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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20921
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Rear legs on older we sties are locking up, Westie, Yes a 13

Customer Question

Rear legs on older we sties are locking up
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What sort of animal are we talking about?
Customer: Westie
JA: Maybe I'm confused. I thought you had a problem with a pet. Is that correct?
Customer: Yes a 13 year old West Hyland terrier
JA: Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: Nothing obvious. Walking sideways
JA: What is the terrier's name?
Customer: Helga
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Helga?
Customer: Her hearing and sight is bad
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 7 months ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

How long has she had these signs?

Any chance of a fall or injury?

Is she worse when she first gets up?

Any pain if you palpate her legs? If you flex and extend all her joints?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
No pain when extends legs. No falling. Just happened once last night. She still can't control rear legs, possible stroke?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 7 months ago.

Thank you,

Now when we see dogs hind legs showing these signs, we do have a few concerns. If she is stiff and locking up, then that is more supportive of arthritis. We can see this with kneecap issues in this breed but usually only one leg would be showing signs. Though if she has weakness, drags her legs, or has lost use then nerve or spinal issues (ie inflammation, disc disease, tumor, etc) are more likely. Strokes or blood clots can cause paralysis in dogs as well but often they are very painful and the hind limbs feel cold.

Now if this is sudden in onset and we have worries of spinal issues, it would be ideal to have Helga seen at this stage. If she has no feeling in her legs (ie cannot feel you pinching her back toe), then it is an emergency. Otherwise, we need to rest her and as soon as her vet can see her they can assess which issue is present. For mild spinal issues, we tend to just manage with steroids and rest. Or if arthritis is found, then dog safe anti-inflammatory like Metacam, Rimadyl, Onsior, or Previcox would be of benefit. As well, for the latter we can also use glucosamine/chondroitin and Omega 3 + 6 fish oils of help.

Finally, if she is stiff with her back legs, you can try warm compressing them to see if you can relax the muscles.If you don't have a compress on hand you can make one by filling a clean sock 2/3rds full with uncooked white rice. Tie it closed and microwave (approx 1-1.5 min). Before use, do make sure to shake to allow the heat to distribute before using as a compress. (If it cools, you can re-warm as required).

Overall, stiffness is usually associated with underlying arthritic changes in the joints. Though if she has loss of leg use then her spine would be a concern. So, we need to check if she has feeling and have her seen right away if she doesn't. But if she can feel her back feet, then we can rest her with a view to a check once her vet is open to address this as effectively as possible for her and get her using these legs properly again.

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need so that I am credited with assisting you today. Thank you! : )

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 7 months ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. B.