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My Bull Terrier Can Hardly Stand Or Walk. What Is Wrong?

My eight year old Staffordshire...

My eight year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier has recently been diagnosed with hyper-thyroid ( around 2 months ago.) Everything has been brilliant, he was prescribed with medication and his problems seemed to be a thing of the past, he was back to the same old energetic dog he once was until a few days ago.

Just out of the blue he woke up and could hardly stand or walk at all, he could manage just only a few steps. When taken out he found walking extremely difficult, any downhill slope seemed to be impossible. He found walking on even surfaces difficult also but he did seem to walk a little better (though not a lot). The problem seemed to be his back legs, they seemed very stiff, over the past days I have infact heard his joints ‘click’ regularly when attempting to move. He is really tired and down on himself, he has just slept and slept continuously since the problem has come about. He usually has a great water intake but now he is reluctant to drink any water out of his bowl. We have the only option of giving him water through a syringe to prevent dehydration. His appetite for food is normal however, we have been feeding him rice and chicken to try and maintain hydration.

We have taken him to our regular vetinary practice, the physical examination seemed fine and the blood tests which were taken to check his thyroid levels, liver and kidneys etc also were found normal. Our dog was firstly given an anti-inflammatory injection and an anti-biotic injection but this did not help. A small amount of blood was noticed in his stool yesterday so after informing the vet we are now currently treating him for a suspected gastro infection. A course of oral anti-biotics have been prescribed for his intake along with a syrup like liquid. He was only prescribed these yesterday so this is the second day of the course but all in all he hasn’t been well for the last 6 days now or shown any improvement other than managing to walk a little further on flat ground. Ok I understand that he has only taken these anti-biotics for nearly two days but there seems to be no signs of improvement and we are obviously concerned. Please can you advise us in anyway or have any idea what may be causing this or what to do next??

Thank you

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Answered in 33 minutes by:
7/1/2010
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 20,530
Experience: Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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Hi Sir or Madam,

I'd have them check for a disc issue. A disc issue can cause a dog not to want to lower their head to drink or eat from a dish so hand feeding food would eliminate this need. It can also cause a dog to avoid steps and jumping. An intervertebral disc that has slipped or ruptured up into the spinal canal causes inflammation of the spinal cord, which in severe cases causes paralyses of the rear legs. In some cases x-rays will show the injured disc but in others a myelography to see the injury. An anti-inflammatory usually provides some relief if a dog is kept inactive (crated except for elimination) for at least a week, but doesn't always. You can read about disc issues on the following pages.
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/intervertebral-disc-disease-thoracolumbar-area-in-dogs/page1.aspx
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/intervertebral-disc-disease-cervical-area/page1.aspx

Large dog breeds sometimes suffer from a condition called degenerative myelopathy which can also cause problems with the rear legs and paralyses. You can read about this here:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/degenerative-myelopathy/page1.aspx

I'd discuss these possibilities with your vet. I hope this information is helpful to you.

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

I want more information on answers on his general condition - lethargic, why he won't drink out of a bowl when he is willing to eat out of one, spot of blood in stool etc,.

Gen B.
Gen B., Retired Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 2,227
Experience: Lhasa,Shih Tzu Breeder/ B.A.Neurophysiology & Animal Behavior/I use plain English!
Verified

Hello.
Was he tested for the conditions we spoke about in April, or was the thyroid problem found first?
To confirm: was he diagnosed HYPERthyroid or HYPOthyroid?
What medication is he taking for this?
About this new episode:
Is his head tilted at all to one side?
Are his eyes flicking around on their own?
Does he prefer to lie down? And on one particular side and not the other?
Does he weave back-and-forth when he has to walk?
What does he do (if anything) when you show him water?
Does he seem to have any uncoordinated problems when eating?
Is he worse in the dark or low light?

