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Is this real? I've recently noticed my 6 year old Bulldog…

Is this real? Veterinarian's...

Is this real?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. What seems to be the problem with the dog?

I've recently noticed my 6 year old Bulldog walking with an ataxic gait. Her rear limbs almost cross over one another.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?

It's not really a limp. It's like she doesn't have awareness of her hind legs. There is no wound on her foot.

Veterinarian's Assistant: What is the dog's name?

Gizmo.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Gizmo?

She was taken to the vet. The exam went well. The bloodwork came back fine. She did test positive for Lyme Disease and has been on antibiotics for two days. There has been no improvement in gait.

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Answered in 19 minutes by:
1/19/2018
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 35,509
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

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I'm sorry to hear of this with Gizmo. She was exposed to Lyme but not necessarily clinically ill from that infection because it rarely causes the ataxia you're seeing. Hind limb ataxia is most often due to myelopathy (spinal cord disorder) in a 6 year old bulldog. Intervertebral disk disease (a "slipped disk") is most likely with fibrocartilaginous embolism (an interruption in the blood supply to the spinal cord) and neoplasia (a tumor in or around the spinal cord) additional considerations. Not knowing where one's limbs are in space ("doesn't have awareness of her hind legs") is called a lack of proprioception and is an important sign indicating myelopathy. Lack of nociception (deep pain perception) is the most important of the signs used to prognose these dogs' recovery to full function. Gizmo's vet needs to know what you're currently seeing and test both his conscious proprioception and nociception. X-rays of his spine may be recommended. Conservative care usually involves the use of a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID), skeletal muscle relaxant, and narcotic analgesic. Surgical decompression of the spinal cord is also considered when a dog becomes ataxic as you've described. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
bloodwork doesn't pick up on any of the disorders you've listed?

No. An increased white blood cell count might be seen if there were an infection present such as discospondylitis - an inflammation/infection of the intervertebral disk and the adjacent endplates and verterbral bodies. This isn't a common infection, however. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
The last portion of my question is:My vet did say that I should consider a neurological condition and take her to the neurologist. This would require an MRI. My bulldog is approaching the average lifespan window... Is it safe for her to undergo anesthesia? Would the MRI likely show the DM over all the other conditions listed? I love my companion so dearly and don't know if I should put her at risk of dying on the table now if she is to likely be euthanized within 6 months due to DM. Thank you for your time.

An MRI is best reserved for surgical cases which, regretfully, she does appear to be. MRI can "see" pathology that X-rays can't. In general, however, X-rays are performed first because they might show where surgery should be performed. The safety of anesthesia is determined by evaluating Gizmo's cardiac function as well as by the blood tests that have already been performed. Degenerative myelopathy (DM) shouldn't be a consideration if her ataxia developed acutely. DM causes a slowly progressive weakening of the pelvic limbs resulting in a progressive paraparesis (hind limbs only) to paraplegia (all four limbs) within 12 weeks of onset of clinical signs.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I guess I was hoping it was something not so terminal such as hip dysplasia. I didn't know DM affected Bulldogs.Thank you for the knowledge. I appreciate you giving me advice and feedback about my very precious best friend.

Hip dysplasia isn't terminal and it can be managed conservatively with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAID) and neutraceuticals such as fish oil, glucosamine, chondroiton sulfate, and quite a few commerical products. You're correct - bulldogs aren't an at-risk breed for DM but we're seeing DM in more and more breeds. You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 35,509
Experience: University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
Verified
Dr. Michael Salkin and 87 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Thank you. I am rating you 5 stars right after I finish this message. As far as I know, hip dysplasia doesn't display ataxia but more of a limp. Whatever it is, I think we will choose the less invasive route as she has extremely high anxiety and likely would be miserable going through the MRI experience and any resultant surgery. The hard part about owning a dog... Thanks again.

Correct. Yes, conservative care as I mentioned is reasonable. Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
You have been rated 5/5 and tipped. May possibly update in a few days after more time on antibiotic. Thanks again.

It's my pleasure. I'll be offline between 01/22 - 01/30.

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