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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 28936
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My ten year old mutt is having trouble walking and has cold

Customer Question

My ten year old mutt is having trouble walking and has cold paws. We helped her lie down and now she can't get back up. She's extremely lethargic.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Please check Sam's gum and tongue color. It should be nicely pink - not whitish (anemia) or bluish/greyish (cyanosis/lack of oxygen to her tissues). Let me know what you find.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
her gums and tongue are both pink.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. That should rule out profound anemia and cardiac disease. Has Sam's trouble walking been slow in coming or did it arise acutely? When she does walk, does she appear "drunk" (ataxia)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It came about suddenly and she is just walking very slow and a bit off balance. She just drank some water and seems to be a bit more alert.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Hopefully you're seeing the "old dog vestibular syndrome" - a balance disorder that arises suddenly but has a good prognosis for recovery. Most dogs improve rapidly over the first few days and can normalize within a couple of weeks. Good husbandry suffices in these dogs; no medicines have been found to be of value. I can't rule out a myelopathy (spinal cord disorder), however, from here. For example, intervertebral disk disease (a "slipped disk") can look similarly although a disk is expected to be quite painful. Fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) is another consideration. It represents a lack of blood supply to the spinal cord and isn't painful - at least after the first few minutes.

"Watchful waiting" is appropriate at this time. Worsening should prompt having an on-call vet take a look at Sam. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about Sam. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin