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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 3015
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian; BS (Physiology) Michigan State Univ
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Dog looks uncomfortable and has funny posture

Customer Question

My 5 year old Maltese Mochi, has been looking uncomfortable for 24 hours. Posture is funny when standing (instead of standing straight up, he stands with his butt slightly lower than normal) She was able to drink some water. No vomiting had normal poop (no diarrhea). Stomach doesn’t seem distended. Eyes look normal, breath is normal and urine is pretty normal. He was able to and wanted to go for a walk this afternoon but didn’t want to be held. He also didn’t sleep last night, was standing and looking moderately uncomfortable but not excruciating and there was no whimpering.
He has had an episode like this before, lasted a day or two. It resolved on its own. Wondering what the differtial diagnosis could be?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 8 months ago.
1) Has Mochi had any diagnostics performed on his neck, back or hips for this? 2) Do you have pictures or video to show how he's standing during an episode?
3) Any tenderness being picked up?
4) Still willing to jump up on surfaces like couches?
5) Any change in his eating habits?
6) Any history of illness or injury?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Here are the answers:
1. No, although it doesn't seem like a musculoskeletal issue.
2. Will send a photo or video when my wife sends to me.
3. No tenderness when being picked up, but after my wife held him for a few minutes, he did gently bite her hand (which he never does; he is a super sweet dog) and whimpered so that she let him down.
4. He was ok to go up and down stairs. He does not normally jump on on surfaces like couches.
5. He seems to be eating less. Did drink some water this morning. Did have a normal poop today (no diarrhea; also no vomiting). Has not eaten yet today.
6. He has acted this way before once every year or two. No history of illness or injury.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 8 months ago.

I'll be standing by for pictures/video. Thank you for the additional information.

Were any diagnostics performed during the past episodes? You'd said no about this time, but I wanted to be sure that none have been performed even during the other episodes.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
His previous episodes resolved spontaneously without any veterinary evaluation or treatment.
Hopefully this means that this too shall pass, but he is clearly not feeling well and I'd like to know what it could be.
I am a medical doctor with some experience with animals.
Here is a video from today, showing his subdued nature.
Also attached is a photo of how he normally is with excellent posture.
It seems like he may already be feeling better, but to see your own dog unwell is always concerning.
I'd like to know what it could be / most likely is. Thanks!
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 8 months ago.

The video file format is not showing on my end. Can you use the directions below to upload it to a site where I can view it?

There is an attachment function on the page that should allow you to post pictures and video. You can also use websites like and to upload pictures and video respectively. Once this is done, you can post the link back and I can access them.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Here's a link to the video:
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 8 months ago.
There are three medical concerns that I would be concerned about:
1) Arthritis
2) Spondylitis
Given his age, IVDD is the most likely. This is inter vertebral disk disease and fairly common in the Maltese breed (and other small dogs). It's possible that he could have dealt with a grade 1 affliction to start. These symptoms can come and go with time. Typically they onset and get worse until medical intervention occurs, but that is not always the case.
There's more information here:
I would urge you to go ahead and have some diagnostics performed despite the fact that this has improved on its own. Spinal and hip x-rays would be most useful in determining if any of the three aforementioned afflictions are to blame and, if so, what needs to be done. If this is IVDD, your vet may recommend you visit a specialist. Often canine-safe NSAIDs, pain relievers and muscle relaxers are prescribed along side rest for 6-12 weeks and harness walks (or no leash, if he has free access to the back yard).
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
A structural / musculoskeletal issue seems unlikely given that the episodes have only occurred < 1x/year, unless perhaps muscle spasms. Fortunately, he looks nothing like the poor dogs shown in the IVDD videos.Are there any other conditions that come to mind?
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 8 months ago.
I understand your position here, but based on his symptoms...muskuloskeletal is my concern because the symptoms fit with the way that he's walking. You'll see as the grade 1 mentioned in the link above that a muscle spasm is one of the symptoms. Here's the list:
Pain only–these dogs are able to walk normally, but exhibit signs of pain including reluctance to move, reluctance to jump, shivering, crying, muscle spasms, and/or a tense abdomen.
These dogs with a tense abdomen do tend to have an awkward gait. We often see that their symptoms are almost nondescript with discomfort being the main concern. When you mention that he's laid his teeth on your wife and whimpered, this also suggests pain. Based on the way he's walking, my concern is for his hip and back.