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Discussion Starter #1
My girl is going down hill. She is twelve. I am trying to figure out what I should do for her. I am not a person who wants to go crazy at the end of a dog's life with invasive procedures...but on the other hand until very recently she was hardly showing her age at all.

She still goes for walks with us, she can still walk 2 miles pretty much no problem but I am suddenly wondering if I should be doing that with her anymore.

These are the things I can see:

She has a little hitch in her hind step that she didn't used to have. One hind step is a bit shorter than the other. She has a hunch in her lower back that she didn't used to have making her hind end look a bit steeper than it was. She continues to lose muscle. She has had some real old lady episodes of losing her balance and just the other day lost her whole hind end out from under her but got right back up and carried on. This happened in a jostle for the door with the younger dogs and I think she slipped on the kitchen floor. She slips much easier than she used to.

about two months ago I started her back on Adequan hoping it might help that hitch in her step. I think it helped a little but not as much as I had hoped.

I had planned to take her to a chiropractor last month but then my truck broke down and it was very expensive and I couldn't afford it. Hope to be able to afford it this month.

My husband said he is afraid she has a mass and he wants to have her X rayed and see if it might be operable. Even if she did have a mass i don't think I want to operate on her at her age. She is losing her vision. She is losing her hearing.

I owe her everything. Nothing I would not do for her. But I don't think invasive stuff is right at her age either.

Do these symptoms in her back and hind end ring a bell for anybody? I am not sure if I should take her in to the regular vet first or just call the chiropractor. She was OFA Excellent at age 2 and my vet manipulated her in the last few years and said her joints still feel great so it isn't that.
 

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The other day I came home and saw a german shepherd near our front gate a first quick glance I thought it was Luna out of the gate but then saw the back end severely sloped. My daughter ran and got a leash so we can find his owners. He must of got scent of Luna in heat. We walked him to our neighbors that I knew had a gsd. He had really aged when I last saw him and did not recognize him. He had a slope in his rear end which I had not seen before and a really bad hitch. His hind end was very weak. So I could not imagine him living to far away. I assumed he had severe arthritis or dm which I had neve scene. The owner said he had dm. He was neutered but still followed his nose -a sweet happy spunky old chap despite his severe weakness in his rear end.

Anyway it’s possible it can be dm. Hard to say. Your girl sound fantastic she is still able to walk that far or even less than. How is she after the walk is she sore? Is the walk on concrete? I do know walking is good for arthritis. At this point it’s about making them comfortable as they can be. Maybe the vet can give you something for inflammation or pain to have on hand for her not so good days especially with winter coming up. Any X-rays that would be up to you as I agree I would not do anything invasive either.

Our first gsd had really bad arthritis at twelve he was in a lot of pain and barely can get up he was crying. He was given some pain killers that helped for a short time then his body was shutting down and he would not eating and vomiting so there was no question as what to do. I had not seen any back end sloping or severe weakness in his hind end at all despite his severe arthritis.
 

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Walking does not seem to make her sore. We walk either on our dirt road or the mountain trail. She is enthusiastic as ever qhen I start getting out the walking stuff and she keeps up...she is never on a leash so it's not like I am making her do it. Last year I stopped bringing her to break trail in deep snow. I do that alone with the boy and she will walk the trail once I've snow shoed it down.

I suppose DM is possible. I don't think the tests existed when her litter was bred so I don't think it would have been screened for.

Pain meds are tricky for her because of her stomach and she is on steroids.
 

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This is all good she is able to walk and be moving about. I don’t know to much about dm maybe others can chime in. I do know that dog I’m guessing was probably 12 and had really really weak legs but was able to make it a few houses down but was as happy as a skunk! The steroids I imagine are helping her I think I heard presnisone is used in cases with dm but i can’t be sure or if I remember that right. A vet would be able to make some suggestions and listen to your concerns and make a plan together that is not invasive.
 

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My last dog passed due to HS and she did have some stumbling moments, but she was also 14+ years old so I'm not sure if the episodes were age or HS related. HS is so prevalent anymore I would lean toward having the X-ray done as your husband has stated.
 

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I would put her on CBD oil. I've seen the difference it made in my friends senior with arthritis and as herniated disk. It was clear that it helped. Another thing to consider is the weather making symptoms worse. I would keep walking her as long as she wants and let her self limit. Strong muscles will only help her and keeping them limber will as well.
 

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I would put her on CBD oil. I've seen the difference it made in my friends senior with arthritis and as herniated disk. It was clear that it helped. Another thing to consider is the weather making symptoms worse. I would keep walking her as long as she wants and let her self limit. Strong muscles will only help her and keeping them limber will as well.
How can I find out if there is any interaction with the other stuff she takes?