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Hello and thanks a lot for getting in touch! Means a lot!
We took my dog out of the country like we spoke about to see a specialist at Bristol veterinary animal hospital (England), he was scanned inside and had numerous blood tests and it was then discovered about his condition - HYPERTHYROID. I am uncertain of what tests altogether were carried out sorry!
His medication is soloxine tablets 5mg daily.
No head tilts.
No flickering of eyes.
He is rather lying down than standing up. Standing seems to cause discomfort.
When lying down he tends to lie in all positions (on his sides mostly) though he has been lying on his back with his front legs straight? but he has been known to do this in the past. There has been muscle spasms in his back legs and clicking sounds.
He does weave back and forth especially the back end of his body (tail end).
When shown water in an attempt to get him to drink he seems to stare a little then turns away from it. It is as if he wants to drink it but he can't? His eating habits are fine and he is willing to eat out of his bowl but won't drink out of his water bowl? strange uh? He is no worse in low light conditions.

If you need any more info in better depth please ask..
Thank you

Soloxine is the medication to treat against hypothyroid...low thyroid function. Hyperthyroid is extremely rare in dogs, and most often associated with cancer...these pets would not be given thyroid replacement hormone (soloxine).
Blood in stool can be "non-specific" in dogs since they might swallow any number of husks or fur and grasses that can cut the digestive linings. Anti-inflammatory drugs can cause the digestive linings to ulcerate and bleed...so a talk with the vet about giving a medication to coat things before his meds is in order (sucralfate is popular). But I do recall he had some trouble in the past with passing stool, so I am still concerned about this for him.
Well, I was hoping he had developed a vertigo problem that older dogs can get, but your answers do not fit this. Unfortunately.
So, on to a more complicated list of things to consider.
1) Cancer in the digestive tract. Dogs are incredibly tolerant of lesions growing on the linings of the stomach and intestines. Such a lesion could account for his intemperate bowel function, the bleeding, and the discomfort. This can account for the pain, and his back end weakness if cancer seed cells have traveled out of the bowel. Dogs breeds (like staffies) that are prone to the lymphoma family of cancers are at high risk for this type of growth, and it does not always present the same as the other forms of lymphoma do. Does his stool look completely normal, or does it have little squiggly tracks along it?
2) Prostate cancer. Neutered male dogs seem to develop cancerous prostate enlargement more often than intact males, but any individual may have a unique susceptibility. These cancers can likewise interfere with bowel function and cause pelvic pain as they reach a large size. I have seen this cancer cause the changes in the back end that you have described. Does his penis push out of the sheath when he passes stool?
3) Advanced arthritis of the hips and lower spine. Would account for the clicking, preference for lying down, and the discomfort. Not the bleeding or loss of interest in water. I would not suspect a spinal cord disc problem right off, since you report he can lie on his back.
4) I'm quite stumped about the water refusal. So we're back to anything that might cause the brain to malfunction. Infections, generalized inflammation, lesions (tumors), internal organ failure (which would show up on regular blood screens).
If he usually eats a dry food ration, use this to get his water into him. Soak the biscuits in the water he should be taking in ahead of meal times.
Without knowing for sure what was analyzed two months ago, it's hard to be very specific, but I agree that something quite serious and concerning is going on.
Was it happening back then and is now just strong enough to show? Possibly.
Is it New, so the April tests are not "up-to-date" anymore? Possible as well.
If he were mine, I guess I'd start with a rectal exam (to check the prostate) and some x-rays of the pelvis and lower spine.
Obviously, let me know what you think and feel about all this, as I depend on your input about how he is looking, feeling and behaving in reality.

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

My apologies for getting mixed up with the thyroid problem, I obviously have got mixed up, but he is taking soloxine so I'm sure you are aware of which type of thyroid problem he has. At the moment everything feels like a waiting game to see how he reacts with different medications prescribed and its not nice knowing he is not well and if things could get worse as time passes.
My next appointment with my vet is Tuesday, its a long time but I'm just stuck with what else to do in the meantime.
Thanks very much AGAIN.

