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Canine Behavior/Black Lab Akita Mix leg problems

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Question
We have a 12 year old male dog whose back legs starting shaking while lying on his bed in the leaving room.  When we try to get him to stand, he leans to the left with all his weight.  His head also has a tendency to lean to the left.  He seems scared  get up on his own, still is eating and drinking and responding to our voices and seams to not understand what is going on.

Not sure if he had a stroke or slipped a disc.  We have acepromazine 10 mg for a dog that would get stressed over fireworks.  We do have some human valium 5 mg and human cyclobenzaprine hydro chloride 10 mg.  Due to where we live we can't take him to the vet until tomorrow and want to get him quiet for the night.  What can we do.

Answer
First I need to be very clear. I AM NOT A VET. I HAVE NO VETERINARY OR MEDICAL TRAINING . I can only speak from personal experience and from the knowledge I've gained over the years from reading and talking with people much smarter and more well educated than me.

Based on your question, I'm going to assume that this just started tonight (since you say you can't take him to the vet until morning). At 12 years old, your Akita/Lab is definitely a senior dog and lots of things could be going on with him. If this only just started tonight, then it would be considered an acute, or sudden onset, issue. He could have had a stroke. He could have slipped a disc or pinched a nerve. If he stumbled or fell earlier today he could have strained something or broken a bone. At 12 years old, you also don't want to ignore the possibility of a cancer.

For this evening, I would encourage you to assist him gently to standing. Do this by putting your hands just in front of his hind legs and lifting him carefully. Help him steady himself. If he can't stand well or walk well, then take a bath towel and fold it in half the long way and then in half the long way again to make a sling. You put this under his belly (touching his hind legs) and lift slightly to help him stand/walk. Help him go to the bathroom and help him get comfortable for the night. Take him to the vet first thing tomorrow morning - even if his symptoms seem to have subsided . Do not let this go as there may be something serious going on and we want to do everything we can to ensure his comfort at this stage of his life.

My own Akita mix dog had a pinched nerve (narrowed disc space) which flared up periodically. Her hind leg would tremble intensely, she sometimes couldn't walk at all, her range of motion was limited and thus her overall mobility was limited. She would drag her hind foot, and on the concrete in the back yard, this would make two of her toe nails bleed. It was difficult. We managed this issue with dog aspirin as needed for pain, fish oil and omega fatty acids in her diet. I limited her physical activity so that she didn't over exert herself. We found some relief with acupuncture (with electrical stimulation) combined with biopuncture injections. I was lucky that one of the vets in my office does acupuncture and other holistic approaches. I also carried her up to bed when she couldn't manage the stairs and in her final months, used that towel-as-sling to help her down the stairs as well.

As to medication to help your dog through tonight, you'll need to speak to a vet. If you call your vet's office, the outgoing message probably has a number for an emergency vet, or an after-hours number you can call. I can't prescribe medication, nor tell you what dosing would be appropriate. I can tell you that acepromazine is a tranquilizer that makes the dog sleepy but does not lessen anxiety or fear, and in many cases can exaggerate the fear/anxiety because now their body is not responsive to their desires to move. The Valium is an anti-anxiety that has a side effect of making you sleepy. The cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxant. Because we don't know if his leg issue is muscular, bone/joint, pain or a brain issue, I can't even begin to guess which med would be appropriate - or if any med would be acceptable - without first being examined.

Please call your vet's office or a local emergency vet to find out what you might be able to do to calm him for tonight.

You may find that simply laying down with him and stroking him softly and soothingly is sufficient to calm him to sleep tonight.

Good luck. I hope it's nothing serious and easily treatable. I'm sorry I can't provide any specific assistance in this situation.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist
http://GoodDog-DogTraining.com

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT

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IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com/ If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.

Experience

I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

Organizations
I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications
http://NutzAboutMutz.com ; http://CashewsCorner.wordpress.com ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

Education/Credentials
I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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