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My female GSD just turned 8yrs old and in the last 6-9 months she has slowed down. About 6 months ago is when it really started to show up- the crossing of the back legs, her back legs slipping out from underneath her. In the last month it has gotten a lot worse. I took her to the vet about 3 weeks ago and he said it looks like she doesn't have any idea what is going on with her back legs.. he folded her back feet and she didn't automatically correct them which he said every dog should do. He suggested xrays which I am getting tomorrow. Needless to say I am very nervous about this rapidly getting worse and having to put her down if she can not control her back legs or someday maybe her bowel movements. The doc has her on RX Rimadyl 75mg 2x a day. I havent seen much improvement with this. Has anyone been through this with their GSD's? Any suggestions?

Thanks
Coleen

Ceasar RIP- love you
Sedona 8 yrs old
Chance 4 yrs old
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I forgot to mention she doesnt seem to be in pain and will still run after the ball for a while then will hang out and watch her brother play.
 

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Sorry to say it sounds like DM. Xrays will rule out other issues.
One of my dogs started with it when she was 7 to 8 years old. For the most part it is painless, but as it advances the dogs has less control of their hind quarters and are forced to use their fronts to get around, that can cause pain in areas of the body that are stressed by having to make up for a rear that is non functional
 

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Life is like a fan sometimes. It blows on one side and sucks on the other.....

Hope somehow it isn't DM (degenerative myelopathy). My last German Shepherd Genesis got it at age 10. Poor dog was never sick a day in his life. I noticed something was wrong when he wobbled in the kitchen. Went to the vet and found out the bad news....

My GS was given rimadyl also. But that won't help slow the disease. Genesis never had a hint of any hip or joint problems. If I remember correctly. The rimadyl was to help in that area since the dog now needs his legs as strong as possible......

To try and slow the progression of DM. Genesis was given a human drug Amicar. I had to search for a pharmacist who carried it. When I found one he said who's this for because its used to treat bleeding conditions in the brain (humans). I said it's for my dog. I am a member of the best friends animal sanctuary. I called them and talked to one of their vets about the amicar. She told me yes it was a drug for slowing the progression. There was only a 20% chance that it works though. It was expensive around $270 a month. That was 10 years ago. Maby there is now a new drug I don't know. I saw something about stem cell for DM. I know my vet now uses different methods to help dogs with DM. Like exercise in a pool. He also does stem cell for hips. My current GS Kaos just had that done. Next week he has an appointment. I'll ask about stem cell for DM...

I stopped the amicar after 6 months. It wasn't working. I got Genesis a dog wheel chair. So if (worst case hope not) you don't have to put your dog down. I had discussed this also with the best friends vet since they have a great deal of experience with dogs that have lost the use of limbs. She assured me it isn't cruel to keep them around. She actually didn't even want me to think about putting him down. They do get along well if you continue to love them. Its just really hard to see them like that. It's what you need to get over. They aren't in pain from the DM. That's also something the vets told me.....

Until they lose the use they can do everything. The disease is progressive though. It keeps getting worse. Different dogs have different rates before they are totally crippled. It happened fast with my Genesis. About 1 year. Right after the diagnosis my GS could still outrun a 4 year old GS who lived next door. They would chase each other looking through the fence.....

Again hope its something else that's fixable...
 

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It does sounds like DM :(

You should find a vet who at least knows the diseases and illnesses common to different breeds. Ask for a referral to a veterinarian neurologist if there's one in your area.
 

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It's past the 10 minute mark so I couldn't edit (again). Need to change this part so its not taken the wrong way "if you continue to love them". Of course everyone still loves their dog. I should have said they get along well as long as you give them the xtra attention they will need.....
 

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Thanks guys. When I went back to see the vet for xrays... he told me she has major spine issues. That if he didnt know the age of my Sedona he would assume from the xray that she was 12 yrs old. He wasnt even quite sure what these additional spots were on each vertebrae but he said thats what is causing pain and causing her to not get signals from her back legs to her brain. He said he will only get worse and to enjoy the next 6 months and hopefully she will make it that long. He also said within her back legs where the joint is, there is a huge gap where the hip bone joins.. he said thats not good either and said she has hip dis. too. That was about a month ago and since then it has gotten worse. I am not sure if the meds are helping at all but I am afraid to discontinue the use. I cant take her on walks anymore because she cant do it--- she will walk on her knuckles and they will start to bleed. She walks like a ballerina I like to call it :)... doing circles and all... Its so horribly sad and breaks my heart. Shes pretty tough and never whines or cries which makes it hard for me to know how much pain she is in. A week ago my ex took my other younger GSD and its so interesting to see how she changes her ways... instead of trying to keep up with him playing fetch in the yard, when I play with her she will retrieve once then go inside. Shes so competitive, that I think its good she can relax a bit without trying to keep up with him. If anyone else has an tips etc let me know... :) thanks
 

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I am so sorry to hear about your dog. I have been and am going through issues with my 8 year old and there are many different causes.

