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Discussion Starter #1
When I noticed my dog's rear legs seemed to be weak suddenly I googled it and found this forum with a post about sudden weak hind legs and most replies pointed to degenerative myelopathy. However it turned out his back legs were weak because he was weak from a ruptured mass on his spleen that was bleeding internally. I had started him on Rimadyl 2 weeks prior because he has bad joints and was slowing down more (11.5 years old, had hip replacement, TPLO on knee). But then a few days ago I noticed his rear legs seemed to give out and he seemed to be drinking more water and his stomach seemed upset so I stopped the Rimadyl and took him to the vet for follow up liver tests, thinking it could be related to the Rimadyl causing a liver issue. I waited 2 days for the test results. In the meantime he was eating normally, playing, no diarrhea. FINALLY the I got ahold of his vet and the blood tests showed he was getting anemic and he had a high WBC, so I left work early and when I got home he was pretty weak and his temp was 99.9 (normal is 100 - 103 and his normal is closer to 102). I took him to the emergency vet where they did an ultrasound and found the mass on his spleen and they were going to remove it immediately but trying to get his vitals up first, but they didn't improve and he died.

I am writing to make people aware that spleen tumors are quite common and known as a silent killer because by the time there are symptoms it may be too late, and early subtle symptoms are often attributed to something else - he has bad joints so he is laying around more; he is a picky eater so he isn't eating as much; it's a warm day and he's playing so he's drinking more. And there is no blood test to indicate spleen problems. Really only ultrasounds and xrays can identify it. Some vets recommend semi-annual ultrasounds for most affected breeds once they get to be 8 years old (golden retrievers, german shepherds, boxers, great danes, pointers, setters - but my dog was border collie mix). I will forever miss my dog, Marlin.
 

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I am so sorry to hear about your pup. Thank you for your post - I find it very interesting, as I am currently trying to determine what is causing my dog's hind end weakness and lack of coordination. You may have come across my post ... He is an Australian Shepherd, about 7-8 years old. For the past 4-6 weeks, he has demonstrated a progressive loss of hind leg strength and coordination. His gait is very ataxic, and he is having a harder time getting up. He has been examined by 2 general veterinarians, an internal medicine specialist, a surgeon, and a neurologist. X-rays of his spine and hips are normal. Myasthenia Gravis testing was normal. MRI shows a mild disc bulge in his lumbosacral region that, per the neurologist, is not significant enough to cause his symptoms. Preliminary spinal fluid testing is normal. EMG is normal. His presentation is not entirely consistent with Degenerative Myelopathy; while this is still a possibility, the neurologist is doubtful that this is the cause ... I am going to take a cheek swab and send it off for testing for the gene mutation. Zippo (my pup) and I are at a loss. We are seeing another neurologist this upcoming Tuesday for a second opinion. I'm curious, how long did your pup present with their deficits, and do you think my description of Zippo's case is similar to your pup's? I am growing desperate for answers ...
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I noticed more hind leg weakness and a touch of wobbliness about 4 days before he died. He had been weaker in the hind end for a couple of years, hence the hip replacement which helped but this was more pronounced just before he died, making me think he was getting weak from slow bleeding internally.

Is Zippo consistently weak in the hind end, or does it come and go? If it comes and goes it could be a rupture that bleeds off and on.

If you haven't yet, it might be good to check for anemia (HCT) and WBC and get an ultrasound of the spleen.

There is a short video of him here the day before he died - he's the bigger dog:

Another thing I looked into was worms which can weaken a dog and make then weak in the hind end, but you would probably have noticed that in his stool.

I hope you figure it out soon and keep us posted!
 

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So sorry to hear about your dog. I've been communicating with mcnaulty regarding my previous dogs experience; we also thought that he had DM but an MRI showed a large tumor in his spine/at the base of his brainstem. Again, so sorry for your loss. I hope you can find comfort in the memories you shared with your dog.
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I wanted to add that about half of spleen tumors are malignant. If not malignant and the spleen and mass are removed the dog will likely get back to normal. If it is malignant it may spread to the heart or lungs or other parts of the body. Removing it may give the dog another few months, chemo generally isn't very helpful.

I don't know if Marlin's was malignant. He was just diagnosed with a tumor inside of his eye (ciliary body adenoma or adenocarcinoma) and I was in the process of deciding to get it removed (iridocyclectomy) or have the eye removed, but the oncologist said that type of cancer in the eye was likely not metastasized. The tumor was barely noticeable and did not seem to bother him and eye pressure was normal.

He did have a malignant tumor removed from his eyelid in 2006, a very small, slow growing cancer.
 
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