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Dr. Lisa
Dr. Lisa, Small Animal/Avian Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1882
Experience:  26 yrs of small animal vet practice. Dog, cat and parrot caretaker for 25 yrs! Former Zookeeper
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Possible causes for dogs rear leg weakness.

Customer Question

Possible causes for dog's rear leg weakness.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jacustomer-iubcoyzc~

 

Unfortunately older dogs do tend to experience a weakening of the hindquarters with some regularity...it's more obvious in some breeds (such as German Shepherds and Retrievers) than in others, but either way, it's hard to see your pet having trouble and not being able to do much about it.

 

A couple things you could try would be a Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplement to help with lubricating the joints. You can find this in the health section of any store, and you can actually just give her the human dose.

 

Also, you might want to talk to your vet about giving him something that lasts a little longer such as Metacam (which is much like aspirin) or Tramadol (which is like morphine) to help

him feel a little more comfortable.

 

It's hard to know if this is simple arthritis or if there is something more going on. Some dogs get spondylosis (which is a narrowing of the spine, which causes pressure on the cord that results in some rear end weakness), and some get osteosarcoma (bone cancer), both of which can present with rear end weakness. Also, there's simple muscle wasting, which happens in a lot of older dogs.

 

Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure what you're dealing with is through an x-ray of his spine/pelvis area.

 

It sounds to me like you are a very dedicated parent, but unfortunately aging happens to all of us, and it sounds like this could be what is going on with your big guy. I'd ask your vet about trying some of the the meds and then just do what you can to make him comfortable (I see lots of big, fluffy beds and blankets in his future!).

 

I hope this helps.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality. Answer was helpful but would like opinion from vet, possibly orthopedic vet, if possible.
Expert:  Lisa replied 3 years ago.

As a tech who spent a great deal of time working in a busy multiple vet practice that specialized in orthopedic surgery, I can tell you that the answer I gave you was essentially from the hand-out that we gave our clients who had elderly dogs with muscle wasting in the rear end.

 

Muscle deterioration is incredibly common in older dogs, and it's not unusual for them to have front end problems due to over-compensating for the muscle wasting in the rear.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. He had a bad winter - cold and damp but was very mobile until about 4 weeks ago. He seems to be ok for a few days and then he will stumble once or twice on walks. In the last 2 days, the right rear leg has gone out. Would a disc problem have these symptoms? He doesn't seem to be in pain except for the front leg. He wants to walk but does so very slowly. Would muscle wasting appear rather suddenly?
Expert:  Dr. Lisa replied 3 years ago.

Hello:

I am Dr. Lisa, a practising veterinarian. Thank-you for submitting your question to JA.

 

I am mot an orthopedic vet, but I have been seeing dogs for 26 years. Would you like my help? Please advise,

 

Thanks,

Dr. Lisa

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for replying to my question. Yes, I would like your opinion.
Expert:  Dr. Lisa replied 3 years ago.

My pleasure!

 

At the top of the list are of course, Ranger's arthritis and dysplasia; these make for secondary muscle soreness, weakness and atrophy (wasting). The atrophy might not be visible to you at first because you see him every day, and it can either be a gradual or acute event.

 

Other causes for HL weakness include lumbosacral instability, disc disease, infectious disease (like tick-borne illnesses), and nervous system disease, metabolic diseases (there are a huge group of endocrine disorders, such as Addison's disease etc.), and of course, cancer (organ and bone).

 

It seems to me that you've been doing a great job with natural remedies, and I think that CVT's suggestion of adding in chondroitin/glucosamine is an excellent one. At this point, I would most definitely add in a big gun NSAID pain medication (but not until he's off the steroids, and even then I would add a stomach protectant for a while).

 

Also, the front leg might be from a sprain/strain, cancer, or more primary neurologic/musculoskeletal disease.

 

(What kind of dog is Ranger? Is he neutered?).

 

Hope this helps,

Dr. Lisa

 

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Dr. Lisa, Small Animal/Avian Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1882
Experience: 26 yrs of small animal vet practice. Dog, cat and parrot caretaker for 25 yrs! Former Zookeeper
Dr. Lisa and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Forgot to mention that Ranger is mixed breed - probably retriever (lab and golden).

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Dr. Lisa
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26 yrs of small animal vet practice. Dog, cat and parrot caretaker for 25 yrs! Former Zookeeper