My dog is limping on her front right leg and her left back leg. She is an 8 year-old Jack Russel Terrier who has never had any of these symptoms before and is of average weight for her age and type. She is a very active animal. About 3 weeks ago she started to limp and have trouble standing up and even squatting to go to the bathroom. She can no longer do any tricks that involve her jumping or standing up. After a few days of this happening, I took her to the vet, who said there was nothing wrong, and prescribed her some anti-inflammatory pills that I gave her halves of once a day for a week, telling me that if the limping continues or gets worse, I should come in for x-rays. The limping has got much worse, and she even has trouble staying balanced so she can eat now. The problem is that I don't think she needs x-rays because I don't suspect any broken bones. I've massaged her leg joints and it seems her knee and elbow joint are very inflamed and painful. I think it may be arthritis, but it doesn't make sense to me because the symptoms were so sudden with her just waking up one day, not being able to walk. What do you think could be her problem, and what is a cost-efficient way that I could help my pup? I love her very much, and it kills me to see her in pain, not being able to perform simple tasks all dogs need to stay healthy and happy. Your help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!Zan Zomchek
Type of Animal: XXXX XXXXXXX Terrier
Name of Dog: Maggie
A visit to the vet, and anti-inflammatory pills.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael SalkinI'm sorry to hear of this with Maggie. When multiple legs are suddenly problematic we consider a polyarthropathy - usually immune-mediated (her immune system is attacking her joints). Your suspicion for arthritis, then, may well be correct, but this wouldn't be the common degenerative arthritis but instead either an erosive or non-erosive arthritis that can be clarified by performing joint taps and analyzing the joint fluid. In addition, blood tests directed toward immune-mediated diseases (checking a complete blood count, LE prep, ANA, e.g.) should be performed. X-rays can be helpful in identifying which joints are involved; you've already found two that are painful but there may be others that aren't clinically apparent as of yet but will show up radiographically. Treatment success is predicated upon what's found upon testing. Immune mediated polyarthritis is addressed with immunosuppressive drugs such as the corticosteroid prednisone and chemotherapeutic agents such as cyclosporin and azathioprine. If you live in an area where ticks are problematic, make sure that Maggie is tested for Lyme, Ehrlichia and anaplasma. A simple screening test called the Idexx 4DX can be performed in house and you can have the results in 10 minutes. Tick-borne diseases that cause polyarthritis are addressed with doxycylcine.Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Thanks for your input. I'll have her at the vet again in the next few days and share this knowledge with my vet and ask for a blood test. I'll see if I can find the Idexx 4DX test somewhere close. Do you think a petsmart store would have it, perhaps?
The test isn't available over the counter but it's stocked by any vet hospital that has to be concerned about tick-borne diseases. I'm going to get back to you in a few days for an update. I'm concerned about Maggie and want to know that she's being addressed properly by her vet.
UC Davis graduate veterinarian with 41 years of experience
Thanks very much for your help. I'll let you know how it goes.
It's my pleasure. I'll talk to you soon.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.
May I have an update on Maggie, please?