An MRI scan of a dog with deformed vertebrae and intervertebral disc protrusion (blue arrow) causing severe spinal cord compression. This "wobbly unsteadiness" often spreads to the front legs. Other Possible Causes of Sudden (Acute) Hind Limb Weakness in a Dog. Relief of the pain can be difficult. This may progress to also affect the fore legs. The degree of nerve damage varies from none to severe, causing paraplegia (loss of use of the hind limbs) and progressing to tetraplegia (loss of use of all four legs). Each intervertebral disc is a highly specialised structure, designed to act as a mini shock absorber for the spinal column. Dogs have seven cervical vertebrae bones in the neck (numbered 1-7 starting from the head). When your dog’s hind legs suddenly go weak, there could be any number of causes, says veterinarian Dr. Jules Benson, BVSc, chief veterinary officer with NationwideDVM, a pet insurer company. In a smaller proportion (15%) there is a sudden onset of signs with few previous problems (Seim & Withrow 1982). All text is copyright property of this site's authors. Health problems in the Doberman Pinscher, plus honest advice on feeding, vaccinations, neutering, good and bad vets, pet health insurance. Symptoms of hip dysplasia in Doberman Pinschers include moving more slowly, difficulty in getting up or lying down, reluctance to walk, jump or play, refusing to use stairs or get into the car, muscle atrophy, limping, yelping when touched, changes in appetite, and personality changes. Related terms: cervical vertebral instability-malformation syndromes, wobbler syndrome, cervical vertebral instability, canine caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy (CCSM); cervical spondylomyopathy, cervical malformation-malarticulation, cervical spodylolisthesis, cervical spondylopathy, congenital osseous malformationOutline: In cervical vertebral malformation syndrome, primary malformations of the neck bones along with secondar… That this disease is highly breed specific shows that there is a genetic basis to it but currently the genetics are unknown. pp992 W.B. Degenerative lumbosacral stenosis is a disorder of the vertebrae in the lower back that causes compression of the nerve roots. However, as genes are considered to play a role, choosing a puppy whose parents and other ancestors are free of the disease seems logical. Besides the occasional pulled muscle, they also suffer from more serious back problems such as vertebral malformations, vertebral dislocations, bone fractures, and even cancer of the vertebrae. Figure 5. Accessed 23.5.11, Dixon BC, Tomlinson JL and Kraus KH (1996) Modified distraction-stabilisation technique using an interbody polymethyl methacrylate plug in dogs with caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy. Cervical malformation syndrome in Dobermans usually develops in middle age, but it may be seen in dogs as young as 18 months, and it is progressive (Tomlinson 2001). The pecking order of littermates is figured out when a Doberman is very young through the use of biting, nipping, shoving, and other similar actions. 5 hours after that, I noticed him limping. Plus the best information on fitness, exercise and fat loss. In severe cases, the dog becomes wobbly when he walks and can even fall over when trying to turn. My 4 year old male doberman started limping in his left leg suddenly. (Image property of Dr Phil Witte, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it). He explains that this occurs when bulging discs put pressure on the dog’s spinal column. Currently there is no way to know which Doberman puppies will become affected. They most commonly get ventral compression of the spinal cord at the junction between cervical vertebral bones C5/ C6 or C6/C7. Intervertebral discs sit between the bodies of their adjacent vertebrae just ventral (below) the spinal canal. ContinueFind out more, An information resource for prospective pet owners, Related terms: cervical vertebral instability-malformation syndromes, wobbler syndrome, cervical vertebral instability, canine caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy (CCSM); cervical spondylomyopathy, cervical malformation-malarticulation, cervical spodylolisthesis, cervical spondylopathy, congenital osseous malformation. Allergies. You must contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice this kind of symptom. In nearly every case … (Image property of Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists, to whom we are grateful for permission to reproduce it here). Methods and prospects for elimination of the problem. So far, with conservative management the back right ACL injured one has improved but after an idiot down our street startled her on bathroom walk the left got injured. Figure 1. These include radiography (x-rays), myelography, computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. This may occur secondary to instability created by degenerative disc disease or may be a primary problem that itself predisposes to disc displacement (Seim 2000). Interventions to try to treat the disease may also have adverse welfare consequences due to the stress of repeat veterinary visits, handling, procedures and medications. Some of these diagnostic techniques are only available at referral centres. The limb dysfunction affects locomotion and normal behaviours and significantly affects the quality of life. A Doberman with a moderate-severe case of cervical malformation syndrome, holding the head low to relieve pain. Wobbler syndrome, in which the spinal column develops improperly, can lead to limping especially in the rear legs. Paralysis or extreme weakness in your dog’s back legs for more than 24 hours? This site may contain third-party advertisements and links to third-party sites. How do you know if an animal is a carrier or likely to become affected? Symptoms Wobbly gait Stiff neck Weakness Shorter stride Weak front limbs Partial or complete paralysis Muscle loss near shoulders Scuffed nails from uneven walking Difficulty getting up While physical therapy and vitamin therapies can help maintain a better quality of life, Dr. Benson says unfortunately there’s no treatment or cure for the condition. Radiographs are only able to show the size and position of the bones. It is a chronic, progressive disease and without treatment, the dog’s condition will gradually deteriorate. Probably the most common cause of a middle-aged dog who suddenly starts limping on a back leg is a ruptured cruciate ligament. Surgical treatments to attempt stabilisation of the vertebral column or to decompress the spinal cord and eliminate the narrowing are often recommended. This can occur in Dobermans because of the head and neck conformation of these dogs. The Doberman's powerful, muscular, compact, and square-proportioned build gives