If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
My otherwise healthy 12 year old mixed breed (I think she's Golden Retriever and Border Collie, but who knows?) has been getting stiffer in her hind quarters, and now sometimes drags/trips over her rear paws, particularly on stairs, sometimes on a walk. She recently had dental work and a growth removed from her mouth, and had a hard time regaining her mobility after the procedure. She had trouble standing and would mostly crouch or sit (it looked like her back end was collapsing), and could only walk very slowly. She has regained most of her ability to walk, but is still slower than before, and sometimes seems to have the back "collapse" again. She will still sometimes run to chase a ball or frisbee, but then seems like it's difficult to hold her back end up. At our followup visit to the vet, she said that she suspects that she has some progressive spinal degeneration. (The vet tested her by folding her back paws under and she did not right herself at all on either side.) Although she is not incontinent, she also sometimes leaves small pieces of stool in the house. (She goes outside frequently during the day.)
I'm not sure what I can do to help her or to slow down the degeneration, if anything. She does get glucosamine and chondritin supplements because we'd suspected arthritis before. Would physical therapy or massage help? I don't have the money to get a professional, but if there were exercises or things I could do myself, I would really like to help her. She is such a wonderful dog.
Thanks for your help,
She sounds so much like my golden retriever I just lost at 14 years 5 months. Same thing, trouble getting to his feet, difficulty walking or walking but not for long, paw turning under, arthritis, dropping stools indoors or while sleeping, and also bladder incontinence. My dog also took a glucosamine supplement and I think it helped. Here is a website listing physical therapy exercises for arthritis you can do at home.
http://www.marvistavet.com/html/arthrit ... _cent.html
Good information here, too.
Have you considered maybe trying an anti-inflammatory, or a pain med to see if it makes a difference?
At this point you may want to start looking at harnesses to assist you in helping your dog to her feet. There are a number of harnesses on the market, some can be worn all day. Some people like the Lift and Assist harness sold on this website. The Hartman Harness (http://www.hartmanharness.com) is another all-day harness.
I hope you will think of yourself at this time, also. If you are not physically able to lift this dog, that is not your fault.
No, I didn't try PT but I think it might have helped. I was his only caregiver and I've had a back problem since 1983 which made it hard to get him in and out of the car. If I would have thrown out my back, he would have had no care at all (nor would my other pets), so I had to do less for him that I would have liked. If you can afford PT and can get your dog there, I am a great believer in PT, both for the dog's physical and mental health. PT is good for arthritis, among other conditions.
My dog's problems developed gradually. He was already having some issues in 2005. He spent an hour on the grooming table, then fell jumping into the car, then fell again jumping into his favorite chair. By midnight he was in a lot of pain and we went to the emergency vet, then his regular vet put him on crate rest and steroids for a month because he could not flip his foot back to the correct pads-down position like he should, he had injured his back. He recovered his ability to walk but was never quite the same. He had already been having a slight foot drop because I could hear the nails of one foot drag the sidewalk when we went for a walk prior to that, but I guess I thought it was his bad hip.
In August of last year he went down completely, to the point that he could not get up unassisted if he was in the middle of the floor. If you got him up, he could walk for a while, but over the months he got to where he would lose his balance more often. He had also had mild renal insufficiency for a couple of years and was on a special diet. He went into acute renal failure and passed in March, so he was down about 8 months. He had a wheelchair and other equipment, but mostly he had me to help him. Do try to be careful if you are going to care for your big dog. If you can't do it physically, it isn't your fault.
Thanks so much for your reply -- Lexi seems to be doing a little bit better the last week or so, but I'm sure I'll need all this information as we go forward. She definitely has arthritis and weakness in her hindquarters, so I will try some of the PT and keep her on the supplements. She goes in phases with the incontinence issues. She still loves to chase her Frisbee in the backyard but tires easily and the weakness in her back legs shows especially when she's tired.
Thanks again for all of your help,
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