Your answers have been very helpful! I feel like I have a better understanding now of what is going on with your dog.
It is possible that your dog is developing Degenerative Joint Disease (arthritis) in her back end. If she came in to the clinic to see me, I would perform a thorough musculo-skeletal exam on her, which would certainly include flexing and extending her hip joints to check for pain and feel for crepitus (a grinding, crunching feeling when moving the leg in the hip joint). I might suggest x-rays of the hips to be able to see exactly what is going on in there. And if everything supported DJD in the hips I would talk to you about treatment.
I *never* use cortizone shots in dogs as there are too many risks in my opinion, and many superior options available. The problem is that it makes dogs prone to infections, and if they are a borderline diabetic, it can push them over the edge into full-blown diabetes. Here is more about steroid injections:
Instead, my treatment plan for early DJD is as follows:
1. Be lean! Every extra pound that a dog carries on sore joints just makes the problem worse. So, the single most effective thing you can do to help a dog with sore joints is to make sure she is slim - even a little bit on the skinny side of normal. It is just going to make her so much younger! It sounds like you are already taking care of this! Check to see how much she weighed when she was 2 years old. Has she gained since then?
2. Try glucosamine. This supplement is very safe, and is helpful in the majority of dogs. For a 50-80lb dog, I usually suggest 500mg given 3 times daily. It usually takes 6-8 weeks on this supplement to see improvement. Here are some links:
3. Improve muscle mass with swimming. If your dog likes to swim this is such a great exercise because it builds up the muscles around the hip, which stabilizes them, but causes none of the strain in the joints that running does. Not a great option when it is cold, but something to consider in the summer!
4. Consider prescription medications. Your veterinarian has a selection of very effective and safe medications to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis. For short-term use, aspirin is ok. It is not my favourite pain killer/ anti-inflammatory because it is very hard on the stomach and does not provide nearly the relief of prescription drugs. But it may be useful on a short-term trial. The dose you gave was very conservative. Here is a link with information and dose:
For further information, I will give you these links:
The other thing that might be going on, is that your girl may be suffering from a Cranial Cruciate Rupture (CCR) or attenuation (over-stretching). This is something humans get as well, but in humans it is called Anterior Cruciate Rupture.
The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the structures that stabilizes the knee joint. It is prone to problems, especially in large dogs. If the dog is in motion, and the lower leg is held still (by going down a hole, getting caught on a string, etc) while the upper leg keeps moving forward, there will be damage to this cranial cruciate ligament.
The symptoms seen are usually a sudden onset of hind-end lameness, with toe touching seen at standing and walking, but the dog often carries the leg when running. CCR rupture is often seen in dogs that have low thryoid function (hypo-thryoidism) as this makes them prone to being overweight which increases the risk of this problem.
In order to diagnose this, a veterinarian would have to perform a thorough orthopedic examination as well as manipulating the knee to test for instability. For this part, it might be necessary to give the patient a pain killer. If instability were found, x-rays of both knees would be recommended. If the cruciate ligament is completely ruptured, surgery would be the best solution. If it is merely stretched, it may improve with strict rest for 2 weeks and a gradual return to exercise after that.
In summary, it sounds as though your dog may have arthritis, or may have ruptured her cranial cruciate ligament. She really should be seen by her veterinarian for diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In the meantime, keep her as quiet as possible - just out to eliminate and back in. Please avoid having her go "up" on anything - up the stairs, up onto the couch, up into the car, up to look over the gate, etc. If she is not improving in 2 weeks, please delay no longer and go see your vet.
I'll give you some links to CCR:
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