it speed, elegance, strength, and endurance. Western Veterinary Conference, Bruecker KA, Seim HB and Blass CE (1989) Caudal cervical spondylomyopathy: decompression by linear traction and stabilization with Steinmann pins and polymethyl methacrylate. Eighty percent of cases of cervical vertebral malformations in dogs occur in Great Danes and Doberman pinschers (Bruecker et al 1989, Lewis 1992). The limb dysfunction affects locomotion and behaviour and may significantly decrease the dog’s quality of life. ... because the misfiring nervous system creates "spasticity" in the rear legs, alternately flexing and straightening the legs so the poor dog is forced to shift his weight to and fro, as though dancing. The syndrome causes disability and can cause long-lasting pain. Scary Symptoms does not make any representation regarding the accuracy of any information contained in those advertisements or sites, and does not accept any responsibility or liability for the content of those advertisements and sites and the offerings made by the third parties. On-line. The condition is caused by a gene mutation. The prognosis for each affected individual varies with the severity of their condition, the underlying cause and the treatment offered. It’s important to properly diagnose hip dysplasia so you can give your dog the proper treatment like the use of a harness that supports the back legs of your aging canine. Cervical vertebral malformation is highly breed specific and this indicates that it has a genetic basis (Bruecker et al 1989, Lewis 1992, Drost et al 2002, Berry 2003). Signs typically begin at 3 to 7 years of age and may include difficulty using the hind legs, tail weakness, and incontinence. This compression is caused either by protrusions of the intervertebral discs that are found between the bones of the veterbrae, or by hypertrophy (thickening) of the annulus fibrosus (the outer layer of the intervertebral disc) (Dixon et al 1996, Cappello et al 1997, McKee et al 1999, Bagley 2002). female dobermann hind leg problems my female dobermann is 8 years old and she is having problems with her hind legs. The spinal canal stenosis that is also common in these animals compounds the condition by increasing the pressure on the spinal cord (Raffe & Knecht 1980, Seim and Withrow 1982, Lewis 1989). Dancing Doberman disease (distal polyneuropathy) is a genetic neurological disorder that causes the dog’s hind legs to flex on their own, making him look like he is dancing. Outline: In cervical vertebral malformation syndrome, primary malformations of the neck bones along with secondary degenerative changes result in pressure on the spinal cord. Because the disease is a result of instability in the positions of the neck vertebrae, and their positions alter with the posture of the head and body, it is often necessary to take a series of radiographs with the dog in different postures (Lewis 1992). Between each pair of vertebrae, spinal nerves exit the spinal cord to innervate sections of the neck and body. The sections of the canine spine. In Bongura JD ed Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XIII. This is potentially dangerous but necessary in some cases, although the technique has been partially replaced by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (Lipsitz et al 2001, Penderis & Dennis 2004, McKee 2007). The Doberman’s head and neck conformation may cause increased stress in the caudal cervical vertebrae and the high prevalence in the breed may be because of this (Lewis 1992, Sharp et al 1995). The pressure on the cord may occur only when the neck is held in particular positions and the compression may be from any direction (eg side to side or top to bottom). Hind leg weakness in senior or old dogs Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, also referred to as DM, is the most common reason why older dogs develop progressive weakness in their back legs. P 234, Da Costa R (2011) Wobbler’s syndrome, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State university. Their claws may be worn unevenly due to gait abnormalities (Lewis 1992). The faster these cases are caught and treated, the better the prognosis, says Dr. Benson. These include radiography (x-rays), myelography (radiography after injecting a dye into the spinal canal), computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The main symptom of this disorder is presented by the affected dog holding one leg up in a bent position while standing; the alternate limb usually becomes affected three to six months after the onset of the condition, with the same behavior. The degree of nerve damage varies from none to severe, causing paraplegia (loss of use of the hind limbs) and progressing to tetraplegia (loss of use of all four legs). They most commonly get ventral compression of the spinal cord at the junction between cervical vertebral bones C5/ C6 or C6/C7. The syndrome can cause long-lasting pain and disability and is usually progressive. AmericanCollege of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum proceedings 24th May 2002, Bell JS (2010) Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling in Pet and Breeding Dogs. A Doberman with leg length longer than body depth will have the same problem with interference under the body. Unfortunately dogs may have already been bred by the time of diagnosis. The intervertebral discs are located between the vertebrae. The type of pain may differ based on the underlying cause. Other forms of cervical malformation seen in the breed include congenital osseus malformation and vertebral tipping (Seim 2000). It has also been suggested that animals should not be used for breeding if any of their close relatives have been affected. Interventions to try to treat the disease may also have adverse welfare consequences. Advances in understanding of the genetics of the disease are likely to help in tackling the problem, especially if these lead to methods for detection, prior to breeding, of animals that may have abnormal genes. The disc degeneration and protrusion may result from vertebral instability or primary disc degeneration (Hansen type II disc protrusion) (Seim 2000). Stiff abnormal gait in the forelegs may develop. This can cause chronic pain, which can be severe, and disrupts nerve signal transmission leading to loss of hind limb and, later, fore limb function. Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian 12: 144-157, Support the genetic welfare problems web resource, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, The International Animal Welfare Science Society, Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals. The pain caused by compression of the spine can be severe and persistent, but not all affected Dobermans seem to suffer it. 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