I wanted to confirm his thyroid treatment so that you don't go on some goose chase there. As long as he is getting a regular blood level test that comes back "in range" we have to assume that that issue is managed.
Try calling the vet to ask if there is an over-the-counter antacid that you can give an hour before his pills...to coat his stomach and intestines and provide at least some protection until the re-check.
It is not easy to wait...I am holding Good Thoughts for you both.

Gen B.
Gen B., Retired Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 2,227
Experience: Lhasa,Shih Tzu Breeder/ B.A.Neurophysiology & Animal Behavior/I use plain English!
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Hi,

I again would like to thank you for your help. My dog hadn't been well for a good six months as you know so as you can imagine we had been trying to help him in so many different ways, one of which he loved was to sleep on my bed, we turned a blind eye to this and he made good use of it when he liked. Anyway that night after we spoke we both went to sleep couched up together. Around 4' o clock on the Friday morning I knew something was up, he was trying to nudge me slightly for some reason with his head under my chin. I got up and first thought he might have wanted to go to the toilet but to my horror I couldn't wake him, he was just as if he was fast asleep. He was obviously in some sort of coma. I shouted on for my mum an dad as we rushed him as quick as we could to an emergency veterinary clinic a good few miles away.
As you could imagine it was difficult explaining all what had been happening over the past months to a new vet who was totally in the dark to what had been going on in them sort of circumstances. Anyway my dog was giving the odd moan but still seemed fast asleep, the vet checked his pupils and told us that he had pretty well gone too far to recover and was probably brain dead. He thought his symptoms were like those of when dogs have been poisoned but we personally knew that wasn't the case. His bloods were checked immediately and were ok. He was given a few different drugs to make him comfortable and was given an injection in attempt to try and bring him more conscious (maybe it was some kind of adrenaline? I'm not sure) but anyhow this didn't help.
He was later taken down to my usual local vet at opening time as that vet knew of my dog's past history and strange goings on and we were all in desperate hope to clinch on to any hope or chance that came forward. Both vets had said they had never seen a dog in such condition, they could only suggest that there must have been a tumour within the brain. We were absolutely devastated and had to make a decision to put him to sleep but in a way I am thankful we didn't have to, after the phone call my local vet re-phoned in a matter of ten minutes and said that he had infact already gone by himself to even his surprise.
We have all been gutted and upset isn't the word to describe it. I have never been so hurt. I refer to him as a dog but he was far from a dog, he was an awesome brother to me. Sorry about the depressing story but I'm hoping you can carry on your work in a more knowledge-able way if that makes sense. Its my second Staffordshire Bull Terrier and both have been so soft and gentle its unbelievable as so many think they are so nasty. Don't think I can have anymore though, I just can't handle this part.

Thanks a lot again. Please carry on helping as you have!

Well, I just cannot say how sorry I am to hear this news. You spent a lot of time doing all the right things.
For all their muscular outer toughness, this is a fragile breed inside. And gentle, of this I am completely certain! Our giant American version is completely the same. I am mad for these breeds, but their soft physical constitutions break many hearts.
It sounds as though he was having a seizure when he woke you.
With his blood tests coming out "clear", a brain tumor is very plausible at this age and with his course of illness. So might be some of the things we discussed that would cause the brain to become generally inflamed (to the point that it would experience massive seizure activity).
The only way to be certain would be to have him dissected...something that many hesitate to do for reasons of dignity and respect. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to think about this. The "closure" of knowing does not really take away from the pain of loss, but can confirm that things may have been completely out of your hands, no matter what. A necropsy must be started before a body is frozen.
Over the course of our discussions it became clear to me that you are a kind and caring person...his Best Friend and Advocate. While you go through this difficult time, be sure to remember how he loved you without condition or judgement. Do not judge your feelings or thoughts, but rather let them come and go peacefully. Our emotional minds take some time catching up to what has happened.
If there is any other way I can support you and your family, please let me know.
I wish you peace

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