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She is finding it hard to use her back legs, finding it hard…

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She is finding it...

She is finding it hard to use her back legs, finding it hard to get up after laying down. She has been to the vets and had a X-ray which came back clear. They have put her on painkillers and anti inflammatory but still isn’t helping.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help the dog. What is the dog's name and age?

Coco she is a Staffordshire bull terrior and she is 8years old

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

She has lost weight. And all her muscle tone from not being able to use her back legs. When she walks down the stairs she hops to not use her back legs. He also has a weeping/crusting back of her ear (not sure if that’s related or from medication) Seems really sad all the time

Submitted: 1 month ago.Category: Dog
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Answered in 6 hours by:
1/8/2018
Dog Specialist: Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian replied 1 month ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 17,760
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Dog Specialist: Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian replied 1 month ago

I am sorry to hear that your girl Coco is now unable to use her rear legs properly and has lost large amounts of muscle mass/tone. I don't think the weeping/crusting lesion on her ear is related to her rear leg weakness.

If you pinch her toes on her rear feet does she feel it?
If you support her standing and flip her rear feet so the topside is down does she immediately right them?

It is important to find out whether she is too weak and painful to move normally or whether she has lost the ability to do so.

Is she able to hold her eliminations and go consciously or has she has lost the ability to control her urine and stool (incontinence)? If she has loss of control she has loss of neurologic function.

These types of symptoms can be related to hip dysplasia. Sometimes it is simply too painful to get up and move around and over time they can lose muscle mass from not using their muscles. Symptoms can happen suddenly if a piece of the arthritic changes in her hip breaks off and is free in the joint. But I would expect that your veterinarian would have seen signs of dysplastic changes and secondary arthritis on her radiographs, and that isn't the case with her.

If she is dragging her toes that can signify neurologic problems, such as an intervertebral disc(s) (cushions between the bony vertebrae) that are out of place or spinal arthritis putting pressure on the spinal cord or even a mass in or around the spinal cord affecting nerve function. I would have expected at least some improvement with anti-inflammatories however, and that doesn't sound like that is the case.

Another possibility is a condition called FCE, fibrocatilagenous emboli, where a chunk of cartilage breaks off and lodges in the blood vessels that supply the spinal nerve roots. It is very painful initially as blood supply to tissue is blocked off. The pain only lasts a short time, less than a few hours to a day, but the weakness from the nerve damage it causes it can last for weeks or in rare cases is permanent.

Rotties, German Shepherds and other large breed dogs are prone to a disease process that affects the rear legs called lumbosacral stenosis (LSS).
It can have many of the same symptoms as a FCE as it causes neurologic symptoms too. It is caused by weak spinal ligaments that allow the bones in the spinal column to move and place pressure on the spinal cord or it can be due to inflammation of the ligaments inside the spinal cord canal causing pressure on the spinal cord leading to loss of function, just like a FCE.

FCE are initially painful but after that it's just a matter of regaining function.
LSS can be painful on and off until the spinal column is stabilized and the pressure is taken off the spinal cord permanently.

Another possibility if she does not painful, and isn't helped by the use of anti-inflammatories, is a condition called ascending myelopathy. This is a progressive degeneration of the spinal nerves that begins with incoordination of the rear legs then progresses to loss of urine and stool control (continence).

She really needs a recheck veterinary examination since she isn't responding as hoped. Since radiographs seem to look fine so far then referral to a specialty clinic and an MRI of her spinal cord in the back of the body could be helpful.

There is no treatment for myelopathy, unfortunately. We can only truly diagnose that condition after death because it requires a biopsy of spinal cord tissue. We usually rule out everything else and with a history of little to no pain and a gradual onset then we assume it is myelopathy. There is a blood test that looks for genetic markers for the disease. If you want to test her for the disease there is a blood test available which is pretty accurate. Here is a link to a website which will give you information about how to get her tested: http://www.offa.org/dnatesting/dm.html

Since she is not responding to cortisone or nonsteroidals then I think that more diagnostic testing should be done. An MRI of his spinal cord will help diagnose intervertebral disc disease or lumbosacral stenosis. Those conditions can be treated surgically. If you know that you would not have her have surgery then perhaps testing her for myelopathy so you know what to expect is an option.

In the meantime try and keep your pup quiet. With spinal instability the more they do, especially jarring activities like running and stairs, the faster the condition can progress. I would try to keep her off stairs as much as possible so she doesn't suffer a fall given how weak she is.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Dog Specialist: Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian replied 1 month ago

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

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