My labrador is 10 years old and we have been able to tell that her hips are bad for a couple of years now. Today she

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Customer: My labrador is 10 years old and we have been able to tell that her hips are bad for a couple of years now. Today she took a turn for the worse and now she can barely walk and keeps falling down. I can tell that it is her back right leg that hurts the worse. We even gave her Rimadyl today and it doesn't seem to be helping. What are the possible problems and or treatment options?
Answered by MD for Pets in 17 mins 13 years ago
MD for Pets
Pet Specialist

106 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Dog Medicine, Dog Diseases, Small Animal Veterinary

Hi thereCustomer

I am so sorry to hear about your poor old Labrador.

It is unusal for dogs with arthritis to have an acute exacerbation where they cannot walk unless they had a particularly active day. The fact that one limb is worse worries me as well.

Things I would be most worried about include a disc pressing on her spinal cord (interveterbral disc disease), a clot of cartilage lodged into a blood vessel of the spinal cord (fibrocartilagenous emboli, FCE), infection of the end-plates between the vertebra (discospondolytis), and tumor causing extreme pain or compression of her spinal cord. And yes, all of these things can suddenly cause dogs not be able to walk, and may or may not have had prior signs (and even if it did, it can be very hard to tell with her arthritis). Other things that I would be worried about is that she could have torn her cruciate ligament (the dog version of an ACL) in her right limb, and with her arthritis, she may not be able to compensate.

I would definitely recommend having her evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Whether or not to take her to an emergency clinic depends on a few things, as well as your comfort with monitoring her and your overall level of concern:

- is she in excruciating pain?
- does she still have the ability to move both hind legs?
- can she walk with support, like a towel sling under her hind legs?
- is she stille eating and drinking?

If she is not eating or drinking, is still unable to walk with support, is unable to move any limb, or if her pain is extreme, I would have her seen by an emergency veterinarian tonight for further evaluation (including a complete physical, orthopedic, and neurologic exam), possibly some x-rays and bloodwork, and additional pain medications. If she is still able to walk with support, doesn't seem too painful, is eating and drinking, and is able to move her limbs, than you may be able to wait until morning to have her evaluated. In the meantime, I would make sure she has free access to water within easy reach, and that she is helped outside to urinate and defecate. I would not recommend any other pain medications (like aspirin) since she is already on Rimadyl, and I would not give her an extra dose. If there is any worry about how she is doing, I would definitely have her evaluated by a veterinarian tonight.

Here are some links with more information on cranial cruciate ligament injury, disc disease, and FCE.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you and your dog.

Thank you so much for you help. Bailey can walk although she is clearly having a hard time doing it. What is worrying me the most is that she is panting a lot and won't lay down. She is exhausted but can't relax. I assume this is due to the pain. She also has had all of her legs start trembling off and on through out the day. She is eating and drinking.
You are very welcome. Thank you so very much for the accept and bonus, it is much appreciated!

It is so hard when they are clearly worked up and in pain. I don't know if your regular veterinarian is open 24 hours, or if they have an answering service, but maybe contacting them to see if they can give her a prescription for a medication called tramadol to help with her pain. It is an oral opioid like medication that is very safe, can be used in combination with rimadyl, and is very effective. I suspect an emergency clinic will want to see her before giving medications if they have never seen her.

Another option may be to help lay her down, in case she wants to lay down and can't, then sitting with her to calm and soothe her. I feel so bad for poor Bailey. If she can't get comfortable, and is really uncomfortable, I know its a pain to get a big dog into the car, it probably is best to have her seen.

I hope I was able to to help you and Bailey. I will keep my fingers crossed for her to be feeling better soon.

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MD for Pets
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MD for Pets
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