Has an ortho vet looked at the x-rays? Can you post them? We never got a clear diagnosis on my boy but acupuncture and cold laser have done well for him. A lot of older dogs have spondylosis or bony overgrowths but that usually does not cause this..........
 

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Could also be interveterbral (?sp) disc disease. My old boy had it along w some other spine problems. His back legs would cross & slip & he wouldn't straighten his back paws when turned under either. He had multiple herniated discs which compressed the nerves causing his back legs to be all wonky. He got to the point where he could no longer walk. He underwent surgery which helped some but his mobility was never the same. 7 months later he lost the ability to walk again & I made the painful decision to put him down. I'm sorry that you & Sedona are going through this.
 

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My GS is 9 1/2 years old, and has Degenerative Myopathy. He was diagnosed this past winter and it's been more than difficult to watch the different stages, not only physical changes but his mental changes too. I know he knows he's different and not 100% and I'm having trouble everyday dealing with it. I doubt I'll ever be able to have a GS ever again because He and I were so close and so connected.....I just don't know how to get through this. The vet told me if I wanted to have him around longer to not play ball any more or as much. So for a couple of weeks we cut back on our routine, but I could tell he wasn't happy with this. I spoke to a trainer from Lead The Home Home and was told "motion is lotion for the joints" and assured me that Chaos would tell me when enough was enough. I made the decision that if I were old and someone took one of my favorite things away from me that I loved to do I'd be pretty angry, so we started to do our normal thing, and being that GS are working dogs I think there are more benefits than one for them to remain active. Sometimes we only get a couple throws in and then we just hang out there together laying in the grass and watching what's going on around us...and he seems happy and that's all that matters and he's not in any pain! Over the last two months however he's been spending a lot of time in my closet, and I can't figure out why, and within the last week he's acting scared and holding his head low. I have a call out for professional advise on this but if anyone has ever experienced this with their dog and can shed some light on it I would appreciate it so I can make things better for Chaos. Nothing new or different has changed for him. I, however lost my job this past week and I'm wondering if he's picking up on my additional stress. Any comments out there??
 

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We think that Daisy has DM ,she is 12. She has some great days and some really not good ones. We get her to walk and she still chases her brother and the neighbors livestock on her side of her fence. After a really busy am she naps more. The personality changes she will not sleep in her bed ,she was always a nester but I think her decrease in mobility have made her not want to be somewhere that she may not be able to get out of. I am so sorry about your girl. I think your right that losing the things you love to do takes away from the quality of your life, I know they recommend walking for dogs w/ D/M. Take care .
 

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My Zeke is 13 we made the choice to try surgery to help relieve his spinal pressure. Its not going well almost wish I didn't have the surgery, but I also know that he wouldn't have made it much longer without the surgery. He's 3 weeks into the back surgery and he's not walking well at all. We are keeping him on crate rest to keep him still just going out to potty. But he keeps getting fluid pockets that have to be drained or he can't walk at all from the pressure of the fluid.

Its a hard thing to see your pet go from so active to not even wanting to move. As everyone says not in pain just annoyed when he can't just up and run like he used to. Enjoy your time with him try to slow down the progression with anti infammatories and pain meds when needed.

Our dog is part of the family and he picks up on our stress so we try to act as if nothings wrong with him at times I get so upset and cry and he knows.

Good Luck with everything.......Its hard to have our pets get old and slow down and come to realize it will soon be time. But I know we gave him a good life and he's loved. We're not giving up on him yet he's a fighter and we'll hang in there with him until he's in pain then we will do the right thing as hard as it will be.
 

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my dog sammie

This same thing is happening to my 9 year old female, sammie. She was diagnosed with hip problems about 3 years ago.
About 2 months ago...i noticed that she started to limp. Then it went to dragging the back leg which affected her paw. I bought her boots because she had wore down her nails.
Now her hips are crossing and she is a mess. If i tell her to go slow and I hoist her up...she can walk. But when she gets excited or tired....her legs twist and collapse.
Now she slides around the house with her front legs.
She does walk a little bit daily...but for the most part...she tries but doesn't get too far.
I took her to the vet...but he said a sloppy hip. Is this something treatable or is she just going to keep losing her use of those back legs?
She is 9 and about 100 lbs. Her mind and crazy and silly spirit is still in tact.
SHe is funny and wonderful, eating and going potty outside. Vet put her on prednisone...and that was a mess.
So what are your thoughts?

Paula k:help:
 

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Im sorry to hear. Hopefully it turns out better than the things being discussed
 

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DM quite frequently is a catch-all dx, a process of elimination. Unless EEG is done on the affected muscles, one cannot be sure.

I used to work for (IMO, the Best) vet neuro/ortho. Referrals only from other vets. I was amazed at the number of owners who came in with their dogs in a rear-end cart. Most (yes, Most) of those left walking. Cauda equina affects the lower spine. Regular vets will mis-dx it & the animal winds up in a cart. We could operate, sometimes using plates & screws, & the animal returns to normal.

