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Weak legs on Coton deTulear.

Species: Dog
Breed: Coton de Tulear
Age: 6-12 months
Hi!

I have an 8 month old Coton de Tulear that I acquired through a very reputable breeder. He is in excellent health- he eats well and is having normal bowel movements, etc.

I have noticed for a while that he has somewhat of a clumsy/crooked gait. Cotons do have short legs compared to the length of their body, so this might contribute to the issue. Anyway, Bentley loves the dog park and we go often. A few people at the park noticed he had a crooked run and suggested I have the vet look at him. I took him a few weeks ago, and the vet checked out his hips and knees and said they felt strong. He also noted that Bentley did not indicate he was in any pain when he examined his hips and knees. The vet said if I wanted him to do an X-ray that he could, but his gut told him that Bentley was fine. He said that if he seemed to be in pain to bring him back in. He said he could possibly have one leg that is slightly longer that might be causing it and he also said he could outgrow it.

However, today the same people at the dog park are insisting that Bentley's hind legs seem unsteady and a little clumsy and that I should get a second opinion and an MRI done. I feel that my vet is knowledgable and he would have suggested an MRI if he thought it was necessary.

So my question to you is whether it is common for dogs under a year to have a bit of a clumsy gait that they can outgrow or if I should be concerned. I was there when my vet examined him and he seemed to do a thorough job. If there was a problem, wouldn't have indicated he was in pain? Could he have other problems causing weakness in his hind legs that has no pain? So I am basically trying to figure out if I should just go with my vet's opinion or get a second opinion.

Let me clarify that Bentley is not walking and falling down. He runs crooked and seems to fall over himself when he is running with other dogs. He does seem to have a very slight weakness in his hind legs though. Any insight you can provide would be helpful.

Thanks!!!!

Kimberly.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Kimberly,

This is a tough question to answer without being able to examine Bentley but I'll see if I can help you at all!

With what you have told me, I would be very surprised if there was a problem with Bentley's legs. The first thing I wondered about was the possibility of a luxated patella but this would be very easy for your vet to feel. Anything else that would cause weakness in the back legs should cause some type of pain and really any vet should be able to determine this on a physical exam.

The problem with doing xrays is that you need to know where the problem is in order to know what to xray. I suppose you could go ahead and xray the back, hips, and down the legs just to be sure, but I can't think of much that would show up on an xray if there is no evidence of a problem on palpation. I would say the same for an MRI.

It may not be a bad idea to videotape his gait and then have your vet take a look. Also, it would be a good idea to have your vet see him in a month from now just to palpate for any changes.

There are some rare things that could cause occasional weakness in the hind legs such as myasthenia gravis or some type of seizure. But if this is not affecting Bentley's attitude at all then I personally think it would be a waste of money to have xrays done at this time.


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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.

Customer reply:

Thanks so much for your prompt response! I forgot to mention in my previous email that I did take a video of Bentley running to show my vet. He said he was running crooked but since his hips and knees felt strong he was not too worried about it. I think I will follow your advice and take him back to have the vet check in a month or so for good measure. I just got worried because this one woman today would not stop fixating on his gait and insisting I get an x-ray or MRI done since he was not running perfectly straight.

Thanks again for your advice!


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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.