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Dr. Anand,
I hope you can help me. I have a 11 year old,4 lb., rat terrier. In the last year his back legs will give out on him most of the time. He usually goes out for his potty either on 3 legs or now mostly, dragging his back legs and pushing forward. I don't want to have him put down unless he is in pain. He doesn't yelp or moan or make any noise when walking. I make allowances for him and try to make his outing very short. We help him back in if he is really not able to do anything but crawl. He is getting gradually worse. How can you tell if he is in pain if he makes no noises. Any other time, he seems happy and can sometimes even walk a short distance on all four. Should I give him baby aspirin even if I can't tell if he is in pain? Please help. Putting him down would be so tragic if he is not in pain.

Answer
Dear Diana,
You did not explain how it all started.I consider this as paraplegia(Posterior paralysis) which seems to be progressing.May have developed due to trauma or sequel to infections like canine distemper.Another condition which can be suspected is Degenerative myelopathy. Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind limb and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of this disease is that it is not a painful disease.
Sensibly thinking,we cannot completely rule out that the animal is not in pain or distress .It may have  difficulties in other parts of the body for overcompensating the hind limbs.So if some pain killers can provide some comfort at this state, I would recommend giving.

Hope this information helps

anand  

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Dr S Bindu Anand

Expertise

Large and Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Farm Management,Preventive medicine http://binduanand.webs.com/

Experience

A Senior Veterinary Surgeon with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry. Mixed animal Practice that will utilize my skills in medicine and surgery, public health, client relations, and developing relationships within the community, such as humane society

Organizations
Veterinary Consultant with Department of Animal Resources,Ministry of Environment,State of Qatar (Present). Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Kerala, India. Oakland's Park, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Severnside Veterinary Center, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Saud Bahwan Group, Sultanate of Oman. Trivandrum Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union,Kerala,India.

Education/Credentials
BVSc & AH (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry) 1990. College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala, India under Kerala Agricultural University. Certificates Of Accomplishments- Equine Nutrition- University of Edinburgh Principles of Public Health-University of California, Irvine. AIDS- Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. General Environmental Health – EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Food Protection-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Zoonoses:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Food Safety:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Occupational Safety and Health-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Rabies Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Animal Handler & Vaccinator Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Wildlife Conservation-United for Wildlife

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