerely appreciated.

P.S: Sam is our 3rd GS and we did not have this problem with the others.

Lorry

Last edited by Lorry; 01-13-2014 at 10:45 PM. Reason: I put my personal nick name accidentally!
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The issue sounds neurologic. It tends to be a progressive thing. GSD are prone to L/S disk problems and there's also the degenerative myelopathy too that they can suffer from. We see many older GSD with L/S disk disease where I work. :/ Sadly the way to diagnose and treat that is with advanced imaging and often decompressive surgery. There are some medical management standpoints, but they involve meds you have to purchase with a prescription rather than over the counter.

If you can fashion him a sling from a towel, you can at least help him move from place to place. Really soft padded bedding where he sleeps to help prevent bedsores if he is laying around a lot.

It's only a guess mind you, but it definitely sounds neurologic in origin.
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for the response and my apologies for the delaying acknowledging this. Unfortunately I believe you have the correct diagnosis with DM and that makes me very, very sad. I will continue to research to find ways to make his life as easy as possible. Do you know if he would be in any pain?

Warm regards
Lorry
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I know you are worried but it may not be as bad you think. My husky got that way when when she was old. She would have spells of difficulty and then be all right again. Like Lorry said a sling helps. I used a towel, though there are some nice sheepskin ones in pet catalogs. I have also seen a harness with handles that can be used to help the dog stand up. A rug or carpet on the floor makes it easier for the dog to get up . A good orthopedic dog bed does help to ease the morning stiffness. Health and Wellness forum: the senior dog has lots of tips and advice. Fish oil capsules help the joints. For the pain, if she was having a bad day - I did give her an aspirin - one every 4 hours. But from what you have said, Sam is just a bit weak and stiff. If the weather is damp and rainy, that could also make his joints worse.
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sincere thanks for your thoughts Mary Beth. In all honesty, I was terrified for Sam as everything I have read is all doom and gloom. I will remain positive and I thank you for your message.

Lorry
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Ugh, Sorry to hear this I lost my Boxer (Struddell to DM). Here's a link I'm Gunther on there lost of info and links.

http://www.boxerworld.com/forums/dog...heelchair.html
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Old 01-19-2014, 11:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you Gunther. The site was very helpful and has much useful information.

Lorry
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Old 01-19-2014, 11:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Your welcome.
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Old 01-20-2014, 03:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Lorry,
The ataxia that you mentioned - stepping over in the rear is a neuro symptom (as mentioned above). It is not, necessarily, degenerative myelopathy. You should have him examined by a neuro vet (ask for a referral) and at a minimum get an x-ray which can look for degenerated disks.

Most vets will see a GSD with rear end neuro issues they'll diagnose "DM". This is why you need to see a neuro vet.

For DM, it's a "rule-out" disease - meaning they rule out all other causes. The rule out diagnostic, which is an MRI, is not inexpensive. The genetic tests for DM (there are 2) are not statistically proven for German Shepherd Dogs, so to me they aren't worth a dime. If someone tries to get you to test, ask to see the data for our breed - there is very little.

Don't buy a wheel chair for your dog just yet... Assuming it's not a disk issue, you need to keep the rear end exercised and active. Walking on uneven ground, exercises where the dog must step up in the rear (stairs, step over exercises), and the best one - swimming - can all keep your dog going.


Last, from the point that we noticed those issues in our DM dog to euthanasia, we got 3 years. The vet "specialist" gave us 90 days on the outside.. So don't give up.
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcg9381 View Post
Lorry,
The ataxia that you mentioned - stepping over in the rear is a neuro symptom (as mentioned above). It is not, necessarily, degenerative myelopathy. You should have him examined by a neuro vet (ask for a referral) and at a minimum get an x-ray which can look for degenerated disks.

Most vets will see a GSD with rear end neuro issues they'll diagnose "DM". This is why you need to see a neuro vet.

For DM, it's a "rule-out" disease - meaning they rule out all other causes. The rule out diagnostic, which is an MRI, is not inexpensive. The genetic tests for DM (there are 2) are not statistically proven for German Shepherd Dogs, so to me they aren't worth a dime. If someone tries to get you to test, ask to see the data for our breed - there is very little.

Don't buy a wheel chair for your dog just yet... Assuming it's not a disk issue, you need to keep the rear end exercised and active. Walking on uneven ground, exercises where the dog must step up in the rear (stairs, step over exercises), and the best one - swimming - can all keep your dog going.


Last, from the point that we noticed those issues in our DM dog to euthanasia, we got 3 years. The vet "specialist" gave us 90 days on the outside.. So don't give up.
Well of course she needs to find out what's going on, that goes without saying!

If your doggie made it 3 years after the problem you did a great job our Struddell only made it for 18 months longer..course she was 10 at that point and that saddly is right in line for Boxers.

One of the symptoms of DM is no pain, not saying that's what is but it is the case.

The time to consider a wheelchair is when the dog spends more time falling down and trying to get up then he does walking!

If he can still walk even if wobbly that's the time to get a wheel chair! The chair can be adjusted so that it takes most of the weight off her back legs. If your going to keep her going the sooner the better with the chair.

I waited way to long because I was dealing and Stru never really took to her chair. I'll refer the OP back to Thatcher on Boxerworld and let them be the judge. And I'm only referencing a diagnosis of DM. If it's something else then I defer to those better informed than myself.
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