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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 killers...it 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 go..it 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 :hug:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
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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Lumbosacral Stenosis (Cauda Equina Syndrome) in Dogs

Is another thing, and there are others. Lots of times with GSDs people jump to DM, when it is a back issue - and there are lots of other back type issues to take a look at. I don't know what is wrong with your boy, but understand the comeback dog and how you are never sure if they have one more in them. :wub:

Ruff Wear Performance Dog Gear | Dog Packs | Dog Boots Canine Orthopedic Equipment Designed for Increased Mobility and Extra Support - Whole Dog Journal Article is a harness I have liked using for older dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, we have some anti-inflammatories and pain meds, we'll see what they do...
 

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vulky I have to commend you for going above and beyond with your boy over the years, you sound like a great owner:)

One of my males had this happen but it came on really suddenly, xrays revealed he had spondylosis (3 vertabraes fused together solid:( I got him thru another 3 years on supplements and such, but unfortunately the fusing 'cracked' and that was it:( He was 9 years old.

Another male I had, my heart dog:( , also had some spinal issues going on later in life, he had chronic anaplasmosis (tick disease) that couldn't be cleared up, resulting in neuro damage much like what you are describing. His was rather gradual, I did end up using a harness on him which helped alot. It really stinks, because the mind was still there, but physically he just couldn't manuever anymore, so with a heavy heart I had to put him down at 13.

I did have him on anti inflammatories and tramadol for pain, as well as doxy trying to combat that anaplasmosis..some days were better than others.

Hope you can get some results and hugs to your boy.
 

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Hoorah!

:) Well, everyone, we are tentatively hoping that Sherman (we should have named him Lazarus) may rise yet again.

After only two days of meds, he can walk again, though he has to be helped up first and he is only wanting to get up if he deems it absolutely necessary, i.e. potty time or when his favorite cat has snuck out and is banging on the back door wanting in and I can't hear him - lol.

It wears him out quite a bit to do anything, but I'm hoping if he will just stay put for awhile (he is currently BORED), maybe he can heal up a little and we will at least have time to figure this out!

The meds are hard on his stomach, though, and I know from past experience if he stays on them too long, he will get an ulcer (no clotting factor+ stomach ulcer= disaster), so I will have to figure out some less harmful alternatives, if possible. I am thinking of changing/ adjusting his supplements, so if anyone has any suggestions on diet/ arthritis/ dyplasia supplements, I would be happy to hear them.

Thank-you Thank-you Thank-you !! To everyone for the great info. and your many prayers for Sherman the wonder dog! :)
 

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Tell Sherman that the cat can let himself in for the next few days ;). He has to get well first.

Glad to hear Sherman is bouncing back yet again. Good for you as well for pushing that extra to take care of him.

Did the vet say what was going on with Sherman?
 

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Alas, we have only a small town vet who makes guesses due to a lack of proper equipment, his guess was it was the old back injury either trying to fuse or crushing the disc again or both. He was super busy (as always - only small animal vet for miles) and we all decided against an X-ray (the only thing they have there that might reveal anything), as the manipulation involved may have caused some bruising and we didn't want to add insult to injury, as it were.

So the vet pretty much did what he always does to me - gives me some meds, wishes me luck, and sends me home just sure that I will call him in a day or two to tell him all is lost and the end is near. I kind of delight in disappointing him. Hope we can do it one more time. Go, Sherman, go!
 

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a few things I used on my male that did help, was the tramadol, human form of meloxicalm (you need a scrip for it..7.5mg pills 1/2 daily) MSM with glucosamine (I don't use chondroitan, that can be a stomach upset as well as the tramadol but he was ok with the tramadol)

Glad he's feeling a little better!!
 

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Hmm... I hadn't heard about the chondroitan causing stomach upset - will have to check into that.

A few people Have suggested meloxicam as a replacement for the previcox he is currently on - does anyone think one is better than the other for any reason besides price? Is it easier on the stomach at all?
 

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he is on previcox? I like that to, Used it on one dog, didnt seem to do a thing, used it on my aussie, she did really well on it. It IS rather pricey:(

The meloxicalm is dirt cheap if you can a scrip..I was using metacam (dog form) and it was costing me a bundle, someone suggested human form of meloxicalm and I SAVED a bundle. Got it walmart for like 10$ for a 3 month supply which actually lasted double that amount since I had to cut them in half.

The thing with meloxicalm is, since it's human form the dosage is very very minimal compared to 'dog drugs'..The dog I was giving it to, was in the 70-80lb range, the pills come in 7.5 mg (and others but used that one),,and figured out my "dog" dosage which ended up being 1/2 a pill once a day.

All dogs are different, what helps one may not help another.

With the chondroitan, I've had two shepherds, the minute they take it, they would be puking it up within an hour, I had to mess around and see "what" was making them sick, and when I took away the chondroitan , that did the trick..again, not all dogs are the same.
 
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