back legs giving out, and turning in circles - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-18-2008, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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back legs giving out, and turning in circles

Today Prince all of a sudden started turning in continuous circles while appearing disoriented, and his back legs went kafluey. It was almost as if he was turning in circles to get momentum to stay upright. He didn't go down on the floor, but his back legs were not working. After about 30 seconds he came out of it and appeared to be his usual self. He's 10 and a half, and I've noticed what appears to be some occasional slight weakness in his back legs on the stairs. He also seems to have constant ear infections, and that's what my dh thinks is going on now. I'm taking him to the vet tomorrow but would appreciate some feedback. He's never had any other issues and has been amazingly healthy, other than dealing with his ears on an on-going basis, which never seem to be 100% for long. We're always managing his ears.

This was really scary and shocking today and I am a bit freaked out. Has anyone else had an experience like this with their senior?

Michèle
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-18-2008, 10:25 PM
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

Vestibular Disease?

Sneaker got it when she was almost 14 years old. She did recover completely, but it took about 6 weeks.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-18-2008, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

never having had health issues, I am unfamiliar with vestibular disease and had to look it up. I found a description that does match what I saw today. I will be very relieved to get to the vet. Thanks for the info, I really appreciate it. It was a frightening experience for me, although he seems to be fine again...

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-18-2008, 10:47 PM
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

That was a clickable link to a website in my post, sorry, should have mentioned that. With her it was VERY severe, I came home from work and was sure that she'd had a seizure, she couldn't walk or even stand up without falling over, and her eyes kept rolling back in her head. It was really scary. I called the vet, waited until my hubby got home a few minutes later, and we took her in, certain that it was the end for her. We were surprised and hopeful when he knew exactly what it was, and told us there was a very good chance she'd recover, at least partially, if not fully. Some dogs retain a slight head tilt, but she didn't. She spent several days at the vet, and when we brought her home we had to help her walk around for a few days, she'd walk down the hall bouncing off the walls like she was drunk. There was no way she could navigate the dog door, so we kept the back door open for her so she could let herself outside. After that it was a very slow gradual improvement over the next few weeks.

Since it's an inner ear thing, your description of his trouble with recurring ear infections was an instant clue that it could be a possibility. Good luck!

-Debbie-
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-18-2008, 11:05 PM
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

I'd just like to mention that you should probably investigate
the cause of those ear infections... I dealt with them off and
on for years until I finally learned (from HERE!!) that they
could be food related. Once I learned that and changed foods,
my girl dog never had another infection. It's really well worth
it, even if you have to go to a more expensive food than
what you are feeding now...

Hugs to you and Prince.

Valerie

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 01:32 AM
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

I wasn't familiar with Vestibular Disease either until reading the link provided. My senior has had some similar symtoms, although he hasn't been diagnosed with VD. He had on going issues with his ears a couple of years back. I think his food was contibuting to that, but it was going on around the time that his back end was starting to show weakness.

Hope all goes well for you and Prince tomorrow. I hear ya when you describe how scary it is.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 09:55 AM
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

Some vets refer to this as equivalent to a human stroke and that is not the case, even though some symptoms mimic it. Many of my clients had this happen (sometimes many events) and made full (at least {observably to me} it appeared full) recoveries - others had vets recommend the dog be PTS without even giving the pet a chance to recover. It is not a pleasant event to undergo but many dogs have survived and recovered successfully. All the best.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 10:24 AM
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

I've always heard of Vestibular Disease being compared to Vertigo in humans ... BUT ... when Too had her first episode or two I honestly thought she was having a stroke. They scared me to death.

She had to be hospitalized once for it, the rest of the time when she had an episode, they didn't last long and I just sat with her, held her until she was stable enough to get up and walk away. I finally got used to her having the epidsodes.


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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

thank you all for your reassurances. You have no idea how much it's helping me, because he won't be going to the vet until Friday. There is only one vet at the place we go that I'm comfortable with (and that Prince is comfortable with), and she's not in again until then. I'm keeping a close eye on him and since I'm off this week, we're pretty much together 24/7, so I'm not having to deal with being a part from him. The one vet I like is really good with him, and all the others seem really afraid of him. While I can understand a certain level of apprehension, it really pisses me off that the very first thing all of them (but the one I like) want to muzzle him. They want their assistants to do it, too, and won't even come in the exam room with him until he's muzzled. Those vets need to stick to cats and guinea pigs, and if I ever get stuck with one of them again I won't be able to stop myself from saying so. The one vet I like is fabulous. She is so, so good with him. She does everything right. Ignores him at first, doesn't hold her hand over his head, doesn't talk to him in baby talk...the first vet we saw there did all those things and more. Prince is very, very aloof, but does not just ignore everything and whatever is stressful for him (and we are at the vets, stress-city), he will react to. He's not vicious, he doesn't attack, he's just very on-guard and is NOT friendly. It blows my mind that people who are VETS can be so clueless. But our vet is the best. I love her. I feel absolutely confident that she will find out the exact problem and start the right course of treatment. You know she's gotta be good if she can calm me down, as well as the dog!!!!!

I really hate the thought that he's getting old. I know he is, he's going all white around his lips, but he's always been my baby. I watched an Animal Planet show about dogs and their wolf ancestry recently and one of the things it said was that the way to calculate a dog's age has changed. The first two years are actually the equivalent of 25 human years, and then after that, every year is equivalent to 4 human years. So if he's 10 and a half, he's equivalent to 59 years old.
Other than ear infections, he has been unbelievably healthy all these years. I hope this is just blip and not the start of decline. We're going to be moving later this summer and I worry almost obsessively about how he'll do in the transition. If it wasn't for this board I'd think I was crazy!

Michèle
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-19-2008, 02:58 PM
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Re: back legs giving out, and turning in circles

I've been through this also - our vet calls it "old dog vestibular disease". Chance had much more subtle episodes with a head tilt and loss of strength in his back legs. Like many other posters mentioned, I thought it was a stroke. The first time I was breathless with panic and trying so hard to be calm for him. We also moved - suburbs to city and back to suburbs - with Chance in his last 2 years. I actually think it perked him up, although it was hard to see him struggle with the hardwood floors and one of us would drive to the park in the city so that he didn't have to walk the 20 block round-trip.

This fall, Roxy had more of a full-blown episode with the head swinging and eye rolling and disorientation. It was really scary. She recovered completely within about 30 minutes, but then had another shorter episode later the same day. She hasn't had one since, but did seem to start once and I touched her and it instantly stopped. In her case it seemed to be related to stress. We were on vacation and "Daddy" had to leave earlier to get back to work. We all got up to say good-bye and maybe she thought she was being abandoned in the Outer Banks . . . even though there were 2 other cars and other family and friends still there and she's been to that same house 3 years in a row.

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