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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there, and thank you in advance for taking a look at my post. I have an amazing Australian Shepherd named Zippo. He is a rescue, and is estimated to be about 7-8 years old. Zippo first came into my life about 8 months ago ... I adopted him from a family that previously rescued him from an abusive environment. Around mid July this past summer, Zippo began to have trouble slipping on hardwood floors. The problem wasn't significant at the time, and only manifested as a slip here or there and trouble jumping onto the couch. About a month ago, he started having more difficulty to the point where his hind legs would give out behind him whenever he tried walking on hardwood floors. I took him to the vet, and had x-rays completed for both his spine and hips, which were unremarkable and looked quite healthy. The vet said his difficulty moving was perhaps behavioral, or more likely a strain of his hip adductor muscles. I am not a vet ... But I am a physical therapist, and know enough to recognize a symptomatic muscle strain. I proceeded to seek a second opinion with another vet. Zippo's new vet thinks his symptoms are likely neurological, and I agree. She initially suspected Myasthenia Gravis ... Chest x-rays were taken, which indicated megoesophagus (a finding often associated with MG). A second chest x-ray with barium contrast was taken (which is used to rule in megoesophagus), but this was unremarkable. We had additional, more specific testing completed for MG, and this was normal. Meanwhile, Zippo's symptoms are only progressing. Previously he ran, jumped, played, was able to go up and down stairs, get in/out of my car, etc. He can no longer run (tries, but is unable), cannot jump onto furniture or into my care, cannot go up stairs, and has great difficulty on hardwood floors. His hind legs can give out even on carpet. He has grown progressively less coordinated, and appears to be having difficulty sufficiently lifting his leg when urinating. This has all happened quite rapidly over the course of about a month. Possible diagnoses Zip's vet has suggested include Wobbler's Syndrome, Neospora Infection, Cerebellar Injury/Disease, Myopathies, Neuropathies, and Disc Degeneration. We have discussed Degenerative Myelopathy as a possibility, but Zip's vet doesn't feel he demonstrates the expected proprioceptive deficits. We are scheduled to see an internal medicine specialist in 2 days. I anticipate an MRI will need to be conducted, in addition to other further testing ... possibly antibodies, muscle biopsy, EMG, etc. I am concerned, because he is rapidly declining, and I am afraid, if and when a diagnosis is reached, these symptoms may not be reversible/treatable. I am DESPERATE. Has anyone experienced similar situations with their four legged best friends? Please, any insight, suggestions, etc. is welcome. Thank you.
 

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My very first suspicion was a tick, but since you've been to the vet so many times, that couldn't be it...

I really hope you find out what's ailing Zippo...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your input. It's interesting that you mention a tick. I live in Alaska (we don't have them here to my knowledge), but not long before this all started, I did visit family in Oregon for about a week. I gave Zippo the appropriate medication (flee and tick) along his back and shoulders ... But perhaps it didn't work and he did get bitten/infected? Anything you recommend looking for? Have you had experience with similar symptoms in your pup(s)? Thanks again.
 

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I gave Zippo the appropriate medication (flee and tick) along his back and shoulders ... But perhaps it didn't work and he did get bitten/infected? Anything you recommend looking for? Have you had experience with similar symptoms in your pup(s)? Thanks again.
Could be the flea and tick medication. I have heard of that happening with two different kinds What did you use?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Really? Interesting. Hmmm, if memory serves I used Frontline ... I'll need to double check to be sure ...
 

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Get a test for tick paralysis. Your vett may not be looking for it due to your location. Progression is too fast for degenerative myopathy.

Reaction to frontline seems very unlikely to me.

He needs to see a nuerologist

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Discussion Starter #7
Will definitely look into having additional testing done this upcoming Monday with the internal medicine specialist - thanks so much for your insight.
 

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Ok, not tick paralysis (too slow a progression for that ?) but worth checking for lyme etc.

Much more likely to be a degeneratve disc... This may not show on x ray. Again I think your best bet is a vet. Neurologist... Hopefully the specialty practice you are going to has one there.

Meanwhile keep the dog from further harm, no stairs no jumping etc.
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Has your vet tried a course of prednisone? Not that it would be curative, but if its a disc pred can reduce swelling and pressure on the nerves.

