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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14552
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 7 year old German Shepherd has been slipping sometimes

Customer Question

Hi, my 7 year old German Shepherd has been slipping sometimes while he is walking on our tile floor, looks like his hind legs buckle every now and then. Otherwise, he is healthy, jumps around and is happy. But I have been noticing this hind leg problem every once in a while these past few weeks.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: No, doesn't look like there is one but he has been scratching himself and licking himself on one side.
JA: The Veterinarian will ask you more detailed questions to find out what is causing this. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the dog?
Customer: Not really. He has been a healthy, boisterous, happy puppy this far. Thanks.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 5 months ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear about your fellow's intermittent rear leg weakness.Has he ever had radiographs of his spine or hips? If you pinch his toes on his rear feet does he feel it and immediately react?If he is standing and you flip his rear feet so the topside is down does he immediately right them?Does he ever have trouble holding his eliminations?(incontinence)? It is very possible that he is dysplastic. Sometimes it is simply too painful to properly place his feet. Symptoms can happen suddenly if a piece of the arthritic changes in his hip breaks off and is free in the joint.But if he is dragging his toes that can signify neurologic problems, such as an intervertebral disc(s) (cushions between the bony vertebrae) that are out of place or spinal arthritis putting pressure on the spinal cord or even a mass in or around the spinal cord. Another possibility is a condition called FCE, fibrocatilagenous emboli, where a chunk of cartilage breaks off and lodges in the blood vessels that supply the spinal nerve roots. It is very painful initially as blood supply to tissue is blocked off. The pain only lasts a short time, less than a few hours to a day, but the weakness from the nerve damage it causes it can last for weeks or in rare cases is permanent.Rotties and German Shepherds are prone to a disease process that affects the rear legs called lumbosacral stenosis (LSS).It can have many of the same symptoms as a FCE as it causes neurologic symptoms too. It is caused by weak spinal ligaments that allow the bones in the spinal column to move and place pressure on the spinal cord or it can be due to inflammation of the ligaments inside the spinal cord canal causing pressure on the spinal cord leading to loss of function, just like a FCE.FCE are initially painful but after that it's just a matter of regaining function.LSS can be painful on and off until the spinal column is stabilized and the pressure is taken off the spinal cord permanently. Another possibility if he doesn't seem painful is a condition called ascending myelopathy. This is a progressive degeneration of the spinal nerves that begins with incoordination of the rear legs then progresses to loss of urine and stool control (continence). He really needs a veterinary examination as soon as possible. Radiographs to look for a collapsed disc space or arthritis of the spine and hip dysplasia would be helpful. We need to know what the problem is to treat it successfully.If those look fine then an MRI of his spinal cord in the back of the body will be helpful. Pain and inflammation in most these conditions is controlled with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like Metacam, Deramaxx or Rimadyl as well as Tramadol and/or Gabapentin.You can use these with the omega 3's and glucosamines if arthritis or hip dysplasia is diagnosed. These nutraceuticals help improve cartilage and joint fluid health as well as reduce inflammation. I recommend using a combination of a glucosamine/chondroitin product (examples are Dasuquin or Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like 3V Caps or Derm Caps). I recommend an omega 3 fatty acid dose based upon the EPA portion (eicosapentanoic acid) of the supplement as if we do that the rest of the supplement will be properly balanced. Give him 20mg of EPA per pound of body weight per day. For example an 80 pound dog could take 1600mg of EPA per day. Omega 3's and glucosamine/chondroitins work synergistically and improve cartilage health and joint fluid quality and quantity as well as reducing inflammation. They can take several weeks to see full improvement but some dogs do very well with them alone. They are available over the counter.Another option is a product called Duralactin. This is an anti-inflammatory product derived from milk proteins and it also has omega 3 fatty acids incorporated into it which can be very helpful. See this link for further information: There is no treatment for myelopathy, unfortunately. We can only truly diagnose that condition after death because it requires a biopsy of spinal cord tissue. We usually rule out everything else and with a history of little to no pain and a gradual onset then we assume it is myelopathy. There is a relatively new blood test that looks for genetic markers for the disease. If you want to test him for the disease there is a blood test available which is pretty accurate. Here is a link to a website which will give you information about how to get him tested: If he is not responding to cortisone or nonsteroidals then I think that more diagnostic testing should be done. An MRI of his spinal cord will help diagnose intervertebral disc disease or lumbosacral stenosis. Those conditions can be treated surgically. In the meantime try and keep your pup quiet. With spinal instability the more they do, especially jarring activities like running, jumping, and stairs, the faster the condition can progress. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** He does react and feel if his rear toes are pinched. He has no problems with incontinence. He walks and runs normally 90% of the time, but only slips occasionally, noticed it 2 times today. The dragging is infrequent and it seems to be on one side only. He has been scratching excessively on that side and scrapes himself against the wall as he walks as if to relieve an itch. I read about some kind of a tick that causes hind leg paralysis. Could it be as simple as that?
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 5 months ago.
Thanks for that information.I am glad to hear that he seems to have good sensation. It's possible we are in the early stages of a disease process, so his symptoms may not be consistent or a s severe as they could be.Many of the diseases I described are bilateral (affecting both legs) but it is not uncommon for one leg to be worse than the other and show more significant symptoms initially.His scratching on that side may be due to nerve tingling sensations, not uncommon with nerve disease.Tick paralysis is a rapidly progressive disease due to proteins in a tick's (usually D andersoni also known as the Rocky Mountain wood tick and D variabilis also known as the American dog tick) saliva which are injected as the tick feeds. Once the tick is removed the dog will slowly recover, and should get back to normal. A dog with tick paralysis should have attached ticks and all muscles could be affected including the muscles of respiration, not just the rear leg(s).
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 5 months ago.
I do think we are dealing with a primary neurologic cause, but he needs some diagnostic testing to determine exactly what is going on. He may benefit from seeing a veterinary neurologist.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 5 months ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 5 months ago.
Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

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