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Hi there ,
I would love to help you with your question but first I need some more info:
How was arthritis in her right hind diagnosed? Did she have xrays?
How old is your girl and approximately how heavy?
Is any specific joint the most affected? (e.g. the knee, hip etc)
Thanks in advance.
My Vet diagnosed through experience when she was quite young that her right back leg was stiff and would 'probably' get arthritis in it.
No - she has not had x-rays but all other tests , eg'. movement, feeling / exercising the joints, the diagnosis was arthritis.
She only has problem with the right back leg, all other legs are fine.
She is 15 years 10 months approx. , she is a rescue dog so not 100% certain of age.
Realise she has had life, but don't want to let go unnecessarily as you can appreciate.
Right back leg, limps from what seems to be the hip down the leg.
Her paw bends backwards sometimes and she slow to strighten it, maybe 15seconds.
Thank you for your reply.
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of arthritis is by x-rays. Feeling the leg and checking the range of movement in joints will only allow a presumptive diagnosis to be made. I recommend you take your girl back to your local Vet for an x ray of her right hind. The Vet should also perform another thorough exam of her leg and be able to pinpoint an area that is more affected (such as the knee, hips, hock etc) then focus the xray on this area. It would also be a good idea to shoot a view of her hips as Alsatians are notorious for developing hip dysplasia.
It is very unusual for an older dog to be lame on only one hind leg and develop arthritis in that leg only without prior history of trauma to that leg, developmental abnormalities or something similar. Arthritis in larger breeds of dog commonly develops in both hindlimbs with age and forelimbs and spine may also become affected.
The fact that your dog's paw bends backwards (called knuckling) may also indicate a neurological problem in that limb, a full Veterinary physical exam would enable this to be diagnosed or rulled out.
Othe possibilities for this kind of lameness include cruciate ligament rupture (within the knee), bone infection and even bone cancer - all of these should be able to be rulled in or out by a physical exam and xrays.
After a diagnosis is made specific treatment can be instigated, your girl may need more painkillers to be added to the rymadyl that she is on (such as tramadol) which can be prescribed by your Vet.
I hope this has been of some help to you.
Hi Shaun, I apologise for the delay in my reply.
I am not sure why your Vet has not carried out x-rays, it is usually one of the first things we perform at the practice I work at in order to investigate musculoskeletal problems and it is definitely then next best step in your girls case.
Without an MRI the conclusion that the knuckling is neurological is often reached by excluding other more common problems (such as bone tumours, infection and arthritis, all of which are indicated by radiographs, then other tests are done to confirm diagnois, such as bone biopsy for example). If the problem is in fact degeneration of the long nerves to the foot the treatment would depend on the severity of signs, but there is often no cure to this condition.
If tramadol or rymadyl do not provide enough pain relief on their own these 2 drugs can be combined. The dosage often needs to be adjusted so you need to consult with your vet about this.
The fact that your dog is lean works in her favour as extra weight can put undue stress on aging joints.
It is very important to first try and determine why your dog is lame on her right hind before more specific treatment can be started and a long-term prognosis given. In answer to your question about keeping her alive that would depend on the 'quality of life' you perceive that she has at present. Is she still bright and interacting with you daily? If she is eating and drinking well and maintaining her weight that is always a good sign.
I hope this has helped clarify things a little.
Muscle wasting is common in older animals (and people alike) and can indicate reduced use (i.e. not as active anymore) but also just old age. It is not really a measure of quality of life as long as the dog is maintaining weight and eating well.
If she was my dog I would perform a full blood panel and urine analysis to check general organ function (this will be a really good indicator of her inner health) followed by xrays of the affected leg and probably the hips as well for good measure.
Depending on what the xrays show other tests may be indicated (bone biopsy etc).
I do not think furhter testing at this stage would be a waste of time and money as we do not yet know what is causing the problem.
If for example, after the initial blood and urine tests they show she has severe renal failure euthanasia may be warranted at that point without proceeding with further tests. Of course, to end her life will always be your call.
That is the testing in order I would perform it initially in hope of obtaining more information on which to base furhter decisions.