Overall it is really good you are getting a specialist involved. This is clearly serious and the regular vet has been striking out.
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Discussion Starter #10
Unfortunately, living in Alaska, specialty pet care is rather difficult to find. There is a neurologist that visits from out of state once a month ... But she is not back in AK until mid November. I have a consult scheduled with her tentatively, but didn't want to wait quite so long ... Hence the additional consult with the internal medicine specialist this upcoming Monday. My understanding is internal medicine specialists (may) have a great deal of training in neurology as well, so I am hopeful this doc may be able to help. I too am suspicious of a degenerative disc or some other type of cord compression ... An MRI will help confirm or negate this - here's hoping we can make arrangements for additional imaging this week. Thanks for your suggestions - much to Zippo's dismay I have been limiting his activity to light walking 2-3 times a day. No jumping, stairs, playing fetch, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You know, I asked my vet about prednisone, and she was reluctant to try it given that we haven't yet reached a diagnosis. More specifically, she was afraid that it might "muddy the waters" so to speak while we're still trying to figure out the cause of all this. I understand her concern, but may ask the specialist on Monday what her thoughts are ... I don't imagine a trial of prednisone could hurt? I did have Zippo on Carprofen for a short while, but this didn't seem to make much difference. Of course, prednisone is a much more aggressive and effective anti-inflammatory ... perhaps Carprofen simply wasn't enough. Thankfully, Zippo doesn't appear to be in any distress or pain. His personality remains true to its happy, curious, and appetite driven nature :) He does at times, however, appear a little confused as to why his hind end just doesn't work the way it used to ... Hopefully we'll find our answer soon.
 

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Good, you are doing everything you can at this point. Please let us know what the new doc finds... ;)
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I agree with you that a trial of pred may be warrented particularly because it takes so long to get a diagnosis where you are. If it is a disc getting the pressure off asap is important.
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Discussion Starter #14
Will definitely keep you all posted. Thanks so much again for chatting. I haven't really used forums in the past before ... But am glad I started - the insight and support others provide is both helpful and comforting :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Completely agree regarding a trial of prednisone, I'll certainly discuss it with the doc on Monday ... Anything to help my guy out.
 

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My previous dog had this issue; it turned out he had a tumor located in his spine. It was compressing his spinal fluid and it was not reaching his back legs. We found this out via MRI and a visit to the doggie neurologist. We attempted surgery to remove the tumor, however it was not successful and we had to put him down.

My heart goes out to you regarding this issue, it is so hard to watch a dog struggle and not be able to do things they love. Please keep us updated on his condition.
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Discussion Starter #17
So sorry to hear about your pup, thank you for sharing your experience. A tumor of some sort has crossed my mind ... I certainly hope this is not the case. Was your pup's tumor was malignant? Did he exhibit any other symptoms aside from the neurological deficits? Thank you for your kind words, most appreciated.
 

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I can't remember what kind of tumor it was....it was contained in only one spot in the spine, but it was growing horizontally. The neurologist thought it was a solid mass that could be removed without much damage, but during surgery it was discovered it wasn't solid and it was growing around too many important nerves; severing them would have killed the dog, and only removing parts of the tumor would not be effective, as the tumor would just grow back.

It's hard to say what other symptoms he was exhibiting because he was also fighting a serious ear infection. For a while, we attributed all balance issues/lack of coordination with his ear infection. It was only after he fell going up the porch stairs that we knew it was something else. I guess the tumor he had was really slow-growing and we might not have known right away.

The only thing I can remember before the lack of coordination was for a few months, he was slightly kicking out his right rear leg on walks, but we thought maybe due to the cold and salt on the sidewalk (it was winter) that his foot was getting uncomfortable. He was also slow to rise up at times, but again we thought well, he's a senior dog and he weighs about 90lbs so he's slower to rise now.
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I do remember that after the discovery of the tumor, we had to stop with the carprofen(carproxen?) and could not give him prednisone , but I think that had to do with upcoming surgery. That was another sign: we were giving him the carprofen assuming it was doggie arthritis, but eventually it looked like it wasn't working (not true, tumor was getting bigger but we didn't know). So falling and concerns about carprofen were eventually what brought us in.

Did any vet do the knuckling test with your dog?
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