German Shepherd Dog > Help what could this be. DM or what? (10 replies)
Help what could this be. DM or what?
by Sassi on 25 October 2011 - 03:29
|A friend of mine (ask me to post this) has this 5 year old neutered GSD with progressive weakness and ataxia. Clinical signs began when he was a puppy (maybe 6 months to a year of age) and she worried about hip dysplasia. At this time, he was only ataxic (“wobbly”) in the hind legs. For about the first 2 years or so of his life he would occasionally seem very painful and yelp when manipulating his hind end or when going up stairs. He sometimes would be reluctant to go up stairs at all. Hip dysplasia x-rays were taken when he was 2 years old and weren’t perfect, but were decent. Stifle x-rays were also taken and seemed fine. He has always been a “clutzy” dog, not very coordinated, stepping on your feet, occasionally bonking his head into walls, horrible judgment when attempting to play catch with a ball or Frisbee (i.e. he can’t do it). |
After a couple of years the pain seemed to go away and at this point he appears to be “pain free”. Everything seemed to stay “stable” until this spring (right about when he turned 5). All of a sudden his clinical signs progressed very quickly (still pain free, however). He couldn’t stand for long periods of time without collapsing from fatigue and imbalance. He could no longer get up and down stairs even if he wanted to. Running was almost impossible without falling down. The front end also became affected and he began “knuckling over” or “tripping” with both front paws and walking on the backs of them. He is definitely worse in the left hind and often just bunny hops or walks 3-legged (although it still did not seem painful). Clinical signs were severely aggravated when he was excited or nervous. There were a few instances where he fell over and we didn’t think he’d be able to get up again because he would try for about a minute or so before he was able to. No intention tremors (head twitching), vestibular signs (head tilt or circling), or nystagmus (eye twitching). No seizures or loss of normal mentation (attitude, behavior, etc). He is not incontinent at this time.
I had him re-x-rayed his hips and also x-rayed his spine. Nothing really appears to have changed in his hips and nothing dramatic stood out on his full spinal rads. He began using his left hind leg again and being more active after treatment with predisone. He can now run and ambulate with all four limbs although he still “knuckles over” with his front legs, is super “wobbly” with his back legs and falls down a lot. He still can’t “sit” very well because he can’t balance in this position and just falls over. While not incontinent, he has some difficulty because he has trouble balancing to urinate or defecate. He just stretches out to pee as there is no way that he can lift a leg without falling down and he has to walk in a crouching motion while he defecates because he can’t balance long enough in the squat position to get the job done. He is as happy-go-lucky as ever and doesn’t even seem to realize that he has a problem. When he falls he just picks himself back up and keeps going as though nothing happened.
Although clinical signs began way earlier than is typical for DM (degenerative myelopathy), because of the way it seemed to go into remission and then dramatically progressed when he turned 5, I was convinced that must be his issue….especially because of the painless progression of ataxia and the eventual involvement of the front limbs. HOWEVER, we did send off the DNA test for DM to DDC Veterinary labs and I was fully expecting him to have the mutation in both genes….he does not, he is only a carrier.
by Nans gsd on 25 October 2011 - 16:29
|Could be a neck/spine injury or deformity that is just now starting to take its toll on him. Any other health issues? Auto immune related or otherwise? Does his blood workup show anything. LIver/kidney/pancreas, etc. All areas can cause weakness if everything is not operating properly; I have an old 11.3 year old male that is showing weakness in his front and is falling a lot, he is in kidney failure AND has old neck scaring between discs which is where the weakness in his front is coming from. So sorry for this, I would probably put him on derrmax or some such anti inflamatory for a little bit of time to see if it makes any difference and try to keep him as comfortable as possible. DM is supposedly not supposed to be painful but while they may be falling and overstretching that can cause strains and other issues. I hope this helps, best of luck NAn|
by 3Shep2 on 25 October 2011 - 17:11
|I have an aged male with a narrowing between disc from an old training injury that expresses many of the same behaviors in the hind end-still stable in the front. At times his left hind seems almost useless and he seems to consiously make an effort to use it. He is easily knocked over by the younger crowd-I currently have him on Vetprofen for pain management.|
by dogshome9 on 25 October 2011 - 23:23
|I would have had my vet do a mylogram if nothing has shown up on xray.|
I Probably would have had this problem worked up years ago.
by B.Andersen on 25 October 2011 - 23:43
|Test for Babesia and Anaplasmosis|
by mirasmom on 26 October 2011 - 00:30
Have they ruled out Wobbler's disease?
by Nans gsd on 26 October 2011 - 01:38
|My DM boy that died looked like he had wobblers at first, later on you could tell it was DM by it's inconsistency; he was not in pain but started also to show some neuro signs later in the disease like eliminating while walking, staggering, dragging his rear feet, his pads would become raw from dragging his rear feet; so sad, am so sorry. It is very painful for the humans to watch this happening to your dog; I still have trouble with the outcome and that there is really nothing you can do to help these animals, call it whatever you want but to watch a 120 lb dog go down and not be able to get up, and if they finally muster up enough strength to get up they cannot walk any longer, I am telling you I NEVER want to go thru that again. So I understand what this person is going through and can only offer; feed the best diet possible to keep good muscle tone, exercise lightly, give a day of rest in between exercise; swimming might be good, very low impact and love your dog enough to know when it is their time to let them go. Nan|
by starrchar on 26 October 2011 - 02:49
|This is probably a long shot, but have you tested for Lyme disease? It can do horrible thIngs to the body if left untreated. It can cause pain and also affect the nervous system.|
by Sassi on 26 October 2011 - 03:06
|Thanks for all the ideas. In talking with his owner, she stated. don't think FCE....no other health issues....never been sick.....considered Wobblers
no indication of Wobblers on x-ray, although definitive diagnosis is myelogram
several people mentioned medication, which on he is on Prednison with mild improvement
by Kimmelot on 26 October 2011 - 15:34
|If he is in the South West of America, has he been tested for Valley Fever ?|
by Sunsilver on 26 October 2011 - 15:45
|Because of the early onset of his problems, wobbler's was my first thought, too. Since x-rays don't show anything significant, maybe you DO need to do a myelogram.|
I hope you can get to the bottom of this soon. I know how heartbreaking this can be. I lost my first GSD to spinal problems (ankylosing spondylitis).