She is on Adequan, Budesonide, and Proin.
 

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My last dog passed due to HS and she did have some stumbling moments, but she was also 14+ years old so I'm not sure if the episodes were age or HS related. HS is so prevalent anymore I would lean toward having the X-ray done as your husband has stated.
Is HS Hemangio? I know an ultra sound would be better but that would be like her 5th time getting shaved naked jn the winter and it sucks!

I guess if she does have a mass it would be nice to know. She has not had any episodes like a bleed, I know what that looks like.
 

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Yes hemangiosarcoma. I've actually lost two dogs to this and in both instances X-rays were used to reveal the tumors.
 

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I decided to be pretty hands-off with an aging dog if other things are also going (hearing, balance, sight, muscles, back end). It is really hard, but with my GSD with lymphoma, the far kindest thing to do was treat with prednisone and make her comfortable. I fed her as much as she'd eat, I bought her special treats, and I spent a lot of extra time just being with her. I took her swimming, which she loved, and she still came on hikes until she chose not to anymore just before the end.

It breaks my heart a bit thinking about it.

I think we do the best we can, with an old dog. I'm not sure I'd need to know what, if anything, was wrong with her back end, I'd just treat with pain meds or adequan and hope it helps. CBD oil can't hurt, worth at try. Check with a vet about any interactions, though.

Even if a dog has cancer, I'll consider prognosis with and without treatment, the dog's suffering through any procedures, and lastly cost. I can't spend $10,000 on chemo.

You can look into dog Physical Therapy type exercises on line. See if those balance exercises might help. I'll admit, I never have done anything like that, I just take the dog hiking, and swimming and that seems to meet all those muscle group requirements.

If you need or want to know, starting with x-rays is a decent idea. Many dogs lose muscle in the back end and will collapse on occasion- freaking us out- but it doesn't always mean anything more than aging is going on.

I'm sorry, old dogs are special, and we want to help them feel better, but it's a tough call on how far to go, and it's really up to you.
 

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What you're seeing could be just the normal decline of aging or it could be be more. It's really hard to say without tests but I totally understand not wanting to go crazy with expensive tests and procedures at her age. Sometimes "doing everything for them" is just keeping them as comfortable as possible for as long as you can.

That's where we are with Keefer, who turned 13 in August. We never expected him to live this long - 12, sure. He was still in pretty good shape then, or we never would have done the surgery when he bloated. But 13? I thought it highly unlikely, but here he still is. He has more difficulty getting up and down off the floor and on the areas of hardwood flooring between the hall runners, but does okay outside and on carpet and rugs. His backend is a bit unsteady, and he's nearly tipped over a few times when Cava goes careening by on a zoomy run but has never fallen on his own. He has cataracts and is almost completely blind, his hearing is not much better. He poops in the house or garage nearly as much as he makes it outside, and he sometimes pees in the house. He sleeps most of the time. He's pretty much ancient, but he seems pretty happy and he's not showing us any signs that he's ready to go. His appetite is fantastic, and he still waits by the front door to greet me when I come home from work.

We have him on Proin for the incontinence, which has made a hug difference, he's been on Synovi G4 for quite a few years, after it was accidentally discovered that he has spondylosis. Recently I put him on Acetyl L-Carnitine to support mental acuity, and Cetyl M for his joints. He gets salmon oil, and I just started him on Nupro Lyfe-Spyce immune support a couple of weeks ago. He's on a probiotic too. Oh, and he tested low-normal for thyroid years ago and has been on thyroid meds ever since. We put him an anti-inflammatory about 2 years ago, meloxicam, which has definitely helped, and a few months ago increased his dosage after discussing it with our vet. It's hard to tell which, if any, of the supplements are helping because at his age improvements are not going to be dramatic, but he does seem better than he had been for awhile.

Have you had her thyroid tested recently? Sneaker was low-nomal too, and our vet thought it beneficial for seniors to be on meds even if they were still technically normal if they were on the low end. I think it might be beneficial to do the x-rays if you can afford to, even if you don't plan to do surgery. With a pretty low success rate for long term survival of HS you'd at best have a few more months with her, which IMO would not be worth putting her through surgery at her age.
 

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What you describe sounds so much like my girldog’s old age. Like with Keefer above, her symptoms seemed to be just old age (though with fewer conditions diagnosed) and treating her arthritis pain seemed like the best plan near the end. I don’t know if it will help you decide, but here’s that story, FWIW.

