Confusing symptoms in 13 yo GSD any thoughts? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Confusing symptoms in 13 yo GSD any thoughts?

Hello everyone. I was hoping to get some input on a problem I am having with my dog, Sherman.

First I have to say he is 13 years old, has canine hemophilia, arthritis, and five years ago was treated for two crushed discs in his back. When he had the episode with the bad discs, he started in the morning with a hunched walk and was completely paralyzed by the time I had driven him to a specialist 2 hours away. We received what was, in my opinion, very expensive and poor treatment, but long story short, after a blood transfusion, pain killers, steroids, and three months of nursing a dog who could not walk (and having to guess and hope I was doing the right things - no support from the specialist), he regained mobility but with significant degeneration of muscle in his rear legs.

Fast forward to now - he started "wobbling" about a month ago upon rising and after too much activity. We assumed it was arthritis or hip dysplasia and increased his supplements, but then he had a very bad day three days ago of falling down and not being able to use his rear legs - toes curled under and dragging, muscle tremors, weakness, and signs of distress. We planned to go to the vet the following day, but when we got up the next day he was 95% better, walking fine and just seemed a little stiff when rising. So we waited on the vet (we are still paying on the $8000 dollars from the visit to the specialist, I am out of work and we are living paycheck to paycheck).

Yesterday he was even worse than the first day, having to be helped up to go outside, weak legs, only able to walk short distances (much to his annoyance). He doesn't show a lot of pain, but he has never been a whiney dog, and the panting seems to be part of his frustration more than anything. When he is in the midst of falling down and trying to drag himself (which we won't let him do - dragging and blood disorders don't mix) his feet curl under and will not return unless placed upright, but if you can get him on his feet and balanced, he can walk short distances, squat to urinate and deficate, etc. but he does "sway" as he goes like I have seen in dogs with dysplasia. If you pinch his toes while he is resting/not looking, he knows exactly which foot you are touching and he will give you a dirty "what did you do that for?" look and rapidly pulls his foot away and kicks at you with it.

Today he seems worn out, not trying to move unless made to. It is a holiday, so no vets open where I live, not that they can help much anyway. Any thoughts from experienced GSD people as what this might be? I was sure it was the bad back again (they were supposed to fuse the spine five years ago but decided not to), but the day of being o.k. has me confused. Eating, drinking, urination, etc. all seem fine so far. Sorry this is so long, thanks for reading and thanks to all who reply!
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 01:34 PM
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It sounds like it's about time to let him go. His quality of life isn't good and he shouldn't have to be in pain and dragging himself around. He's old and has a bad back, which sounds like it's suddenly gotten worse, and probably isn't fixable, especially at his age.

Remember, that when you love your dog, you have to do what's right for your dog, no matter how much it hurts you.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 02:05 PM
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The problems sound neurological in nature, could be further spinal injury, degeneration. In humans, muscles tremors can be caused by electrolyte imbalance, not sure if that would apply to your dog or not. Sorry to hear your well loved companion is having such a hard time.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input, Elaine. We realize we may be at the end of the road here, but we don't want to give up without at least knowing what going on. We will go to the vet as soon as we can, but we are in a small town and their resources are limited, so I was hoping someone here might have a clue as to what we're up against.

This dog has made a life out of beating the odds. He was 6months old and a day away from euthanasia when we rescued him from the pound. He bled out for three days after being neutered before the local vet admitted (after dealing with a very angry owner) there was a problem and I needed to take him to a city hospital where we discovered he had hemophilia and was about a day away from bleeding to death. They told me then I would be lucky to keep him 2 years without having to put him down because of the disorder. He made it 8 with only one hematoma - then the discs went in his back. The vet told me he would maybe last another year, maybe two with the back problem - he's going on 5+.

I was told at every turn I should just put him to sleep. We have had 13+ mostly great years and Sherman has lived like any other dog - we treated him for the most part like he was normal and just used common sense. Except for the hospitalization over the crushed discs (which I will go to the grave saying that particular vet center is taking advantage of people), I have not spent any more money on him than I have any of my other pets.

I do not let my animals suffer for my sake. Until this week, Sherman was active, happy, and doing his best to be a pain in my butt (his favorite pastime). These symptoms are just weird and contrary to me and I just wondered if anyone else had dealt with something similar.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Gretchen - I am figuring it must be something related to the spinal injury, but the "normal" day has me thrown off. He has done fine on the same diet for years, so in order for his electrolytes to be off, maybe he would have to have a metabolic problem?
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 02:49 PM
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You described him as having his feet curl under and not straightening them. While I haven't had a dog with this (knock on wood) the symptoms sound like DM. Look at this link.

Degenerative Myelopathy of German Shepherds
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Wow - that is an excellent page - thank-you! We will definitely be discussing that with the vet as the description sounds very much like what we have been experiencing. We already partially feed a homemade diet with supplements - we will have to see if we can find some more!
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 05:15 PM
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Sherman sounds like a great and loving boy. I have a 12 year old GSD Daisy who the vet believes has DM and she has many of the classic symtoms;weight loss in her back half, curled toes ,difficulty rising,she missteps alot. She has some great days,yesterday was one she was up and down the steps no problem but today she wants to nap.There is alot of info on the above link DM and the GSD. May Sherman beat these odds too. The problem for me as I look at Daisy I want ger to have a good lifeand so far she does not appear in pain and she still likes to go for a ride but I know the time is short. My prayers are w/ you and Sherman.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 05:20 PM
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2 years ago my Dakota was 12 and doing alot of the same things you descibed. We would have to take a towel under him to lift him like a wheelbarrell to just get him outside.but he had so much life in his eyes and some days he was great. the vet had him on steroids and pain wasnt until he wasnt able to control his bowels anymore that she told me it was prob best to let him go..he was my first dog ever i had to make the decision to let was hard..but i know my vet wouldnt of told me it was time if it wasnt....good luck and prayers to you and your dog
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 04:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thank-you to everyone for your prayers and support. We will see what the vet says tomorrow and hope for good news!
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