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NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
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Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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Weak Hind Quarters of dog

Customer Question

My 8 year old dalmation has had severe weakness and stiffness of her hind legs and general hind quarters since she was 2. The vet has x-rayed her legs, hips, spine with nothing found other than some arthritis of her legs. She has been put to sleep for them to test her manueverability and all seemed ok. She is getting more and more debilitated, falls alot, has a horrible time getting up, very hard time with stairs and sometimes urgency to have a bowel movement. Her legs slowly collapse as she attempts to run and her front body pulls her along. I am wondering about neurological problems or disc problems in her back, or other potentials. What do we do from here and when she is so debilitated, why cant we find anything concrete???? Thank you so much for anything you can advise us to do or any suggestions you have for a diagnosis.
Laurie Shope [email protected]
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
Dalmatians can have an inherited disorder that might do this
from this site Dalmatian leukodystrophy

"Dalmatian Leukodystrophy
A progressive neurological disorder, transmitted by autosomal recessive inheritance, was described in male and female Dalmatian dogs [40]. Clinical signs were noted between 3 and 6 months of age and were characterized by visual deficiency and progressive ataxia, initially in the hind limbs, then involving all limbs, sometimes progressing to the point where the dog could no longer stand. Results of routine hematology, urinalysis, and CSF analysis were within normal limits. Gross pathological findings included brain atrophy, dilatation of lateral ventricles, and cavitation of the central white matter of the cerebral hemispheres, primarily involving the centrum semiovale. The subcortical arcuate fibers (U-fibers) of the cerebral white matter appeared to be spared. The occipital lobes were usually more severely involved than more rostral areas of the brain. Bilaterally symmetrical grayish and somewhat depressed areas, and occasional foci of softening, were also found in the corpus callosum. Microscopic lesions occurred in internal and external capsules, caudate nucleus and claustrum (sometimes with microscopic cavities in these basal ganglia), optic nerve, and less frequently, the spinal cord where lesions were mainly confined to the ventral horns and adjacent white matter in thoracic cord segments. A few cases had vacuoles within the spinal cord white matter adjacent to the gray matter and beneath the meninges. Within affected areas of white matter, there was a diffuse loss of myelin, widespread vacuolation, edema, presence of numerous, lipid-filled macrophages, and reactive astrocytosis. Axons appeared to remain intact, at least initially. Vacuolation was seen in myelin sheaths as a result of lamella splitting. Spinal roots and peripheral nerves were unaffected. Prognosis was poor. There is no treatment. To my knowledge, there have been no additional reports of this disease during the past 15 years; however, very similar clinicopathological findings have been reported in 2 related Labrador Retriever puppies [237]."

Lumbosacral instability can be very hard to see on X-rays.Instability between the discs in the spine puts pressure on the nerve roots exiting from the spinal cord.
If you know her breeder you might want to check back and see if any other dogs have mysterious problems as it could be the rare disorder popped up in that litter.
Hope this helps you and good luck with her!
NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience: 30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
NancyH and 3 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: Thank you so much for your thorough answer about my dalmation - after all the years and time and money we have spent on looking into any kind of answer for her, this is the closest we have come to at least having an answer. I wish one of the 3 vets we have seen had been creative enough to do some research on her - she is going to be our heartbreak, we know, but we are so relieved to know we arent "missing" something obvious. Thank you for the quick and professional and I think clearly accurate in her case response. I will use this service again - no doubt!
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
You are quite welcome - as a breeder I'm used to looking for figurative 'zebras' when the vets only think 'horses'. Breeds specific disorders unless they are really common like hip displasia are often not top on a vet's list of working knowledge. They get taught about dogs in school not about each breed.
I hope this helps you figure out some way to help her!
If you have not looked into a canine cart or wheels for her rear you might want to consider it. There are several brands and varieties out there - here is one site

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