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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 33328
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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When my dog is lay down on his tummy facing me, front legs

Customer Question

When my dog is lay down on his tummy facing me, front legs pointed out in front (standard dog position) he has started slpaying his front right leg out to the side, almost to a right angle. Obviously he has a little difficulty in getting up but when he does he walks on it so can put weight onto it but the leg does tend to start to slip out to the side when walking too. He has arthritis in the lower joint, but even with this happening he will let me touch the leg and move the joints, but once you lay the leg flat in front of him again the leg just starts slipping outwards again. Help please!

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry to hear of this with Simba. He's having difficulty adducting the muscles of the shoulder. These muscles (teres major, latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, e.g.) are innervated by nerves arising from the caudal cervical spine and so we should suspect a disorder in that area - intervertebral disk disease or perhaps a space occupying lesion such as tumor in or about the spinal cord.

Pragmatically speaking, administering a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug such as carprofen or meloxicam may have to suffice. We can X-ray and MRI the cervical spine but should we find a surgical problem, it wouldn't be appropriate to subject such a geriatric dog to invasive surgery.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Dr Salkin, Many thanks for getting back to me and this information. Simba is currently taking long term Meloxidyl medication,I believe this is a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory for the arthritis in 1 front leg and 1 back. He really is a star, although age is catching up with him he is still full of life and a most attentive companion. Obviously I am no expert, but I think I understand what you are saying, including if he were to undergo x-rays and anything was found putting him through an anesthetic at his age would not be an option, we discussed this with his current vet when he was originally diagnosed. We have always tried to keep him as comfortable as possible but always watching to ensure he is enjoying a healthy and happy life. Even today when this problem has started with his leg he still just wants to be involved and move around. Can you please give me an idea where this can have come from, either the disk disease or a it possibly caused by the extra pressure that the spine may have been under due to the arthritis in the 2 legs? Sorry to bombard you, but would you recommend an x-ray to confirm and if the diagnosis is as suspected will he be able to continue getting around like this? If he rests for a few days will the extent of his leg splaying out ease at all? Also, he doesn't appear to be in pain or discomfort. Once again, many thanks for your help, Katherine.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Yes, Katherine, Meloxidyl contains meloxicam - a nicely appropriate NSAID for Simba. We're going to find advanced osteoarthritis in spines at Simba's age - just as we find the osteoarthritis in his legs. This age-related degenerative disorder can form bony outgrowths that can impinge upon the spinal cord. This is called spinal stenosis; our spinal cord isn't happy when pressure is exerted on it and both sensory and motor abilities can suffer. A slipped disk in his neck (degenerative disk disease) should also be suspected. Disk disease can cause variable degrees of pain and disorder and is seen at many ages although we're going to find evidence of disk disease in many geriatric spines upon X-raying them. Whether the findings are clinically significant can be a challenge to identify. Tumors are always a consideration in the elderly. They're genetically predisposed to occur.

We need to consider a peripheral neuropathy as well. In Simba's case a tumor in or around a nerve that runs from his spine to his affected leg could cause his difficulty in adducting his shoulder. His axilla (armpit) should be palpated for a brachial plexus tumor. There's a plexus (confluence) of nerves in his axilla. I don't see the necessity for X-rays. What would we do differently if we found any of the above disorders? We're going to continue the NSAID but might add a narcotic pain reliever such as tramadol if we felt that Simba were experiencing progressive pain as evidenced by increasing lameness, panting, shaking, trembling, and/or aberrant behavior. Enforced rest may be of value but I want Simba to be allowed to do dog things when he wants to. In fact, don't tell me what I can or can't do when I'm his age!

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi again, I really do appreciate your help and explaining all this to me, as I said, sorry for bombarding you and for probably being a pain. Just for a moment I hope you don't mind if I go slightly off course.....this may appear that we are both falling apart, but I too am back and forth between Hospital visits at the moment as I have had various tumors, the first when I was 19, then 25, then 32 and now another discovered last year, the reason I am mentioning this is that I would really like to digest the information you have sent through and probably will have one or two more questions (sorry!) but unfortunately I am starting to struggle myself right now with tiredness after a long day, so was wondering if I could possibly continue this chat tomorrow? I have never used the Just Answer system so I don't know if this is possible and before crash out this end I would hate to find I am unable to continue the conversation with you after you have been so helpful and I am actually starting to understand what is happening with Simba. Sorry to be a pain! Katherine.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
No worries, Katherine. You can return to this conservation at your convenience. If you happen to lose me you can always find me again through my profile here:
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Michael, Thank you for your understanding...I shall leave you in peace now! I look forward to catching up with you again tomorrow. Katherine.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Speak to you soon!