Species: Dog Breed: German Shepherd Mix Age: 1-2 years
My dog is a GS mix - she is just over 1 yr old and weighs approx. 70 lbs. She started limping on her left hind leg about a month ago - she would limp after getting up from laying/sitting and gradually put her weight back on it after walking around a bit. We thought at first it was just "asleep" and didn't think anything of it, but it got worse recently, where she'd be limping for a longer period of time, or not putting any weight on it at first. She went to the vet last week - had hip and left leg xrays taken and bloodwork done for lymes and other things. The vet said everything came back OK but that there might be some slight inflammation in her knee, but he said she is too young to worry about it. He gave her Rimadyl for 7 days. Since the vet visit, she has vomited twice and had diarrhea and bad gas (the diarrhea/gas just started last night), and her limp has not improved. She ran around at the dog park last night and it was very bad last night. She was visibly uncomfortable and had trouble laying down on her rug, so I let her sleep on the couch. I'm a huge worrier and am concerned the vet may have missed something - does this sound like anything is seriously wrong? Just for some background, she has always seemed to have a weak stomach; I grew up w/dogs and she has vomited more than any dog I have ever owned. The limping also seems to be worse after vigorous exercise. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Dr. Marie replied:
Hi Sheila. I have a case exactly like this in my clinic right now. It's actually quite a common occurrence to have a young dog with a lameness that we can't figure out. Most of the time when I have cases like this we put the dog on an anti-inflammatory drug (that's what the Rimadyl is) and just wait things out. It almost always gets better.
If there is no improvement within another week or two then your vet may want to go looking for other things. Given that there is some inflammation in the knee they may want to do a joint tap to look for infection or an immune mediated problem in the joint. These things are really not common though.
Another thing that I would do, if the dog was not getting better is consider having a specialist take a look at the xrays. Sometimes there can be very subtle things that a radiologist could notice that regular veterinarians might not see.
If that doesn't turn up the problem then you could talk to your vet about seeing an orthopedic specialist. Again, these vets can often find things on a physical exam that regular vets are not used to seeing.
One other thing that causes inflammation in the knee is a tear in the cruciate ligament, but this is unusual on such a young dog. An orthopedic specialist should be able to tell you if this is happening.
Regarding the vomit, diarrhea and gas, it's hard to connect that to the limping. I'm wondering if Pip is not handling the Rimadyl well. If these symptoms continue then you may need to ask your vet about taking her off of the medicine.
The other thing you may want to consider is giving her strict rest. If she's got a mild sprain or strain then running around the park is just going to re-aggravate the injury. In a situation like this I would usually recommend two weeks of strict rest which means she only goes outside on her leash to do her bowel movements and urination. I know that is hard to do with a young dog though.
I hope that helps. Sorry that I can't tell you what is going on!
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Thanks, Dr. Marie. I think your recommendation to restrict her activity is the route we will take; she's due back to the vet for her immunizations in like a month or so, so if she's still having issues I will request the xrays and speak with a specialist. I appreciate your time and expertise!
Dr. 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.
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