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Dr. Marie
Dr. Marie, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 3938
Experience:  Compassionate licensed veterinarian with >20 years experience with cats, dogs and pocket pets
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our german sheperd is ten and has gradually started to drag

Resolved Question:

our german sheperd is ten and has gradually started to drag his back legs and loose balance on his back legs He still manages a run in the field as I Think this will keep his muscles flexible for longer We give him a high protein diet and jointcare suppliments Are we doing the right thing and is there anything else we can do to keep him active We have been looking at a dogmobile for the long term
                         we would appreciate your comments
                                      sheila and alex
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Marie replied 8 years ago.
Hi, this is Dr. Marie here...

I just have a few questions for you before I answer:

Do you know if your dog has hip problems for sure?
Has he ever been on any anti-inflammatory medication? If so, was it helpful?
Has your vet ever mentioned the possibility of something called degnerative myelopathy?
Do you find that the tops of his back toenails are scuffed? (i.e. does he drag them on the ground?)

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
we have not taken him for a check up to the vet yet as we wanted to avoid the stress of geting him in and out of the car He does drag the backs of his toenails
Expert:  Dr. Marie replied 8 years ago.
OK, thanks for that info.

Unfortunately German Shepherds can be prone to two things that can cause the symptoms you mentioned - hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy.

It does sound like what we are dealing with is degenerative myelopathy. This is a condition where the nerves slowly lose their function. We tend to see knuckling and weakness in the back legs. There is no cure or treatment for degenerative myelopathy and unfortunately it does continue to get worse until the dog is unable to move. However, the good thing is that it is not painful.

Some dogs with this condition have some improvement with anti-inflammatories prescribed by the vet in case there is also some arthritis present. However, there is no cure.

The joint supplements and the exercise (as long as he can tolerate it) are a good idea. The high protein diet is not likely to be helpful and could actually be harmful to his kidneys.

I wish I could give you more advice but this is a disease that we are helpless to treat. It is not a bad idea to have some xrays done to be sure that this is not hip dysplasia in which case there are medicines or even surgeries that could be done to help but most likely this is degenerative myelopathy.

I hope this information helps! If you have more questions regarding this problem, just hit reply. If I am online I will respond right away. Otherwise I will respond as soon as I come online again. Or, if my answer is sufficient, then please hit accept. Thanks!
Dr. Marie.

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would highly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.
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