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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28474
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a 14 yr old springer spaniel w back leg weakness any

Customer Question

i have a 14 yr old springer spaniel w back leg weakness any suggestions
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: nothing wrong
JA: What is the spaniel's name and age?
Customer: puppy fourteen
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about puppy?
Customer: no
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

If we can rule out painful hips/legs as the cause of her "weakness", a myelopathy (spinal cord disorder) is the most important consideration in a 14 year old with hind leg weakness. The most common myelopathy is degenerative disk disease (a "slipped disk") and we also see fibrocartilaginous embolism - an interruption in the blood supply to the spinal cord - as well degenerative myelopathy - a Lou Gehrig-type of neuropathy, and finally, tumor in or around the spinal cord.

Supportive evidence of a disk includes ataxia ("drunken sailor"), shaking/trembling (pain responses), difficulty jumping up or down or navigating steps, a change in posture - holding the neck rigidly and head lower to the ground or a "hunch" in the back, vocalizing when lifted or approached, and a change in behavior such as a normally aloof dog becoming "clingy" or, conversely, a normally social dog becoming reclusive.

Your vet will want to perform a thorough physical exam paying particular attention to your dog's spine. Areas of hyperpathia (increased sensitivity) suggest a disk. If found, conservative therapy involves a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) such as carprofen or meloxicam, a narcotic analgesic such as tramadol, and a skeletal muscle relaxant such as methocarbamol or diazepam. Keeping your dog as quiet as possible at this time can avoid her hurting itself further. Most dogs will remiss from a simple disk within 3 weeks. If paresis (weakness) or paralysis arises - and paresis appears to be present at this time - your dog would need the attention of its vet at your earliest convenience. Those patients may be surgical candidates for spinal decompression although that isn't a reasonable option at her age.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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