Sudden limping with my 6 year old GSD Health

Discussion in 'General Dog Chat' started by TJMOLLY, Dec 28, 2023.


    TJMOLLY New Member

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    Sudden limping with my 6 year old GSD

    Hello Everyone.
    My wife and I are looking for some feedback or advice from anyone who has experienced sudden lameness and limping with their dog. I know limping can be due to any number of issues so I'll try to be as specific as I can. We noticed him lifting and gnawing on his front paws about 8 months ago and some knuckle dragging when we walked him. Long story short we took him to an Ortho vet, got X Rays of his front paws, neck and shoulders. Everything came back pretty normal. Today we took him to a neurologist and his physical exam came back normal. Earlier this evening we were walking him and about 15 mins into the walk he stopped and began to limp. It was almost like he stepped on something. (we checked, he did not) It was that sudden. So here is our dilemma, the Neurologist stated we can do an MRI of his neck and spine but he is pretty sure this is a joint/ortho issue. The exam and x-rays from the ortho doc back in May came back inconclusive. We are completely baffled. The only thing my wife and I are thinking about is possible arthritis. It was raining here today and it seems like this occurs during rainy/damp weather. We already talked to the vets about IVDD, cervical disk disease, we had him tested for DM, negative on all that based on what the neurologist said. It's his front right paw, and we are completely stumped. The vets saw no signs of tissue injury. Our dilemma now is what to do next. If anyone has any experience with anything like this, we would appreciate any feedback or advice. I realize the next step is an MRI or CT scan, but we just had him under for his teeth cleaning so we don't want to put him under again so fast. Plus, we are not really sure what to scan next. Again, he does not always limp, and he does not yelp out in pain. When we feel around his paws, joints, neck etc. there is no reaction. He eats, plays and is generally a normal dog except for the sudden limp episodes which seem to last for 5 mins and then he's back to a normal walk.

    Thank you everyone.
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  3. Chris B

    Chris B Member

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    CaroleC and Toedtoes like this.
    How old is he?

    I've had two dogs now with chronic arthritis one in the hip, the other, the girl in my avatar, in her toes mainly in one paw.

    Arthritis is usually suspected on examination and confirmed by x-ray. With mine you could actually hear a clicking sound when the joints were manipulated.

    Limping is a nightmare when it comes to diagnosis as it can basically come from any joint, muscle or nerve.

    I do hope you find out the cause and it can be treated successfully
  4. CaroleC

    CaroleC Member

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    Toedtoes likes this.
    With the licking/gnawing my first thought was arthritis, but wouldn't that have shown up on your x-rays?
    I have arthritis and osteoporosis myself and can testify that it does produce different types of pain. In addition to the pain caused by moving a deformed joint, there can be pain due to a trapped nerve, referred pain which is felt in a different area than the source, and also the burning pain that is referred to as idiopathic - which I think means that it exists but nobody is quite sure what causes it!
    Unless you can track the definitive source of your dog's pain, and it can be cured by either physiotherapy or operation, you can only help by using drug therapy, and due to the side effects of anything stronger than paracetamol, that's not ideal as a permanent therapy for such a young dog.
    Until you feel ready to have your boy put under again for a scan, I would like to suggest you try a canine physiotherapist. They use a range of techniques like exercise, stretching and hydrotherapy, and I know of several dogs who have really benefitted from this treatment. Your vet should be able to refer you to a qualified animal physiotherapist.
  5. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    CaroleC likes this.
    I agree with everything said above.

    As you will wait to do an MRI, I suggest you start a journal in the meantime. Every time he limps, make note of time of day, weather, what exactly he was doing, ground type (ie, pavement, dirt, pebbles, etc), duration, specific behavior, and so on.

    You might even video his feet on walks for a while. Every walk. You might be able to tell from that if he is hitting his foot weird, etc.

    My shepherd has arthritis and I notice sometimes she will put her foot down in a way that makes her nails hit the ground at an angle. She'll lift it back up real quick like she stepped on something. So videoing his feet might capture something like that.

    Once you've journaled for a while and see a pattern, you might be able to switch between paracetamol (acetaminophen) with a stronger pain med as necessary. For example, if it does happen more frequently with the cold, then you could use paracetamol in the milder seasons and stronger in the cold season.

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