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I rescued a senior GSD, Kelly, four years ago and was told she was 9 years old at that time. Ever since I've had her she has shown weakness in her hindquarters and she drags her back legs. These are classic symptoms of DM, but my vet has her on 100 mg of Galiprant daily, which is a drug for osteoarthritis. We recently went on a vacation with Kelly and forgot her meds at home. She did not show any signs that the week without them caused her any discomfort. I'm wondering whether I'm wasting my money and giving my dog drugs she doesn't really need if her problem is actually DM or something that mimics DM. In your experience, has anyone had a GSD with DM that spanned 4 years or more? Everything I've read said that once symptoms are present, there is rapid progression over a year or so. Kelly still loves the dog park, and although she is not as active as she was four years ago the slowdown is what I would expect from normal aging. The foot dragging and back end weakness are somewhat worse, now but not dramatically so.
 

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Having had 2 DM dogs, one before testing, and my dad had ALS, regretfully I am too familiar with this disease. DM is not painful..And Chance was diagnosed before the DNA test, at the tender age of 4..he lived to be just past 13, when Hermangio of the liver took him. He was very wobbly but never down. Xara was diagnosed at 7 when I noticed she was dragging her rear paws sometimes. She spent her last year only mobile in a cart. She was 9 when it had progressed to her front legs and was starting to bother her swallowing and breathing. That was when we set her free. Dogs progress differently. And I think it is a lot like ALS that the younger they show symptoms, the slower it progresses. If it is still available, search Dr Clemmons University of Florida. Decades ago he was doing research strictly on GSDs and has some great advise for helping them. A Help 'em Up harness was a back saver/ life extender for both Xara and her 1/2 brother that had a non-DM motor neuron issue that developed in just his rear legs starting at around 11.
 

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I would suggest you discuss with your vet the week absence of the medication. I think since Kelly was on a daily dose and that it may be that it takes longer for it to get out of her system so that may be why she did not show any increased symptoms for that week of absence.

My Sting had hind legs weakness and foot dragging. I did tail pulls and spine massage which helped a lot. I explained it in this post:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/senior-dog/711377-12yr-old-loss-appetite-hind-leg-weakness.html#post8655841

Also I think a dog can have both as my Sting had arthritis also.
 

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I rescued a senior GSD, Kelly, four years ago and was told she was 9 years old at that time. Ever since I've had her she has shown weakness in her hindquarters and she drags her back legs. These are classic symptoms of DM, but my vet has her on 100 mg of Galiprant daily, which is a drug for osteoarthritis. We recently went on a vacation with Kelly and forgot her meds at home. She did not show any signs that the week without them caused her any discomfort. I'm wondering whether I'm wasting my money and giving my dog drugs she doesn't really need if her problem is actually DM or something that mimics DM. In your experience, has anyone had a GSD with DM that spanned 4 years or more? Everything I've read said that once symptoms are present, there is rapid progression over a year or so. Kelly still loves the dog park, and although she is not as active as she was four years ago the slowdown is what I would expect from normal aging. The foot dragging and back end weakness are somewhat worse, now but not dramatically so.
There are any number of things that can cause back end weakness in a dog, particularly a senior dog. If your timeline is correct she is now 13, no small feat for this breed.
DM is painless and characterized by lack of awareness of where their feet, and later legs, are at. You may see legs crossing as the dog attempts to turn, they often sway as they are standing and as the disease progresses they often fall over.
Sabi fought it for about 3 years and I put a stop to it when I noticed swelling in her front legs from the extra strain, and when it became clear that she was miserable and frightened. Carts and slings were not an option for my very proud and independent girl. Helping her into the car offended her. I can tell you that my vet told me that 2 years from onset of symptoms to paralysis of the back legs was about the longest she had heard of and that some dogs faded as quickly as 8 months or so.
While your girl is standing still flip one of her back feet over, turn it upside down. DM dogs don't right their foot, because they don't know where it is, or are very slow to correct it. You can also do the inexpensive swab test to determine if she CAN have DM. Here in Canada it's about $75, I think it's a bit less in the US.
If it was my dog, I would stop the meds and do further testing.
 

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I just had to put down one of my dogs. He was 9 yrs old and weighed 130 lbs. He had arthritis in elbows and hips. That was a known factor. Big issue was when he started wobbling, unable to stand up, even his bark went away...he would try but there was barely any volume.

He has been on Cosequin and that didn't help with the DM like symptoms. Then the vet tried other meds...anti inflammatory, neurological pain relief...didn't help.

We couldn't watch him struggle to do his normal things. I tried taking him for short walks and he would fall. He had cuts and we saw blood on floors and walls.

Now that I have read more about DM I think the symptoms were there ever since he was 5 month old. Scraping of nails on floor, periodic limping, tripping over at times. Of course the vets never mentioned DM...just pointed out the arthritis.

I miss that dog and hope my other doesn't have this.

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