Suddenly lost use of rear legs.

jgattySeptember 27, 2008

My 6 year old Golden suddenly lost use of his rear legs last night. I rushed him to the emergency clinic, and the Vet concluded after an x-ray that he has hip displasia on one side. We are going to the Orthopedic Surgeon Monday, but I don't see how this sudden loss of all use could be displasia. He has not stood up since last night, and I am afraid something else is going on.

Any help is appreciated for my best friend.

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This happened to our yellow lab two years ago when she was the same age as your dog. She was chasing a ball and let out an awful yelp and lost use of both hind legs. After rushing her to the clinic, we were told that besides hip dysplasia, she had intervertebral disc disease. She was put on prednisone and after a few hours, was using her legs again although you could tell she was still in pain. We took her to a different vet that does chiropractic and acupuncture and she immediately started doing chiro on her, weaned her quickly off the prednisone and started her on Chinese herbal meds and something to help with the pain. The chiro had started to help when she tore her left cruciate and needed surgery for that. We continued with the chiro immediately after surgery and then last fall, this vets office opened up a therapy wing. Meisha now alternates between using the swimming pool and the underwater treadmill and gets chiro once a month. She is off all pain medicine and has been off for almost a year. Today, she is running, playing and enjoying life to the fullest at 8 years of age. The vet that diagnosed her that night told us we would be lucky to still have her at this age. We are so lucky to have this clinic just in the next town. By the way, our vet tells us that if and when chiro doesn't seem to help any more, she will use acupuncture.
Best wishes to you and your dog.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 8:52PM
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As hard as it is to see, it happens alot, between hip displaysia and a narrowing of the spinal cord, the rear legs seem to give out the first. You can order a wheelchair for your pup to help out for the future.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:01PM
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I believe dysplasia can be clearly seen in an xray. If you've ever dislocated a shoulder or knee, you can understand the pain.

I hope he can help you and your dog.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:43PM
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There are so many things that can cause a dog to go down in the hind. Some of which can be surgically fixed and the dog is good as new. Some of which can be worked with without surgery as well, and of course some that are neurological in nature and there is no cure...BUT no need to jump the gun as this just happened. Best of luck and please let us know what the ortho says.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:29AM
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I'm a little confused. Your dog lost the use of BOTH rear legs, and the vet thinks that hip dysplasia on ONE side is causing the problem in BOTH legs? That is simply physically impossible. Either he had HD in both legs and had some sort of trauma that suddenly exacerbated it, or the HD is a red herring.

You can test for spinal problems at home. Have someone help you lift him up to a standing position. Flip his foot under so he would be standing on the top of his foot. If he does not flip his foot back over almost immediately, he has a spinal problem (loss of proprioception). Now let him lay back down on his side. Pinch his toes on both legs, separately, HARD. He should turn around and acknowledge the pinch. Withdrawing the leg does not mean that he feels the pain in his brain, he has to turn around and actually look to see what is pinching his foot. If you are pinching with all your might, and he doesn't feel it, that is a bad sign. That means he has lost deep pain, and he needs back surgery NOW, not in 24 hours, NOW. The longer he goes without deep pain sensation, the less likely surgery is to fix it, and without surgery there is little hope at all to regain rear leg function. A dog with simple hip dysplasia would know to flip his foot back over, and would react to being pinched. If he does have deep pain, but doesn't flip his foot over, then medical management MAY work, but you have to watch carefully for signs of worsening.

Spinal problems are not that common in Goldens, but any dog can be affected. Don't force him to move unless necessary, as it can worsen a spinal injury. Help him stand up and use a towel as a sling to help him walk to go potty. The fewer stairs he has to use the better.

There are certainly other reasons that a dog would suddenly lose function of both rear legs. Best case scenario is a fibrocartilagenous embolism or FCE. We don't know how it happens, but somehow a piece of fibrocartilage breaks free and dings the spinal cord. It causes a dog to go down suddenly. This usually happens when the dog is exercising, and is common in large breed dogs. One leg is always much more affected than the other, but it still may be impossible for a dog to stand. They don't lose deep pain sensation, and usually proprioception is slow in one leg and gone in the other. These resolve on their own with cage rest, and it is not at all painful. The paralysis NEVER worsens with this injury. The dogs go down fast and start to recover almost immediately, with full recovery within a week, although some still have some residual issues but nothing that keeps them from walking and running and being a normal dog. I hope this is what your dog has, and the HD is just a red herring.

If your dog is not in pain, and the paralysis does not worsen, and he has deep pain sensation, then it's OK to wait until Monday. No deep pain, and he needs to go to a neurosurgeon NOW. The orthopedic surgeon will certainly evaluate your dog's clinical signs, history, and radiographs before jumping into any type of surgery, and most likely perform a neurological exam as well (or call in a neurologist for a second opinion). Most orthopedic surgeons are very familiar with neurological problems as well, because they get referrals for them a lot by mistake/misdiagnosis. So don't worry about them just jumping in to fix HD and that not being the problem.

Please keep us updated on your dog. We're all pulling for a quick and full recovery!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 9:49AM
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Sense Goldens are a popular breed and that 6 is not that old, I assume they have health problems, in gen purebreds have genetic issues because of singal trait breeding. I would see if there anything you can do... Did you get him from a breeder? If so that breeder is probably a BYB!( Backyard Breeder)- one of the worst types of people your liable to meet - not all are but so many are in it for the $ with little reguards to the dogs themselves.

PTS is the best option if the dog can no longer use its back legs and you haven't the money to afford a pet wheelchair $$$$!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 4:04PM
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You can test for spinal problems at home

Meghane, I have to admit I assumed the ER vet would have done all this, which is why I said no need to jump the gun,
( which was actually in response to the wheel chair comment) I was just saying not to think the worst yet based on the observation of the ER vet. Scary to think any vet, let alone an ER vet may not have done any of the normal manipulation for rear lameness.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 7:23PM
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I feel so bad for you- hope everything works out, but remember to be fair to your dog.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:26PM
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Jgatty- how is your dog doing? I hope everything is OK now.

Cindy- I agree, but I've seen many vets who don't know how to do a proper orthopedic/neurological exam. ER vets are generally skilled at keeping animals alive long enough for a different vet to properly diagnose and treat them. I've seen some excellent ER vets and some really terrible ones. My concern was based on the statement that the vet said HD of one leg made the dog paralyzed in both rear legs, which is not possible.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 5:04PM
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I feel for you and your pup. My dog started to lose rear leg function at the age of 6 also (a labrador retriever), and it ended up being something pretty bad. However, I've always held out hope and it's 4 years later and she's doing ok.

At first, the vet thought it was hip dysplasia. But after an x-ray he referred me to a neurologist thinking it was a spinal tumor, slipped disc, or DM (degenerative myelopathy). It was a spinal tumor.

Instead of getting a wheelchair and planning euthanasia and waiting for the worst, I took things one day at a time, and I still do. If you have the means, then there is SO MUCH veterinary medicine can do these days (Sawyer had an MRI to diagnose the problem, followed by surgery and radiation...who would've thought this technology would be available?). Also, there are so many aids out their for handicapped pets (if that's what he will eventually need), such as a "bottom's up leash" and sacks that wrap around the back half of the dogs body so he doesn't get sores if he drags himself around. Try looking at websites for handicapped pets (I think there is one called, even if he needs some help temporarily.

I hope you have taken Meghane's advice. She has been such a help to me and Sawyer.

I wish you and your pup all the luck. You're in my thoughts.

Oh, and please let us know how he is doing.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 6:14PM
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I definitely think its FCE fibrocartilagenous embolism. My 8 year old labrador just had this happen to him. I am grateful to God to say that he is walking...all be it wobbily.

I think you should get a second opinion before surgery!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 5:40PM
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this just happened to my dog. Today is second day his back legs are not workin. Where i live the suggestions above are not readily available and will cost alot. I'm tryin to figure out if my rough play wit my pit caused his legs and back to damage. We play tug of was alot. Three days ago i noticed he wouldnt move from a certain part of the yard. And normally he would be investigating everything in site wen let go. Two days ago i noticed he stopped walking. i'm flustered by all this right now.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 12:13AM
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This just happened to my Sharpei, he's not even 2 y/o, we went for a walk/run last night, he was happy as usual. This morning when I woke up, he didn't even bother to get up and he is usually like my shadow. He seems to be having a hard time moving his hind legs. It makes no sense to me, trying to get a vet appt now.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 2:04PM
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This has just happened to my 2 year old shih tzu. My heart is so broken for him. He cries non stop despite the pain Meds. I do not have the thousands to find a diagnosis and from what I have read from others, they spent the thousands and still found no answer. He has lost all control of his bowel moments and has them randomly. He is so young and I never thought I would be going through this. All I want is for him to be comfortable, I would carry him for the rest of my life if I had to but it's the constant pain I dont want him to go through. It's so hard to not know for sure what's going on, but not everyone has thousands to find out which makes you feel even worse. This is when I wish he could talk to me. But his eyes do tell me a lot and it's heart breaking.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 7:53AM
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My 2 year old American Bulldog was running around very happy today, I let him in the house, and while he was following me up the stairs his left hind legs seemed to lock up and stop working completely. He can't lift it, use it to roll over and has to Lay on it awkwardly because he can't move it when he positions his body. I rushed him to the vet thinking it could be a break or fracture, or possibly even hip dislocation because of the way he held his leg out stiff and straight. The vet took X-rays and their is nothing visibly wrong with his hips, legs or spine. I'm worried about my baby Boy! I just dont understand, he was fine one second and with no visible trauma his back leg became completely paralyzed. Can anyone relate to this problem?? Please help! He's my best friend!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 4:24PM
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My 6 year old black lab was chasing a ball yesterday; I heard a yelp...$850 later, he's lost control of his left leg & can't seem to urinate without a catheter. It's heartbreaking. The emergency vet diagnosed his condition as FCE. The vet we saw the next morning said he had 'hard pain' in his l foot(he felt a pinch in between his toes...dogs usually jerk their foot back-he felt it, but couldn't move his foot. Therefore, positive for hard pain). Unfortunately, he lost sensation to his bladder(a negative). He thinks Bonkers has a disc issue & would have sent him for emergency surgery if Both tests were negative. I have 24 hours to manually expel his urine( by pushing on his abdomen). If he doesn't go to the bathroom, I will have to drive 6 hours to VA Tech to see a specialist. I made a commitment, so I'm getting ready...Medication he has taken: Valium Q8H, Medrol-5 tabs(4mg) once daily.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 9:21PM
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My Lab turned 12 April, 2012. She had some arthritis and walked but a little stiff. But one day she came in and couldn't stand up. It was sudden. The suggestion for an MRI (about $1600 and a consult with a dog neurologist- even more $) was not a decision we wanted to make especially b/c of her age and also the cost with no guarantees. The average life of a lab is 12-14 and surgery depending on what it is could be disastrous. We put her on medications for pain and arthritis although there was no real evidence that she was in pain.We took her for therapy last summer (water treadmill) but the 4 minutes she was on the machine hardly justified what it was costing us and the vet at the therapy place said her problem was probably neurologic and there was probably nothing to be done in this case. After 5 sessions we stopped the therapy but bought a two handled harness to lift her with whih we couldn't have managed much longer without it. Her back legs are weaker and more emaciated. In the beginning we used the harness and she was able to help us out, now she really can't except she does help walk with her front paws. She is now a year older-turned 13 on april 14, 2013. She is able to move herself around and lately she'll sit right up which it seems is a sign that she has to deficate. She can turn herself from lying up right to rolling over on her side. She spends a lot of time lying on her side. Two of my adult children think we should euthanize her because she cannot enjoy life this way. My other 3 children think it is not the time. It has not been easy for us but we manage to meet her needs as much as possible, and although she cannot understand why this has happened to her, she has adapted in many ways. She hears well, she sees well, she eats well. She is personable with us as it is in a labs genes to be a people pleaser. She also is restless, especially at night and has separation anxiety which she has always had but worse now. She pants a lot, heavily at times, but then she always has panted a lot especially when the weather is warmer. She is also hoarse which started a while ago, before she stopped walking, I think. It is probably laryngal paralysis and possibly related to the back end weakness, so one vet told me. In the past year it seems she is not as hoarse as she was. I read laryngal paralysis eventually gets worse and and cause the dog to not be able to breath. So far I don't see that happening.I stay up with her til about 2:30am and then when she is good and tired I leave. She knows I leave but doesn't start yapping or panting and she sleeps until about 9:00am plus or minus in the morning. We have to restrict her to the den level (bottom level) as bringing her upstairs is too much for us. We did in the beginning but now she is more dead weight. She is off all medications now and I see no difference. I have tried of late some melatonin to calm her and help her sleep, but not sure if it is working. Last night I gave her 50mg benedryl. I thought it worked as she suddenly got tired at 12:35am. So I left, but 5 minutes later she was yapping. So I stayed stayed with her (next to her where she wants me!) until 2:20 when I slipped away with no objcection. Days are not too bad. Yesterday she was in the baby pool and always seems to enjoy the water. Today we have been watching TV and she is happy we are with her. I give her cranberry power to prevent urinary tract infections, and it seems to work. I hope you are having better luck with your dog. I wish I has more answers for you and for us, but for us, time is not on our side, I don't think!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Here is Vera's recent picture.

This post was edited by Vera-13 on Sun, Jun 16, 13 at 16:16

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 4:14PM
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My 6 year old Golden's legs suddenly gave up yesterday night and the only thing we were able to do was to put him to sleep because taking tests were just not an option. They were very costly, but I wish they could have been because I wish I knew what the problem was. He also looked very happy which didn't make it any easier to let him go.. I wish I knew what happened to him or if he was going to be okay with a few tests and medication. But it's too late now.. I've read what many wrote and how this usually happens around this age but about everyone was able to save their dog and I really just regret putting him down now... The worst part is that he didn't look like he was in pain so I feel like we could have saved him :(.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 11:32AM
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This happened to my 18 & 1/2 year old cat. This is what I did for ONE WEEK, TOTAL TIME JUST 1 HOUR PER DAY:

1) MASSAGE leg/s immediately (look online to do it safely/gently ) This stimulates circulation

2) Do "BICYCLE EXCERCISES" moving the legs back and forth like she's/he's riding a bike

3) DO THE E-STEM machine (over the counter-Shaq O'Niel advertises on TV-Cheap over the counter at CVS/Walgreens/etc.) It stimulates the circulation and muscle, and relieves the pain. Shave where the vet recommends. Do this as they are comfortable. I had one from my own running injuries. Ask vet about at home ULTRASOUND (I didn't need to do this, but at a low setting it can't hurt, check with vet. You can buy on line and it heals injuries; I have one for running injury and it stimulates the cells, breaks up scar tissue, and stimulates the circulation-and you can use it on yourself for at home injury care and it builds collagen on your no Botox here!)

4) TELL YOUR PET YOU LOVE THEM, PET THEM, BE POSITIVE, AND DO ALL OF THE ABOVE 3-4x per day, before work, lunch if you can, after work, and before bed. The vet also gave her 1/2 of a BABY ASPRIN (to relieve swelling/inflamation), per day, but seek vet. It's not much time to save your pet. The first few times you do this AT HOME THERAPY, talk to your pet and coo them..they'll stay still for the E-Stem and it will get them used to the routine

5) DAILY: EXCERCISE. them each day, a little at a time, BICYCLES or other SHORT WALKS, MASSAGE, E-STEM IF IN PAIN, AND LOVE LOVE LOVE (Positive words, they understand us!). and MSM.

I do a pinch of MSM in her chicken babyfood every morning, so try it according to scaled down human ratio/dosage to dog/cat weight. MSM is an anti-inflammatory and won't hurt them. CHECK WITH VET FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE. I DID IT FOR A WEEK (according to vet's recommendation). It worked for me, saved hundreds of dollars and my beloved pet!!!


    Bookmark   February 22, 2015 at 1:36PM
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NOTE: Both legs were out, then just one side. The vet cut the quick of her nail to determine it was not circulatory but probably a pinched-nerve. But she was pooing on her cat beds, so I put multiple beds around her in the kitchen area which was easy to clean, and bought lots of old towels at thrift store, and kitty wipes at pet store. Easy clean up with the towels and a soft plush baby blanket on each bed so she was comfy.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2015 at 1:41PM
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I have to say I am shocked by the amount of pain people allow their pets to live with. My shepard has been raipidly losing her back leg function. We walk 2 miles a day and for the last few monthe she started to drag her rear legs and wear her nails to the quick. I got her shoes and that helped. In the space of two days she has been losing any function of her rear legs. She is my baby and I love her like a child so I have made the gut wrenching decision to put her down. This is out of love and not wanting her to suffer because it is killing me. I think more owners should take their personal feelings out of the situation and do what is kinder. Also for me it is not the cost in $ it is the cost of her quality of life. I received my B.S. in animal science and also radiology from UCDavis. I am sad to see so many people thinking that prolonging life without quality is better than allowing there pets to die with a little dignity. We should be so lucky with our own death.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2015 at 3:30PM
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