But it takes myelogram, radiographs & sometimes spinal fluid analysis. Please have a vet experienced in these fields check out your dog. Symtomatically, it may 'sound' like DM - but insist upon the RIGHT diagnosis, based upon qualified testing. (BTW - cauda equina is a known problem with GSDs. Don't fall into the mentality that says DM is the problem here without accurate tests.)
 

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thanks for the informative message. I did alot of research on the web last night. I will be calling the vet back tomorrow.
I have 2 shepherds and my older girl ended up with a perianal fistula 2 years ago. I was at wits end and did many treatments with her. I spent lots and lots of money. She is in remission at this time and now this with my younger shepherd.
I am a widow and on a limited income. My husband and I had and took care of many pets together as a team.
Its very overwhelming to take care of 2 shepherds, a cat and 4 birds alone and work a 40 plus hour work week and take care of a home. I am on a limited budget and all my animals are seniors now. So....I said I would be there for all of them through li fe. I love them all dearly and take care of them to the best of my ability and the best of my financial ability.
The tests that you talk about or that I read about last night on the web...amounted to thousands of dollars and surgeries and dog carts and slings have my mind all boggled up. I feel i owe it to my pets to give them the best care that I can. They have the love...and they are all happy.
My shepherd scout is 11 and sammie is 9. My cat is 19.
So i am simply saying that money and vet bills and medicine and all that goes along with these medical problems will always be part of the dilema.
My father who always taught me that things need to stay in balance and animals need to be placed in the right perspective. Keeping a compromised animal alive for my selfish purposes is not what it should be all about. When she ceases to be the dog who can go outside and enjoy the things she did or when she can not control her functions....or even know who I am.....then I need to make some very difficult decisons.
I don't want to start a debate...but money is the only thing that can give a dog a chance to heal or get better or survive or be put in remission. SO...at this time...i will take her to the vet and talk to him about the things that this could be. He can give me his opinions and give me honesty in how much things may cost and I will have to go from there.
These are the things of life that stress me out and sink me into deep depression. These are the things of life that test your heart and love and mind. when scout went through a year of perianal fistuala problems and i spent thousands in medicine and vet appointments. research and reading. making dog food and dog treats and applying concoctions on her butt twice a day, i realized just how much i loved my pets. they have been here for me, slept with me, licked me and surrounded me since my husband died of cancer. i would do anything for them.....anything. but when you don't have the money....and i hate to say it.....when it boils down to the money.....this is the saddest part of owning pets. oprah isn't handing me a check because i have a sad moment in life.
I hope i didn't sound too horrible. these are the things going through my head. things you wrestle with when one of your pets goes down. i do know that she will be going to the vet. i am calling him tomorrow. i will get some answers or some other kind of plan going. i am not going to just give up.
 

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I just read up on the cauda that you speak about in your post. It said that they will be in pain.
My dog exhibits no pain or any of those things that the article says. My vet even said that he did not think that she was in any type of pain.
SO could it still be the cauda that you said that it could be?
 

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Paula - I'm not sure what your vet means by "sloppy hip". A catch-all phrase, probably. Cauda equina may or may not be painful - no 2 vets agree. But what *I* have seen is painfull response. I have an oversized cat born with this (+bilateral hip dysplasia) & I firmly believe he was in pain before his surgeries. And now, because he's 16, he has arthritis in those joints.

(BTW - I meant to type 'EMG' to test the muscles, not 'EEG'). oops:rolleyes:
 

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Paula - I'm not sure what your vet means by "sloppy hip". A catch-all phrase, probably. Cauda equina may or may not be painful - no 2 vets agree. But what *I* have seen is painfull response. I have an oversized cat born with this (+bilateral hip dysplasia) & I firmly believe he was in pain before his surgeries. And now, because he's 16, he has arthritis in those joints.

(BTW - I meant to type 'EMG' to test the muscles, not 'EEG'). oops:rolleyes:
FWIW I've had three dogs (all related ... father and his son and daughter) who were diagnosed with cauda equina and all three responded favorably to pain medications (tramadol) and later I added acupuncture and bowen massages which also helped. JR was 13 years/3 months when he was put down (multiple problems), Ringer was 12 years/11 months when he was put down (hemangiosarcoma of the heart), and Honey 13 years/10 months when she was put down (unknown sudden, high fever, coma wasn't expected to live thru the night, in fact they weren't sure if she'd live long enough for me to drive up and be with her when she was put down ... she was alive when I got there so I got to hold her and tell her I loved her but she didn't hear me).
 

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I agree that the leg crossing and knuckling under are classic DM signs. :-(

You might want to investigate some of the supplements recommended by Dr. Clemmons for DM -- my vet recommended this site to me, as he respects the work Dr. Clemmons is doing:
Degenerative Myelopathy of German Shepherds

I think Dr. Clemmons also may be connected to Westlab Pharmacy in Florida (a compounding pharmacy that sells the treatment used in Dr. Clemmons studies:
Westlab Pharmacy - Veterinary Patients - Degenerative Myelopathy (I haven't ordered anything from them, but I came across it in my research, when we thought my old guy might have DM last year--turned out he just had bad arthritis.)
 
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