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Old 06-05-2014, 03:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Weakness of hindlegs in 9yo GSD

My GSD is around 8 or 9 yo. I noticed that she is slow to sit, slow to get up and cannot jump into the back of the jeep without assistance. I just adopted her 2 months ago so I cant say if this is something that has developed recently or if she has always had weak back legs. I am just curious if anyone else has experience with this...is it just a normal weakness due to being senior? I asked the vet and he said its just arthritis, but when she trots her hips sway alot more then other dogs. She takes Glucosomine now but I am wondering what to expect as the months and years progress. Does anyone else have experience with GSD weakness in hind legs?

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Old 06-05-2014, 08:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It is not uncommon as they get older but without an x-ray you are not overly sure. Did the vet suggest an NSAID such as metacam (meloxicam) to see if that improves her movement? It would if it is a pain issue. Any medicine given to a dog for pain needs monitoring because it is hard on the liver, but I figure when they get old a little shortened time with us is a reasonable price to pay if it is better time.
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Old 06-06-2014, 05:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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X-Ray is definitely a good idea. I started doing x-rays as soon as I got my dogs, so they had a baseline to compare to if they had problems later. That would at least confirm it's that. At that age it's usually a matter of making it comfortable for them to get around. My first one learned what he couldn't do anymore, and that was OK. My others were a little more stubborn to learn, and the glucosamine helps. They slow down on steps before anything else. I've seen other things cause what looks like hip discomfort, so I'd want to get an x-ray to confirm it's that, if the glucosamine isn't helping. I've had 3, and it's not uncommon at that age for them to have more trouble getting into cars and such.
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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there are natural supplements you might try. gatorbytes might drop by and list the names and dose. msm is one of them.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
It is not uncommon as they get older but without an x-ray you are not overly sure. Did the vet suggest an NSAID such as metacam (meloxicam) to see if that improves her movement? It would if it is a pain issue. Any medicine given to a dog for pain needs monitoring because it is hard on the liver, but I figure when they get old a little shortened time with us is a reasonable price to pay if it is better time.
No the vet didn't suggest NSAIDs just the glucosomine, im not sure that it actually helps though and she has not had an xray, that might be my next step for her. Thanks for the response!
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Glucosamine is the only one my vet suggested, but its hard to say if it has helped any.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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X-Ray is definitely a good idea. I started doing x-rays as soon as I got my dogs, so they had a baseline to compare to if they had problems later. That would at least confirm it's that. At that age it's usually a matter of making it comfortable for them to get around. My first one learned what he couldn't do anymore, and that was OK. My others were a little more stubborn to learn, and the glucosamine helps. They slow down on steps before anything else. I've seen other things cause what looks like hip discomfort, so I'd want to get an x-ray to confirm it's that, if the glucosamine isn't helping. I've had 3, and it's not uncommon at that age for them to have more trouble getting into cars and such.
She can get up on the couch on her own, and i'm glad for that, but I guess the strength is just not there to push off with her hindlegs any higher then a foot or two. I think an Xray would be a great idea for her. She doesnt seem to be in acute pain, but I know how stoic german shepherds can be. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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A few thoughts...you need to know where the arthritis is. It matters. If it's the spine, you'll do one set of things, and if it's joints like hips or elbows, then another. Pain management will be the same at first, but with some good supplements and therapy, you may be able to wean her off the meds gradually over time.

The most important thing to learn about arthritis--and not all vets tell you this--is that dogs (like people) experience the most benefit from a multi-pronged approach. You get some benefit from pain meds. You get a lot more by adding in the right kind of (rehabilitative) exercise and supplements and possible alternative modalities like cold laser or acupuncture. My vet said dogs that seem to be the most comfortable are ones where everything is working synergistically--and my dog reflected that.

So....if it's spine...

I'd start with Dasaquin instead of people-glucosamine. It's more absorbable. I had a foster who was likely around 7-9 who had lots of rear end weakness. The xrays showed it was her spine, not her hips. Dasaquin helped her a lot -- follow the dose guidelines on the bottle. I think it's only sold through vets. It's a good supplement.

Regular, gentle leash walking for short walks helped her too. The rhythmic walking did wonders for her. Part of her issue was she'd lost all muscle tone in her hind end, so getting her moving was essential. Just as with people who have arthritis, gentle, low-impact exercise loosens everything up. The key is gentle. Don't push the dog, let her set the pace, and keep it short until she's comfortable doing more. If I'd had access to a pool, I'd have put her in a life vest and led her around the pool too for exercise, but I didn't have access.

Knowing what I know now about acupuncture, I would do that too.

If it's in the hips or elbows...

I'd start with Adaquan injections. There are many threads about how they work, and the dosing schedule. It's a game changer for the dogs it helps. It's not cheap, but when it works, the difference in mobility and quality of life is profound. I went from a dog who could barely amble slowly behind me on leash walks to one who jogged at a good clip quite merrily in about 3 weeks! It also allowed us to get him off NSAIDS. It helps the joints heal by lubricating them and producing cartilage instead of just masking pain. It's good, good stuff -- don't expect big results until the end of the loading dose though (3-4 weeks).

Exercise is still important -- leash walks (and swimming, if possible).

Here's my list of supplements for joint arthritis -- the rationale behind them is already in several threads in the archives:

-Natural Eggshell Membrane ("NEM") - lots of threads on this here -- it's great stuff but it takes about a month to kick in (Vitacost.com has decent pricing)
-Type II Collagen (from Chicken Sternum) (again, Vitacost.com)
-Ester-C (build up to at least 1000 mg a day) (available at people-drug stores--often on sale buy-one-get-one free)
-Fish Oil (we built up to 4,000 mg eventually, for the anti-inflammatory effect; we used people-supplements that are USP certified)
-Vitamin E (must be "mixed tocopherol" -- not available at most drug stores, again Vitacost.com)
-Coconut oil (extra-virgin, organic, hexane-free)
(And vitamin B-Complex for seniors -- not for arthritis, but for cognitive function and energy)

The adequan + supplements + walking got my dog off NSAIDs, with better mobility and quality of life than when he was on NSAIDs.

The one thing I wish I had done for him sooner was acupuncture. The sessions he had eventually, at the end of his life as part of cancer treatment, made him feel really great and ended up strengthening his hips as a side-benefit. I wish we had done weekly acupuncture for the last few years, as part of his arthritis management.

One last point about x-rays. Never, ever fail to x-ray limps in seniors--even when you are pretty sure it's arthritis. When my old guy developed a new limp up front, when he'd always had his issues in back, my vet x-rayed, expecting to see some arthritis in the elbow, since we already had it in the hips. It turned out to be a tumor (bone cancer) in the forelimb. I don't say this to scare you, as yours is very likely just regular senior stuff -- I just want to underscore that a diagnosis of every new limp is very important, as things sometimes sneak up on us with senior dogs.

Last edited by Magwart; 06-06-2014 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Second the adaquan shots. I wished I'd learned about those sooner. Read about them on here. The X-rays too! I use the springtime products too!
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Old 06-07-2014, 12:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Oh, and how long has this been going on? Glucosamine takes a little while to help. Might take up to a week or two, I think. Just depends on how bad they are inflamed I think.
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