Lab with weak hind legs

Our 13 year old Lab has had progressive leg problems for several years. Recently, it has gotten much worse, to the point where she has trouble standing, after she has walked 20-50 steps. Has anyone had experience with this, and had any luck treating it? The vet mostly just writes it off to “old age.” We are giving her pain medication, but I don’t know if it is helping.
She doesn’t seem to be in any pain. She does that “walking on the tops of her paws” thing when her legs give out. After she has rested for awhile, she can walk for a bit. She can still make it up a short flight of stairs, but she needs to be well rested to attempt it.

I was fostering a dog and the vet said she had calcium crystallization in her spinal column. This is a common condition in older dogs and causes the nerves not to work as well. It moves from the back to the front and the dog may lose sensation in the associated areas. One of the tests they gave her was to fold her back paws so she was standing on the tops of the paws instead of the pads. She didn’t seem to notice. The vet said it’s because she can’t really feel what’s going on back there.

I had a dog with this, or at least something very similar. Maybe it’s nerve degeneration? I don’t know. Anyway, trying to make him more comfortable, and trying to get him to wear boots to keep the upper parts of his back paws from getting scraped off, was about all there was to be done. Soon he couldn’t use stairs. Eventually he couldn’t even stand up. It was very sad.

I also have a 13 year old lab. He has aged considerably this summer. He can barely make it up the stairs and only after resting and panting on the landing. He has a very weak hind end and has collapsed a couple of times. I had to carry him home once.

He’s not “walking on the tops of his paws” but he is dragging his rear feet a little.

We have him on meloxicam 3.75 mg a day. He doesn’t seem in pain either but he does get restless and I’m pretty sure this is from discomfort.

You can get dog wheelchairs:

The vet hasn’t mentioned hip dysplasia?

I’ve mentioned them on other threads:

Gunnar’s Wheels loans out carts for the life of the dog (or until they get better–it does happen). 900 so far. No charge. Get busy.

I don’t really have a lot to suggest, but my thirteen year old shepherd has some hind end issues as well. It is not hip dysplasia, but he has some muscle loss and looks a bit uncoordinated sometimes. He’s easy to knock down if one of the other dogs bumps him too hard. Just had him at the vet… it’s an old dog thing and not much I can do aside from keep his weight down.

The senior years with dogs are hard.

Wouldn’t be the case, in a dog who made it just fine to old age and only then started having problems.

It’s a spinal cord problem in all likelihood. In my dog, it was a bone spur that was growing in his spine that caused these issues. There were surgical options, but the chances weren’t good at his age. He was 12 at the time. He eventually lost all bowel and bladder control.

Has your vet done any imaging of the spine? If you don’t have any specific physical problem that is causing this, there are options like swimming therapy that can help strengthen the dog without too much stress on the body. If you are willing to look into a few additional tests to learn more, you might get a better answer as to exactly what is going on. There are no promises that anything can be done to help, of course. :frowning:

I need to decide how much I want to spend on diagnosis, when in most cases there is no successful treatment.
13 is pretty old for a Lab, so in the best case she might have another year or so. It doesn’t seem like a good choice to put her through risky (and expensive) surgery for another few months of mobility. I just don’t want her to be in pain.
Oh, and - she has a mass in her abdomen. The vet always acts surprised that she is still around when I bring her in…

Maybe IVDD? Our Weiner dog had it. My wife studied up on it, and we followed the prescribed treatment (box rest, pills and a few shots) and he has recovered nearly 95%. He’s back to walking, being able to go potty, running around with the other dogs. Happy boy!

Don’t give up!

There is a message board out there specifically about this disease. I’ll bet a little Googling could find it pretty easy.

Good Luck!

I’d say with the mass that maybe you keep her comfortable and enjoy your remaining time. :frowning:

Since this is a doggy thread, here’s the obligatory photo.

From the link it notes that some cases of hip dysplasia only show up when the dog is older. At a place I used to house-sit, there was a 9-year-old german shepard who was diagnosed with it after starting to show symptoms at that age. (The owner–who worked in a vet clinic–was going to eventually euthanize it when the condition got too bad but one morning she left for work and around noon the dog just suddenly dropped dead while I was there–the vet she worked for thought maybe it had a stroke.)

Old dogs are great dogs!

I presume the girl in question is the tan in the foreground? Looks like some atrophy of the hind legs has started.

If you feel like the canine wheelchair wouldn’t work, consider getting a large dog stroller and placing a soft thick orthopedic dog bed in it and taking her on tours of the neighborhood. We’ve had two dogs with mobility issues and stroller rides really improved the quality of their lives! They really loved rolling around eyeballing squirrels and getting pets from neighbors.

We have one similar to the large blue one with four front wheels on this page:

When each of our mobility-impaired dogs did eventually pass, we felt little regret about their quality of life during their decline, and the stroller was a big factor in being able to feel like we’d done right by our loved ones.

Yes, the reddish dog is the one with the leg problems.
Due to the way our house/yard is laid out, I think the wheelchair is impractical. But, I will discuss with my wife.
I think the stroller is an interesting idea. I’ll look into it.

Surely there is a large, fairly flat open space around somewhere (park?). So you can take him out in a wheelchair there from time to time.

Our dog had Degenerative Myelopathy. As the article mentions, it started with one rear paw and progressed. We spent far too much money on an MRI just to find out there was nothing that could be done.

We got a harness thingy that let us carry his hind quarters for him. His spirit never decreased, but eventually he couldn’t even stand.

I was just going to mention this. In 2016, I lost my Gordon Setter Kharma to DM. Ugly, ugly disease. Mentally she was still a puppy at 12 years old, but her body betrayed her. :frowning: