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Can't use back legs.

Species: Dog
Breed: miniature american e
Age: 8-11 years
In the past 7 months my dog has had 2 "episodes". First, in September 2010 he had about 5 minutes where he could not pick up his hind quarters, and dragged his hind quarters a few feet then just stayed still. Afterwards he seemed fine, just tired. Yesterday he woke up from a nap and could only pick up his hind quarters 3/4 of the way, he seemed confused and was panting. He relaxed on his side, then belly, and after about 30 minutes he seemed fine, and is acting himself today. Shadow is almost 11 years old.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Sue


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear that Shadow is having these episodes. I can think of several possibilities for these symptoms, but I won't be able to say for sure what the cause is.

If he has another one, it would be a good idea to look at the color of his gums. They should be dark pink. If they are white or really pale then this can mean that there is internal bleeding. Sometimes, when I see an older dog who has episodes of weakness, it can be caused by a tumor on the spleen. Parts of the tumor can periodically rupture and cause blood loss into the abdomen. This loss of blood causes weakness and often dogs will be weak in their hind end. Then, after a period of time, the body reabsorbs the blood and they act like nothing is wrong.

Another possibility is if this is a heart problem. Some dogs with heart conditions can have episodes of "syncope". A syncopal episode is similar to fainting. It can cause weakness that lasts for a few minutes and then goes away.

A back problem such as IVDD can cause extreme weakness in the hind legs. But, the symptoms usually don't come and go like you described.

Another possibility is if he is having a form of a seizure. It's not common to have seizures affect just the back end, but it is possible.

It would be a really great idea if you could have your vet examine Shadow. If it is at all possible, if you can videotape him when he is having an episode this will really help your vet. The vet will do a good exam and also some bloodwork.

I really hope he is ok!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.