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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 14833
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I HAVE A 4 YEAR OLD ROTTWEILER WHO SOMETIMES STRUGGLES TO GET

Customer Question

I HAVE A 4 YEAR OLD ROTTWEILER WHO SOMETIMES STRUGGLES TO GET UP AND WHEN SHE DOES SHE STANDS ON HER TOES ON HER BACK LEGS AND SHUFFLES FROM LEG TO LEG . AFTER A FEW MINUTES SHE IS OK AND CAN STAND NORMALLY. IT LOOKS LIKE SHE HAS PINS AND NEEDLES IN HER FEET.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Princess and her difficulty rising after rest as well as her toe touching stance.

Has she ever had radiographs of her spine or hips?

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 painful or whether she has losing neurologic function and the ability to feel in her rear legs and thus place them properly.

It is very possible that she is dysplastic. Sometimes it is simply too painful to get up and her toe touch stance may be a way to feel more comfortable. Symptoms can happen suddenly if a piece of the arthritic changes in her hip breaks off and is free in the joint.

But 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.

 

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. This seems less likely with her because her symptoms are coming and going, not slowly improving or static.

Rotties and German Shepherds 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 seems not painful 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 veterinary examination as soon as possible.
Radiographs to look for a collapsed disc space or arthritis of the spine and hip dysplasia would be helpful. We need to know what the problem is to treat it successfully.

If those look fine then an MRI of her spinal cord in the back of the body will be helpful.

Pain and inflammation in these conditions is controlled with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like Deramaxx or Rimadyl as well as Tramadol and/or Gabapentin.

You can use these with the omega 3's and glucosamines (which you are currently using, just make sure that her dose is high enough) if arthritis or hip dysplasia is diagnosed. These nutraceuticals help improve cartilage and joint fluid health as well as reduce inflammation.

 

Best of luck with Princess, please let me know if you have any further questions.

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