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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9144
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My 13 year old dog has problems walking

Customer Question

my 13 year old dog has problems walking
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 5 months ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.

I'm sorry for this concern for Jasmin. I do have a few additional questions to ask about her first if you don't mind:

1. How long has she had difficulty walking?

2. And, are her issues when she's trying to stand after laying down or is she wobbly once she gets up...or both?

3. Is she currently taking any medication or supplements?

4. How much does she weigh?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
It started about 3 months ago, but after a visit to the vet, she improved. Today she seems to be getting worse. Both, seems to be a coordination problem.No medication. She weighs 62 pounds
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Any more questions
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 5 months ago.

No. But thanks for asking.

It's just taking me a while to type up a response since it's fairly lengthy. Sorry:( Deb

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 5 months ago.

Thanks for the answers to my questions.

In situations like this, the problem is most likely going to be either orthopedic (a problem with the hips or joints) or neurologic (a problem with the nerves that go to the legs)..or possibly a combination of both. Sometimes it's difficult to tell which might be the problem without a good physical exam (or even with one); often additional testing such as an x-ray or an MRI need to be done to help determine what might be going on.

1. Neurologic problems would include either a mass or a disc compressing the spinal cord. This condition wouldn't necessarily be painful but it can be slowly progressive, however.
An x-ray might be suggestive (a narrowed disc space might be seen) but it usually takes an MRI to diagnose. Whether or not surgery might be suggested or helpful depends on exactly what the problem might be.
Sometimes medical management can help some of these patients; use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam or Previcox may be useful but these would have to be dispensed by your vet.

There's also a condition called Degenerative Myelopathy which can affect both back legs where the nerves going to the muscles aren't functioning properly. This is also a non-painful condition which tends to progress but the rate at which it does so is different for every dog.
This is often a difficult diagnosis to make although a good physical exam is often suggestive of it. Unfortuantely, there are no good treatments for it although physical therapy has been shown to significantly retard the progression of this condition.

2. Arthritis could possibly explain his some of his symptoms At his age and given his breed, I'm certain that he probably has arthritis somewhere in his body although I'm not certain if this would entirely explain all of her issues ...it might contribute to them, however.
An x-ray would show deterioration, though, so additional diagnostic testing is rarely required. Even a good physical exam might detect some changes.

We do have quite a few treatment options for this condition which include drugs (the ones I mentioned in #1) to manage inflammation as well as any discomfort which might develop as well as supplements which could help prevent further progression of the disease.

Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin can be given as long as other n'saids aren't being used and the patient isn't vomiting. The dose would be 10 mg/lb twice a day, with food to avoid stomach upset. Most dogs will require stronger nsaid's as I mentioned above but many will respond to aspirin for a while, anyway. The dose for a dog this size would be two, 325 mg (full strength) pills twice a day.

As for supplements, unfortunately, they can take time (several weeks in most cases) to be effective although they aren't effective in all dogs (or humans for that matter). But, the vast majority of my patients appear to be helped by them. So, while they won't necessarily help Jasmin now, they may in the future.
a. I’m a huge fan of joint supplements such as Dasaquin or Cosequin which are veterinary products specifically formulated for dogs. Quality control is a big problem with these products since what’s on the label is not necessarily what’s in the bottle which is why I mentioned specific brands. These are available on the internet or your vet may carry them.

b. Also, fish oil supplements can be helpful since they have anti-inflammatory properties. Welactin and 3V Derm Caps are good veterinary products and are also available on the internet. Once started, these supplements should be continued for them to be effective; you wouldn't stop and start them, in other words, like you would drugs...but you may already know this.
c. Another option would be Zeel which is a human combination homeopathic that can be used in conjunction with other NSAID medications and has a very low incidence of adverse effects Dose would be one tablet two to three times a day....I'd go with three times a day for the first 2 weeks, then drop back to twice a day for maintenance.
d. Adequan injections can be quite effective but would have to be given by your vet. Unfortuantely, this drug appears to be on back-order so there may be limited availability.
e. Combinations of antioxidants such as Cell Advance 880 or Golden Years
f. The Indian spice, Tumeric, at a dose of 1000mg/day

I hope this helps and provides various options for you to consider. Deb

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thank you. Her physical 3 months ago eliminated any hip or disk problems. She does have arthritis. they said she may havee a slight swelling at the base of her brain that would cause the problem, but that it would go away i a week or so. And it did. No medication was prescribed. T do occasionally give her aspirin with food for the arthritis and that seems to work. She is such a sweet companion for mr. I am retired and cannot afford the cost of a vet locally very often.. I thank you for your response and will look into the medications and supplements you suggested..
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 5 months ago.

You're more than welcome; glad that I could help.

As I previously mentioned, it wouldn't shock me to hear that she has arthritis at her age. It's quite possible that she has exacerbated this condition in some way which is why she's having a little more difficulty today.

If she's responded well to occasional Aspirin in the past, then she may need for it to be given on a more frequent basis since arthritis does tend to be progressive. I've had a number of patients through my career who do very well on this drug although as they age, they usually require stronger medications.

Hopefully, the supplements will help to prevent progression of her condition and the Aspirin will be effective for a good long while to come.

Best of luck with her. Kind regards, Deb