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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20929
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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My dog is 15 and she has had stiff back legs when she lies

Customer Question

My dog is 15 and she has had stiff back legs when she lies down but these past few days I have had to support her back legs so she can go toilet and she is off her food
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I am afraid that the expert you have requested is not currently available. Still I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Is she able to walk once she is up or is she dragging her legs?
Has she been having any issues with her legs before this? Any stiffness when first getting up in the morning?
Any traumas, slips, falls, or a lot of activity over the weekend?
Since she is off her food as well, can you tell me if she is retching, gagging, eating lots of grass, or vomiting?
Is she drinking?
Are her gums pink or pale/white? Moist or sticky?
If you press on her belly, does she have any discomfort, tenderness, or tensing?
Could she have eaten something she should not have (ie bones, toys, rocks, plants, chemicals, etc)?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Once she is up she walks for a bit them floppys dowm she drinking water she was sick just the once yesterday her gums are pink her tummy is soft I dont think shes swalloed anything last weekend she was runnin after the lawn mower
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you,
Just to be clear, did all these signs start at once?
Does she seem more weak at the moment then stiff/arthritic?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She has been like this for a few days now she is lying down at the moment not showing any attempt to walk round the house but yes they all came at once
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you again,
Now what I was trying to tease out here is whether Pebbles elderly joints were causing her issue or if there is something else taking its toll and leaving her weak. And if she was just running after the lawn mower without issue so recently, the latter is more suspicious there. Therefore, we need to focus on her lack of appetite first to see if we can get her back to eating and then see a restoration of her energy and mobility.
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, anorexia in the elderly dog can be triggered by a range of concerns. Specifically, we can see anorexia related to conditions of the GI but also conditions that affect the body as a whole. This includes bacterial infection, viral disease, pancreatitis, metabolic conditions, organ disease (ie liver or kidney troubles), cancer, toxin and/or foreign material ingestion.
Now since those non-edible issues are less likely here, then we can start some supportive care to see if we can break her fast. First off, to address any nausea inducing her anorexia, we can start by treating with an antacid. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to recommend are:
* Pepcid (More Info/Dose @
*Zantac (More Info/Dose @
This medication of course shouldn’t be given without consulting your vet if she does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medications. Ideally, it should be given about 30 minutes before food to ease her upset stomach.
Once that is on board, you will want to try and see if you can get her eating (as you have). If she hasn’t been keen to have her favourites, then I would advise also trying to tempt her with a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of this would be boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk), meat baby food (do avoid the ones with garlic powder in the ingredients) or there are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used in cases of gastroenteritis, notable Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity.
If she refuses these and since she isn't vomiting, then we could also initiate syringe feeding her. If you need to do this, then I'd advise a critical care diet (ie Hills AD, Clinicare, Dogsure, etc) or the use of wet puppy food. All can be fed directly or watered down to syringe and each has more nutrition per bite to get calories into her even if we cannot get a large volume in.
On top off all of this, you do need to keep an eye on her water intake and hydration status. If possible, you do want to check her hydration now. To check this and make sure she is not becoming dehydrated there are a few things we can test at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE. (, If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, then you do want to have your wee one seen by the vet before this gets any further out of control.
Overall, when an older down and off food, we do need to tread with care. In this case, her reluctance to walk and lethargy are likely side effects of what is putting her off her food. Therefore, we'd want to use the above to get her back on her food as soon as possible. If you initiate these treatments and do not see improvement over the next 12-24 hours (sooner if she does appear dehydrated), the it would be prudent to take her to the vet so that they can make sure there is nothing sinister afoot. With her being an older lass and anorexia can be signs of so many conditions, it would be worth considering having your vet check a blood sample (to make sure her organs are working as they should). Depending on their findings, the vet will be able to cover her with antibiotics and anti-nausea/vomiting medication and appetite stimulating medications by injection to help settle her stomach and get Pebbles back on track as quick as possible.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
Dr. B.
If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you! : )