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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 12:29 AM Thread Starter
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Hind end weakness

Hi Everyone,
I'm new to the group and need any info or advice on my 3.5 yr old boy, Parker. He is having problems with his hind end going out on him. Looking back this probably started in Oct/Nov when he could no longer jump up on my bed. He always had very strong back legs and often stood up on them when trying to see what you were doing on the counter or when reaching for the door knob so this was odd. We thought maybe he had just gained a few too many pounds. Then the first part of Dec. I noticed a very subtle limp in his right leg. It only happened for a few steps and never noticed it again. The end of Dec he went in for distemper and bordatella vaccine. Then 10-14 days later I noticed him picking up the right leg again and holding it up. I made an appt thinking it could be luxating patella. The vet checked out his legs and hips and decided it was his back because when he touched his back the skin twitched and Parker turned and looked at him. He's done that pretty much his entire life every so often, I had no idea it was a sign of pain. I thought it was like a shiver or tingle. He prescribed a prednisone taper and said if it didn't get better we'd do X-rays. We did the taper and seemed to do well and by the end of January I thought he was pretty much better. Then last Thursday he couldn't stand up on his hind legs from a sitting position and attempted to pull himself with his front legs. I paged the vet right away, as it was evening. He said to give him some tramadol and bring him in for X-rays the following day. In the meantime I read up on reasons a havanese could have hind end weakness or lameness and up popped hypothyroidism. He had many of the symptoms which were; lethargy, fatigue, weight gain (although I fed him grain free premium dog food and measured appropriately and I didn't think I treated him too much) I would continually find small clumps of his black hair all over the carpet. (He's a black and white) his hair seemed dry, he scratched a lot, he didn't have a problem with cold but he was ALWAYS warm, he's had increasing anxieties over the last year or so. He hasn't had any aggression problems, unless you mess with his feet....he hates that. Looking back he has seemed quite depressed the last 6 months or so. He doesn't cry out or whimper at all when he has the leg weakness issues so I'm not positive he's in pain. He doesn't seem to want you to touch his back though so he may be. By nature he's always been a sweet boy so he may be good at hiding it. I had my fiancé ask the vet to do a thyroid panel and the vet dismissed it saying it's not hypothyroidism. He did X-rays and found 3 discs that seemed narrowed and the last vertebrae in his spine looked to be malformed so he figured that's where the problem is. He suspects the vertebrae could be shifting and pinching the nerves. He decided to put him on tramadol for a week. I followed up with a phone call to him after a few days and told him he had trouble using the back legs three times over the weekend and Monday so he added dexamethasone. I decided to make an appt tomorrow with another vet for a second opinion and I am insisting they do a full thyroid panel to rule it out. I decided to hold off on the dexamethasone so it won't mess up the thyroid test and will start it tomorrow if the second vet thinks it's the right thing to do. So has anyone ever experienced this sort of thing? I'm just sick worrying about what this could be. Any advice or input is welcomed. Thanks from a very worried fur momma, Teresa
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 02:01 AM
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Oh Teresa I am so sorry you and Parker are going through this. I had two wonderful longhaired doxies before getting Sophie (my first Havanese) and the reason I chose Havanese instead of another doxie this time is because of the back issues (IVDD) that are rampant in the breed.

I have been through disc problems with both of my doxies so I can tell you what I know about that but it sounds like it's not a definite diagnosis yet with Parker.

Did your vet mention Spondylosis? Wondering about the malformed vertebrae if his spine is unstable and trying to fuse itself but that sounds highly doubtful as he should have seen it on the XRay. You probably know that the narrowed spaces (horse heads) between vertebrae are often caused by herniating or ruptured discs, but he would likely be in considerable pain if that were full blown.

It does sound very possible that the malformed vertebrae is irritating nerves as your vet suggested but good for you to research this and be concerned about hypothyroidism! My experience over the years with both vets and human dr's is they don't often think outside the box and we sometimes end up diagnosing on our own!

You mentioned he is always warm (my Sophie tends to be also) which is more of a hyperthyroid symptom. Hypothyroid dogs usually have cold intolerance. From what you have said, the spine issue seems to be the more likely suspect but stranger things have happened and you are wise to have a thyroid panel done on him.

