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Hi, My dog (15yr old labrador) has started to drag his rear

Hi, My dog (15yr old labrador)...
Hi,

My dog (15yr old labrador) has started to drag his rear back leg, and often falls back onto his bottom when he is walking. He can right himself quite easily, and is in no distress or pain, but on the problem leg he turns his foot over on it self and drags the top along the floor as if he has a problem with the pad and does not wish to walk on it. He has lost quite alot of weight around his hind quarters as well.

I have checked the pad for sharp objects or cuts, and he has his claws clipped regularly. Any ideas?

Thank you very much
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
3/10/2011
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1,801
Experience: DABVP, Specialist in Canine and Feline Practice, Veterinarian since 2000
Verified

I am Dr. Devlin and I am sorry to hear about Bruno.

I am a lab owner too, and they are such wonderful dogs. I lost my 15 year old lab this past fall, and it's still hard. :(

It sounds like only one back leg is affected - is this correct? Does the other leg seem normal except for the loss of muscle?

How is he otherwise? Any vomiting or diarrhea, or other weight loss? Increased water intake, or behavioral changes?

Does his front end seem normal to you?

I'll be standing by to help.
Sincerely,
Laura Devlin
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago

Hello Dr Devlin,

 

I`m Diana, and I`m sorry to hear about your dog, yes they are lovely lovely dogs.

 

His rear right leg is slightly weak but is basically alright, and his front end is very much OK, he can still get up alright although sometimes it takes a while for him to "winch" himself up. He is also still very strong and determined.

 

With his affected left leg, it seems as if there is a weakness in the top muscle of the leg. At times it shakes as if it is very tired, and if he`s walking he leans to the left as well.

 

He does suffer from incontinance, but usually it is not diarrhea. No increased water intake, and he has a healthy appetite. We stick to a dry dog mix with a little water and soft food on top,

 

Anything else let me know,

 

Diana

Hi Diana,

Thank you for the additional information and your kind words.

Are you at home with him now? Is there anyone there that can help you perform a neurologic test on him?

If so, or if you can do it by yourself, if you can get him standing, and help support his rear by placing one leg under the back part of his abdomen, use the other hand to pick up a rear foot, and then place it on the ground upside down - placing the TOP of his foot down.

(I think this is what you have been noticing him doing with the left leg.)

Then, watch to see if he immediately flips it back over, or won't even let you put it down this way.

Compare both sides.

You do need to make sure you are supporting him well in the rear - make sure he doesn't have to support weight on the leg you are checking. If he's trying to lean on the leg you are testing because he isn't being supported enough, and if he's weak from arthritis and subsequent muscle loss, it will make it harder for him to quickly flip that foot back over.

Does this make sense?

If you can't check that now, we can continue without.

Thanks,
Laura
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago

I`m not with him right now unfortunately. But I walk him, and when he starts to drag his foot, I support his rear and gently push his foot back into the correct position. He lets me do this, and can then walk for a little way before the foot curls back over.

 

If he is just pottering about the house, it doesn`t happen very often, but when we are walking he will start to do this within 5- 10 minutes and drags the foot for longer periods as we near the end of the walk. It doesn`t seem to bother him (he`s absorbed in other things) but it is distressing to see.

 

Diana

That is definitely helpful.

The inability (or delay) in flipping over the foot indicates a neurologic abnormality with that rear leg.

What you are describing is a Proprioceptive Deficit of the left rear leg. This finding is a non-specific indicator of a neurologic disorder.

The neurologic test I was describing is for specific Conscious Proprioception. When the foot is placed down on it's top (dorsal surface down), a signal should go the brain indicating this. The brain should respond with a motor impulse to right the foot.

If there is interference with the nerve conduction, sensory from the foot, or motor from the brain, you will see this response.

Also, if there is SEVERE muscle damage or nerve damage to the muscles/nerves that supply the foot, it can cause this abnormality. (Tibial or sciatic nerve damage specifically.)

At this point, a full neurologic exam and possibly x-rays will be needed to localize the problem. There is likely a problem with the spinal cord on the left side, a brain abnormality or injury, or an injury to the tibial or sciatic nerve.

Hip dysplasia or arthritis would not cause this abnormal gait.

Problems include a bulging or herniated disk, abscess, infection, or tumor. (I don't want to alarm you, but tumors have to be include on the list of possibilities, especially in an older dog.) Some cases may require further imaging, such as a CT or MRI, to diagnose.

In the meanwhile, until he can be assessed by your veterinarian:

) Keep joints flexible by performing passive range of motion exercises (flexion and extension of joints) several times a day.
2) Use muscle massage to help keep muscle fibers active.
3) Prevent ulcerations from walking on dorsal paw surface. Intermittent use of boots or socks will help.

Also, monitor for any other changes - such as with behavior, or loss of function of other limbs.

I'm sorry that he is having this difficulty, and hopefully he's not in any pain. It can be so hard to tell with these guys when they are stoic. Please let me know if you have other questions or how else I can help.

Here is more information:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/proprioceptive-deficits-in-dogs/page1.aspx

Sincerely,
Laura Devlin
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1,801
Experience: DABVP, Specialist in Canine and Feline Practice, Veterinarian since 2000
Verified
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Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1,801
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