Leg weakness in my senior boy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-01-2018, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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Leg weakness in my senior boy

Hello everyone,

I haven't posted anything in this forum for years, probably since my boy was around 2-3 and having food allergy issues.

He's now 12 - just turned 12 a few weeks ago. He's been in pretty good health, but lately things are going downhill. He has a skin issue, sores on his legs and continuous scratching. He tries to lift his leg to scratch his belly and then falls over. He is losing fur and has a few sore spots on his legs. He is also having pretty bad back end weakness. He almost fell down the stairs yesterday and he fell coming up our 4 steps in from outside this morning.

We took him to the emergency vet yesterday and they said he could have degenerative myelopethy. They don't know for sure and suggested a neurologist visit to confirm. They gave me a steroid and antibiotic for his scratching so hopefully we'll see an improvement with that.

I'm really concerned about the back end weakness. He's been going a little slower up the steps recently but not falling like this. I'm not sure if the skin issue and leg issue are connected, the emergency vet seemed to disagree. I'm not sure where to go from here. I ordered a ramp for him to put on the stairs to go outside and a lift harness to put on his to help him up the stairs. Once he's on one floor he's ok. He does a bit of swaying and crossing of his feet when he walks, but he's still able to get up. I'm hoping that things will get better for him, but i'm fearing the worst and it's heartbreaking to see him struggling. He's very alert and his mind is sound and active, but the back end doesn't want to keep up

If any one has any recommendations or ideas on other ways to help, I'd love to hear them.

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-01-2018, 08:51 PM
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Natalie, I went through the same with my Sting with the hind leg /back weakness. I also used a ramp and lift. What I also did to stimulate the remaining nerves in his spinal cord was to massage his spine by gently raking my fingertips up and down like I was raking leaves. 4 times a day, I did tail pulls - which can be done if the dog is either standing or lying down. This article explains how to do it and also has a video :

I also gave him CBD (hemp oil) treats (I used Treatibles) . I think it helped to stimulate his appetite and also helped his well being.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-01-2018, 09:44 PM
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Having a female that had DM and her 3/4 brother that tested clear for DM but had a motor neuron issue that affected only his rear legs, I love the Help 'me Up harnesses. I could leave them on all day and night with no rubbing. Jaden was a big boy and it enabled him to stay with us much longer. I have is loaned out right now, but she hasn't needed it yet. If you would like to borrow it, I could contact her to see if she thinks it will be a while before she needs it.
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dogbyte Cathy, Rossi ( the Dutch shepherd) and Gunny (the Czech/DDR GSD) with Zoey, Chance,Xara,Gracie, and Jaden snuggled deep within my heart
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-04-2018, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for offering to lend me your harness. I actually ordered one on amazon and it should arrive today!

My boy has been on a steroid and antibiotic for his allergy/scratching since Sunday. We've seen a little improvement in his back end. He still stumbles a little bit, I wouldn't say he's 100% better, but I've seen a little sign of improvement.

I struggle with the thought of DM because last Saturday he was ok and not having these issues. Saturday night he ran down our back steps and I'm wondering if he might have hurt his leg? His right leg has been giving him some problems for a while, but I'm wondering if he hurt the left one a little bit and that's why he's having trouble and stumbling a little bit. It's hard because I just don't know what's going on.

I've also been limiting his stair activity because that seems to be the biggest challenge. I restrict his access to only the first floor during the day and try to just take him upstairs at night to sleep so he's not doing many trips on stairs a day.

I'm thinking a trip to our normal vet next week if he doesn't 100% improve. It's times like these I wish they could tell us what's happening and how they feel. He was a little spunky when I got home yesterday and played with his ball a little, so that made me happy.
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