The good news is you will soon know what it is and can begin treating it and getting your boy feeling much better again! Please keep us posted on what you find out and give Parker a hug for me.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 03:37 AM
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Hi Theresa, I can't add much to what Dee Dee has said, but wanted to say I hope you can get to the bottom of Parker's problem quickly.

I will say that a number of years ago, Kodi injured himself when he slipped during an agility run. My local vet couldn't figure it out, and just put him on pain meds. I took him to Tufts University, and they couldn't get to the bottom of it either. Then I was referred to the wonderful holistic practice I use now. A couple of Chiro treatments, and Kodi was like a new dog! Even if it turns out that Parker has a problem in his spine I suggest that you also look into alternative treatment, like chiro, acupuncture or low level laser.

We also have an elderly cat who has severe arthritis in her hips and spine. Last winter, She was in such bad shape that she was falling over. Our vet started low level laser on her, and she is now jumping over the puppy gates we have all over the house at the moment!!! We take her for treatments every 8 weeks or so. You can't make boney changes go away (though some can be fixed surgically) but you sure can make them a lot more comfortable... And without having to keep them on drugs.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, thank you both so much! Just your support and being able to talk this over with others is so helpful. Unfortunately, we live in an isolated area and don't have access to specialty veterinarians. I will definitely check to see if the ones around here offer some of the things you've mentioned. I will keep you informed of the developments with the second opinion today. Praying for positive news! Now....I have to figure out how to post pics of my babies. 😀
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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DeeDee,
It's interesting you mentioned your doxies. My current vet kept referring to the long backed breeds having problems with disc disease and including the havanese in that group. I know their backs are a little longer but I never thought they were part of that group. My vet also mentioned that vertebrae possibly shifting around so perhaps he meant spondylosis. He never mentioned it by name though. Thanks again.
P.s. Your Sophie is adorable!
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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I'm sorry for all these posts, I'm still trying to figure out the format and how it all works. I just wanted to acknowledge Karen's pups, Kodi, Pixel, & Panda. They're beautiful! Gosh I just love the Havanese!
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tward View Post
DeeDee,
It's interesting you mentioned your doxies. My current vet kept referring to the long backed breeds having problems with disc disease and including the havanese in that group. I know their backs are a little longer but I never thought they were part of that group. My vet also mentioned that vertebrae possibly shifting around so perhaps he meant spondylosis. He never mentioned it by name though. Thanks again.
P.s. Your Sophie is adorable!
Havanese DON'T usually have the back problems that Doxies and Corgis have. You and your pup just got unlucky.

Like my cat. The amount of arthritis she has in her hind end is very unusual. We just got unlucky.


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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:46 AM
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I can understand how worried you must be about Parker. I hope they can figure out what is ailing him so he can get the proper treatment and feel better. I did have a Bichon with back issues. Thankfully they were mild enough that strict crate rest and medications got her through it. I also drove her to another town to see a vet that did chiropractic treatments. I must say it did seem to help and I never saw her so relaxed as she was after these treatments. Good luck and healing prayers for Parker!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 10:46 AM
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yeah this needs a second opinion. and it wouldn't hurt to do a thyroid test.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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I am SO glad we took Parker for a second opinion! This vet was much more thorough with an orthopedic and neurological exam. On his Neuro exam his hind left foot was a little slow to respond so she feels it's a disc causing the problem. Since he had a cortisone shot and a prednisone taper in January she said that giving the dexamethasone taper is not a good idea because the others should still be in his system for 6-8 weeks and the dexamethasone would be an overload at this point. She also said a thyroid panel at this point would not be a good idea because the recent steroids could definitely interfere with the results. She really felt that on examination he did not appear hypothyroid but he needs to lose 6-8 lbs which should be a huge help with his back. I've been feeding him grain free premium dog food and measure his portions so I felt I was doing good. I was however adding a little protein to top off his evening meal and didn't realize the calories it was adding. I feel terrible for doing that to him! I am thankful we can change that though. She also recommended increasing his tramadol dose and frequency because he isn't getting good pain control with a every twelve hour frequency. She also added gabapentin to enhance the tramadol. Lastly, she said he should start feeling better but he has to remain on strict rest for 30 days. No jumping, running, or playing with the other pups. That should give the disc time to heel. I do think we are switching vets, this one is just so much more explanatory and thorough. Thanks for all the support, it helped tremendously! Teresa
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