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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 32829
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My female golden retriever aged 5yrs 7mths became lame earlier

Customer Question

My female golden retriever aged 5yrs 7mths became lame earlier in the week which seems to affect both front legs and today I noticed her left back leg trembling while she was stationary. The lameness disappeared after one day but today she became markedly more breathless after her usual walk. She was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis at 6 months and has monthly autoimmune injections (last one was Mon) and prednisolone 2mg three times weekly (mon,wed,fri) in addition to regular baths using Etiderm shampoo. She is noticeable more thirsty at present though I've not noticed an increase in her urinating. She is almost constantly licking her skin, in particularly below her right armpit (not sure if this is anatomically correct?) where the skin has become raw and sore at present. We treat these intermittent skin break downs with Fucidin and cover with a tea-shirt until they heal but this seems to be taking longer than usual this time. In general she doesn't seem herself, is lethargic (though it has been warm) and I'm concerned that we are seeing the impact of long term steroid use. The stiff limbs/lameness and breathlessness are very unusual as she regularly runs with family members and it usually takes a lot of exercise before she begins panting heavily. Her coat is also greying quite quickly , not sure if that is relevant. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Many thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely fashion. Glenn presents as a rather compicated case that might not be adequately explained in such a venue as this. I'll address your concerns as you presented them.

Bilateral front limb lameness suggests a cervical (neck) myelopathy (spinal cord disorder) or encephalopathy (brain disorder) and progression to the hind limbs suggests increased severity of these disorders. However, you mentioned that her lameness disappeared in her hind limb after just one day which isn't consistent with progressing central nervous system disorders. A waxing and waning polyarthritis, then, should be present on our tentative diagnosis list.

Her polydipsia (increased thirst) yet absence of polydipsia (increased volume of urine) is worrisome for dehydration. If her polyuria is mild, however, it could be overlooked and so when we see these symptoms we need to be concerned about renal and hepatic insufficiency, diabetes mellitus, Cushing's disease, hypercalcemia, pyometra (not in a spayed dog, of course), Addison's disease and diabetes insipidus among other etiologies. 2mg of prednisolone thrice weekly is a very small dose for a Golden but might be contributory to her polydipsia and an iatrogenic (caused by medication) Cushing's.

I regret that I can't be more specific for you from here. I can recommmend that Glenn see her vet at your earliest convenience. She's need a thorough physical exam and diagnostics in the form of blood and urine tests. X-rays of her cervical (neck) spine are indicated as well. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.