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Old 05-03-2012, 09:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Losing control of back legs

My female GSD just turned 8yrs old and in the last 6-9 months she has slowed down. About 6 months ago is when it really started to show up- the crossing of the back legs, her back legs slipping out from underneath her. In the last month it has gotten a lot worse. I took her to the vet about 3 weeks ago and he said it looks like she doesn't have any idea what is going on with her back legs.. he folded her back feet and she didn't automatically correct them which he said every dog should do. He suggested xrays which I am getting tomorrow. Needless to say I am very nervous about this rapidly getting worse and having to put her down if she can not control her back legs or someday maybe her bowel movements. The doc has her on RX Rimadyl 75mg 2x a day. I havent seen much improvement with this. Has anyone been through this with their GSD's? Any suggestions?

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Chance 4 yrs old
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I forgot to mention she doesnt seem to be in pain and will still run after the ball for a while then will hang out and watch her brother play.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sorry to say it sounds like DM. Xrays will rule out other issues.
One of my dogs started with it when she was 7 to 8 years old. For the most part it is painless, but as it advances the dogs has less control of their hind quarters and are forced to use their fronts to get around, that can cause pain in areas of the body that are stressed by having to make up for a rear that is non functional
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Life is like a fan sometimes. It blows on one side and sucks on the other.....

Hope somehow it isn't DM (degenerative myelopathy). My last German Shepherd Genesis got it at age 10. Poor dog was never sick a day in his life. I noticed something was wrong when he wobbled in the kitchen. Went to the vet and found out the bad news....

My GS was given rimadyl also. But that won't help slow the disease. Genesis never had a hint of any hip or joint problems. If I remember correctly. The rimadyl was to help in that area since the dog now needs his legs as strong as possible......

To try and slow the progression of DM. Genesis was given a human drug Amicar. I had to search for a pharmacist who carried it. When I found one he said who's this for because its used to treat bleeding conditions in the brain (humans). I said it's for my dog. I am a member of the best friends animal sanctuary. I called them and talked to one of their vets about the amicar. She told me yes it was a drug for slowing the progression. There was only a 20% chance that it works though. It was expensive around $270 a month. That was 10 years ago. Maby there is now a new drug I don't know. I saw something about stem cell for DM. I know my vet now uses different methods to help dogs with DM. Like exercise in a pool. He also does stem cell for hips. My current GS Kaos just had that done. Next week he has an appointment. I'll ask about stem cell for DM...

I stopped the amicar after 6 months. It wasn't working. I got Genesis a dog wheel chair. So if (worst case hope not) you don't have to put your dog down. I had discussed this also with the best friends vet since they have a great deal of experience with dogs that have lost the use of limbs. She assured me it isn't cruel to keep them around. She actually didn't even want me to think about putting him down. They do get along well if you continue to love them. Its just really hard to see them like that. It's what you need to get over. They aren't in pain from the DM. That's also something the vets told me.....

Until they lose the use they can do everything. The disease is progressive though. It keeps getting worse. Different dogs have different rates before they are totally crippled. It happened fast with my Genesis. About 1 year. Right after the diagnosis my GS could still outrun a 4 year old GS who lived next door. They would chase each other looking through the fence.....

Again hope its something else that's fixable...
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Last edited by Fade2Black; 05-05-2012 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It does sounds like DM

You should find a vet who at least knows the diseases and illnesses common to different breeds. Ask for a referral to a veterinarian neurologist if there's one in your area.
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It's past the 10 minute mark so I couldn't edit (again). Need to change this part so its not taken the wrong way "if you continue to love them". Of course everyone still loves their dog. I should have said they get along well as long as you give them the xtra attention they will need.....
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks guys. When I went back to see the vet for xrays... he told me she has major spine issues. That if he didnt know the age of my Sedona he would assume from the xray that she was 12 yrs old. He wasnt even quite sure what these additional spots were on each vertebrae but he said thats what is causing pain and causing her to not get signals from her back legs to her brain. He said he will only get worse and to enjoy the next 6 months and hopefully she will make it that long. He also said within her back legs where the joint is, there is a huge gap where the hip bone joins.. he said thats not good either and said she has hip dis. too. That was about a month ago and since then it has gotten worse. I am not sure if the meds are helping at all but I am afraid to discontinue the use. I cant take her on walks anymore because she cant do it--- she will walk on her knuckles and they will start to bleed. She walks like a ballerina I like to call it ... doing circles and all... Its so horribly sad and breaks my heart. Shes pretty tough and never whines or cries which makes it hard for me to know how much pain she is in. A week ago my ex took my other younger GSD and its so interesting to see how she changes her ways... instead of trying to keep up with him playing fetch in the yard, when I play with her she will retrieve once then go inside. Shes so competitive, that I think its good she can relax a bit without trying to keep up with him. If anyone else has an tips etc let me know... thanks
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I am so sorry to hear about your dog. I have been and am going through issues with my 8 year old and there are many different causes.

Has an ortho vet looked at the x-rays? Can you post them? We never got a clear diagnosis on my boy but acupuncture and cold laser have done well for him. A lot of older dogs have spondylosis or bony overgrowths but that usually does not cause this..........
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Could also be interveterbral (?sp) disc disease. My old boy had it along w some other spine problems. His back legs would cross & slip & he wouldn't straighten his back paws when turned under either. He had multiple herniated discs which compressed the nerves causing his back legs to be all wonky. He got to the point where he could no longer walk. He underwent surgery which helped some but his mobility was never the same. 7 months later he lost the ability to walk again & I made the painful decision to put him down. I'm sorry that you & Sedona are going through this.
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My GS is 9 1/2 years old, and has Degenerative Myopathy. He was diagnosed this past winter and it's been more than difficult to watch the different stages, not only physical changes but his mental changes too. I know he knows he's different and not 100% and I'm having trouble everyday dealing with it. I doubt I'll ever be able to have a GS ever again because He and I were so close and so connected.....I just don't know how to get through this. The vet told me if I wanted to have him around longer to not play ball any more or as much. So for a couple of weeks we cut back on our routine, but I could tell he wasn't happy with this. I spoke to a trainer from Lead The Home Home and was told "motion is lotion for the joints" and assured me that Chaos would tell me when enough was enough. I made the decision that if I were old and someone took one of my favorite things away from me that I loved to do I'd be pretty angry, so we started to do our normal thing, and being that GS are working dogs I think there are more benefits than one for them to remain active. Sometimes we only get a couple throws in and then we just hang out there together laying in the grass and watching what's going on around us...and he seems happy and that's all that matters and he's not in any pain! Over the last two months however he's been spending a lot of time in my closet, and I can't figure out why, and within the last week he's acting scared and holding his head low. I have a call out for professional advise on this but if anyone has ever experienced this with their dog and can shed some light on it I would appreciate it so I can make things better for Chaos. Nothing new or different has changed for him. I, however lost my job this past week and I'm wondering if he's picking up on my additional stress. Any comments out there??
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