Xiao did have HS, at the end a huge tumor on her spleen, but I never knew about it until the day she died. She was nearly blind, nearly deaf, and pretty arthritic. But she looked happy to be alive, old girl, until one morning she couldn’t get to her feet. At the emergency vet they found the tumor when x-raying to see if anything besides arthritis was preventing her from standing. It was huge, she must’ve lived with it for years. But she’d never shown any symptoms that led me or her vet to go looking for it until that day. Surgery was not an option, she was too old to bear it. The vet said it was a miracle she’d lived so long, and all but begged me to put her down right then and I agreed, but before that morning I might not have, even after learning about that tumor. Only that morning did she look like life was no longer worth living for her. That day, even with no x-ray, I probably would’ve let her go.

She was at least 14.5, possibly 15, when she died. If they’d found the tumor at 12, I don’t think surgery would’ve prolonged her life, and she never looked to be in pain until her back and hind legs got stiffer in her last maybe 6 months. So I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think surgery would’ve improved her quality of life, either. I’m tearing up as I write this, Xiao Mei passed 22 years ago and I still miss her. I don’t know how to advise you, but if I had it to do over now, I’d first find out if there are more options for treatment or support now than there were back in the mid-90s. If I had a chance to help her live longer or better I’d probably agree with your husband, get the x-rays and maybe surgery. If there’s nothing to do at this point in her life, though, then ask yourself how will the X-rays help? You or your husband or her? And go from there.
 

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I would get an ultrasound. That is how they found HS in my heeler. It started with an Xray, but they couldn't see exactly what was going on. They thought it was pancreatitis.

She had very similar symptoms. A loss of muscle mass in the hind end especially. Good spirits, and then suddenly couldn't stand. A few hours later, ready to play. The blood vessels burst, and they bleed internally which makes them week. Then they will clot and be good to go for a while. Some just collapse.

The ultrasound could not confirm if it had spread or not, so I went ahead with the surgery. I had a 50/50 chance they said. The surgeon removed her spleen, and found a tiny spot on the liver, so it had already spread. The surgery was about 5K. It got me another 2.5 months, so I am thankful for that.

I wish you the best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
For what it's worth her balance loss and the one fall was not tumor bleed weakness. I know what a tumor bleed looks like. She has had a gradual overall increased weakness and the younger dogs jostled her around at the door and she lost her hind end.

I've seen dogs in distress unable to rise having bleeds and this was not that.

Doesn't mean she doesn't have a tumor though
 

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@Thecowboysgirl - IMO, if your dog has cancer, the muscle loss won't be limited to the hind end. It will be overall muscle loss. I will PM you a picture of Jax the day before I lost her and you can see the muscle is gone everywhere, including her skull.
 

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Much of what you are describing with movement is just plain old age. That does not mean that your dog is in pain, just less agile, less balanced, and weaker. You are not going to fix it. I would relax a bit and just lend a helping hand here and there.

The mass is what would worry me and would be a determining factor in what to do next. I would have a local vet check it first and see what they have to say.

I don't blame you for not wanting to do anything drastic or painful in her old age. Whatever time she has left but should not be spent enduring painful procedures and recovery.
 

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@Thecowboysgirl - IMO, if your dog has cancer, the muscle loss won't be limited to the hind end. It will be overall muscle loss. I will PM you a picture of Jax the day before I lost her and you can see the muscle is gone everywhere, including her skull.
She does have overall muscle loss but that really started with the prednisone for her stomach. And back rhen she was being ultrasounded regularly ao there definitely were no masses.

Just in the last few months more balance loss and weakness in hind end and her posture seems different to me.

I agree, it may just be her getting old. She couldn't continue to look like a young dog forever. People are usually shocked at her age and guessed her at half that or less.

When she was 9 a lady in the park asked her age and when I said 9, she said "months"? Now there is a compliment.

I'll see if my vet knows about giving her CBD. I can also email her specialist at the referral hospital and see if he knows if it is safe for her.
 

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Much of what you are describing with movement is just plain old age. That does not mean that your dog is in pain, just less agile, less balanced, and weaker. You are not going to fix it. I would relax a bit and just lend a helping hand here and there.

The mass is what would worry me and would be a determining factor in what to do next. I would have a local vet check it first and see what they have to say.

I don't blame you for not wanting to do anything drastic or painful in her old age. Whatever time she has left but should not be spent enduring painful procedures and recovery.
I know there is no fixing her.

I don't think anything invasive is the right thing for her.

If a chiropractor could help her be a little more comfortable for a little longer that would be great. But I do know it is basically down hill from here.

I have hugged and kissed her a lot since posting this and she actually snuggled with me this afternoon which she normally only does first thing in the morning.

She is my longest term relationship and more of a family than any human has ever been so I have to find a way to go through this with her with some grace.

She also got mad I threw the ball for her brother and outran him and stole it. I think she knows we've been talking about her and would like us to know she isn't as old as we think.
 

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Overall muscle loss from the prednisone is different from overall muscle loss from cancer. It's more extreme.
 
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