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Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 13052
Experience:  More than 30 years of companion animal practice.
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I'm desperate for someone to give me some advice on my 8

Customer Question

I'm desperate for someone to give me some advice on my 8 year old lab. About 2 months ago she started limping on her right front leg, to the point where she wasn't really using it just basically throwing it out there to catch herself and using primarily her left leg to hold her up. She has always been in perfect health and has never had any real issues in the past short of ear infections from time to time.
My wife works for a vet clinic here in town and we went out of town for a weekend in late June and we boarded our dogs at the clinic so her friends at the clinic could care for our dogs. They got their annual vaccinations (distemper, rabies, and rattle snake) the day we boarded them. The distemper and rabies shots were given in the right side and rattlesnake on the left.
When we returned that's when we noticed that she was limping. At first we thought it was just from the shot, maybe she was sore or something, but after a week she was still limping and we noticed she wouldn't ever put any weight at all on her right front paw. She would sit down and put all her weight on the left paw and she would raise and lower her right paw in a somewhat curled back position and kind of tap it on the ground, lift it up, and just repeat that, so we thought she hurt it or sprained it or something like that.
- About 2 weeks later, we took her in and they couldn't really get any type of pain response from her, there was only a mild reaction to when they straightened her wrist but no whining, yelping, or anything. No definitive response to pain, she just jerked for a second but she was really hyper at the time so it might not have been a reaction at all. They took an X-Ray and saw some inflammation in the wrist and she was licking it so they thought she sprained it somehow. So we started giving her vetprofen for anti inflammatory and tremadol for pain and dasuquin for joint health. We started keeping her penned up during the day and leash walking her out to do her business, trying to keep activity to a minimum.
- After about 2 more weeks we didn't see any improvement so we took her back in. Again, no pain response at all from any of her joints, she won't make a noise no matter which way you bend it. They took another Xray and thought it might be arthritis in the wrist so they gave her a steroid injection in the wrist.
- A week later I took her over to get a 2nd opinion from another vet that my Mom works for. They had 3 of their vets look at her, none of them could get a pain response, they looked at the previous X-rays and didn't see anything different. They all agreed that it had to be a damaged nerve because she wasn't in pain, she just couldn't seem to use it properly.
My mom has worked for this vet for about 20 years and they are both large and small animal. His recommendation was to use therapy to build up the muscle so that she can relearn how to use that leg (I'm paraphrasing). They have an aquapacer water treadmill at the clinic and he gave me a key and showed me how to use the machine and we have been taking her up there 3 times a week and walking her in the machine. We also started taking her to an herbal health clinic for cold laser therapy, and we borrowed a bemer magnetic therapy machine and we were doing those on the days that we didn't do the aquapacer. We were seeing some improvement doing that for 2 weeks, she was still not using it much but there were times where she would look completely normal walking and then revert back to hobbling along and throwing it around aimlessly. We went on vacation for 10 days and we got back yesterday. My mom kept up with her aquapacer therapy while we were gone and also was doing passive range of motion exercises with her, but we didn't want her to have to mess with taking her in for the cold laser therapy while we were gone.
Her condition still hasn't improved, in fact it seems like she it might be a tad bit worse then when we left. She has lost significant muscle mass on that shoulder. She can definitely feel her paw, we can lightly touch it and she will react, and she got a sticker in it yesterday and she definitely felt that. We are going to start back up the cold laser therapy tomorrow, but I just feel like we should be seeing some improvement.
We also started her on a different diet with Metabolic food, she has lost some weight sitting at 69.4 lbs down from 74.6 lbs when we last weighed her in July.
It doesn't seem to bother her at all, she gets around fine (very clumsily) but it doesn't seem to hurt her at all and we still can't get a pain response. We stopped giving her the pain medication and she still doesn't seem bothered by it. I'm at a loss of what else to do, I'm still unsure of what happened or if she will ever heal completely. I've researched and found a few vets in Texas that specialize in neurology but I don't know if taking her 3-4 hours away to them is the right move or if I should just keep on going down the physical therapy path. I know she's getting older, but she is such a healthy dog and always has been, I just hate to see her struggling to get around and I'm afraid that this will increase her chances of developing arthritis or fatigue sooner in her other limbs trying to compensate for the one she won't use.
So I'm looking for any advice or suggestion someone can provide. Should I get her in to a neurology specialized vet? Keep doing what we are doing? Try anything else?
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 months ago.


I am sorry to hear you are worried about this chronic limp of Marlee's. My name is Rebecca. I am a veterinarian and will do my best to help.

When Xrays were taken, did they Xray the whole leg, or just the wrist? If it was just of the wrist joint, I would consider getting Xrays of the whole leg, shoulder to toes, before seeing a neurologist. If the Xrays of all the joints and bones are normal, then the next thing I would do if she were my own dog, is a consult with a neurologist.

Just my first thoughts; let me know what other questions I can answer.

Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 months ago.

I have not heard back from you! Was this helpful; can I answer anything else? Please let me know how she is doing.

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