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Ask Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP Your Own...

Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP, Small Animal Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1752
Experience:  DABVP, Specialist in Canine and Feline Medicine, Veterinarian since 2000
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our 11 year old yellow lab has lost control of his back legs.this

Resolved Question:

our 11 year old yellow lab has lost control of his back legs.this has come on gradually but within the last few weks has gotten worse..he can barely stand now,and cannot walk without assistance witha homemade strap under his girth..please help us we love him so dearly.gail in birmingham,al
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 5 years ago.
Hi, Gail. I'm sorry to hear about your lab. I have an older lab, too (14 ) - it's tough to see them getting older.

With these guys, as you know, arthritis of their lower back, pelvis, and hips is likely playing a roll. The less mobile they become, the more muscle tone they loose, which makes them weaker. In addition, the labs are prone to obesity and underactive thyroid conditions, which can worsen the situation.

I would recommend the following for him:
1.) Start a chondroitin/glucosamine supplement asap. My favorite is vet (presciption) only, or can be purchased online, and is called Dasuquin. It has been a miracle for some of my patients, although it does take 4-6 weeks to really start working. It is much more effective then over-the-counter supplements.
2.) Add in an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, such as 3v caps or Welactin. This can also be purchased over-the-counter, but make sure you purchase a fish-based (not plant-based) source Give 1000-1500 mg daily.
3.) Weight loss if needed. Think "greyhound" lean. Your vet likely carries prescription diets that will hasten weight loss while maintaining lean muscle mass. (critical in this case). You will want him lean to thin in size to give him better mobility. Expect to pay more for a weight loss food from your vet, but you will get better results much quicker, ad can likely transition back to a regular weight managment food in 2-4 months.
4.) Start a physical therapy program: slow leash walks, esp. up hills, are beneficial to build muscle mass. Start with 10 minutes 2x day and work up if he isn't used to this. Avoid running and jumping. Consider finding a vet who specializes in acupuncture and physical therapy.
5.) See your veterinarian for a thorough exam and bloodwork. Have liver and kidney values checked, and also a full thyroid profile performed. I've seen many dogs who appear to be much more arthritis who really have an infection or underlying disease that is just making them weaker.
6) If all the bloodwork checks out ok, have your vet prescribe a pain medication for the bad days. Relieving inflammation and discomfort will be key as you try to get him more mobile and build muscle tone. Please have your vet discuss potential side effects of medications.

Best luck - I'll be thinking about you!
Dr. Devlin
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
DR.LAURA,I DIDNT TELL YOU THAT HE DRINKS TONS OF WATER..ALSO HE HAS AN ENLARGED SPLEEN..WE HAVE TO WATCH SOME MEDS BECAUSE OF AN CERTAIN ENZYME..HE IS DOWN FROM 102 TO 96 LBS A PRETTY FAST DROP IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS..HE HAS A GREAT APPETITE.
Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 5 years ago.
That does all sound suspicious. Your vet can help you with safer medications depending on what may be going on. In general, tramadol and metacam are safer options for patients with liver diseases. If the spleen and liver haven't been checked (aspirated) or ultrasounded, that may be indicated.

With the liver values and drinking alot of water, has your vet tested him for cushings disease? That will cause muscle wasting and weakeness, and is treatable, although is expensive to treat in a large dog. While it's always a concern when the weight drops, at 96 lbs, sounds like he needs to go down more in weight to help out those joints.

Thank you for the update!
Dr. Laura
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP, Small Animal Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1752
Experience: DABVP, Specialist in Canine and Feline Medicine, Veterinarian since 2000
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP and 8 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you

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