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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 26945
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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She is struggling to walk as if her nd legs 't want to work.

Customer Question

She is struggling to walk as if her hind legs don't want to work. Her stomach is also bloated
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: I looked and didn't see anything. It's more like they are stiff. She can't get down the bottom step without assistance
JA: What is the dog's name and age?
Customer: Mitzie and 8
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Mitzie?
Customer: She's a Norwegian Elkhound
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: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Mitzie. You appear to be describing an ataxic ("drunken sailor") dog which in her case is likely to have resulted from a myelopathy (spinal cord disorder) such as degenerative disk disease (a "slipped disk"). Differential diagnoses include fibrocartilaginous embolism (an interruption in the blood supply to the spinal cord) and neoplasia - a tumor in or around the spinal cord.

Supportive evidence of a disk may include vocalizing when approached or lifted, having trouble jumping up or down and navigating steps, ataxia (“drunken sailor”), trembling/shaking (pain responses), a change in posture such as the neck held rigidly and head lower to the ground or a"hunch" in her back, and a change in behavior - a normally social dog becoming aloof or, conversely, a normally aloof dog becoming "clingy". Mitzie's vet will want to carefully palpate (feel) about your dog's spine looking for areas of hyperpathia (increased sensitivity) suggestive of a disk. Conservative care involves the use of a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) such as carprofen or meloxicam, a narcotic analgesic such as tramadol, and a skeletal muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol or diazepam. These drugs are usually administered for at least ten days. Most simple disks will remiss within a few weeks. It's important to keep these dogs as quiet as possible lest they hurt themselves further.

Should paresis (weakness) or paralysis arise in any limb(s) as I'm afraid has already occurred, she'll need the attention of her vet at your earliest convenience. Such dogs are then surgical candidates for spinal cord decompression. Her bloated stomach isn't a consistent finding with a disk but could result from an alteration in gastrointestinal motility when the spinal cord is injured. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you. That is consistent with my findings on the internet. What seems odd to us is the sudden onset.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

You're welcome. Yes, a disk can prolapse or rupture in the blink of an eye. I'm a good example of that happening. Please continue our conversation if you wish.