German Shepherd Dog > While waiting for the DM genetic marker test results (and yes I know the controversy) (3 replies)
While waiting for the DM genetic marker test results (and yes I know the controversy)
by Nancy on 23 February 2012 - 02:44
|Would sure like some insights.|
This Fall my 8 year old male started walking a little more stiffly but running and trotting fine. After a vet trip and neutering for enlarged prostate we were told spondylosis and attributed the small bit of stiffness to that.
Grim van der Woude is his name on the database if anyone knows any history in the lines [Czech]
A few weeks ago we started getting some weakness and stumbling. So to the vet and so far we have been going down several roads
Through all this he has had intermittent issues with the toe-flip test. He was mildly hypereflexive on one knee reflex.
1-X-rays / no issues noted. The spondylosis is in the thoracic region and the vet does not think significant enough to cause problems
[while waiting we are on a course of 20mg prednisone daily and 300mg doxy (which I understand is actually too low for tick issues) and extreme crate rest-like take the dog out on lead to go to the bathroom only and not even loose in the house]
2-Tick titers / came back negative -I still have concerns because the trip on which the enlarged prostate was found also noted an enlarged spleen which undewent ultrasound and was negative for any tumors. So we nuetered. He is also negative for hemangio on the VDI titer (we are in that experimental program)
3-DM Test / The one from Missouri. No results yet.
If negative on DM, pending tests for myelogram and MRI if anything of note on myelogram. He says the myelogram to find the affected area, the MRI to detail it if an area is found. Bascially his approach is to take these tests in a stepwise fashion as they are relatively expensive and work from most likely in. I told him if it appeared to be a spinal tumor I would probably NOT opt for the radiation route [we he said was typicalliy 6-8K to buy 6 months to a year] but for palliative care.
Now I watch my dogs body motion/language a lot because he is working cadaver dog and we also do a lot of offlead walking. The stiffness I noticed in the fall, now we know is not from the spondylosis. The gait unsteadiness has greatly resolved on the crate rest and medicines though -- The vet thinks, however, the improvement would be much more dramatic on the pred than what we have seen if it was infection/injury-or a tick issue.
We did have a fall in early January where he caught foot and flipped off a deck and fell about one foot to the ground on his back with foot cuaght and leg twisted. No crucialte injury though and no limping after the fall. He is very much a kamikaze dog and always has been.
Even my own vet feels that the symptoms coming on are more rapid than the typical presentation of DM and I would like to know how what I have reported stacks up.....several months of stiffness.....sudden onset of occassional unsteadiness and sideways instability.......good trot, good run. I have noticed one difference on the run though before he started the unsteadiness......a decrease in extension of his rear legs and loss of speed. subtle decreases in both. Dog still has great hips.. I will also note I am struggling some with him with constipation and am not sure if it is the crate rest (he is certainly drinking lots of water on the pred though) and am adding pumpkin and stool softeners to keep him moving. The dog has not been sick other than the enlarged prostate and enlarged spleen (which is back to normal now) a day in his life. No itchies, no allergies, can eat anything, solid as a rock.
I am at a loss - as to approach - what we are doing is definitely improving things-but not fixing them fully. I am thinking to go through this round of diagnostic then go canine chiropractic and acupuncture if no clear cut diagnosis though I know that the DM test is not any diagnosis and still not sure of its meaning.
Wouild appreciate experiences and insights.
by Nancy on 23 February 2012 - 02:48
|Oh when I say stiffness on walking. It is just a tighter walk on the rear legs with a bit wider stance very subtle change .........and I feel like his lower back is curved a bit more down-or not as flat when he walks.....this is a very small subtle subjective assessment on my part though.|
by hexe on 23 February 2012 - 06:52
|If you're not working with a board-certified veterinary orthopedist, it's high time you got a referral for one. Example: I had a bitch that I started seeing subtle changes in movement with, and while I have a great deal of appreciation for the skills of my regular veterinarians, they looked at three different sets of films and couldn't find anything that seemed amiss...and they couldn't really see what I was seeing in her movement, either, because at that point it WAS quite subtle--but like you, I knew my dog, and knew something was off. |
Down to the vet school we went to see the orthopedist, and for starters, she identified the same slight toe-drag I was seeing (and obsessing over, having had a dog with DM prior). A new set of x-rays, and she points out a very slight narrowing in the lumbar area of the spine; some herniation of a disk, not dramatic, but enough to impact her movement. Had my bitch been younger, I would have considered surgical intervention; as it was, she remained fully active until she experienced a fibrocartilagenous embolism in the area of the lower spine. After the FCE, her mobility wasn't perfect, but she still got around well and without help until a week before I lost her at the age of 14 1/2. She was on tramadol for the disk compression (it is effective for pain of spinal origin where most other pain-relievers are not) and meloxicam for general old-dog arthritis.
This could be cauda equina, which can be correctable with surgery, or one or more herniated disks, for example--and I would seriously hesitate to do a myelogram or MRI without having a specialist look the dog over first. Your vet did warn you that an MRI runs in the $3K to $4K range, I hope...Before you go to that extent, I also suggest you have x-rays of the chest and abdomen done, to make sure there isn't anything neoplastic lurking in there that may change your outlook on what type of additional imaging you want to do, or what type of treatments.
I wish your dog the best, and hope you're successful in getting a definitive answer--and even more importantly, a SOLUTION--to this problem. I expect it's preying on your mind to a great extent.
by Nancy on 23 February 2012 - 08:16
|Yes thanks--my vet sent me to the specialist clinic which has a very good repution; the veterinarians here are associated with the Emergency Clinic but I am not certain that the one I am seeing there is actually board certified in ortho. They are networked in the radiologists at the Veterinary College.|
He indicated the possibility of some hernation as welll or a spinal tumor. He was very agressive in pushing with his fingers all the way along the side of the spine and felt no areas of tenderness.
He did not give me a cost on the MRI yet but said the myelogram first would allow them to target the exact area to focus on with the MRI so they would not have to do the entire spine which would take a long time.