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jadedangel57
jadedangel57, owner
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 19189
Experience:  breeder/ vet assistant.
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My German Shepherd is 15 years old and her hind legs are not

Customer Question

My German Shepherd is 15 years old and her hind legs are not mobile anymore.
She's on Rimadyle (100mg) 24 hrs; has shown some improvement.
Will she ever get any better? Is it time to put her down?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  jadedangel57 replied 6 months ago.

hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

The normal lifespan for a GSD is 8-13 years so she has already gone beyond the expected lifespan. That speaks volumes to the care you have provided her. Many older dogs have problems with their rear legs often due to arthritis but other conditions can be an issue as well such as degenerative myelopathy and other disc issues.

An intervertebral disc that has slipped or ruptured up into the spinal canal causes inflammation of the spinal cord, which in severe cases causes paralyses of the rear legs. You can read about this here:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/intervertebral-disc-disease-thoracolumbar-area-in-dogs/page1.aspx
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/intervertebral-disc-disease-cervical-area/page1.aspx

Large dog breeds sometimes suffer from a condition called degenerative myelopathy which can also cause problems with the rear legs and paralyses. You can read about this here:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/degenerative-myelopathy/page1.aspx

Rimadyl can help many dogs as it reduces inflammation and can relieve pain as a result. Some dogs do have a bad reaction to the medication so you will want to watch for a loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea which might indicate a problem with organ function. Organ function must be monitored when on Rimadyl. Many dogs never have a problem with it. None of my own dogs have had a reaction though my daughters Lab almost died from liver failure after only a couple of days. So monitor her closely.

The hardest thing owners have to do is decide if their dog's quality of life is sufficient to justify not allowing them to pass in a pain free way. I usually discuss this with clients in terms of activities the dog enjoys. Does your dog enjoy any activities anymore even if it is laying at your feet watching nature or taking a short walk or just enjoying belly rubs. Or is your dog in so much pain, even your touch and voice bring no comfort. If it is the latter, it migh be time to let her go peacefully. It is such a hard decision and one I recently made for one of my dogs. he wasn't in pain that we knew of but he could only move one eye and one paw. He was 18 years old, so we did elect to euthanize. It is a hard decision and only you know if her quality of life in not there anymore.

I hope this information is helpful to you and makes the decision a little easier to make whichever decision you come to. . If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.