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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28573
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a 12 year old, 90 lb., German Shepard that cannot get

Customer Question

I have a 12 year old, 90 lb., German Shepard that cannot get up on his hind legs. What do I do?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The veterinarian will know how to help the dog. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Chuco. I know that Shepherds are now for hip dysplasia and I'm sure that is his issue.
JA: Is there anything else the veterinarian should be aware of about Chuco?
Customer: When he attempted to get up last night and this morning he urinated on himself.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Chuco. The following contains the considerations we need to have:

1) If Chuco has slowly been losing the use of his hind legs and they are now paretic (weak) or paralyzed, degenerative myelopathy (a Lou Gehrig disease-like neuropathy) is most likely in a German shepherd. There is no effective treatment for this myelopathy (spinal cord disorder).

2) If Chuco is too painful to rise due to hip dysplasia both a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) such as carprofen or meloxicam and a narcotic analgesic such as tramadol are reasonable to administer to him in an attempt to enable his rising from his prone position. In this case his legs won't be paretic or paralyzed.

3) If Chuco has suffered a slipped disk, the same treatment as in #2 above can be administered. His vet - perhaps a housecall vet because a 90lb Chuco would be difficult to transport - will want to assess Chuco's conscious proprioception (knowing where one's limbs are in space) and nociception (deep pain perception) and then tell you the prognosis for Chuco's return to function. In this case his legs will be paretic or paralyzed.

4) If Chuco has suffered a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) - an interruption in the vascular supply to his spinal cord - his legs will be paretic or paralyzed but his prognosis is better for recovery than if he had suffered a slipped disk. Many of these patients can walk within days. There is no effective treat for FCE.

Whatever the cause, if Chuco can't get up, he'll become a very difficult dog to hospice. The husbandry needed to keep these dogs comfortable is difficult and time consuming. Do your best to have him attended to by a vet who should be able to give you a prognosis for Chuco.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.